Daily Digest (10/22)

US Accuses Iran of Sending Intimidating Emails to Democrats as Election Nears; Mozilla Fears ‘Collateral Damage’ From Google Antitrust Battle; House Republicans Press VA for Details on Big Data Breach; Scammers Using Election for Online Profit, Facebook Says; US Citizens Alarmed Over Political Misinformation, Poll Finds. Click “Continue reading” below.

US Accuses Iran of Sending Intimidating Emails to Democrats as Election Nears

U.S. officials accused Iran late Wednesday of sending multiple emails to Democratic voters to intimate them into voting for Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

Top U.S. intelligence officials made the announcement at a last-minute news conference 13 days before the election, The Associated Press reports.

The officials, however, did not specify how they concluded that Tehran was involved, but experts said the incident was regarded as a second-rate player in online espionage.

“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” said National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe and FBI Director Chris Wary called out Russia and Iran for obtaining voter registration information and intimidating voters, according to AP.

While Russian hackers are known to have infiltrated the U.S. election in 2016, no evidence has been found to suggest that Iran has had any involvement in past or present elections.

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Mozilla Fears ‘Collateral Damage’ From Google Antitrust Battle

In response to the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google, Mozilla said its commercial relationship could become “collateral damage” in the battle with the U.S. government over the company’s alleged monopolistic practices.

“Small and independent companies such as Mozilla thrive by innovating, disrupting, and providing users with industry-leading features and services in areas like search,” Amy Keating, Mozilla’s chief legal officer, wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

“The ultimate outcomes of an antitrust lawsuit should not cause collateral damage to the very organizations — like Mozilla — best positioned to drive competition and protect the interests of consumers on the web.”

In its 64-page lawsuit, the Justice Department and 11 states alleged that Google has violated anti-competition laws by crowding out rivals in the internet search and advertising markets.

Mozilla has a long and complicated history with Google, VentureBeat reports. The company has waged numerous privacy campaigns against Google’s online properties.

But Mozilla also relies heavily on royalties from a search-engine partnership with Google.

The companies recently extended their agreement to make Google the default search engine inside Firefox in the U.S. and other markets, reportedly securing Mozilla up to $450 million over three years, according to VentureBeat.

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House Republicans Press VA for Details on Big Data Breach

Republican members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee have pressed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for answers about a July data breach that exposed information on 46,000 veterans.

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., ranking member of the panel’s subcommittee on government operations, led more than a dozen of GOP committee members in sending a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Tuesday, The Hill reports.

“Data breaches of any kind are concerning, but particularly so when the targeted data is held in trust by the U.S. government and where it affects veterans,” the members wrote.

The breach was discovered in July, when the agency’s Financial Services Center had determined that one of its online applications was accessed by unauthorized users to divert payments to community health care providers for veterans’ medical treatment.

But the VA announced the hack Sept. 14, with an agency spokeswoman telling Digital Privacy News earlier this month the seven-week lag was necessary to follow federal government protocols and to inform affected vets.

“Although we commend the VA for its apparent quick response in taking the application offline and investigating the breach, as well as its efforts to notify affected individuals, we are concerned about veterans’ personal information being vulnerable and the potential consequences data breaches such as this have on affected veterans,” the Republican letter said.

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Scammers Using Election for Online Profit, Facebook Says

Facebook said Wednesday that scammers were creating accounts with U.S. presidential election information to maximize clicks and make money online.

The company wrote on its platform that the Nov. 3 election had become a common lure to users visiting online websites with pay-per-view advertisements, Reuters reports.

“If you are a financially motivated hacker who’s trying to make money based on clicks, you are going to use whatever content is going to get you eyeballs,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, told Reuters.

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US Citizens Alarmed Over Political Misinformation, Poll Finds

A survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Opinion Research found that Americans were worried about political misinformation swaying voters in the Nov. 3 election.

The poll found that voters were having a difficult time knowing whether voter information is factual, The Associated Press reports.

“We are living today in the biggest period of false information in history, and we Americans are largely doing it to ourselves,” CIA Officer Cindy Otis told Congress last week, AP reports. “Americans are losing trust in what they read and see online.”

The poll found that Americans do not see the candidates and their campaigns as credible sources for political information, according to AP.

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— By DPN Staff