Daily Digest (10/27)

Microsoft Is No. 4 Contributor to Biden Campaign; US Judge Denies New Bid to Block WeChat From App Stores; COVID-19 Vaccine Maker in India Hit by Cyberattack; US Sanctions Russian Research Institution. Click “Continue reading” below.

Microsoft Is No. 4 Contributor to Biden Campaign

Microsoft has emerged as the fourth-largest contributor to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign, according to the politics-tracking website Opensource.

Brad Smith, the company’s president, hosted a fundraiser for the former vice president last year in Medina, Wash., and had a public role during the Democratic National Convention this summer, Reuters reports.

Smith also is a big-dollar bundler, someone who has raised more than $25,000 for the campaign.

Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s chief technology officer, and his wife, Shannon Hunt-Scott, also have contributed more than $50,000 to committees working to help Biden win, campaign finance records showed.

In addition, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that Microsoft senior executives have donated more to Biden’s campaign during the primaries than any other large tech company, Reuters reports.

“Microsoft has been playing politics for much longer than the other large technology companies that are widely talked about,” Max Moran, a CEPR told Reuters. “It knows how to play the game on both sides of the aisle.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment, according to the report.

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US Judge Denies New Bid to Block WeChat From App Stores 

A federal district court judge in San Francisco on Friday rejected a Justice Department request to reverse a decision allowing Apple and Google to continue offering Chinese-owned WeChat for download in U.S. app stores.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said the government’s new evidence did not change her opinion about the app, Reuters reports, dismissing Justice Department claims that WeChat threatened national security. 

“The record does not support the conclusion that the government has ‘narrowly tailored’ the prohibited transactions to protect its national-security interests,” Beeler wrote Friday.

The agency appealed Beeler’s decision to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but no ruling is likely before December, according to Reuters. 

In a suit brought by WeChat users last month, Beeler blocked a U.S. Commerce Department order set to take effect Sept. 20 requiring the app to be removed from U.S. stores.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Maker in India Hit by Cyberattack 

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer in India, has shut down its plants in Brazil, India, Russia, the U.S. and the U.K. after a cyberattack, according to reports.

The company is the contractor for Russia’s “Sputinik V” COVID-19 vaccine, which is about to enter Phase 2 human trials, Threatpost reports.

The company isolated all data-center services to apply remediations following the attack, The Economic Times reported. 

“In the wake of a detected cyberattack, we have isolated all data-center services to take required preventive actions,” CIO Mukesh Rathi said in a statement late last Thursday.

“We are anticipating all services to be up within 24 hours, and we do not foresee any major impact on our operations due to this incident.”

The BBC reported that two U.K. plants had been taken offline during the attack. 

The company has not released details of the hack and has not commented on the operations taken offline.

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US Sanctions Russian Research Institution 

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned a Russian research institute Friday that was connected to Triton malware, capable of causing catastrophic industrial damage. 

The department alleged that the government-backed Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics — also known by its Russian acronym, TsNIIKhM — was responsible for “building customized tools that enabled the attack” on an petrochemical facility that the agency did not disclose in the Middle East in 2017, Reuters reports.

Last year, the attackers behind the Triton malware were reported to be scanning and probing at least 20 electric utilities in the U.S. for vulnerabilities, according to the release.

“The Russian Government continues to engage in dangerous cyber activities aimed at the United States and our allies,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a news release.

“This administration will continue to aggressively defend the critical infrastructure of the United States from anyone attempting to disrupt it.”

But Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., said on social media: “We call on the United States to abandon the vicious practice of unfounded accusations.” 

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— By DPN Staff