Interpol on ransomware enforcement. US cyber czar ready to start. EU considers ban on biometric surveillance. US EO addresses tech competition. | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

At a glance.

  • Interpol seeks a role for national law enforcement agencies in fighting ransomware.
  • US cyber czar ready to start work.
  • EU considers a ban on biometric surveillance.
  • US Executive Order seeks to foster competition.

Interpol sees a larger role for national enforcement bodies in fighting ransomware.

Interpol is planning to elevate National Central Bureaus’ (NCB’s) part in combatting cybercrime and to bolster the force’s secure communications network, BankInfoSecurity reports. Each of Interpol’s nearly two-hundred member states house an NCB that connects domestic police with the agency. 

“A global strategy in response to the threat of ransomware is critical – one where we successfully build trust, see effective exchange of data, and maximize rapid operational assistance to law enforcement agencies,” commented Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock. 

FBI San Francisco cyber lead Elvis Chan predicted “a very busy summer” ahead, “with multiple takedowns across different countries.” Organizations are encouraged to check out CISA’s Ransomware Readiness Assessment tool, released last week. 

Chris Inglis to begin work as US cyber czar.

Bloomberg Law says Chris Inglis will be sworn in today as National Cyber Director and prospective CISA Director Jen Easterly’s nomination is anticipated to progress in the Senate following weeks of delays. Last month Senator Gary Peters (Democrat of Michigan) cautioned, “We urgently need a qualified and Senate-confirmed leader in place before the next major breach.” Senator Rick Scott (Republican of Florida) blocked new Department of Homeland Security appointments pending an appearance by Vice President Harris at the Mexican border, then the Senate took a two-week break. Inglis is tasked with developing a national cyber strategy.

EU considers a ban on biometric surveillance.

Wired reviews two EU data regulators’ wished-for prohibition on identifying residents via AI, calling such surveillance “scientifically and ethically dubious” and potentially “creepy and discriminatory.” Existing European Commission proposals restrict without forbidding biometric analysis, and local firms currently sell biometrics-informed surveillance products for public and private security applications. Other uses for biometric tools include marketing, identity verification, lie detection, and fraud prevention. Quarterbacked by China, the US, and increasingly the EU, the industry could grow to $80 billion over the next few years. 

Onlookers have raised privacy and civil liberties concerns. The European Data Protection Supervisor and Data Protection Board would like to see a ban on tracking markers like gait, voice, veins, body part geometry, keystrokes, and DNA, or predicting gender, ideology, emotions, and ethnicity using AI in public places. Wired warns that the final rules “will define how hundreds of millions of people are surveilled for decades to come.”

Proposed safeguards include transparency, accuracy, and security measures. Meanwhile, a Democratic Integrity executive says, “We have very little information about…the terms on which [organizations are] collecting, processing, retaining, sharing, or securing our most personal information.” 

US Executive Order addresses multiple tech issues.

US President Biden Friday issued a complicated Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy The focus is on measures intended to promote competition and reduce the inhibiting effects on innovation that incipient monopolies may have. Observers have characterized the Executive Order as more roadmap than immediately prescriptive regulation. It’s applicable across most sectors, but the effects of the measure on Big Tech are drawing most attention. These include closer scrutiny of mergers and acquisition as well as encouragement of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make rules governing collection and retention of data, and rules that would inhibit unfair competition in online commerce.

Saryu Nayyar, CEO of Gurucul, sees the Executive Order as a warning shot over Big Tech’s bow:

“The Biden administration fired its first shot at Big Tech, introducing an executive order that seeks to limit possible antitrust behavior in large and wealthy social media and advertising platforms. By acquiring smaller innovative companies, firms like Facebook and Google are thought to be stifling up and coming competition, extending their dominance in their respective business domains. This executive order announces greater government evaluation of mergers, as well as an examination of how much personal data can be collected by these companies and how they use this data.

 “This may be a wake-up call for Big Tech companies who for years have operated with minimal government oversight. In particular, those companies that have played fast and loose with data and enabled attackers to steal private data may find themselves on the receiving end of restrictions on how much privacy data they can collect and how they protect it.”

Garret Grajek, CEO of YouAttest welcomes the prospect that the order will help foster a climate of innovation, where start-ups innovate and see their innovations picked up by bigger companies:

“Any action that ensures that new ideas and new methodologies are encouraged rather than crushed by uncompetitive or monopolistic practices is a welcome sign. Kaseya, Colonial, SolarWinds all show that we need our ‘best and brightest’ up front to win in this battle against the enemies of an open internet. If our companies and practices are holding us back – this should be called out and stopped.  

“A healthy model that has always been and should be encouraged, is that start-ups create the new ideas and become absorbed into the larger companies for more widespread adoption and distribution. It is important that government action does not squash this natural and healthy eco-system of product and idea development.”

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