Public Sector Cybersecurity Weekly Briefing 05-18-2018

‘Smart’ Meters in Washington State: Convenience or Potential Invasion of Privacy?
Every six hours, James Dean’s office gets a report on how much water Yakima residents and businesses are using. As Yakima’s utility-services manager, Dean gets the data from thousands of “smart” water meters that transmit readings to a central computer where utility workers can monitor usage for billing as well as spotting leaks in the system. “The only meters we have to go out and read are the ones we have issues with,” Dean said of the system the city has been using since 2013. State utility regulators are pushing other utilities, including electricity providers, to adopt this kind of automated meter technology. But the American Civil Liberties Union and others warn it potentially threatens privacy and could possibly pose health risks because of the radio signals used to transmit the information.

Vigilante Hacks Government-Linked Cyberespionage Group
Somewhere, government-linked hackers might be panicking. A digital vigilante has struck back against what researchers believe is a cyberespionage group connected to a nation state. The hacker has allegedly stolen, rather ironically, a cache of data that the government-linked hackers lifted from their own victims across the Middle East. The news provides a rare instance of someone targeting a so-called advanced persistent threat, or APT, as well as an opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at a government hacking campaign.

Google Cracks Down on Election Meddling Advertisers
Thinking about taking out an election ad on Google? If so, get ready to prove you’re one of us and not some outsider tinkering with our elections, particularly not one with all those bots that swarmed the internet in the 2016 US presidential election. On Friday, Kent Walker, a Google senior vice president, said in a post that in order to make political advertising more transparent, the company’s introducing new policies for US election ads across its platforms. First step: advertisers have to prove they’re US citizens or lawful permanent residents, as required by law. That means providing a government-issued ID and “other key information,” Walker said. Advertisers will also be required to disclose who’s paying for election ads. Over the coming months, Google will also release a new transparency report specifically focused on election ads. The report will describe who’s buying ​election-related ​ads ​on ​Google’s platforms ​and ​how ​much ​money ​they’re spending. The company is also building a publicly available, searchable library so that people can find election ads purchased on Google and who paid for them.

Voting Safe: Top Minds are at Work on PA Election Security
Pennsylvania’s new commission on election cybersecurity has the potential to put Pennsylvanians’ minds at rest and help other states make sure their voting systems are safe and sound. While Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign has galvanized interest in election security, foreign hacking is just one of many potential threats. Pennsylvania’s system will benefit from a wide-ranging checkup.

 

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