from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Cyber Week in Review: October 21, 2016

CFR Cyber Net Politics Fail Whale
CFR Cyber Net Politics Fail Whale

October 21, 2016

CFR Cyber Net Politics Fail Whale
CFR Cyber Net Politics Fail Whale
Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:

1. Is it down for everyone or just me? There were a number of web-related outages this week. First, Julian Assange announced that his internet access was intentionally severed by a "state actor." Ecuador later released a statement admitting they cut Assange’s access to prevent interference in U.S. elections, and according to NBC News, was urged to do so by U.S. authorities. Second, French internet service provider Orange mistakenly added several domains to their terrorism block list, including and Wikipedia. Users who tried to connect to these sites were redirected to the French Interior Ministry’s website, which helpfully explained that the now-blocked sites were engaged in the promotion or defended acts of terrorism. Last but not least, the biggest internet outage came Friday when Dyn, a major domain name system service provider that connects users to sites like Twitter, the New York Times, GitHub and Reddit, was targeted by a denial of service attack. Dyn may have been targeted for providing assistance to Brian Krebs in the aftermath of his own DDoS attack, the largest in history.

2. Tech industry wants free flow of data and other protections in trade deal. In a letter published Monday, several prominent tech groups representing Google, Facebook, Apple, and others urged U.S. trade negotiators to ensure that the Trade in Services Agreement currently under negotiation includes protections for the free flow of data, safe harbor provisions, and the prohibition of data localization requirements. The United States has been a proponent of including digital economy provisions in trade deals, and recently included similar provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership. In a recent Net Politics blog post, trade expert Susan Aaronson argues that these sorts of provisions might not be entirely enforceable.

3. India signs a cyber deal with Russia. At the BRICS summit in Goa, India and Russia signed a cyber agreement, two months after a similar agreement was struck between the Indian and the United States. Although the text is not publically available and therefore impossible to know for sure what it contains, insiders relay that the deal with Russia is an "agreement" (as opposed to a "framework" as with the United States) and does not contain references to "information security"--Russia’s preferred terminology when referring to cybersecurity. Russia eventually made its 2015 cyber pact with China public, so there’s a faint hope that it could happen with the Moscow-Delhi deal.

4. Harold Martin, international man of mystery? Former NSA contractor Harold Martin, who was arrested in late August for alleged theft of government property and mishandling classified information, may have been the original source of the NSA hacking tools that were offered for sale online two months ago. According to a government court filing, U.S. investigators found handwritten notes that "include descriptions of the most basic concepts associated with classified operations, as if the notes were intended for an audience outside of the intelligence community unfamiliar with the details of its operation." When Martin’s arrest first came to light, he was portrayed as a hoarder. This latest filing hints that U.S. officials may believe he was a hoarder with foreign friends.