I’m unable to resist pointing out the profound bias built into everything Silicon Valley does these days. Google, it turns out, is planning to tell enterprise users of its word processor that words like “motherboard” and “landlord” are insufficiently inclusive for use in polite company. We won’t actually be forbidden to use those words. Yet. Though the future has apparently already arrived in Mountain View, where at least one source says that “mainboard” is the only acceptable term for the electronics that used to honor the women who raised us. In another blow for freedom, as now defined in the Valley, Twitter will suppress all climate talk that contradicts the views of a panel of government-appointed scientist-politicos. Apparently suppressing talk that contradicted The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist-politicians worked so well that Twitter is doubling down under the slogan, “You’ll pry these red pencils from our cold, dead fingers, Elon!”
In other cyber news, Megan Stifel sums up the last week of cyberwar news: It was a lot like the week before that. We’re still waiting – nervously — for Russian hackers to lift their eyes from the near target in Ukraine and focus on the West. The Five Eyes security agencies are doing their best to make sure we’re ready. Everywhere except for our cloud providers, who were exempted from the definition of really critical infrastructure in the Obama administration and have successfully fought off a change for the better part of a decade. Sultan Meghji and I think the Congressional effort to recognize the criticality of securing cloud providers is a heavy lift, especially among Republicans.
Is DJI sabotaging Ukraine’s drone fleet, presumably at China’s behest? The evidence is hardly airtight, but Ukraine is understandably not taking any chances, as it moves to more expensive drones sourced from the U.S. and elsewhere. Jamil Jaffer delivers a heartfelt plea to American hobbyists to do the same.
A group of former security officials are warning that pending antitrust bills could cause national security problems by handing advantages to Chinese tech companies. POLITICO has done a hit piece on them, claiming (with evidence ranging from plausible to laughable) that they are influenced by their ties to Silicon Valley. I’m pretty cautious about Silicon Valley’s effort to hide behind the national security interests they mostly dismiss, but I end up agreeing with Jamil that the antitrust bills should be amended to allow security to moderate the trustbusters’ zeal.
Sultan and I largely agreed on the week’s stories about Artificial Intelligence (AI). We were a bit disappointed by what started as a promising War on the Rocks piece about China’s Plans for AI and Cognitive Warfare. We were fascinated by the promise of hacking AI imperceptibly by corrupting its datasets. And we were interested in the facts but put off by the dime-store Marxism in MIT Technology Review’s tale of how dataset labeling for machine learning is providing a bare living for dispossessed Venezuelans.
Has Steve Ballmer been sneaking onto Microsoft’s Redmond campus and whispering ruthless tactics into Satya Nadella’s ear? Sultan and I think that may be the most plausible explanation for Microsoft’s greedy and boneheaded demand that the federal government pay extra for a crucial security feature.
Finally, in short hits:
- Jamil isn’t shocked to find Israeli spyware on phones in the U.K. prime minister’s office. Like me, he was disappointed by the relative paucity of new insights in Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker piece about “How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens.”
- Sultan, meanwhile, does recommend the New Yorker’s story on North Korea’s Hacking Army.
- I reprise the sad story of the eBay security executives who are being prosecuted for a cyberstalking campaign.
- Jamil and I note that most of Cybersecurity Twitter owes Okta an apology now that it turns out that the Lapsus$ breach lasted 25 minutes and affected two customers. Sure, it could have been much worse, but the mob was mostly wrong on this one.
- I think the new Ballmerized Microsoft for making so much good law by losing a lawsuit attacking HiQ for scraping Linkedin data. The Ninth Circuit ruled, in essence, that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act isn’t violated by accessing websites that are protected only by harsh words and not by technical measures.
- And Jamil explains why Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht, serving life in prison, is still in a position to negotiate with the Justice Department over hundreds of millions in bitcoin.
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