ITI Daily News Roundup


Key Issues


Obama: North Korea's hack not war, but 'cybervandalism'. President Barack Obama says he doesn't consider North Korea's hack of Sony Pictures "an act of war." "It was an act of cybervandalism," Obama said in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley that aired Sunday on "State of the Union." (CNN)

North Korea denies Sony hack but warns U.S.: Worse is coming. North Korea is accusing the U.S. government of being behind the making of the movie "The Interview." And, in a dispatch on state media, the totalitarian regime warns the United States that its "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of the film's release. (CNN)

McCain: Sony hack 'a new form of warfare'. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday rejected President Obama’s description of North Korea’s hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment as “cyber vandalism,” saying the attack was “a new form of warfare.” (The Hill)

GOP senator calls for Sony hack hearing. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) called on Congress to hold hearings on the destructive cyberattack that forced Sony Pictures to cancel the theatrical release of its controversial comedy, “The Interview.” (The Hill)

Intel chair slams Obama for slow Sony response. President Obama should move have moved swiftly against North Korea following a cyberattack on Sony Pictures that has cost the company tens of millions of dollars and caused it to pull its controversial comedy, “The Interview,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday. (The Hill)

Sony hack a 'wake-up call' for US, expert says.  North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment is the latest in a series of “very serious wake-up calls” that should encourage the U.S. do more to prepare for a potential attack on its infrastructure or financial services sector, the former director of operations for U.S. Cyber Command said Sunday. (The Hill)

Why North Korea's attack should leave every company scared stiff. Watch your back, Corporate America, or you could become the next Sony. The attack on Sony Pictures inflicted crippling damage in a way that past hacks have not. (CNN)

U.S. Asks China to Help Rein In Korean Hackers. The Obama administration has sought China’s help in recent days in blocking North Korea’s ability to launch cyberattacks, the first steps toward the “proportional response” President Obama vowed to make the North pay for the assault on Sony Pictures — and as part of a campaign to issue a broader warning against future hacking, according to senior administration officials.  (The New York Times)

What does a cyber counterattack look like? Military action against North Korea is effectively off the table, and trade with the isolated rogue nation is nearly nonexistent, making sanctions ineffective. (Politico)

The heart of the Internet has been hacked. The all-powerful but little-known organization that administers all global website domain names -- called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) -- has been hacked. Um, embarrassing much? (CNN)

Staples hack exposes 1.2 million credit cards. After a two-month wait, Staples on Friday evening announced hackers broke into its computers and stole data on 1.16 million shoppers' credit cards and debit cards. (CNN)

Study: Hack attack aimed at ISIS' opposition. North Korea, with its previous technologically laggard image, may have just shocked the world with some alleged hacking savvy, but when ISIS comes to mind, so does the terrorists' digital bent. (CNN)

Obama vows to work with Congress on 'strong cybersecurity laws' for sharing threat data. The White House will work with Congress next year on "strong" cybersecurity legislation that would better enable the public and private sectors to share information on cyber threats, President Obama said today. (Inside Cybersecurity)

Cyber notification requirements head to NRC commissioners for final approval. A final ruling on cyber event notification requirements for nuclear power facilities has been sent to the commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for final approval, an NRC official has said. (Inside Cybersecurity)

Tech Business

Tech sector looks to bounce back in 2015. The tech sector is looking to bounce back from a lackluster year in which few of its priorities got across the finish line in Congress. But for an industry still reeling from defeats on multiple fronts, the window for action in 2015 may not be open for long. ITI's Dean Garfield is quoted (The Hill)

Democratic techies’ divided loyalties. Scores of the Democratic techies who helped Barack Obama defeat Hillary Clinton for the 2008 presidential nomination are now seeking alternatives to Clinton in 2016.

