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Data Sheet—Saturday, November 12, 2016

Despite fears of cyber attacks on voting machines, the U.S. presidential election was not hacked—at least not in the traditional sense.

Even so, many of the biggest political stories this year revolved around computers, emails, and espionage. A vindictive ex-KGB strongman and his spies are said to have stolen and leaked political party and campaign emails. An anti-secrecy activist made public troves of purloined documents. A law enforcement official shook up the election by reopening—and reclosing—an investigation into one candidate’s correspondences. A disgraced politician who can’t seem to keep his digital communications out of the spotlight, got caught sexting with a minor. And, of course, there’s that home email server.

As the soon-to-be-inaugurated commander-in-chief might say: The cyber was YUGE! this election.

So what will the next president’s cybersecurity policy involve? Well, Donald Trump has proven to be utterly unpredictable. During the campaign, he proposed a boycott of Apple products during the tech giant’s showdown with the F.B.I. over iPhone encryption earlier this year. He encouraged Russia, perhaps sarcastically, to find Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails from her private server. And he frequently downplayed top intelligence officials’ conclusions about Kremlin-sponsored influence during the campaign season.

Whatever the case, Trump’s campaign website reveals few specifics related to cybersecurity other than demanding a “review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities” and then soliciting recommendations to fix them. One thing is certain though: It’s unlikely that the president-elect will retaliate against foreign spies for meddling in the democratic process now that he’s clinched the executive office.

Trump’s success may embolden foreign powers to continue hacking and leaking to their hearts content, both here and abroad. And it sets a worrisome precedent that will be hard to defend against in future elections.

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 (see OTR fingerprint on my, PGP encrypted email (see public key on my, Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.


Yahoo: Once more unto the breach! Yahoo submitted an SEC filing on Wednesday that revealed that some employees knew of the computer network intrusion in 2014 that led to one of the biggest data breaches ever recorded: the theft of personal information associated with at least 500 million Yahoo accounts. The revelation adds additional strain on Verizon’s pending $4.8 billion acquisition of the online portal. (Fortune)

“Hi, I’d like to BLOCK you from my professional network.” A Russian court upheld the country’s ban of the business-oriented networking site LinkedIn on Thursday. Russia has chosen to enforce, for the first time, a law it passed in 2014 dictating that Russian data must be stored on servers based in Russia. The country has recorded 6 million registered users. (Fortune)

The Tesco Bank Job. Britain’s Tesco Bank put tens of thousands of customer accounts on lockdown after it discovered that they had been targeted in a hacking ring. CEO Benny Higgins said the company would refund affected customers, but declined to reveal specifics about the heist. This seems to be one of the first instances on record of a bank admitting that it lost people’s money to digital thieves. (Fortune)

Mr. President, tear down this NSA gear. Now that Donald Trump is set to assume the presidency of the United States in next year, civil libertarians are calling for current President Barack Obama to shut down the certain operations of the National Security Agency. These privacy advocates are worried that Trump, who has voiced support for digital surveillance before, could abuse the agency’s powers. (Time)

Finally, we offer our condolences to the people Facebook accidentally killed off.

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Fortune’s Jeff John Roberts sets out to determine which cryptocurrencies have real staying power.

Bitcoin is the world’s most famous crypto-currency but, these days, you barely hear about it. Instead, the buzz has shifted to blockchain, the underlying technology for bitcoin, which banks are now using for day-to-day business. Meanwhile, newer and more versatile types of digital currency are overshadowing bitcoin.

This raises the question of whether bitcoin even has a long-term future. I recently spoke with Faisal Husain, the CEO of Synechron, which advises banks about blockchain, and asked him if he thought bitcoin and two other well-known crypto-currencies—Ripple and Ethereum—will still be around in five years.

His answer: two of the three currencies will survive, but he wouldn’t say which ones. Read more on


Beware ‘Angler Phishing,’ the Latest Form of Social Media Fraud, by Jeff John Roberts

What the FBI’s Clinton Email Case Teaches Leaders About Delivering Tough News, by Suzanne J Piotrowski

Julian Assange Defends WikiLeaks on Election Day, by Robert Hackett

Why FBI’s Comey Can’t Unbungle the Clinton Email Probe, by Roger Parloff

Edward Snowden Proves Donald Trump’s FBI Theory Wrong on Twitter, by Michal Addady


You could have defaced Donald Trump’s campaign website. On the night of the U.S. presidential election, some people discovered that you could spoof the content on a page at, posting amusing headlines. Before the site’s administrators clamped down on the flaw, I managed to write “Vote Robert Hackett for president”—which, to be clear, I do not actually recommend. (Fortune)