Daily Digest (5/19)

ACLU, 51 Groups Urge US House to Take Up FISA Amendment; FBI Chief Rips Apple for Not Helping Crack Florida Shooter’s iPhones; Nigerian Crime Ring Siphoned Millions in US Unemployment Money During Pandemic; Germany’s Data Chief Spurns WhatsApp Over Facebook Fears. Click “Continue reading” below.

ACLU, 51 Groups Urge US House to Take Up FISA Amendment

The American Civil Liberties Union led 52 groups in a letter Monday to leaders of the House of Representatives urging that an amendment barring warrantless government searches of online activities be included in a reauthorization bill for the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The amendment, proposed by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., was two of three voted down by the Senate on May 13.

The coalition said the amendment would help counter “a dramatic loss of trust in United States intelligence agencies over the past two decades.”

Sources (external links):

FBI Chief Rips Apple for Not Helping Crack Florida Shooter’s iPhones

FBI Director Chris Wray attacked Apple Inc. on Monday for not helping investigators unlock the two iPhones of Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded eight others in the Dec. 6 fatal shootings at the Pensacola naval airbase.

Wray said the process of cracking the terrorist’s two iPhones took four months and “large sums of taxpayer dollars,” ZDNet reports.

The Justice Department said they then linked Alshamrani to an al-Qaida branch active in the Arabian Peninsula. Alshamrani was killed by local sheriff’s deputies in the attack at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

“Apple made a business and marketing decision to design its phones in such a way that only the user can unlock the contents no matter the circumstances,” Wray said. “Apple’s desire to provide privacy for its customers is understandable, but not at all costs.”

But Apple said in January that the company had responded to the FBI’s request within hours of the shooting, turning over gigabytes of information to investigators, ZDNet reports.

Source (external link): FBI criticizes Apple for not helping crack Pensacola shooter’s iPhones

Nigerian Crime Ring Siphoned Millions in US Unemployment Money During Pandemic

The U.S. Secret Service said Monday that it had identified cybercriminals targeting state unemployment funds by using personal information stolen from Americans.

Some of the criminals are connected to a sophisticated Nigerian crime ring and might already have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars, Business Insider reports, citing an agency memo first reported last week by security researcher Brian Krebs.

The fraudsters took advantage of states that were struggling to process batches of jobless claims applications amid the COVID-19 pandemic and related government shutdowns.

They primarily targeted Washington state, along with North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida.

More than 36 million Americans have sought unemployment assistance in the past eight weeks, as coronavirus-related shutdowns have led to widespread layoffs across the country.

States also have struggled to meet the high demand amid limited staffing and byzantine unemployment websites — and criminals have taken advantage of the chaos, according to the report.

“Criminals will use stolen personally identifiable information … to file fraudulent state unemployment claims,” a Secret Service official told Business Insider. “Crooks will then use social-engineering techniques to recruit unsuspecting individuals to launder illicitly obtained funds in order to conceal the identity, source and destination.”

Sources (external links):

Germany’s Data Chief Spurns WhatsApp Over Facebook Fears

German Data Privacy Commissioner Ulrich Kelber barred all uses of WhatsApp for federal ministries and institutions, saying that the service forwards information to Facebook.

In a Monday letter to German federal government agencies, Kelber said they must respect, and not neglect, data-protection “even in these difficult times,” DW.com reports.

The federal entities were obliged to uphold German law, he said, and had a role-model function.

“Just by sending messages, metadata is delivered to WhatsApp every time,” Kelber said, adding that it could be assumed that such data then was forwarded directly to Facebook, which owns WhatsApp.

“These contribute, even if only as a small piece of the mosaic, to the increased storage of personal profiles,” he wrote, referring to IP addresses and locations.

But WhatsApp retorted that the service did not forward user data to Facebook — for example, to enable more accurately the distribution of online advertising.

Source (external link): Germany’s data chief tells ministries WhatsApp is a no-go

— By DPN Staff