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02/13/2020
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If Iowa's app fail wasn't enough, researchers looking into the election app Voatz found vulnerabilities that expose voter data. Iranian bots are a bit more careful than their Russian counterparts, but the U.S. could to more to stop both. And the cyber dimension to Palestinian politics. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, February 13.

Voatz app is back in the news — for bugs

There are vulnerabilities that could be exploited to "alter, stop, or expose how an individual user has voted” in the Voatz app, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In case you haven’t caught the regular trickle of news about the app, it’s been used to collect official election ballots from overseas voters in multiple states going back to 2018. The MIT researchers also found that Voatz's reliance on a third-party vendor to authenticate the identity of its users raises potential privacy issues that could compromise the anonymity of ballots. "We all have an interest in increasing access to the ballot, but in order to maintain trust in our elections system, we must assure that voting systems meet the high technical and operation security standards before they are put in the field," wrote Daniel Weitzner, the director of MIT's Internet Policy Research Initiative. Earlier this week Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the app shouldn’t be used in his state, prompting pushback from the company. Benjamin Freed has the latest at StateScoop.


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Report urges U.S. to combat Iranian tolls

The ease with which Russia-backed propagandists were able to intervene in the 2016 U.S. election opened the door for other foreign adversaries to do the same. Since then, Iran has been second only to Russia in hosting coordinated inauthentic accounts taken down by Facebook and Twitter. A new report from the Atlantic Council urges the U.S. government to do more to meet the threat by creating an interagency unit to warn the public about disinformation as the 2020 election nears. Sean Lyngaas has the story.


The cyber dimension to Palestinian politics

Blaring headlines can be evocative in the Palestinian territories, where news of another peace plan or assassination attempt could prompt officials to convene emergency meetings. A group of Hamas-linked hackers knows this all too well. Attackers are exploiting the volatile situation to spy on Fatah, their rivals and the ruling party in the West Bank. Research published Thursday by Cybereason reveals that the group, known as the Gaza CyberGang, has been sending phishing emails about topics including Qassem Soleimani’s killing and White House peace efforts to gather intelligence on Fatah officials. One twist: Some of the new code has Ukrainian-language in it, suggesting it may have been acquired from an underground forum. Sean has more details.


Behind the scenes at the Zero Trust Security Summit

We picked the brains of the experts that graced the stage at Duo Security's Zero Trust Security Summit last month.

Or you can check out all the content from the summit on FedScoop.


Veterans Affairs is double checking its supply chain

The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking a second look for any blacklisted Chinese equipment still lurking on its networks after lawmakers expressed concern Wednesday that the department may still be linked to companies banned by the U.S. government. The VA responded to congressional questions last week that were requested in November on any equipment it may be using from banned Chinese companies, like Huawei, ZTE and others that the U.S. has asserted pose a security risk, like Lenovo and Hytera. Huawei, ZTE and their subsidiaries were blocked from use by federal agencies last August in Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. U.S. officials believe these companies have backdoor access to the information flowing on their networks that poses a national security risk to the federal government. Jackson Barnett covered it at FedScoop.


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