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Obama set to appoint permanent OPM director
Lawmakers expand probe into Obama's warrantless surveillance
Feds rule in favor of snooping by tech giants
U.S. will hold off on calling out Chinese over hacking
Teens hack FBI leader's personal email


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Rudy Takala's Columns

Obama set to appoint permanent OPM director

President Obama will seek to appoint Beth Cobert as director of the Office of Personnel Management, he said in a statement on Tuesday. Cobert has served as acting director of the agency since July.

"Beth will bring tremendous depth and quality of experience to her role as director of the Office of Personnel Management," Obama said. "As acting director, Beth has effectively pursued strategies to strengthen cybersecurity and improve the way the government serves citizens, businesses, and the federal workforce both past and present.

Lawmakers expand probe into Obama's warrantless surveillance

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is demanding to know how widespread the use of warrantless surveillance is within the Obama administration, after it became known that the Internal Revenue Service has quietly been using "cell-site simulator" technology to collect data from unsuspecting people.

In a Monday letter to all 24 federal agencies, the leaders of the House Oversight Committee said it wants to know which other agencies are using this technology, commonly known as "Stingray" technology that poses as cell phone towers.

Feds rule in favor of snooping by tech giants

Google, Facebook and other tech giants should remain free to spy on you, regulators ruled on Friday.

A petition filed with the Federal Communications Commission by the privacy group Consumer Watchdog asked that such websites be forced to respect consumer requests not to have their online activity tracked. The FCC dismissed the petition, stating that it has been "unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers."

The FCC voted to reclassify Internet service providers as Title II utilities this year, placing them under laws codified by the Communications Act of 1934 and Telecommunications Act of 1996.

U.S. will hold off on calling out Chinese over hacking

The first ministerial meeting between China and the U.S. will take place Dec. 1-2. But don't expect U.S. officials to accuse China of violating their anti-hacking agreement.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Loretta Lynch will lead the U.S. delegation at the meeting in Washington.

"I would not characterize our first ministerial as any sort of deadline, and I think we will assess compliance with the written commitments as we go," Johnson said at a Council on Foreign Relations event on Wednesday.

Teens hack FBI leader's personal email

The deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the latest national security official who appears to have had a personal account hacked by teenagers.

The group of teenagers, who call themselves "Crackas With Attitude," told Vice Motherboard on Wednesday that they made their way into an account belonging to FBI Deputy Director Mark Giuliano. The group first made news in October for hacking into a personal AOL account belonging to Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan, and a Comcast account belonging to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

Report: Iran targets U.S. officials in hacking spree

Hackers backed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps have hacked top administration officials in the United States, according to an official quoted in the Wall Street Journal late Wednesday.

"U.S. officials were among many who were targeted by recent cyberattacks," the source said. Those officials included staffers in the State Department's Office of Iranian Affairs and its Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, in addition to some journalists and academics.

Lawmakers shaming sports leagues over paid patriotism

Lawmakers are pressing forward with a campaign to shame professional sports leagues that have been paid by the Defense Department to be patriotic.

Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss payments made by the Pentagon to the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League to honor service members at sporting events. Government records indicate the department paid a minimum of $6.

Study: Androids targeted by 20,000 'trojanized' apps

Android users are being targeted by more than 20,000 "trojanized" pieces of adware masquerading as legitimate applications, according to new research.

In research released on Wednesday, mobile security company Lookout says that malware called "Shuanet" is infecting Android devices by posing as popular applications like Facebook, Okta, Twitter, and WhatsApp.

"Unlike older types of adware that were obvious and obnoxious, prompting users to uninstall them, this new type of adware is silent, working in the background," Lookout's researchers write.

U.S. fails to protect companies from Chinese hacks, experts say

The Obama administration is failing to adequately defend American companies against Chinese commercial espionage, according to two former intelligence officials.

"We need to find a way to raise the consequences for Chinese economic espionage. Signing an agreement where we both agree that we won't do it tells me that they are in exactly the wrong place to push back on Chinese economic espionage," Mike Rogers, former House Intelligence Committee chairman, told the 

Chaffetz seeks to criminalize warrantless data collection

Legislation being introduced on Monday would make it illegal for agencies to use fake cell towers that vacuum up cell phone data over a wide area without a warrant.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is introducing the Cell-Site Simulator Act. Under draft text of the bill provided to the Washington Examiner, collecting metadata with a device known as a stingray would require a warrant. Violations would be punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in prison.
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