US joins six countries in new call for backdoor encryption access

On Monday, the US Department of Justice signed on to a new international statement warning of the dangers of encryption and calling for an industry-wide effort to enable law enforcement agencies to access encrypted data once a warrant has been obtained. The US was joined in the effort by officials representing the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, and Japan.

The statement begins by acknowledging the value of encryption in protecting free expression across the world, citing a 2017 report from the UN Human Rights Commission. But the statement quickly pivots to the ostensible problems posed by the technology.

“Particular implementations of encryption technology, however, pose significant challenges to public safety,” the statement reads. “We urge the industry to address our serious concerns where encryption is applied in a way that wholly precludes any legal access to content.”

The Justice Department has a long history of anti-encryption advocacy. In 2018, five of the seven participating countries expressed similar misgivings in an open memo to tech companies, although the memo resulted in little to no progress on the issue from the industry. At each turn, tech companies have insisted that any backdoor built for law enforcement would inevitably be targeted by criminals, and ultimately leave users less safe.

Crucially, the seven countries would not only seek to acces encrypted data in transit — such as the end-to-end encryption used by WhatsApp — but also locally stored data like the contents of a phone. That local encryption was at the center of the 2016 San Bernardino encryption fight, which saw the FBI taking Apple to court in an effort to access the contents of a phone linked to a workplace shooting.

“While this statement focuses on the challenges posed by end-to-end encryption, that commitment applies across the range of encrypted services available,

Elon Musk’s space internet gives Native American tribe access to high-speed broadband for first time

A remote Native American tribe is among the first users of Elon Musk’s Starlink space internet project after it connected to SpaceX’s constellation of satellites.

a sign on the side of a building

© Provided by The Independent

The Hoh Tribe in Washington State said Starlink’s high-speed broadband enabled remote learning and telehealth appointments during the coronavirus pandemic for the first time. 

“We’re very remote. The last eight years I felt like we’ve been paddling up river with a spoon and almost getting nowhere with getting internet to the reservation,” said Melvinjohn Ashue, vice chairman of the Hoh Tribe.

“It seemed like out of nowhere, SpaceX came up and just catapulted us into the 21st century.”

There are currently around 800 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit, offering internet connectivity to northern areas of the US and Canada. SpaceX eventually plans to launch tens of thousands more satellites to provide “near global coverage of the populated world by 2021”.

The Hoh Tribe were introduced to Starlink through the Washington State Department of Commerce, which sits within the current reach of the Starlink network.

It is one of several early testers of Starlink , with emergency responders in Washington State also recently using the network to set up a WiFi hotspot for residents of Malden after 80 per cent of the town was destroyed by wildfires.

The Hoh Tribe revealed that internet speeds prior to  Starlink ranged from between 0.3 and 0.7 megabits per second (Mbps) – a long way off the 100Mbps advertised by SpaceX.

Responding to a tweet from the

Ransomware operators now outsource network access exploits to speed up attacks

Ransomware operators are now turning to network access sellers in their droves to cut out a difficult step in the infection process. 

On Monday, Accenture’s Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) team released new research on emerging cybersecurity trends, including an investigation into the nature of relationships between ransomware operators and exploit sellers. 

According to Accenture senior security analysts Thomas Willkan and Paul Mansfield, buying network access points and already compromised ways to infiltrate a target system are rising in popularity, including the purchase of stolen credentials and vulnerabilities. 

During attacks, ransomware operators must first find an entry point into a network. Compromised employee accounts, misconfigurations in public-facing systems, and vulnerable endpoints may all be used to deploy this particular family of malicious code, leading to the encryption of files, disks, and a demand for payment in return for a decryption key. 

See also: COVID-19 pandemic delivers extraordinary array of cybersecurity challenges

It is hard to estimate how many successful ransomware attacks have taken place this year. Europol believes that these specific attacks often go unreported, with only major incidents — such as the recent death of a woman in need of urgent care who was forced to divert from Duesseldorf hospital due to a ransomware infection — becoming public knowledge. 

Paying a ransom these days can reach six-figure sums, or more, depending on the target and their estimated worth. Now, ransomware groups are seeking to cut out the initial access stage of an attack, speeding up the process — and potentially the opportunity for illicit revenue.

Network access sellers typically develop an initial vulnerability and then sell their work in underground forums for anywhere between $300 and $10,000. 

The majority of network access offerings in the underground will include the target by industry and the type of access, ranging from Citrix

The solutions considered in Pennsylvania to increase internet access as more work online

SEVEN VALLEYS, Pa. (WHTM) — Erika Beers loves her log cabin in the woods of York County, Pennsylvania.

The Beers home doesn't have access to reliable internet (WHTM Photo)
The Beers’ home doesn’t have access to reliable internet (WHTM Photo)

Birds chirp.

Animals outnumber people,

The setting is serene.

But inside the house, unsettled is a more apt description and peace and quiet are hard to find.

Beers is juggling one career, two dogs, three kids (two school age, one younger) and zero reliable internet.

“It’s really problematic for me,” Beers said. “I work for a company that hosts live conferences. And it’s problematic for my kids because they can’t attend school online.”

A few years ago, Beers and her husband tried to pay to hard-wire their home for better connectivity. The first quote was $10,000. Just as they were about to pull the trigger, “they came back with a quote of $68,000,” Erika said.

So for this family, and countless other parents trying to teach their children well, it’s a juggle and a struggle.

Erika Beers and her son work on online schooling (WHTM Photo)
Erika Beers and her son work on online schooling (WHTM Photo)

“I pay for someone to come here every day and help my kids with their school work,” Beers said. “And then I go to my best friend’s house and sit outside on her porch in every kind of weather and I work there.”

Beers adds that she spends a majority of the money she’s earning to pay for the kids’ helper during the day.

Millions may be without internet

It’s a familiar story to Pennsylvania State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York). She has been a strong advocate for better broadband for years.

“Some will say that this issue is simply getting Netflix into every home and I say to you —’Nothing could be further from the truth,’” Phillips-Hill told her colleagues in support of several legislative

Haenisch: Dependable internet access might save rural Texas – Opinion – Austin American-Statesman

As Texas educators redesigned teaching on the fly in the spring of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the frustration level among educators and parents was high. For families there was the stress of being together 24/7 along with the day-to-day issues of schooling: homework, inconsistent internet and, in many cases, no internet at all, establishing a routine for home-school, and too many more to count.

The stories educators can tell about the challenges remote learning presented for them and their students. Talk about blended learning – schools became responsible for producing paper packets with lessons for those without internet or computers and online lessons for students with internet connectivity.

Many parents and educators can tell of slow internet where at times students might watch a screen with a spinning circle for 45 minutes waiting for the internet to connect. A lesson planned for 30 minutes might take hours to complete as the signal would fade in and out, and the child would still have three more classes to complete.

The Texas Association of Community Schools is an organization that works with small and mid-sized school districts in Texas. While our members come from all parts of the state, it is fair to say that the majority of our members are from rural communities. The pandemic has been cruel for all Texans, but especially to those in rural areas. Let me tell you why:

According to Connected Texas, approximately 300,000 rural Texas families do not have access to broadband internet connectivity which is defined as a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speed. What does that mean to the 300,000 families without broadband internet connectivity? It means that even if a school district provided a laptop or Chromebook with a hot spot to every school-aged