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Cybersecurity

Federalist Society Explores Legal Issues Surrounding Cyber Conflict

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2011 – The Federalist Society convened Tuesday to discuss the complex and interconnected legal and policy issues of cyber security in relation to the law of armed conflict, privacy and legislative action.

Morning and afternoon panels comprised of national security and economic security experts presented to the legal society the difficulties of applying the law of armed conflict towards cyber threats. The new threat conditions introduced by cyber intrusions and attacks do not fit the old paradigm of doing warfare. Panelists agreed, however, that the new rules should not be determined before major cyber conflicts have taken place.

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WASHINGTON, June 30, 2011 – The Federalist Society convened Tuesday to discuss the complex and interconnected legal and policy issues of cyber security in relation to the law of armed conflict, privacy and legislative action.

Morning and afternoon panels comprised of national security and economic security experts presented to the legal society the difficulties of applying the law of armed conflict towards cyber threats. The new threat conditions introduced by cyber intrusions and attacks do not fit the old paradigm of doing warfare. Panelists agreed, however, that the new rules should not be determined before major cyber conflicts have taken place.

“It is not in the United States’ interests to preempt how it will develop,” said Steven Bradbury, former Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.

“International law does not necessarily apply to cyber warfare,” said Bradbury, “it is largely a policy for the president, not lawyers, to decide the exercise of our national security.”

Panelists focused largely on the conflicts between nation states, but state-sponsored cyber threats are not always the issue. The conflict is asymmetric in nature: the majority of threat actors being organized crime groups targeting private networks and infrastructure systems, and the perpetrators are anonymous and invisible to their targets.

“This administration is the first of three to really try to grapple with this,” said Michael Vatis, founding Director for National Infrastructure Protection at the FBI.

The other panelists also acknowledged the Administration’s attempts to handle the problem, despite the posture of government and industry to be largely defensive in nature due to the anonymity of attackers and the sole legal authority of the government to enact justice.

Still, it is easier to attack than defend, said panelists. Laws and security measures designed to counteract network attacks are often obsolete by the time that they are implemented.

“The enthusiasm for the offense has overwhelmed planning for the defense,” said Stewart Baker, former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

According to Baker, “The problem is not that they do not have the [legal] tools, they just can’t find the guys.”

Yesterday, a defense spokesperson also told BroadbandBreakfast.com to expect the Pentagon’s cyber strategy announcement in mid-July, although an exact date was still unclear.

Josh Peterson is a DC-based journalist with a professional writing portfolio that includes work on US foreign policy and international affairs, telecom policy and cyber security, religion, arts, and music. He is currently a journalism intern at The National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. and a former tech and social media intern at The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies & Citizenship. Peterson received his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and religion with a minor concentration in music from Hillsdale College in 2008. When he is not writing, Peterson lives a double life as a web designer, social media strategist, photographer, musician and mixed martial artist.

Cybersecurity

Private Sector Falling Behind on Information Sharing During Cyberattacks, Says Comcast Rep

Comcast’s Noopur Davis says cyber attackers share information better than the private sector.

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Noopur Davis, Chief Product and Information Officer at Comcast Cable.

ASPEN, Colorado, August 23 — In the wake of an influx of ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure and cyberattacks on private carriers, entities across the technology industry are revaluating their strategies and how they share information to prevent such acts.

T-Mobile announced on August 15 that as many as 50 million consumers had their private data compromised during a data breach. Days later, on August 17, as part of Technology Policy Institute’s 2021 Aspen Forum, Noopur Davis, Chief Product and Information Officer at Comcast Cable, sat down for a fireside chat to discuss what the industry was doing to address this event and events like it.

Join in Broadband Breakfast Live Online’s Discussion on “Cybersecurity: Reviewing the Biden Administration’s Executive Order,” on Wednesday, August 25, 2021, at 12 Noon ET.

When Davis was asked how she felt about the current state of cybersecurity, she said it was okay, but that the telecom community at large would have to do more.

She referenced the mean time of comfort—that is, the average duration between the time that a service becomes connected to the internet and when it is targeted by bad actors. While in the early days of the internet cybersecurity experts could expect to have significant mean times of comfort, she stated that this is no longer the case.

“The second you connect [to the internet] you are attacked,” she said.

As soon as a successful breach is recognized, Davis explained that the target companies begin to revaluate their “TTP,” or tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Information sharing is crucial

Though one company may find a remedy to their breach, other companies may remain vulnerable. To combat this, Davis said that it is critical for companies to share information quickly with their counterparts, but she indicated that this is a race that the private sector is currently losing.