Instagram Is Now Worth $35 Billion, Eclipsing Twitter. Instagram, everyone’s favorite little social network, isn’t so little any more. On Friday, Citigroup raised the valuation of the photo and video sharing network from $19 billion to $35 billion, right on the heels of Instagram announcing that it now has 300 million monthly active users. (Wired)

Justin Bieber just lost 3.5 million Instagram followers. Justin Bieber has been left behind by the Instagram Rapture. The "Baby" crooner lost a whopping 3.5 million followers after Instagram purged all the spam and deadweight from its site this week. Instagram went after spam in a major way this week, deleting millions of fake accounts in what has become dubbed the "Instagram Rapture." (CNN)

It's time for disruptive tech firms to grow up. As the adage goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity. And for today's disruptive start-ups, critical media coverage is often worn as a badge of honor. (CNN)

China’s Xiaomi Valued at More Than $45 Billion.  Xiaomi Corp. is raising more than $1 billion in its latest round of funding, valuing the fast-growing Chinese smartphone maker at more than $45 billion and making the company one of the most valuable technology startups in the world. (Wall Street Journal)

IP Enforcement

Google vs Hollywood on Sony hack. Cybersecurity questions and box office turmoil aside, another storyline is emerging after the high-profile hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment: a renewed battle between Google and Hollywood. The technology and content industries have pledged to work more collaboratively to fight online piracy over the past two years, but many in Hollywood don’t think Google has done enough to fight copyright infringement. (Politico)

Google sues to stop Hollywood threats. Major Hollywood studios have led a quiet campaign with Mississippi's attorney general to slam Google with lawsuits for linking to illegal content. Now Google is striking back. (CNN)

Google and Hollywood Return to Bickering Over SOPA. The Stop Online Piracy Act, an anti-piracy bill that would have granted the US government and private corporations extraordinary power to battle copyright infringement on the web, failed to pass in 2012. But according to emails uncovered by the recent Sony hack and recent news stories, the movie industry is still fighting to revive the bill. (Wired)

Net Neutrality

Congress wants to legislate net neutrality. Here’s what that might look like. Republicans in Congress appear likely to introduce legislation next month aimed at preventing Internet providers from speeding up some Web sites over others, in hopes of changing the tone of a critical debate over the future of the Web, according to industry officials familiar with the plans. (Washington Post)


IRS officials warn: We're nearly crippled. The IRS wants both taxpayers and its staff to know this: It’s only going to get worse. After absorbing a $346 million budget cut, IRS officials are warning taxpayers not to expect their phone calls to get answered or their refunds to be delivered quickly. (The Hill)

How bad would an IRS shutdown be?  The IRS chief’s warning on Thursday that drastic budget cuts may force a shutdown for perhaps days is his latest bid to illustrate the impact of starving the tax agency. (Politico)

Obama shows muscles on taxes. President Obama has signaled to Democrats and Republicans on both sides of Congress that he wants a serious attempt at tax reform next year. Obama has also signaled he intends to play a big role in those negotiations. (The Hill)


Transforming The Conversation On Women In Computer Science. While initial reaction to Mattel’sBarbie “I Can Be a Computer Engineer” book focused on all-too-common and inaccurate stereotypes, conversation that has developed around the book is actually helping to shine the spotlight on two very important issues. (Tech Crunch)

Reddit cofounder: The next Google is one visa away from leaving U.S. Antiquated visa policies could be the downfall of the U.S. tech boom. That's the warning that Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian is sounding. (CNN)

Global Trade

Strong Dollar Weighs Down U.S. Software Firms. A strong U.S. dollar is terrific for American tourists on holiday trips abroad. But for U.S. software companies, the mighty greenback is a bummer. (Wall Street Journal)

In China, a Rapid Jump to Mobile Advertising. Next year companies are expected to spend more money on digital advertising than on television campaigns in China. (New York Times)

In About-Face, Hungary Softens Stance on Internet. Hungary’s government has completely given up on its plan to launch a levy on Internet traffic, a measure that earlier this year set off large protests. (Wall Street Journal)

China to develop trust rating index for cloud vendors. China is planning to rate the trustworthiness of cloud computing vendors, allowing only those with full security clearance to partake in government projects.The move could leave foreign companies out of government procurement contracts, according to a report by China Daily. (ZDNet)


