Daily Digest (6/4)

Hackers Steal Secrets From US Nuclear Missile Contractor; Google Accused of Tracking ‘Private’ Internet Use in $5B Lawsuit; DEA Gets Broad Permission to Investigate People Protesting George Floyd’s Death; Facebook Closes White Nationalist and Fake Antifa Accounts. Click “Continue reading” below.

Hackers Steal Secrets From US Nuclear Missile Contractor 

Hackers have stolen confidential documents from a U.S. military contractor that supports the Minuteman III nuclear deterrent, Sky News reported Wednesday.

After gaining access to Westech International Inc.’s computer network, the hackers encrypted the company’s machines and leaked documents online to force the company to pay extortion.

It was unclear if the breached documents included classified military information, but files that already have been leaked online suggested the hackers had access to extremely sensitive data, including payroll and emails.

Westech International, a woman-owned small company based in Albuquerque, N.M., confirmed the hack and encryption to Sky News, adding that investigations into what data had been stolen were continuing.

The company is a subcontractor for Northrup Grumman, providing engineering and maintenance support for Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Minuteman III is a land-based component of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, stored in hundreds of protected underground launch facilities operated by the Air Force.

Each ICBM can deliver multiple thermonuclear warheads more than 6,000 miles, or the distance between London and Buenos Aires, Sky News reported.

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Google Accused of Tracking ‘Private’ Internet Use in $5B Lawsuit

Google was sued on Tuesday in a proposed federal class-action accusing the internet search behemoth of illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by pervasively tracking their internet use though browsers were set to “private” mode. 

Seeking at least $5 billion, the action accuses Google of surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse, despite their using what Google calls “Incognito” mode, Reuters reports.

According to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., Google gathers data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and plug-ins, including smartphone apps — regardless of whether users click on Google-supported ads.

The features help Google learn about users’ friends, hobbies, favorite foods, shopping habits, and even the “most intimate and potentially embarrassing things” they search for online, the complaint said.

Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said the company would defend itself vigorously against the claims, Reuters reports.

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DEA Gets Broad Permission to Investigate People Protesting George Floyd’s Death

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been granted sweeping new authority to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people participating in protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

The authority was granted in a two-page Justice Department memorandum obtained and disclosed Tuesday by BuzzFeed News.

Floyd’s death “has spawned widespread protests across the nation, which, in some instances, have included violence and looting,” the memo says. “Police agencies in certain areas of the country have struggled to maintain and/or restore order.”

The document requests the powers temporarily — and a senior Justice official signed off on it Sunday afternoon, BuzzFeed reports.

Attorney General William Barr issued a statement Saturday after a night of widespread and at times violent protests across the country. He blamed the unrest on “anarchistic and far-left extremists, using antifa-like tactics.”

Barr said that the FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be “deployed to support local efforts to enforce federal law.”

Under the law, DEA is limited to enforcing only drug-related federal crimes. An agency spokesperson declined to comment, BuzzFeed reports.

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Facebook Closes White Nationalist and Fake Antifa Accounts

Facebook Inc. said Tuesday that it had suspended accounts associated with white nationalist groups after some advocated bringing weapons to anti-racist demonstrations.

Officials also said they removed accounts falsely claiming allegiance to antifa in order to bring discredit to the anti-fascist movement.

Antifa adherents have said they focus on defending people from attacks by authorities or vigilantes. President Donald Trump has said they instigated anti-police violence.

Some of the removed white nationalist accounts were associated with the Proud Boys, which Facebook previously classified as a dangerous group. Others had connections to a group called the American Guard, which now is classified the same way.

Multiple Facebook executives described the action on condition they not be identified, Reuters reports. They said that they acted based on behavior, not on the politics of any content, and that Facebook had not designated antifa as dangerous.

Facebook declined to comment on whether it had been in touch with law enforcement, which it typically does in cases of an imminent threat. 

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By DPN Staff