June 2018

Episode 223 with David Sanger: A war reporter for the cyber age

I interview David Sanger in this episode on his new book, The Perfect Weapon – War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age. It is an instant history of how the last five years have transformed the cyberwar landscape as dozens of countries follow a path first broken by Stuxnet. And then, to our horror, branch out into new and highly successful ways of waging cyberwar. Mostly against us.  David depicts an Obama administration paralyzed by the Rule of Lawyers and a fear that our opponents would always have one more rung than we did on the escalation ladder. The Trump administration also takes its lumps, sometimes fairly and sometimes not. At center stage in the book is Putin’s uniquely brazen and uniquely impactful use of information warfare, but the North Koreans and the Chinese also play major roles.  It is as close to frontline war reporting as cyber conflict is likely to get.



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Episode 222: In which I get to play that guy in line for the movie with Woody Allen

Our interview is with Megan Stifel, whose paper for Public Knowledge offers a new way of thinking about cybersecurity measures, drawing by analogy on the relative success of sustainability initiatives in spurring environmental consciousness. She holds up pretty well under my skeptical questioning.

In this week’s news, Congress and the Executive branch continue to fight over the bleeding body of ZTE, which has already lost nearly 40% of its market value. The Commerce Department has extracted a demanding compliance and penalty package from the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer. The Senate, meanwhile, has amended the NDAA to overturn the package and re-impose what amounts to a death penalty (see section 1727). Brian Egan and I dig into the Senate’s language and conclude that it may do a lot less than the Senators think it does, and that may be the best news ZTE is going to get from Washington this year.

Judge Leon has approved the AT&T-Time Warner merger. Gus Hurwitz puts the ruling in context. His lesson: next time, the Justice Department needs better evidence.


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Episode 221: Daugherty’s Revenge

The 11th Circuit’s LabMD decision is a dish served cold for Michael Daugherty, the CEO of the defunct company. The decision overturns decades of FTC jurisdiction, acquired over the years by a kind of bureaucratic adverse possession. Thanks to the LabMD opinion, practically all the FTC’s privacy and security consent decrees are at risk of being at least partly unenforceable — and if the dictum holds, the FTC may have to show that everything it views as an “unfair” lack of security is actually a negligent security practice.


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