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Data Sheet—Saturday, November 14, 2015

Today’s newsletter originally dealt with the charges that prosecutors recently unveiled against three alleged cybercriminals linked to the hacking of J.P. Morgan Chase and others. Initially, the subject line read “casino/software/pharmaceutical cocktail,” as this week’s unsealed indictment described the suspects’ “sprawling criminal enterprise.” I’m scrapping that to discuss something else.

First: Our hearts go out to the citizens, the victims, the families of those affected by the terror attacks in Paris, France, on Friday. Such violence is—regardless of one’s ideology—unremittingly cruel, confusing, and costly.

This essay’s purpose is not to rehash the events of that evening. Follow the breaking news updates for that. Rather, it intends to call attention to the uncertain times in which we live. The forces of technology are reshaping human interaction, for better as well as for worse. (Though one’s classification often depends upon where one sits.)

The cybersecurity and data privacy challenges we are coping with today are an outgrowth of real world forces. Businesses, bureaucracies, and the battle-worn bodies of people everywhere are colliding and contending with as yet undetermined status quos. Hackers disrupt devices; thieves steal identities; spies surveil citizens; terrorists assail innocents; dissidents critique governments; advocates demand liberties.

Some commentators have described the Parisian attacks as France’s “September 11th,” a nod to the trigger event that sent the United States headlong into a radical rethinking of its security posture, and set in motion the policies that would define its coming years. Following that day, the so-called pendulum—as many observers describe the nation’s popular sentiment—swung from respect for personal privacy to a preference for state preservation. Edward Snowden’s revelations tipped the scales again. Recalibrations are ongoing.

The world has tough choices to make. No one knows the answers. But I hope you’ll join in the attempt to help figure them out. Cybersecurity, it should be noted, does not have solely to do with computers. Cybersecurity affects people. People who live and love and dread and dream. It is physical.

Next month, when Fortune’s offices move downtown, in the shadow of the World Trade Center as well as the ghosts that stood before it, it will become daily apparent in the newsroom why anyone should care about cybersecurity in the first place, or at all.

Robert Hackett


Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach me via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber, PGP encrypted email, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.


Terror attacks strike France. More than 100 people have died in a mass killing in Paris on Friday. The self-declared Islamic State has claimed responsibility. (Fortune)

Three suspected cybercrime ringleaders indicted. Prosecutors have unsealed charges against two Israelis and an American who allegedly targeted a dozen companies in cybercriminal schemes. The attacks, which hit J.P. Morgan Chase and others, reportedly generated hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal profits for the gang. (Fortune)

Comcast customers reset passwords. The telecom giant had to reset the login credentials for 200,000 customers whose account information appeared for sale on the dark web. The company insists it did not suffer a security breach. (Fortune)

Talk Talk upgrades data breach victims. The British telecom group offered free upgrades to more than 150,000 customers whose personal data had been stolen. The company also raised its dividend, causing its stock price to surge. (Guardian)

Microsoft to open German data centers. The U.S. tech giant plans to bring data centers online in Germany that will store European businesses’ data, away from the potentially prying eyes of U.S. spy agencies. The move will be done in partnership with the German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom AG. (Reuters)

Did the FBI pay Carnegie Mellon to crack Tor? The non-profit Tor foundation accused the law enforcement agency of paying researchers at Carnegie Mellon University $1 million for access to anonymity software-cracking know-how. The bureau denies the claim. (Verge, Ars Technica)

Ukraine shows the future of cyberwar. Armed conflicts now unfold through a combination of physical and digital assaults. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Kiev, which has struggled to boost its digital defenses, ever since a pro-Russia hacker group knocked the country’s IT systems offline just before a presidential election last year. (Wall Street Journal)

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Fortune reporter Robert Hackett (yours truly) explains why a U.S. cybersecurity bill has caused a rift everywhere except, amazingly, in Congress.

At the end of October the U.S. Senate broke its characteristic state of logjam and passed by a wide margin the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. The bill encourages companies and federal agencies to exchange data related to computer threats (of which there are many these days) and formalizes the framework for how the two sides should interact. It’s the first piece of significant cybersecurity legislation to clear the chamber in years, though lawmakers have been attempting to pass a bill like it since at least 2012. But not everyone backs the pending law… Read the rest on


“StopHillary.” A GOP debate Wi-Fi password. (Yahoo Finance)

Pick locks. With zip ties. (Digg)

Hedy Lamarr. Actress, innovator, wireless woman. (Fortune)

Spy graffiti? Unconventional recruitment ads. (Business Insider)

Acid trips. The CIA birthed the Grateful Dead. (Collectors Weekly)


Marco Rubio’s Plan to Defund Highways Isn’t Quite as Crazy as it Sounds by David Z. Morris

Why Mylan Just Lost the Largest Hostile Takeover Battle Ever by Jen Wieczner

Apple is Shutting Down Beats Music, Just Like Most Companies it Buys by Don Reisinger

Why Realtors Want to Sell You a Smart Home by Stacey Higginbotham

‘Uber for Choppers’ Mimics Airbnb Tactics, Asks Users to Oppose NYC Noise Bill by Jeff John Roberts


In times of crisis, misinformation proliferates. Here are the social media rumors you should not believe about the Friday night’s heinous attacks in France. (BuzzFeed)


“It’s like drinking freaking vodka in Russia.”

Leader of the world’s biggest busted cybercrime ring (according to prosecutors), Gery Shalon, cracking a joke to a co-conspirator about the popularity of stock trading among Americans. Shalon and his team allegedly orchestrated hacking operations that allowed them to pull off lucrative pump and dump stock schemes, among other nefarious online activities. He and two other people were indicted on a number of charges related to data breaches at companies ranging from J.P. Morgan to Dow Jones this week. (Bloomberg)