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*** Black Hat USA scrapped plans to have Rep. Will Hurd speak at the annual cybersecurity conference after complaints from some in the security community about the Texas Republican's voting record on abortion rights and other issues. The conference organizers said that Black Hat USA "is not the appropriate platform for the polarizing political debate resulting from our choice of speaker."

In a statement supplied to TechCrunch, a Hurd spokeswoman described the lawmaker as "one of the loudest voices for bipartisanship in Congress," and touted his voting record on women's issues.

Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said on Twitter that "a keynote from a lawmaker who doesn't believe women should have fundamental human rights is not a great way make women feel welcome in the infosec community."

Susan Hennessey, formerly an attorney at the National Security Agency and currently executive editor at Lawfare, described Hurd as "one of the smartest and most engaged members of Congress on cybersecurity, on either side of the aisle," and argued that to cancel his speech over abortion rights issues "promotes a flawed and counterproductive narrative that cybersecurity and election security are partisan."

*** The Office of Personnel Management was dinged in an oversight report complaining that the agency needed to do more to develop a plan to automate retirement processing for federal employees and eliminate paper filing. In the report, Government Accountability Office auditors noted that a proposed merger between OPM and the General Services Administration "has created additional uncertainty for OPM" adding that the potential for changes "make it difficult for OPM to plan for largescale changes in its operations."

*** Last week two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden of Oregon and presidential hopeful Amy Klochubar of Minnesota, wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray to ask for details on any bureau probes of voting system intrusions perpetrated by Russian government operatives. The June 12 letter named VR Systems, a vendor alluded to in the report issued by Special Counsel Robert Muller on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

In addition to seeking details on FBI probes of evidence of Russian tampering on VR Systems equipment, the lawmakers want to know "how is the FBI ensuring that local and state election officials feel comfortable reporting potential cybersecurity incidents" ahead of the 2020 vote.

Posted on Jun 17, 2019 at 2:11 AM


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