with Tonya Riley

The Cybersecurity 202 will just be publishing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. 

The Trump administration has scored a major victory with the United Kingdom's decision to launch an emergency review of Huawei’s role in its 5G telecommunications networks.

The review is expected to conclude that a series of increasingly harsh U.S. sanctions have made it impossible for the United Kingdom to work with the Chinese telecom, the Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh reported. Huawei was previously approved to build about one-third of the least-sensitive portions of the U.K.'s next-generation networks.

That would be a huge coup for the Trump administration, which has spent more than a year trying to convince allies Huawei can’t be trusted not to spy for the Chinese government if it gains a foothold in global 5G networks. Those efforts have brought a few allies to the U.S. side, including Australia and New Zealand, but faced pushback from others including Canada and Germany.

The concerns are especially acute because 5G networks will carry exponentially more data than earlier generations of phone and Internet networks, and could be a treasure trove for Beijing’s intelligence services if they’re compromised. 

It’s a big win for the U.S. if this happens,” Adam Segal, a China and cybersecurity expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “The Brits saying they could manage the security risk of Huawei really undermined the U.S. argument that it was unsafe. So, if the U.K. now says, in fact, there are security risks we can’t address…that sends a message to other European allies.” 

Breaking with Huawei would be a huge reversal for the United Kingdom. 

Leaders there previously stood firm against immense U.S. pressure to cut ties with the company, including threats the United States might limit sharing vital intelligence with its close ally. 

Instead they sought a compromise in which the nation would allow Huawei to build less-sensitive portions of its 5G networks but bar it from parts carrying information for government and critical industries. That model was followed by several other European nations

The breaking point probably was a Commerce Department order earlier this month that dramatically limited Huawei’s access to the global computer chips market. 

That order blocked any chip makers that rely on U.S. software and other components from doing business with Huawei. An earlier version of the order applied only to U.S. companies. 

The result is Huawei will have to manufacture those same components inside China, which could significantly slow down the company’s ability to build the 5G networks  for which it has already been contracted.

This really hurts Huawei because it cuts them off from key suppliers,” Jim Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me. “It won’t kill Huawei, but it will slow them down and the question for allies is are you willing to wait to get 5G.”

Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang said the company is eager to discuss any concerns with the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre, which is conducting the review. “Our priority remains to continue the rollout of reliable and secure 5G networks across Britain,” he said. 

The U.S. move probably was made easier by the deterioration in U.S.-China relations during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Republican and Democratic security hawks in Congress have long been united in urging tough restrictions on Huawei, but they’ve often run up against hesitancy from executive branch officials wary of ruining a U.S.-China trade deal or inviting retaliation against U.S. companies that do business in China. 

Those objections seem to be dulled by anger at China's clampdown on public information in the early days of the virus and misleading information it's shared since then that officials say may have contributed to the virus's spread. 

“People are mad at them over this nonsense with covid, so now’s a time to be mean to China,” Lewis said. 

Trump frequently wavered between getting tough on Huawei and hinting he’d loosen restrictions in exchange for trade concessions. That infuriated many lawmakers because it undermined the U.S. argument that Huawei restrictions were about protecting national security rather than a bargaining chip to be exchanged for agricultural products or other goods. 

In addition to banning companies from supplying Huawei with computer chips, the United States has also blocked U.S. telecoms from using any federal funds to buy Huawei equipment and allocated $1 billion for them to rip out and replace equipment they already have. 

With Trump committed to blaming China for the early spread of the virus, however, officials have less to worry about. 

“It seems much less likely we’re going to get a tweet saying, ‘I want to do business with everyone and we want to sell to everyone,’” Segal said, paraphrasing a February tweet from the president.

The keys

Twitter added fact checks to two Trump tweets falsely claiming voting by mail leads to extensive fraud, a rare effort to rein in the president on social media. 

The tweets claimed without evidence that increased mail voting in California would lead to forged ballots and fraudulent signatures. It now has a label that directs users to a page that states, "fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud."

It's the first time the social media company has fact-checked a tweet by the president using a new feature for labeling misleading tweets it rolled out earlier this month. 

