HCA Healthcare Returning $6 Billion In Federal Coronavirus Aid

It’s rare when a company returns federal money. It’s rarer still when that money amounts to billions of dollars. Yet that’s the situation with top U.S. hospital operator HCA Healthcare (NYSE:HCA), which aims to return gobs of government largesse from whence it came.

All told, HCA announced that it’s planning to return roughly $6 billion, $1.6 billion of which consists of federal COVID-19 grants and $4.4 billion in Medicare loans. Both were provided as part of the government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) passed in the early stages of the current pandemic.

HCA benefited from the loans and grants bestowed upon operators of healthcare facilities to help keep them afloat.

The company will pay those funds back because it continues to thrive, even though many elective surgeries have been postponed or canceled in the face of the coronavirus.

Last week HCA published a “preview” of its Q3 of fiscal 2020 results, indicating year-over-year revenue growth approaching 5%, to an estimated $13.3 billion. It is also projecting only a relatively modest drop in profitability, with non-GAAP (adjusted) EBITDA — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization — sliding to around $2.03 billion from the year-ago result of almost $2.29 billion.

“During the early days of the pandemic, the Company took a conservative approach which included a number of actions to meet the operational and financial challenges this global health crisis was expected to present,” HCA explained in the press release heralding the preliminary Q3 figures.

The company did not provide a timetable as to when it would repay the federal grants and loans.

Tuesday was a good day for HCA stock; it rose by almost 2.1%, against the 0.6% drop of the S&P 500 index.

This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool.

Eric Volkman has no position

Federal judge hears arguments on voter registration extension after state website crash

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal judge on Thursday was considering whether to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline after the state’s website crashed Monday, the scheduled last day to register before the Nov. 3 election.

A coalition of voters’ rights groups sued, saying Secretary of State Laurel Lee’s extension of the deadline to 7 p.m. Tuesday wasn’t enough and some people were still unable to register.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker questioned lawyers for the groups and for the Florida Department of State, focusing on the harm caused by the problems with the website, and what effect any extension would have on the operation of the elections.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley stated in an affidavit filed in the case that a further extension would “serve to reinforce the confusion and mistrust voters have surrounding this election, further strengthening the rampant misinformation and disinformation campaigns that are already undermining the November general election.”

Walker appeared to agree, noting the additional unusual circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Historically, Florida hasn’t managed to count the votes properly when there isn’t a pandemic,” Walker said.

But he also peppered Mohammed Jazil, attorney for the Department of State, with questions about the extent of the website’s shutdown and the harm done to those who weren’t able to register online.

Walker took issue with Jazil’s argument that voters had other avenues to register, such as in-person at supervisors of elections offices or by mail, and the website was only down for a few hours on one day, so the harm caused was “minor.”

“Are you seriously taking the position that if 50,000 to 70,000 people lose their ability to vote ? that’s minor?” Walker said. “That’s just an oopsie that 50,000 people may not have been able to register because we lost a

Russian state hackers appear to have breached a federal agency



a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 01: In this photo illustration artwork found on the Internet showing Fancy Bear is seen on the computer of the photographer during a session in the plenary hall of the Bundestag, the German parliament, on March 1, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. German authorities announced yesterday that administrative computers of the German government, including those of government ministries and parliament, had been infiltrated with malware. Authorities said they suspect the Russian hacker group APT28, also known as Fancy Bear. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


BERLIN, GERMANY – MARCH 01: In this photo illustration artwork found on the Internet showing Fancy Bear is seen on the computer of the photographer during a session in the plenary hall of the Bundestag, the German parliament, on March 1, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. German authorities announced yesterday that administrative computers of the German government, including those of government ministries and parliament, had been infiltrated with malware. Authorities said they suspect the Russian hacker group APT28, also known as Fancy Bear. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Russia’s 2020 hacking campaigns might have included a successful data breach at the US government. In the wake of a CISA notice warning of a cyberattack on an unnamed federal agency’s network, Wired and security company Dragos have obtained evidence suggesting Russia’s state-backed APT28 group, better known as Fancy Bear, was behind the hack.

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The FBI reportedly sent alerts to some hacking victims in May warning that Fancy Bear was widely targeting US networks, including an IP address mentioned in the recent cyberattack notice. There was also “infrastructure overlap” and behavior patterns pointing to the Russian group, Dragos’ Joe Slowik said. Some of the IP addresses match criminal operations, but Slowik believed Fancy Bear might be reusing criminal tech to help cover its trail.

Security expert Costin Raiu added that an apparent copy of the malware uploaded to a research reposityory also appeared to be a unique combination of existing hacking tools that had no obvious connections to known hacking teams. While that doesn’t definitively link the malware to Fancy Bear, it suggests the attack was relatively sophisticated.

The intruders used compromised logins to plant malware and get “persistent” access to systems on the agency’s network, using that to steal files.

US officials haven’t responded to requests for comment.

While it

Russia’s Fancy Bear hackers likely penetrated a federal agency

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Boris SV | Getty Images

A warning that unidentified hackers broke into an agency of the US federal government and stole its data is troubling enough. But it becomes all the more disturbing when those unidentified intruders are identified—and appear likely to be part of a notorious team of cyberspies working in the service of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Last week the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency published an advisory that hackers had penetrated a US federal agency. It identified neither the attackers nor the agency, but it did detail the hackers’ methods and their use of a new and unique form of malware in an operation that successfully stole target data. Now, clues uncovered by a researcher at cybersecurity firm Dragos and an FBI notification to hacking victims obtained by WIRED in July suggest a likely answer to the mystery of who was behind the intrusion: They appear to be Fancy Bear, a team of hackers working for Russia’s GRU. Also known as APT28, the group has been responsible for everything from hack-and-leak operations targeting the 2016 US presidential election to a broad campaign of attempted intrusions targeting political parties, consultancies, and campaigns this year.

The clues pointing to APT28 are based in part on a notification the FBI sent to targets of a hacking campaign in May of this year, which WIRED obtained. The notification warned that APT28 was broadly targeting US networks, including government agencies and educational institutions, and listed several IP addresses they were using in their operations. Dragos researcher Joe Slowik noticed that one IP address identifying a server in Hungary used in that APT28 campaign matched an IP address listed in the CISA advisory. That would suggest that APT28 used the same Hungarian server in the intrusion described by CISA—and that at

TikTok ban on new downloads delayed by federal judge

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TikTok’s ban has been temporarily delayed.

A US District Court judge has granted TikTok’s request for a preliminary injunction, delaying a planned ban on new downloads of the app that was supposed to go into effect starting Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

The US Justice Department had until Friday to either delay the ban or file legal papers defending it. The DOJ filed a sealed opposition to TikTok’s preliminary injunction to block the ban of the video app, but Judge Carl Nichols of the District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled in TikTok’s favor. 

“We’re pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban,” TikTok said in a statement. “We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees. At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement.”

In August President Trump signed an executive order banning “any transaction by any person” with Bytedance, citing national security concerns. A separate executive order, issued Aug. 14, ordered ByteDance to sell its US operations by Nov. 12, leading to a potential deal with Oracle, which is currently up in the air

The order to ban new downloads of TikTok via Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store had initially been issued on Sept. 18 by the Commerce Department, and was scheduled to take effect Sept. 20. That ban was delayed until Sept. 27 after a potential deal between Oracle and TikTok was announced. This successful request for a preliminary injunction delays any potential