Overnight Cybersecurity: Russian sanctions deal clears Senate hurdle | How nations rank on internet port security – The Hill

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Welcome to OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY, your daily rundown of the biggest news in the world of hacking and data privacy. We’re here to connect the dots as leaders in government, policy and industry try to counter the rise in cyber threats. What lies ahead for Congress, the administration and the latest company under siege? Whether you’re a consumer, a techie or a D.C. lifer, we’re here to give you …

THE BIG STORY:

–AMENDMENT TO TAKE RUSSIA SANCTIONS OUT OF TRUMP’S HANDS ADVANCES: 
The Senate easily voted Wednesday to advance a bipartisan agreement to slap new financial penalties on Russia and let Congress weigh in before President Trump can lift sanctions. Senators voted 97-2 to attach the deal to an Iran sanctions bill currently being debated on the Senate floor. Republican Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulShooting turned GOP baseball practice into ‘killing field’ Overnight Cybersecurity: Russian sanctions deal clears Senate hurdle | How nations rank on internet port security Overnight Defense: Trump to let Pentagon set Afghan troop levels | Senate advances Russia sanctions deal | Mattis to talk missile defense with South Korea MORE (Ky.) and Mike LeeMike LeeOvernight Cybersecurity: Russian sanctions deal clears Senate hurdle | How nations rank on internet port security Overnight Defense: Trump to let Pentagon set Afghan troop levels | Senate advances Russia sanctions deal | Mattis to talk missile defense with South Korea Senate votes to continue arming Saudis As Yemenis suffer the consequences MORE (Utah) were the only senators to vote against including new Russia penalties in the legislation. The Senate is expected to pass the Iran and Russia sanctions bill as soon as this week. Absent an agreement, the Senate will take another procedural vote on the legislation on Thursday morning. The vote comes after top Republicans held off for months from backing tougher financial penalties in a bid to give the Trump administration space to try to improve the U.S.-Russia relationship, which soured under the Obama administration. But top senators have signaled that talks with Russia over Syria, where Moscow supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, were moving too slowly to warrant holding off on new penalties. “We must take our own side in this fight. Not as Republicans, not as Democrats, but as Americans. It’s time to respond to Russia’s attack on American democracy with strength, with resolve, with common purpose, and with action,” Sen. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Cybersecurity: Russian sanctions deal clears Senate hurdle | How nations rank on internet port security Overnight Defense: Trump to let Pentagon set Afghan troop levels | Senate advances Russia sanctions deal | Mattis to talk missile defense with South Korea McCain: Trump ‘finally moving forward’ on Afghanistan strategy MORE (R-Ariz.) said ahead of Wednesday’s vote.  The Russia deal would impose new sanctions, including on any individuals tied to “malicious cyber activity,” supplying weapons to Assad’s government or individuals tied to Russia’s intelligence and defense sectors. It would also give Congress 30 days — or 60 days around the August recess — to review and potentially block Trump from lifting or relaxing Russia sanctions; codify the sanctions on Russia imposed by executive order by the Obama administration, and allow the Trump administration to impose new sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

–…TILLERSON ARGUES FOR MORE ‘FLEXIBILITY’: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned on Wednesday that Congress should not pass any legislation that would undercut “constructive dialogue” with Russia. “I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions,” he said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Asked about Tillerson’s comments, Corker told The Hill that he thought the legislation didn’t prevent the administration from lifting sanctions if they are able to make progress with Russia. “Obviously this is a very strong piece of legislation and it is forward in its policy, but yes, if progress is made they have the ability to do what they need to do. In certain cases it would require congressional review,” he said. He added that if he was in Tillerson’s position “I would be saying the same thing. …No administration wants input from legislative branches.”

 

A REGULATORY UPDATE:

BACK TO THE FCC. President Trump on Tuesday nominated Jessica Rosenworcel to return to the Federal Communications Commission to fill an open seat for a Democrat.

A former commissioner, Rosenworcel served from 2012 to January 2017 as her term expired.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Cybersecurity: Russian sanctions deal clears Senate hurdle | How nations rank on internet port security Overnight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman’s pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term MORE (D-N.Y.) had pushed for her to serve another term, and former President Barack ObamaBarack Obama5 takeaways from the Virginia primaries Obama DHS chief to testify in House Russia probe Overnight Cybersecurity: Russian sanctions deal clears Senate hurdle | How nations rank on internet port security MORE renominated her in the days before he left office. But President Trump withdrew her nomination in February.

Rosenworcel has been a strong supporter of the FCC’s Obama-era net neutrality rules, which new Republican Chairman Ajit Pai is moving to roll back.

Trump’s decision to tap Rosenworcel to serve another term was roundly praised by both Democrats and Republicans at the FCC, cable industry advocates and net neutrality supporters alike.

“Ms. Rosenworcel is a great pick for the FCC and I’m happy the Administration accepted our recommendation,” Schumer said in a statement. “Once she is confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with her to prioritize consumer protections – including preserving net neutrality, expanding rural broadband and more.”

To read the rest of our story, click here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK:

NIGHTMARE TURKEYS ONCE ROAMED THE OUTBACK. Crocodile Dundee could have been way more interesting.

 

A REPORT IN FOCUS:

WE’RE NOT NUMBER ONE! When it comes to a recent report by the security firm Rapid7, the United States is not number one when it comes to securing the connection points used in internet communications called ports. In fact, the U.S. is number 137.

Each internet protocol tends to use a different port to form a connection, be it email, web traffic, a file sharing system, databases or something else. For less used protocols, it’s wise to completely block all connections. The report evaluated each country by the percentage of systems that accepted connections over different protocols and how often traffic was unencrypted and could therefore be intercepted by eavesdroppers.

Many threats take advantage of exposed ports. The Wanna Cry ransomware used exposed ports for a native Windows file sharing service. The Mirai botnet that briefly knocked Netflix and Twitter offline used exposed telnet ports in internet connected devices.

The report finds GDP does not correlate with security or even a national reputation for cyber savviness. The most exposed regions, it finds, are Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Samoa, Republic of the Congo, Tajikistan, Romania, Ireland, Lithuania, Australia, and Estonia. Ireland hosts many internet companies’ European operations and Estonia is generally considered one of the most vigilant nations against nation-state attackers.

The U.S. outranks Russia, China, France, Singapore, Taiwan, Spain, Canada and New Zealand – all of whom place in the top 50 exposed nations. It also edges out 129th ranked Germany.

Iceland, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium are among the wealthy nations that have the U.S.’s better.

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