Hillicon Valley — Warner keeps eye on Russia cyber moves – The Hill

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Follow The Hill’s tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), and cyber reporter Ines Kagubare (@ineskagubare) for more coverage. 

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Defense & National Security — Biden gives warning on chemical weapons Democrats look for cover on rising gas prices Hillicon Valley — Presented by Nokia — Covert data collection program revealed MORE (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he’s amazed Russia hasn’t launched massive cyberattacks against the West following recent sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Meanwhile, cyber experts say the U.S. and the EU have made significant investments over the years in helping Ukraine improve its cyber defenses. 

Let’s jump into the news.

Intel chair ‘amazed’ over lack of cyberattacks 

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Monday he was surprised Russia hasn’t launched more destructive cyberattacks against Ukraine and the West despite having the capability to do so.  

“I am still relatively amazed that they have not really launched the level of maliciousness that their cyber arsenal includes,” Warner said during a cyber webinar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Many cyber experts and U.S. intelligence officials predicted that Russia would launch massive cyberattacks, especially following crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe, but so far those predictions haven’t materialized.

Read more here.

West cyber investment pays off amid war

Recent U.S. and European investments in cyber defense in Ukraine are being put to the test following Russia’s invasion of the country. 

In the weeks and months leading up to the conflict, the U.S. and the European Union (EU) deployed a team of cyber warfare experts to help counter Russian cyberattacks from disrupting the country’s critical infrastructure. 

A newly formed EU cyber rapid response team consisting of 12 experts and a “hunt forward” team with U.S. Cyber Command were dispatched to Ukraine to look for active cyber threats inside the networks and strengthen the country’s cyber defenses. 

This was in response to a wave of cyberattacks that targeted local banks and Ukrainian government websites — including the parliament and the foreign affairs and defense ministries — weeks and days before the invasion. Russia has denied any involvement. 

Read more here.

NEW AD SLAMS TECH ON RUSSIAN MISINFO

A new ad from a group advocating for tech reform will slam industry giants over their handling of Russian disinformation amid the war in Ukraine.

The Tech Oversight Project’s 30-second TV ad will run in the Washington, D.C., market starting Tuesday and accuses tech giants of helping spread Russian disinformation despite their public pledges to crack down on the state-controlled media.  

“Big Tech says they’re taking action, but new reports show some of them are still helping Russia spread disinformation,” a narrator says, according to a copy of the ad exclusively shared with The Hill. 

The group, which launched in January and is primarily funded by the Omidyar Network and the Economic Security Project, is pushing for antitrust reform as a way to curb companies’ power. 

Read more here. 

SENATORS PRESS MAYORKAS ON CYBER READINESS

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A bipartisan group of senators is pressing Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasDHS report finds ‘significant gaps’ in agency’s domestic extremism approach Court rulings add pressure on Biden to end Trump-era border policy Cabinet officials to join Biden at House Democratic retreat MORE on the U.S.’s readiness for Russian cyberattacks amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The group of 22 senators, led by SensJacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenThe time to address the student mental health crisis is now Manchin: White House acknowledges inflation is major concern Democrats try to regroup heading into rough November MORE (D-Nev.) and Mike RoundsMike RoundsLawmakers in both parties see limits on US help for Ukraine Russia fight shows off tensions between McConnell, pro-Trump wing   Senate slips within 48 hours of government shutdown deadline MORE (R-S.D.), wrote a letter to Mayorkas on Sunday asking for a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) briefing on “efforts to protect the United States homeland from Russian government cyber and disinformation threats in the wake of Russia’s violent and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.” 

The senators are specifically concerned that Russia may use cyber and disinformation activities to retaliate against the U.S. for crushing sanctions it has placed on Moscow in response to its war on Ukraine. The U.S. has imposed sweeping penalties on top Russian government officials, oligarchs, banks and businesses since Moscow began its invasion on Feb. 24. 

Read more here.

VIRTUAL EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

The Future of Education—Thursday, March 17 at 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT

After two years of virtual and hybrid learning, many students are still playing catch up. The federal government has provided billions of dollars in relief funds to school districts across the country. How have state officials been using these funds and how can equity issues be tackled? Join us at The Hill’s annual Future of Education Summit for headliner conversations with Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaOn The Money — US suspending normal trade with Russia Hillicon Valley — Presented by Nokia — Google, Meta face new antitrust investigation On The Money — Prices soar: Annual inflation hits 40-year high MORE, Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyOn The Money — US suspending normal trade with Russia Hillicon Valley — Presented by Nokia — Google, Meta face new antitrust investigation On The Money — Prices soar: Annual inflation hits 40-year high MORE (R-La.), Rep. Jahana HayesJahana HayesOn The Money — US suspending normal trade with Russia Hillicon Valley — Presented by Nokia — Google, Meta face new antitrust investigation On The Money — Prices soar: Annual inflation hits 40-year high MORE (D-Conn.) and Govs. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisDemocrats divided over proposal to suspend federal gas tax  On The Money — US suspending normal trade with Russia Hillicon Valley — Presented by Nokia — Google, Meta face new antitrust investigation MORE (D-Colo.) and Chris SununuChris SununuOn The Money — US suspending normal trade with Russia Hillicon Valley — Presented by Nokia — Google, Meta face new antitrust investigation DNC sends cookie cakes to GOP governors to celebrate American Rescue Plan anniversary MORE (R-N.H.). Save your spot here.

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RUSSIA’S INSTAGRAM SHUTDOWN

Russia’s state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, warned Instagram users about the government’s initial plans to remove the popular social media app at midnight on Sunday, according to Reuters 

Roskomnadzor announced in an emailed statement on Friday that Instagram will be prohibited to use in the country, giving its users two days to clear all of their photos and data from the app.  

Roskomnadzor also encouraged residents to use the country’s own “competitive internet platforms” as an alternative to the Instagram ban, Reuters reported. 

Read more here.

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Time for NASA to go all in on commercial space 

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Lighter click: No bless yous? 

Notable links from around the web: 

The internet’s meth underground, hidden in plain sight (NBC / Ben Goggin) 

Shaming Apple and Texting Musk, a Ukraine Minister Uses Novel War Tactics (The New York Times / Adam Satariano) 

The FTC’s new enforcement weapon spells death for algorithms (Protocol / Kate Kaye) 

One last thing: Meta narrows latest update

Facebook owner Meta Platforms on Sunday said that it plans to narrow its guidance on its content moderation that temporarily allows users in some countries to call for violence against Russian aggressors and soldiers within the context of the war in Ukraine. 

The updated policy will prohibit calls for the death of a head of state, Reuters reported, citing an internal company post.  

“We are now narrowing the focus to make it explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general,” Meta global affairs President Nick Clegg wrote in the post, according to the news service. 

Read more here.  

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s technology and cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Tuesday.

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