6 Secret Service text scandal turns felony: United With state midterm elections approaching, lawmakers and law enforcement officials are on high alert about violent threats targeting election officials across the country—domestic threats that have taken first billing over foreign influence activities and meddling as a major concern for the 2022 election. In another arena, however, Congress is making progress in building bipartisan support for much-needed and overdue privacy legislation in the form of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act.
Iranian women’s rights activists sounded the alarm this week after Meta failed to respond to their concerns about targeted bot campaigns flooding their Instagram accounts at a crucial time for the country’s feminist movement. And investigators looking into the attacks on Internet cables in Paris still don’t know who was behind the destruction or what their motive was, but as new details emerge about the extent of the destruction, the situation becomes more alarming and intriguing.
The ACLU released documents this week detailing the Department of Homeland Security’s contracts with phone-tracking data brokers that peddle location information. And if you’re worried about Big Brother snooping on your reproductive data, we’ve ranked the most popular period-tracking apps by their data privacy protections.
And there is more. Every week we’re surrounded by news that doesn’t break or isn’t covered in depth. Click on headlines to read full articles. And be safe out there!
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DHS Inspector General Opens Investigation on Possible Criminal Secret Service Preservation Failure
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general told the Secret Service on Thursday Stop its investigation The deletion of January 6 riot-related text messages was due to an “ongoing criminal investigation” into the situation. Secret Service spokesmen have said things are disputed: that data on the phones was deleted during a planned phone migration or factory reset, and that the deleted messages were not relevant to the Jan. 6 investigation. The Secret Service said it provided guidance to agents to back up their data before beginning the overhaul process, but that it was up to individuals to complete this backup.
Zero Day spoke About the situation to Robert Osgood, director of the Forensics and Telecommunications Program at George Mason University and a former FBI digital forensics examiner. “Telling agents to back up their own phones makes ‘absolutely no sense,'” Osgood said—especially for a government agency tasked with doing the work of the Secret Service and required to retain records. The agency not only protects the president, vice president and others, but also investigates financial crimes and cybercrimes. ” reported Zero Day author Kim Jeter. “I am pro-government, and [telling agents to back up their own phones] Sounds weird,” Osgood told Jetter. “If that happened, the IT manager responsible for it should be condemned. Something should happen to that guy because it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard in my life.
FCC Orders Carriers to Block Those Horrible Robocalls Regarding Car Warranties
The Federal Communications Commission’s Robocall Response Team said Thursday it is ordering phone companies to block robocalls that warn of expiring car warranties and offer renewal deals. The FCC said the calls known to people in the US were from “Roy Cox Jr., Aaron Michael Jones, their Sumco Panama companies and international associates.” Since 2018 or possibly earlier, their activities have resulted in more than 8 billion pre-recorded message calls to Americans, the FCC said. “We will not tolerate robocall scammers or those who help enable their scams,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Consumers are losing patience and I’m right there with them.”
Pegasus spy software from NSO Group was used to target Thai activists.
After Apple warned several Thai activists and their colleagues in November that their devices might be targeted with the NSO Group’s infamous Pegasus spyware, many of them contacted human rights groups and researchers who built a broader picture of the campaign in Thailand. In total, more than 30 Thai victims have been identified. Targets worked with local human rights group iLaw, which found two of its own members to be victims of the campaign, as well as the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and Amnesty International. The researchers did not attribute who was behind the Pegasus campaigns, but found that many of the targets occurred at the same general time when the targets were involved in protests against government policies.
Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine are still occurring and include a radio hack to spread false information.
Russia’s digital meddling continues apace, Google’s Threat Analysis Group reported this week as the Kremlin’s offensive continues in Ukraine and more broadly in Eastern Europe. TAG found that Russia-linked hacking group Turla was trying to spread two separate malicious Android apps through Ukrainian masquerade sites. The group tried to market the apps by claiming that downloading the apps played a role in launching denial of service attacks on Russian websites, an interesting twist given civilian efforts in Ukraine to mount cyberattacks on Russia. TAG has also identified activity from other known Russian hacking groups exploiting vulnerabilities to target Ukrainian systems and launch disinformation campaigns in the region.
Ukrainian officials said this week that Russia attacked Ukraine’s TAVR media and hacked nine prominent radio stations to spread false information that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was in intensive care due to a serious illness. The broadcast further stated that Verkhovna Rada Chairperson Ruslan Stefanchuk replaced Zelensky in command. TAVR released a statement on Facebook saying the broadcasts were “not true”. And Zelensky posted a video on his Instagram saying that Russia was responsible for the attack and that he was healthy.