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Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department has launched a new initiative to target government contractors and federal grant recipients that fail to report cybersecurity breaches, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Cybersecurity has become an increasingly urgent concern amid the growth of cybercrime groups, foreign adversaries' cyber-espionage capabilities and multiple U.S. government hacks.

Details: The new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative will use "civil enforcement tools to pursue companies, those who are government contractors, who receive federal funds, when they fail to follow recommended cybersecurity standards," Monaco said.

  • It's intended to hold accountable anyone who puts U.S. information or systems at risk by "knowingly providing deficient cybersecurity products or services, knowingly misrepresenting their cybersecurity practices or protocols, or knowingly violating obligations to monitor and report cybersecurity incidents and breaches," per a DOJ release.
  • The initiative is a result of the DOJ's ongoing comprehensive cyber review, which Monaco ordered in May.

What they're saying: "For too long, companies have chosen silence under the mistaken belief that it is less risky to hide a breach than to bring it forward and to report it," Monaco said in a statement. "Well, that changes today. "

  • "This is a tool that we have to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used appropriately and guard the public fisc and public trust."

The big picture: A sweeping cyberattack by Russia last year compromised a wide range of high-profile agencies and companies, including the Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security departments.

Go deeper

Oct 18, 2021 - Economy & Business

Sinclair Broadcast Group says systems impacted by cyberattack

The headquarters of the Sinclair Broadcast Group is shown April 3, 2018 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the country’s largest local broadcast companies, said Monday that it had fallen victim to a cyberattack that left some servers and workstations "encrypted with ransomware."

Why it matters: The incident comes just days after Cox Media Group, another local broadcast company, acknowledged a that cyberattack it experienced this past summer was ransomware.

1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.