The National Security Agency works every day to find new ways to break into international networks, but it’s rare to see proof of that hacking bonanza out in the open. This week’s security news was dominated by a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers, who launched an auction for data allegedly stolen from the Equation Group, an elite team of hackers with probable ties to the NSA. Though the auction itself was kind of a mess, the legitimacy of the stolen data and its connection to the NSA became more and more certain as the week went on. The NSA hangs on to some of the vulnerabilities it discovers instead of disclosing them so it can do intelligence gathering, but the Shadow Brokers situation demonstrates all too clearly how that practice can be problematic if zero days escape the agency’s control.
In other news, the Department of Homeland Security said this week that it would lead an initiative to protect US voting systems from cyber attacks. (The plan is still pretty vague and will probably benefit future elections more than this year’s). Researchers have shown that they can fool facial authentication security protections using 3-D rendered virtual reality models of faces made from publicly available photos found online. A new FCC complaint alleges that Baltimore City’s previously established misuse of cell tower simulators—often called stingrays—has racial undertones, disproportionately affecting minority communities. And Twitter is ramping up efforts to limit violent extremist user content on its site. The company announced that in the last year it’s suspended about 360,000 accounts for violating its terrorism policy and its reaction time is getting faster.
But there’s more: Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t break or cover in depth at …