Protecting against Public-Health Threats | Taking Aim at Disinformation | Vehicle Ramming Attacks, and more

NY AG Finds Nearly 82% of Net Neutrality Comments to the FCC Were Fake  (Issie Lapowsky, Protocol)
In a new report, New York Attorney General Letitia James found that of the more than 22 million public comments the Federal Communications Commission received in 2017 regarding the repeal of net neutrality protections, a whopping 18 million were fake. Millions of those comments, the report says, were funded by the broadband industry.
“The OAG found that millions of fake comments were submitted through a secret campaign, funded by the country’s largest broadband companies, to manufacture support for the repeal of existing net neutrality rules using lead generators,” the report says. “And millions more were submitted by a 19- year old college student using made-up identities.”
The investigators behind the report found that nearly 80% of the comments funded by the broadband industry were collected by lead generation companies that offered consumers various rewards in exchange for their information. “Marketing offers varied widely, and included everything from discounted children’s movies to free trials of male enhancement products,” the report reads. The broadband industry would then run additional solicitations alongside those promotions, asking consumers to join the anti-net neutrality campaign, according to the report.

Intrusion Truth Details Work of Suspected Chinese Hackers Who Are Under Indictment in U.S.  (Sean Lyngaas, Cyberscoop)
Intrusion Truth, a mysterious group known for exposing suspected Chinese cyber-espionage operations, on Thursday published a new investigation that traced front companies allegedly used by two Chinese men whom a U.S. grand jury indicted last year.
The findings shed light on a dynamic that U.S. law enforcement officials say is increasingly common: foreign intelligence services’ use of front companies to try to conceal their hacking operations. The details also come at a time when Biden administration officials are dealing with the fallout of another suspected Chinese hacking campaign in which attackers leveraged widely used Microsoft software.

Machine-Learning Project Takes Aim at Disinformation  (MIT Technology Review)
Building a better internet means stopping propaganda and fake news before it spreads, says language processing expert Preslav Nakov. The first step is verifying and trusting news sources.

No, Russia and China Didn’t ‘Weaponize’ QAnon. It’s a Homegrown Nightmare.  (David Gilbert, Vice)
A new report about QAnon makes a bombshell claim that data scientists say doesn’t hold up.

ISIS Used Chemical and Biological Weapons against Iraqis  (Mina Aldroubi, The National)
Findings of UN report may present ‘unprecedented moment for accountability’ for the terror group

U.S. Cyber Command Gives-Up on Terror Organizations Like Islamic State & Shifts Focus on China  (Eurasian)
The US Cyber Command will be diverting its counterterror resources used against the Islamic State to the Indo-Pacific region, probably to thwart Chinese cyber threats. According to the military portal C4ISRNET, the Joint Task Force (JTF) of the Cyber Command was specifically created in 2016 to fight the Islamic State online. However, in view of the rising cyber threats, which US agencies have linked to China, the JTF would now focus on the Indo-Pacific region. In a written statement submitted to the US Congress in March, General Paul M. Nakasone, Commander of United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), said: “Counterterrorism operations in cyberspace are continuous, helping to protect the force and prosecute targets in Afghanistan and other regions on behalf of USCENTCOM [Central Command] and USSOCOM [Special Operations Command].” “We are also shifting JTF-Ares’ focus (though not all of its missions) from counterterrorism toward heightened support to great power competition, particularly in USINDOPACOM’s [Indo-Pacific Command’s] area of responsibility.” Although the primary objective of the JTF was to lead the joint cyber effort, the US Cyber Command’s digital offensive against the militant group has undergone various changes.

Vehicle Ramming Attacks Global Domestic Terrorists Learn from Hamas  (Kathryn B. Creedy, Transport Security International)
For most Americans, the first they heard of using a vehicle to attack and kill people was in Charlottesville, VA, in 2017 when a man drove his car into anti-white-supremacist protestors, killing Heather Heyer and wounding dozens of others. But Charlottesville was just the tail end of a movement that has killed people across the globe. For Europeans and those in the Middle East, vehicle ramming attacks (VRAs) is a familiar tactic. In fact, according to the Global Terrorism Database, vehicle borne attacks date to the 1970s but accelerated after Hamas’s 2014 attacks against Israeli targets. It was quickly picked up by Al-Queda and Isis as a low-cost, high-profile method to terrorize civilians. It was then exported into Europe and now it is a key tactic used by domestic terrorists around the world. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines such attacks as deliberately aiming a vehicle intending to inflict fatal injuries or cause property damage. “This tactical evolution is a microcosm of the broader tectonic shifts in today’s terrorism threats,” said Mia Bloom, author of Dying to Kill, in a recent piece.