Today’s Headlines and Commentary – Lawfare | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

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Moldovan security forces were placed on alert after a series of explosions in the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria, reports the Wall Street Journal. Authorities in Transnistria claim that three terrorist attacks in the region targeted a military base, two Soviet-era radio towers broadcasting Russian-language stations and the state security service headquarters in Tiraspol. Moldovan President Maia Sandu said in a press release that the explosions were likely intended to create tension between the pro-Russia region and the rest of Moldova.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the formation of a “contact group” intended to assist Ukraine in its war against Russia, writes NBC News. The group will be composed of U.S. officials and European allies, and it will meet monthly to assess and address developments in the conflict. 

The State Department is offering a reward of up to $10 million in exchange for information about a group of Russian cybercriminals, according to the Hill. According to a press release by the department’s Rewards for Justice Program, investigators are in search of information on six individuals linked to a June 2017 cyberattack that targeted American critical infrastructure. The malware attack targeted computers of hospitals and other medical facilities in the Heritage Valley Health System in Pennsylvania, one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the U.S., as well as other private sector entities. In total, the attack cost the targeted entities almost $1 billion in losses. The six individuals in question were officers of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU) Unit 74455 and colloquially referred to as “Sandworm Team, Telebots, Voodoo Bear and Iron Viking” by cybersecurity researchers. 

Newly released audio reveals that in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was concerned that several of his far-right colleagues would incite violence against other lawmakers in Congress, reports the New York Times. In a Jan. 10 phone call, McCarthy told other Republican leaders that comments made by Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Lauren Boebert and Barry Moore were offensive and endangered the security of several other members of Congress. 

The youngest detainee held at Guantánamo Bay, Hassan bin Attash, was cleared for release by the Defense Department, writes the New York Times. He must now wait for the Biden administration to find a country willing to accept him and offer him mental rehabilitation before he can be released. Bin Attash was born in Yemen in 1982 or 1985 and was captured by Pakistani security services in 2002 alongside a defendant in the Sept. 11 case. Bin Attash has spent his entire adult life in U.S. custody and was never charged with a crime. He was detained for 20 years and spent at least 120 days of his detention at a C.I.A. black site. 

The majority of Americans have been infected with the coronavirus, according to the Washington Post. According to federal health data, more than 190 million Americans—almost 60 percent of the population—have been infected with the virus at least once since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, the coronavirus has killed almost 1 million Americans and also caused other health issues that increased Americans’ death rates from other illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. The data also reveals that 3 out 4 American children have tested positive for the coronavirus at least once since March 2020.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Benjamin Wittes sat down with Vladislav Davidzon—author of  “From Odessa with Love: Political and Literary Essays in Post-Soviet Ukraine”—to discuss the course of the war in Ukraine, life in Odessa today and the current state of Ukrainian politics.

Matthew Fitzgerald and Cort Thompson discussed what Starlink’s participation in Ukrainian defense reveals about U.S. space policy. 

Paul Stephan argued that frozen Russian assets cannot be used to provide material support to Ukraine in the face of existing legal barriers.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

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