Data Sheet—Saturday, March 25, 2017

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THREATS

Was Trump “wiretapped”? House intelligence committee chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) held an impromptu press conference on Wednesday morning during which he claimed that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” Rep. Nunes, who declined to reveal his sources, said he believed the monitoring had been done legally, likely as part of snooping on foreign surveillance targets. Earlier in the week, FBI director James Comey and NSA director Mike Rogers both dismissed President Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama had tapped his phones.  (NBC NewsAssociated Press, Associated Press)

Apple threatened with mass iPhone data wipe. A group of hackers is attempting to extort the world’s most valuable company. The group, which calls itself “Turkish Crime Family,” claims to have access to a large data set containing stolen iCloud email accounts and passwords. The hackers said they will reset millions of unsuspecting people’s iPhones unless their demands, including payments in Bitcoin or iTunes gift cards, are met by April 7th. If you’ve reused your iCloud password to protect other online accounts, it’s probably best to change these passwords and turn on two-factor authentication. (Motherboard, Fortune, ZDNet)

US to name North Korea in bank heist. Remember when $81 million was stolen from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year? FBI investigators in Los Angeles and New York believe they know who’s responsible. U.S. prosecutors are reportedly building cases against Chinese middlemen who they believe helped the Hermit Kingdom direct the digital bank robbery. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)

Google loses confidence in Symantec. The search giant said it would stop recognizing some security certificates, which verify the identity of websites, that are issued by Symantec. Google said that it unearthed “a continually increasing scope of misissuance” for Symantec that has affected as many as 30,000 certificates. Meanwhile, Symantec, whose certificate authorities validate nearly a third of the web, said Google’s claims were “exaggerated” and “irresponsible.” (Ars Technica, BBC News, SC MagazineGoogle blog)

Google’s sorry for extremist ads. British banks, retailers, and other companies pulled advertising campaigns from Google sites after discovering them running alongside offensive content loaded with hate speech. Some of the brands that have pulled the plug include Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Argos, HSBC, RBS, McDonald’s, and AT&T. Google apologized for the placing ads near controversial content, while noting that it can be difficult to police network’s like YouTube, where people upload 400 hours of video every minute. (Reuters, Fortune)

Also, copy editors are sick of cyberattacks.

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ACCESS GRANTED

Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram looks at why the military’s skunkworks division—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA—is interested in farm tech of all things.

Why would DARPA, which has funded projects like ballistic missile defense and surveillance drones, care about crops? The answer, while not totally obvious, actually makes a lot of sense. “One of the things we’ve seen is that regional unrest has been linked to circumstances that seem detached from national security—like the price of bread,” says Joseph Evans, a program manager in DARPA’s strategic technology office. “If we can get more accurate tools to predict famine, we can head off these types of situations with humanitarian versus military intervention.” Read more on Fortune.com.

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