Data Sheet—Saturday, September 3, 2016


Media outlets spent Friday bracing for a news dump and, sure enough, it was a doozy: FBI transcripts from an interview with Hillary Clinton revealed that she used 13 different mobile devices to send emails from a private server during and after her tenure as Secretary of State. What’s more, Clinton allegedly misplaced some of the BlackBerry devices, and some of them are simply gone — making it harder to determine the extent to which hackers could have penetrated Clinton’s communications.

It’s important to note the FBI transcripts are heavily redacted, and the media is still assessing their significance. Still, the initial optics are not exactly flattering to the Clinton campaign, including her claim that she was not aware that the symbol “(C)” at the beginning of a paragraph stood for CONFIDENTIAL.

Expect to hear a lot more about this as the presidential campaign kicks off in earnest after Labor Day. But no matter how you feel about Clinton or her critics, there is actually one big upside to the l’affaire email. Namely, political candidates from here on will have no choice but to take cyber-security issues as seriously as they do their voting records and their campaign hair-dos. By the 2020 election, no serious candidate will be able to take a cavalier approach to communications.

But for now it’s the long weekend and everyone— even the candidates —should unplug their devices and relax. So knock back a last cocktail before election season and autumn is upon us. Robert Hackett will be back from vacation next week. Thanks for reading – all the cyber news is below.

Jeff Roberts


Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my, PGP encrypted email (see public key on my, Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.


Cyber Short-Sellers: What would you do if you discovered that a medical company had a serious cyber-vulnerability? Why, tell investors to short their stock. Security firm MedSec did just that before warning the company or regulators — and a lot of folks think that's not cool. (Passcode)

Calling out Blockchain BS: The CEO of Chain blasted the hype over blockchain. That's surprising since blockchain is the very technology that his company wants to sell. He says he's tired of far-flung use cases, and wants to focus on blockchain's primary purpose of moving money. (Fortune)

More alarm over Apple: The security community is still buzzing over a trio of iPhone exploits, and now comes news the same vulnerability could have been deployed against devices running Apple's OS X. The problem is now patched. (Motherboard)

Another SWIFT stick-up: The adage that robbers target banks because "that's where the money is" holds true for Central Banks. After suffering an early rash of robberies, financial messaging system SWIFT says hacker bandits struck again. (Reuters)

Hillary's staff gets cyber-security religion: In the wake of the DNC breach, the staffers in Hillary-land appear to have gotten cyber religion with a vengeance. Everyone is under orders to use the hyper-secure app Signal. (Fortune)

Oh, and the political crowd won't have to worry about "Guccifer" for a while. The high-profile hacker was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison. The bad news is "Guccifer 2.0" (aka the Russian military) is still making mischief.

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Ransomware, along with nation state hacking, is the cyber-crime story of 2016. So when is someone going to step up and stop it? A start-up called enSilo has a promising plan to thwart 70% of ransom attacks - though it's too soon to say if they could pull it off:

[CEO] Katmor, who ran security strategy at networking giant Akamai, also has a more specific plan. It involves asking people to download a special file that will help enSilo break the encryption if their computer is attacked. In the event of ransomware attack, the special file would end up getting encrypted along with all the other files on the computer. Read the rest on


How to Check if You Were Caught Up in the Dropbox Data Breach (by David Meyer)

Giving Your Phone Number to Facebook Can be a Bad Idea (by Jeff John Roberts)

Apple Plans to Boost Orphaned Apps From Its App Store (by Don Reisinger)

What's the Best Way to Avoid Ransomware? Use Apple (by Jeff John Roberts)



Careful connecting to that rental car. Here's hoping a lot of you are hitting the open road for Labor Day weekend. But if you rent a vehicle to do so, think twice before you plug in to that fun infotainment system — the FTC warns rental cars are data goblins that can suck your phone contacts and even your texts! (Fortune)

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