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Senators blasted Uber over their handling of a 2016 data breach and how it might affect a cybersecurity incentive program used to hide the breach from the public at a Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

Why it matters: The breach affected 57 million users worldwide, including 25 million in the United States. Uber opted not to notify the consumers whose data was stolen, instead paying the hackers to delete the data which was potentially in violation of many state breach notification laws. The fact that it took years to notify the public "raises red flags in this committee," said Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security Chair Jerry Moran (R-KS).

Uber admits it was in the wrong: Uber Chief Information Security Officer John Flynn acknowledged that not notifying users was a mistake.

"There is no justification for that. We should have notified consumers…We did not have the right people in the room."
— Uber CISO John Flynn at Senate hearing.

Why the coverup might harm other security programs: Uber paid the hacker to delete the files using money from a bug bounty program, which incentivizes good guy hackers to alert companies of security flaws that companies can then fix independently.

  • Katie Moussouris, the chief executive of Luta Security and an internationally recognized bug bounty guru, told the subcommittee that paying a hacker who maliciously stole records using bug bounty funds "muddied" the difference between a beneficial program and extortion.
  • Sen. Moran agreed this might cause problems saying, "These substantive concerns should not completely outweigh [bug bounties'] innovative crowdsourced approach [to security]."

Go deeper

32 mins ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

2 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

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