Dec 19, 2017

Kaspersky connections to Russian intelligence still undocumented

Eugene Kaspersky, founder and head of cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, speaks at the 4th World Internet Conference on Dec. 3, 2017, in Wuzhen, China. Photo: Du Yang / China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

In a last-minute voice vote on December 7, a provision was added to the $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act that bars federal agencies from using Kaspersky anti-virus software."The case against Kaspersky Lab is overwhelming," said Senator Shaheen (D-NH). "The strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are alarming and well-documented." The Department of Homeland Security has alleged "ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence," yet no evidence has been provided.Yesterday Kaspersky responded by filing suit against the DHS for banning its product, claiming DHS "relied primarily on subjective, non-technical public sources like uncorroborated and often anonymously sourced media reports." Without proof, how are we to judge whether Kaspersky is a real threat or whether this is merely protectionism for U.S. vendors, an old tactic? Check Point Software, an Israeli firm, was blocked from selling to federal agencies in the 1990s. Huawei, the Chinese networking giant, has been effectively blocked from doing business in the U.S. Cisco was the U.S. vendor that benefited most from both of these actions.

The bottom line: What if Spain or Germany were to make similar claims against McAfee or Symantec to support their own vendors? The U.S. cybersecurity industry is not well served by unsubstantiated claims about the trustworthiness of security products, which only muddy the waters and encourage blowback.

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

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