F.T.C. Raises Its Voice Under Its Soft-Spoken Chairwoman.  While public debate has raged in recent months over the Federal Communications Commission’s position on net neutrality and the Justice Department’s review of the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the F.T.C. has operated somewhat more in the shadows. But Ms. Ramirez is pushing to regain some of the prominence of the F.T.C., the nation’s top consumer protection enforcer, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary — by focusing particular attention on digital privacy and transactions. (New York Times)

Environment and Sustainability

Energy-Storage Plans Gain Ground in California. In an unusual competition in California, proposals for energy storage systems beat out hundreds of bids to construct new power plants as a way to meet peak power needs. (New York Times)

Despite Cheaper Gas, Public Transit Ridership Is Up, Trade Group Reports. The American Public Transportation Association said Wednesday that about 2.7 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems in the third quarter of 2014 — an increase of 1.8 percent, or about 48 million trips, over the year-ago period — the highest third-quarter number since the trade group’s records began in 1974. (New York Times)

Public Sector

Budget boosts shouldn’t revert CIOs to old habits. As money makes its way back into the federal government post-sequestration and as agency chief information officers might soon have more influence over technology spending with new IT acquisition reform close to becoming law, some CIOs aren’t in a rush to return to the redundant, money-slinging ways of IT days past. (FedScoop)

'CIOs shouldn't have five-year plans'. Although federal agencies will see a steadier budget stream in the coming months, some of the same pressures to keep up IT efficiencies and know-how will continue, according to a panel of federal CIOs. (FCW)

Could a freelance market find a home in the U.S. intelligence community? As industries look to increase efficiency, relying on freelancers who now account for nearly one-third of the American workforce, the defense sector stands out as lumbering monolith that has been slow to change. (FedScoop)


Tech-Savvy Tots Talk to Cyber Santa - Tech-Savvy Tots Text, Video-Chat With St. Nick; No Mall Elves. When 3-year-old Justin Webb wanted to talk to Santa this year, he knew exactly how to find the jolly old elf. After all, the tech-savvy toddler has been video chatting on his tablet computer since he was 2. (Wall Street Journal)

Flying cameras herald age of the ‘dronie’. The chief executive of Parrot, the French technology company makes Bluetooth connected entertainment systems for cars, has a reason to be optimistic as the two mini-drones they launched earlier this year have become a Christmas success story. In the US, the company’s biggest market, the drone sector is expected to be worth more than $80bn from 2015-25. (Financial Times)

'Digital nose' on a chip can sniff out diseases. It's long been known that dogs and cats, with their highly developed sense of smell, can be trained to identify the volatile chemicals released by human illnesses. But what if we could fine tune that sense and put it into a microchip, allowing us to create a breathalyzer for diseases? (CNN)


FCC Acts to Help Online Video Compete With Cable. The Federal Communications Commission advanced a proposal on Friday that could encourage more people to ditch pricey cable packages for online TV options. The commission's plan to redefine TV would make it easier for online sites to offer popular channels. (National Journal)

ITI Member News

BlackBerry Closes Takeover of German Encryption Firm Secusmart.  BlackBerry Ltd. has closed the acquisition of Secusmart GmbH, a German maker of software that protects mobile communications against eavesdropping, the Canadian smartphone company said Friday. (Wall Street Journal)

BBC Says Apple Suppliers Continue to Violate Labor Standards. A BBC documentary accuses Apple of breaking promises to improve working conditions at its suppliers, but Apple says it continues to make progress on a difficult issue. (Wall Street Journal)

Google Seeks Partners for Self-Driving Car. Google Inc. is looking for auto industry partners to bring its vision of a self-driving car to market within the next five years, the head of the software giant’s autonomous-vehicle project said Friday. (Wall Street Journal)

Samsung Says ‘Cya’ to ChatON Smartphone Messaging App. Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday that it would discontinue a mobile-messaging chat service that it had promoted heavily in recent years, the latest sign of the South Korean technology giant’s struggles to gain traction building the software and services that run on its best-selling smartphones. (Wall Street Journal)

Facebook Has So Much To Announce, Its f8 Conference Expands To 2 Days In SF March 25-26 2015. Facebook has more news to share at f8 than can fit in a single day, so it’s adding a second for its developer conference. (Tech Crunch)

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