But it's unclear how broadly Twitter will enforce the policy. The label on those tweets came the same day Twitter faced criticism for not labeling a tweet by the president repeating a conspiracy theory about the death of a former staffer for then-congressman and now MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, Elizabeth Dwoskin reports.

It's also unlikely to put an end to the president's attacks on mail voting. Trump quickly shot back, accusing Twitter of “interfering in the 2020 presidential election” and "stifling free speech." 

Twitter also had to update its fact check because of a muddled explanation that seemed to conflate states that vote almost entirely by mail and those that simply offer a mail voting option, as the Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Ballhaus and Georgia Wells noted. 

Facebook, meanwhile, left up a similar Trump post without a fact check. A company spokesperson told BuzzFeed's Alex Kantrowitz that it believes "people should be able to have a robust debate about the electoral process."

And Trump indicated with new tweets this morning he is primed for battle:

Republicans are planning to sue to block the House’s plan to vote remotely during the pandemic.

The move by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) comes after two dozen Democrats signaled their intention to vote remotely for the first time today, Manu Raju and Clare Foran at CNN report

Right now, lawmakers are casting those votes by authorizing colleagues in the House chamber to vote on their behalf. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has left open the possibility of remote voting by webcast or other technology if security concerns are worked through. 

House Republicans claim the rules change is unconstitutional. Pelosi fired back in a statement saying, "House Republicans’ sad stunt shows that their only focus is to delay and obstruct urgently-needed action to meet the needs of American workers and families during the coronavirus crisis." 

More than 40 former world leaders, dignitaries and Nobel Peace laureates are calling on governments to halt cyberattacks against health-care organizations during the pandemic. 

The list of dignitaries includes former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, anti-apartheid activist and former South Africa archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon, among other top officials. 

Their call to action follows recent cyberattacks against medical organizations in the United States, Czech Republic, France, Spain, Germany and Thailand as well as ongoing attempts to hack the World Health Organization. U.S. officials have tied some of those attacks to hacking groups backed by the Chinese government. 

We’re in the midst of the most urgent health crisis in modern history, and these attacks threaten all of humanity,” said Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who also signed the letter.

Other signatories include Microsoft President Brad Smith, and Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab.

Hill happenings

Trump is urging Republicans to oppose extending spying powers, which could kill the effort in the House.

Trump tweeted his opposition to the bill, which he says allowed intelligence agencies to improperly spy on his 2016 campaign. The House is set to consider the bill today, per the Wall Street Journal's Dustin Volz and Andrew Restuccia

The bill was already facing opposition from privacy hawks who said an effort to rein in warrantless surveillance of internet searches didn't go far enough, the New York Times's Charlie Savage reports

Cyber insecurity

Attacks on services that support working from home increased more than 600 percent during the pandemic, McAfee reports. 

The spike in attacks coincided with an overall 50 percent increase in the use of the cloud-based services, researchers at the cybersecurity firm found.  

“While we are seeing a tremendous amount of courage and global goodwill to overcome the covid-19 pandemic, we also are unfortunately seeing an increase in bad actors looking to exploit the sudden uptick in cloud adoption created by an increase in working from home,” Rajiv Gupta, McAfee senior vice president for cloud security, said.

More in breaches and hacks:

After it was found by Amnesty International, the bug was fixed by the app's developers.
BuzzFeed News

Industry report

A top cybersecurity trade group released a blueprint for how governments can help support remote workes during and after the pandemic.

Some of the recommendations from The BSA | The Software Alliance include that governments:

  • Identify IT workers as essential during the pandemic
  • Maintain strong cybersecurity practices and the ability to respond quickly to hacks
  • Deploy secure 5G networks to increase Internet access and speed

More industry news:

The lawsuit aims to secure up to £2,000 per impacted customer.
ZDNet

Chat room

Tech companies may be adjusting to remote work but hackers have been doing it a long time. Motherboard's Joseph Cox:

Daybook

  • Ranking Digital Rights will host an event “Getting to the Source of the 2020 Infodemic: It’s the Business Model,” today at 11:30 a.m.

Secure log off

In case you forgot, NASA is sending new astronauts to space today. NBD. Here's a neat video on how they've been preparing: