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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Elon Musk Introduces Twitter Mayhem Mode

The United States took to the polls this week to vote in a high-stakes midterm election. With public trust in election systems at an all-time low, the secret ballot is more important now than ever before. We also took a look at a flawed app built by prominent right-wing provocateurs that has been used to challenge hundreds of thousands of voter registrations.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice announced that a Georgia man has pleaded guilty to wire fraud nine years after stealing more than 50,000 bitcoins from the Silk Road, the legendary dark-web market. You may have heard that things are chaotic over at Twitter, with a wave of corporate impersonations plaguing the platform hours after the rollout of a service that allows anyone who pays $8 a month to get a blue check mark showing they are “verified.” It’s a gift for scammers and grifters of all shades.

New analysis shows that two large ships, with their trackers off, were detected near the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the days before the gas leaks were detected. Officials suspect sabotage, and NATO is investigating. Plus, Russian military hackers are pivoting to a new strategy that favors faster attacks with more immediate results.

And there’s more. Each week, we highlight the news we didn’t cover in-depth ourselves. Click on the headlines below to read the full stories.

Elon Musk Plays Chicken With the FTC

This week saw even more chaos at Twitter as security executives resigned after clashing with their new boss, Elon Musk, over how the company should meet its obligations to the Federal Trade Commission. After a pair of data breaches in 2009, Twitter agreed to submit regular reports about its privacy practices under the terms of a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The company settled with the FTC earlier this year after it was caught serving ads to user emails and phone numbers, which people supplied as part of their security measures. If Twitter doesn’t comply with its commitments to the agency, the FTC could fine the company billions of dollars.

On Wednesday, a day before the deadline for Twitter to submit a report to the FTC, Twitter’s chief information security officer, chief privacy officer, and chief compliance officer quit. The company’s head of Trust and Safety also left the company the following day.

In a message posted to Twitter’s Slack that was obtained by The Verge, an attorney on the privacy team wrote that engineers could be required to “self-certify” that their projects complied with the settlement, burdening the engineers with “personal, professional, and legal risk.” The employee added that Alex Spiro, Musk’s lawyer, told workers that “Elon puts rockets into space—he’s not afraid of the FTC.”

The resignations came as the company began battling a wave of corporate impersonators who gamed the company’s new paid verification system to shitpost hours after it launched.

The 2022 Midterms Avoid Disinformation Disaster

About 60 of Maricopa county’s 223 voting locations reported technical issues on Election Day, frustrating voters and fueling conspiracies about election fraud. Technicians were dispatched to polling sites across Arizona’s largest county on Tuesday to fix dozens of malfunctioning vote tabulation machines. Election officials urged frustrated voters to vote at other locations or drop their ballots in a secure box to be counted later. “Everyone is still getting to vote. No one has been disenfranchised,” Bill Gates, chair of the Maricopa County board of supervisors, told reporters on Tuesday morning.

But that didn’t keep right-wing influencers, including former US president Donald Trump, from using the glitch to allege that votes were being suppressed. Researchers at the University of Washington found online chatter about tabulator problems started to trend after Republican activist Charlie Kirk posted about them; later in the day, Trump took to Truth Social to suggest, without evidence, that only “Republican areas” were impacted by the errors. Around 2:30 pm local time, officials in Arizona announced they had fixed the problem by changing the machines’ printer settings.

Canadian Arrested for Lockbit Ransomware Spree

A Russian Canadian national named Mikhail Vasiliev was arrested in Canada on Wednesday over his alleged participation in the LockBit ransomware campaign, according to the US Justice Department and Europol. LockBit has claimed at least 1,000 victims, according to Deep Instinct’s 2022 Interim Cyber Threat Report, and is responsible for around 44 percent of ransomware campaigns this year. Vasiliev is charged with “conspiracy to intentionally damage protected computers and to transmit ransom demands” and is currently in Canada awaiting extradition to the United States. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison.

A Security Failure Delays the Powerball Fortune

A security issue delayed a record-breaking $2.04 billion Powerball drawing after an unnamed state failed to submit the appropriate data and complete security protocols. According to the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, one of the regional lottery commissions failed to finish tabulating their sales and ticketing data in time for Monday night’s drawing. The 10-hour delay ended Tuesday with a single winner who had bought the ticket at Joe’s Service Center, a gas station in Altadena, California, state lottery officials said.

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