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The two sides of the encryption debate are so dug in that it's become hard to publicly discuss a compromise: Law enforcement groups insist they need access to encrypted data lest criminals go free; security experts posit that providing such access invites global security disasters and mass hacking. No one wants to to suggest to peers that maybe some criminals should go free —or that some amount of security disasters would be A-OK.
But behind closed doors, a few government and big-tech insiders will talk about what a compromise would take — so long as their names aren't attached. Here's what they say:
Why would tech give up the hard line? Australia is on the verge of enacting an encryption law that mandates law-enforcement access to encrypted messages, and U.S. lawmakers seeking similar measures here are likely to point to it as a precedent. So, while most in the tech community still see any encryption compromise as a disaster, a few feel that it's a smaller disaster than what lawmakers might come up with on their own.
To compromise, be honest about risk: Supporters of backdoors often try to frame the debate as security versus civil liberties, rather than address the inevitable security problems backdoors will create. No compromise will emerge until lawmakers acknowledge and accept the real security dangers they are asking for.
Be honest about who the targets are: Though the encryption debate is often framed in terms of national security, groups like ISIS will be among the least successful targets.
Putting it all together:
New research from Distil Networks provides a detailed look at how attackers use bots to test stolen usernames and passwords on websites.
Why it matters: According to Distil's data, 96% of websites with login pages face regular automated attacks to check if usernames and passwords can either be guessed or extrapolated from other sites' breaches.
Motherboard reports that a Moscow-based company named Gleg is selling previously undiscovered security vulnerabilities in medical software. That has raised eyebrows for hospital administrators — and a few yawns from the security industry.
Why it matters that it might not matter: There are few scarier hacks than those aimed at medical systems. People need them to breathe, which many are wont to do, So any indication the devices are vulnerable is a touch frightening. But most hacking isn't done through the kind of expensive vulnerabilities sold by companies like Gleg.
There is a lot of Gleg: Across the cybersecurity landscape, there are a few different services selling previously unreported vulnerabilities. Typically, it isn't hackers purchasing the bugs but rather security pros , who find them useful in assessing the defenses of a network or developing software to prevent attacks.
Most attacks use freely available exploits: Hackers could pay Gleg $4000 a year for a subscription to its vulnerability service. But for most hackers, it's cheaper and just as effective to use freely available exploits that can already be found online. While the holes used by the free online wares might be patched by the manufacturer, not every hospital is quick to protect its equipment. The massive WannaCry attack last year took advantage of a known computer flaw.
Wickr, a secure messaging app, is teaming up with the Democratic National Committee on a pilot marketplace for campaign security tools. "I Will Run" will offer cybersecurity tools to Democratic candidates in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, Texas and Washington.
Why it matters: The DNC is eager to prevent a repeat of the 2016 election, when Russia's alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee, John Podesta's email and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee weighed heavily in news coverage. Congress has introduced legislation on voting systems security, but parties and campaigns remain very much on their own.
Donald Trump Jr. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The New York Times obtained a copy of the questions special counsel Robert Mueller submitted to President Trump's lawyers and among them was this subtle bombshell:
• What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?
Why it matters: The old saw is that good lawyers don't ask questions they don't know the answers to. The phrasing — outreach to Russia rather than outreach from — suggests Mueller may have reason to believe the Trump campaign requested Russian assistance in the campaign.
Manafort started with the Trump campaign in March of 2016. In April, the believed Russian hackers registered the DC Leaks website, a WikiLeaks clone that appears to be the original plan for releasing hacked emails before the group pivoted to Wikileaks. That summer, the Democratic National Committee would announce it had been hacked.
Meanwhile: The other Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., may have violated the U.S.'s major antihacking law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, writes Orin Kerr in Lawfare.
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