Microsoft Software Engineer Discovers Security Vulnerability

Late last week, news broke that San Francisco-based Microsoft software engineer Andres Freund discovered a serious security vulnerability maliciously inserted into the Linux operating system. As a contributor to Linux, Microsoft supports Linux and other open source technologies on Azure. The backdoor could have led to a major cyberattack. Freund is being hailed as a hero, and he received a callout from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who underscored that, “Security is a team sport.”

This incident again highlights the need for a strong cybersecurity—and cybersecurity aware—workforce. A report last fall from ISC2 estimated a global shortage of about 4 million cybersecurity professionals and found that two-thirds of organizations lacked sufficient cybersecurity staffing. We are seeing some government initiatives to address this challenge—such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) cybersecurity education grant program—but more needs to be done.

Thank you for staying informed about tech policy issues. Here’s our news roundup and a featured podcast…

This Week in Washington 

  • Reuters: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and British Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan signed a memorandum of understanding in Washington this week to jointly develop advanced AI model testing, a next step after commitments announced at an AI Safety Summit in the UK last November.
  • Fierce Telecom and StateScoop: Congress’ final appropriations package for FY2024 did not include funding – or any mention at all – of the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, and April is the last fully-funded month for the program that has more than 23 million American households enrolled in affordable broadband access. The Biden administration called on Congressional Republicans to extend funding for ACP, which will likely run out of money to reimburse broadband providers by May.
  • Roll Call: The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is continuing its mission to expand high-speed internet access across America. Roll Call rounds up a recent Congressional hearing and quotes from current and former NTIA staffers. 
  • Washington Post: Lawmakers will soon return to Congress, but legislation typically advances slowly before presidential elections, and a number of tech issues like a Senate version of the House bill to force an ownership change of TikTok, online child safety, privacy, and AI may not advance this year.
  • FedScoop: Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Telework Transparency Act, a bill requiring federal agencies to collect data on telework policies and monitor how those policies affect both agency performance and decisions on federal property. The bill asks agencies to use automated systems to track employees’ telework and requires the federal Office of Personnel Management to set quality data standards and create and maintain a publicly available tool that shares and visualizes agency telework data.
  • Reuters: As part of the continued effort to limit the U.S.’s dependence on Chinese chip supply chains, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son are in discussions to expand cooperation in semiconductors.
  • StateScoop: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced nearly $3.6 million in total awards, roughly $200,000 each, to 18 education and community organizations across 15 states in an effort to train more skilled cybersecurity employees. Awardees included universities and colleges as well as community-based nonprofits and public-private partnerships.

Article Summary

  • Washington Post: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first artificial intelligence-powered tool to predict the risk of sepsis in hospitals. A Chicago-based company acquired more than 100,000 blood samples along with clinical data on hospital patients, and trained its algorithm to recognize the health measures most associated with developing sepsis.
  • Axios: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s first-quarter small-business index survey found that 60% of small-business owners are concerned about cybersecurity threats, and 48% of owners trained their staff on cybersecurity awareness and protections in the last year.
  • CNN: A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Taiwan, the strongest in 25 years, killing nine people. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest chip manufacturer, evacuated employees and paused operations to check for and repair minor damage. Experts warn that TSMC’s market dominance, producing an estimated 90% of the world’s most advanced semiconductor chips, represents an existential threat to global supply chains.
  • AP News: The AP offers tech and photography tips for the total solar eclipse occurring on Monday April 8.

Featured Podcast


  • Tools and Weapons with Brad Smith
    Bayer CEO Bill Anderson considers himself a scientist at heart, a chemical engineer by training, and a lifelong student of biotechnology. Now at the helm of a 160-year-old German pharmaceutical and agriculture company, he’s employing science and technology with a bold mission — Health for All, Hunger for none.

    In this episode, Bill discusses AI’s role in accelerating agricultural breakthroughs that are needed to feed a growing population, including helping smallholder farmers become more resilient to climate change. And he discusses how this intersection of science and technology is empowering employees to unblock innovation within the company. (Bill Anderson: Using AI to combat hunger – April 4, 2024)