Daily Digest (6/3)

Did Hackers Take Down Minneapolis PD’s Website?; Minn. Neutralizing Cyberattacks on State Computers; US Senators Propose Bipartisan Contact-Tracing Bill; Advocacy Groups Submit Brief Supporting Maine Privacy Law. Click “Continue reading” below.

Did Hackers Take Down Minneapolis PD’s Website? 

The Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) website was taken down as early as Saturday in response to the death of George Floyd — and social media swelled with rumors that it was done by the hacker collective Anonymous.

The MPD site and the parent City of Minneapolis page became inaccessible late Saturday, according to multiple user reports, Variety.com disclosed.

By early Sunday, the sites were still experiencing access problems, with a notice at the top of each homepage saying: “This page … is currently offline.

“However, because the site uses Cloudflare’s … technology, you can continue to surf a snapshot of the site,” the notice continued. “We will keep checking in the background and, as soon as the site comes back, you will automatically be served the live version.”

The notice was still on top of both pages late Tuesday.

According to Variety, the disruptions came after a Facebook page claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous posted a May 28 video warning MPD that it “will be exposing your many crimes to the world” and that “this week’s brutal killing of George Floyd … is merely the tip of the iceberg in a long list of high-profile cases of wrongful death at the hands of officers in your state.”

The video, which had been viewed more than 1.8 million times, featured a figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and an electronically altered voiceover, which are the group’s hallmarks.

The @LatestAnonNews Twitter account, which claims to be run by “multiple Anons,” did not directly take credit for the site outages, but it retweeted others who suggested they were carried out by the group, Variety reports.

Floyd, 46, who is black, died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The officer and three others were fired. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder.

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Minn. Neutralizing Cyberattacks on State Computers

Minnesota officials said technology agencies are fending off cyberattacks aimed at crippling the state’s computer systems.

According to GovTech.com, officials did not explicitly tie the attacks to the unrest caused by the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African American man, by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, who had knelt on his neck.

Floyd’s death has touched off days of protest, not only in Minnesota, but around the world.

“MNIT’s Security Operations Center is defending against distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) cyber-attacks aimed at overloading state information systems and networks to tip them offline,” said Tarek Tomes, state chief information officer and commissioner of Minnesota IT Services.

“Keeping our communications systems secure during times of crisis is critical to protecting the Minnesotans that we serve, and we work to meet the challenging and evolving threat to those systems every day.

“At this time, these attacks have not successfully disrupted the state services that Minnesotans depend upon,” Tomes said, “and MNIT was working with partners at the Department of Public Safety and with the federal government to share intelligence and stay proactive on cyberthreats.”

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US Senators Propose Bipartisan Contact-Tracing Bill

Three senators Monday introduced bipartisan legislation to regulate contact-tracing apps.

But the Exposure Notification Privacy Act would ensure those who do not want to use the apps are not tracked and would bar any data collected by the apps from being used for commercial purposes.

The bill was proposed by Democratic Sens. Sen. Maria Cantwell, Wash., and Amy Klobuchar, Minn., and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, La.

“The important thing we wanted to get done, as people started to look at this, is to make sure the privacy protections are in place,” Cantwell said.

Cassidy said: “This bill defends privacy when someone voluntarily joins with others to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Klobuchar added that “while contact-tracing can play a critical role in helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus, this crucial innovation cannot come at the expense of consumers’ privacy.”

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Advocacy Groups Submit Brief Supporting Maine Privacy Law

The advocacy group Access Now has filed an amicus brief with New America’s Open Technology Institute in federal court in Maine defending the state’s privacy law amid efforts to invalidate it.

The brief, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland, challenged the “privileged position” of internet service providers (ISP), which included access to sensitive user information.

Broad data collection by ISPs “can harm people, especially those most at risk, if not regulated,” Eric Null, Access Now’s U.S. policy manager said.

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— By DPN Staff