“[Attackers] share information better than [the private industry does].”

She went further, revealing that there is now a sophisticated market for malware as a service, where various platforms publish reviews for their products and services and even offer tech support to those struggling to get the most out of their purchases.

Growing market for hacking tools

She pointed to the Colonial Pipeline attack as an example where hackers did not even create the malware themselves—they just purchased it from a provider online. She explained that this marketplace has significantly lowered the barriers of entry and deskilled the activity for would be attackers, and that theoretically anyone could engage in such nefarious acts today.

Though Davis was in favor of collaboration between companies to address these attacks, she made it clear that this would not mean that responses and capabilities would become standardized, and that every company would maintain their own unique strategies to ensure that their services and data remain uncompromised.

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Cybersecurity

DOJ Official Supports Mandatory Breach Reporting

Proposed legislation would make it mandatory for companies to report cyberattacks.

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Richard Downing from the Senate judiciary committee last week

August 2, 2021—An official from the Department of Justice urged members of the Senate judiciary committee last week to proceed with legislation requiring companies to report ransomware attacks to federal agencies.

Richard Downing, deputy assistant attorney general of the criminal division within the department, told the committee studying cybersecurity during a hearing that such mandatory breach reporting legislation would aid in its defense against cyberattacks.

There is currently no federal law requiring such disclosures, but bipartisan Senate legislation co-sponsored by Senator Angus King, I-Maine, would change that. Titled Cyber Incident Notification Act of 2021, the bill was introduced last month.

This legislation would require all contractors, federal agencies, companies, and organizations critical to U.S national security to report all breaches of data to the Department of Homeland Securities’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within 24 hours.

The bill and discussions about it come in light of high-profile cyberattacks that have targeted software company SolarWinds and oil transport company Colonial Pipeline in the last several months. And the discussion isn’t expected to slowdown as more critical infrastructure is hooked up to the internet.

The Last week, the House energy committee approved a series of cyber bills that would improve telecom network security.  

Cyber threats becoming more bold

Downing noted that threat actors are becoming bolder and more sophisticated, and that the government must hasten efforts to thwart attacks and stay ahead of such malicious acts.

“Many actors now research their victims—identifying the victim’s net worth, the cost of a business interruption, and even the value of their cyber insurance policy—to extort as much money as possible,” Downing said during the hearing.

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Cybersecurity

House Energy Committee Approves Series of Cyber Bills to Improve Telecom Security

The committee approved five bills dealing with protecting networks and educating the public on cyberattacks.

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Frank Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey

July 26, 2021—The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday voted to advance a series of cybersecurity bills. 

“These bipartisan bills will educate the public, smaller providers, and small businesses on how best to protect their telecommunications networks and supply chains,” said committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey.

The bills approved in the session includes the Understanding Cybersecurity of Mobile Networks Act, or H.R. 2685, which was introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-California, and Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois. That bill would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to conduct examination reports on the vulnerability of networks and mobile service devices to cyberattacks.

Other legislation passed in the committee Wednesday deals with the cooperation of enterprises and educational institutions working with federal agencies to promote secure networks and supply chains. 

The Information and Communication Technology Strategy Act, or H.R. 4028, was introduced reps. Billy Long, R-Missouri, Abigail Spanberger, D-Virginia, Buddy Carter, R-Georgia, and Jerry McNerney, D-California, and would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to submit a report analyzing the economic competitiveness of vendors within the information and communication technology supply chain.

“I think this bill is critically important to ensure that we are thinking about our supply chain security and do what we can to aid a robust marketplace for com equipment,” said McNerney.  

To assure that small telecommunications operators would receive assistance from the federal government, H.R. 4032, the Open RAN Outreach Act, introduced by reps. Colin Allred, D-Texas, Tom O’Halleran, D-Arizona, Brett Guthrie, R-Kentucky, and Richard Hudson, R-North Carolina, directs the NTIA to provide outreach to providers with regard to open radio access networks.

With the future moving toward 6G networks, H.R. 4045 – the Future Uses of Technology Upholding Reliable and Enhanced Networks Act or the FUTURE Networks Act, and introduced by reps. Mike Doyle, D-Pennsylvania, Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Lucy McBath, D-Georgia – serves to authorize the FCC to create a task force on this matter.

Members of the task force will comprise representatives from the telecommunications industry, public interest organizations, academic institutions, and federal, state and local governments. 

The committee also moved forward the American Cybersecurity Literacy Act, or H.R. 4055, to raise public awareness of cyberattacks. This bill requires the NTIA develop a cyber literacy campaign to educate the public about cybersecurity risks and prevention measures. 

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