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InfoSec News Nuggets 08/28/2020

Tesla Insider Works with FBI to Turn the Tables on Russia’s Million Dollar Attempt to Hijack the Network

On August 25, the Department of Justice announced the arrest of Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, a citizen of Russia for conspiring to breach the network of a U.S. company, which media has identified as Tesla (their GigaFactory in Sparks, NV) and introduce malware into the company’s network. Kriuchkov was arrested on August 22 as he tried to depart Los Angeles for Russia and has been detained pending trial. By the unpacking of the criminal complaint, filed by the FBI Las Vegas Field office, it is clear this isn’t an ordinary attempt to infuse malware into a company’s network, but rather an effort led by a well-financed and logistically nimble organization. While the insider’s identity is not known, we do know that the insider is the hero of this tale.


5G in US averages 51Mbps while other countries hit hundreds of megabits

Average 5G download speeds in the US are 50.9Mbps, a nice step up from average 4G speeds but far behind several countries where 5G speeds are in the 200Mbps to 400Mbps range. These statistics were reported today by OpenSignal, which presented average 5G speeds in 12 countries based on user-initiated speed tests conducted between May 16 and August 14. The US came in last of the 12 countries in 5G speeds, with 10 of the 11 other countries posting 5G speeds that at least doubled those of the US. The US’s average 5G speed is 1.8 times higher than the country’s average 4G download speed of 28.9Mbps. User tests in neighboring Canada produced a 4G average of 59.4Mbps and a 5G average of 178.1Mbps. Taiwan and Australia both produced 5G averages above 200Mbps, while South Korea and Saudi Arabia produced the highest 5G speeds at 312.7Mbps and 414.2Mbps, respectively.


Unredacted suit shows Google’s own engineers confused by privacy settings

Newly unsealed and partially unredacted documents from a consumer fraud suit the state of Arizona filed against Google show that company employees knew and discussed among themselves that the company’s location privacy settings were confusing and potentially misleading. In 2018, the Associated Press reported that Maps and some other Google services (on both iPhone and Android) were storing users’ location data even when users had explicitly turned Location History off. “There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services,” a Google spokesperson told the AP at the time. “We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”


White House announces creation of AI and quantum research institutes

According to the Trump administration, over the next five years the NSF will partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration to invest $100 million across five AI institutes. Separately, the USDA will support two of its own institutes with $40 million in grants.


I Definitely Didn’t Need a Program to Make a Sandwich, But I Did It Anyways

This morning began as any other Thursday morning would have. I was hungry, in need of coffee, and in Slack, sifting through the garbage fire news cycle for a morning blog. Like magic, a coworker shared a link to a blog titled “Optimal Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches.” The blog focuses on the perfect peanut butter and banana sandwich. It’s the brainchild of Ethan Rosenthal, a data scientist at Square, and it details one man’s noble quest during quarantine to create a machine learning model to “maximize the coverage” of a single layer of banana slices in a classic, Elvis-approved PB & banana sandwich. The problem, as Rosenthal describes, is that bananas are not a straight fruit. They’re elliptical, of various sizes, meaning it can be irrationally annoying when cutting bananas into uniform slices. Rosenthal’s solution was to create a machine learning model that would analyze a picture of a slice of bread and a banana, tell you what angle to cut the banana, and where exactly to place the banana discs on the bread for optimal coverage.


Walmart says it’s partnering with Microsoft on a TikTok deal

Walmart says it’s partnering with Microsoft on a potential TikTok deal. The retailer is pitching the partnership as a way for it to expand its advertising business and grow its third-party marketplace. It comes as reports suggest Microsoft is close to finalizing a deal with TikTok, that could be announced in the coming days. “The way TikTok has integrated e-commerce and advertising capabilities in other markets is a clear benefit to creators and users in those markets,” says a Walmart spokesperson in a statement to CNBC. “We believe a potential relationship with TikTok US in partnership with Microsoft could add this key functionality and provide Walmart with an important way for us to reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace and advertising businesses. We are confident that a Walmart and Microsoft partnership would meet both the expectations of US TikTok users while satisfying the concerns of US government regulators.”

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