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American Airlines disclosed a data breach just a week after the White House met with aviation executives to discuss hacking threats. Critics say the Commerce Department isn't doing enough to limit the Chinese cyberthreat. And experts warn about the dangers of alternative payment apps. This is CyberScoop for Sept. 20.

Aviation industry faces growing cyberthreat

A “limited number” of American Airlines’ employees’ email accounts were compromised by an “unauthorized actor,” who had potential access to a range of those employees’ personal data, the company said in a disclosure Sept. 16. The notice said the company discovered the breach in July, and that the hacker may have had access to employees’ name, date of birth, mailing address, phone number, email address, driver’s license number, passport number and “certain medical information you provided,” the company said in the notice signed by Russell Hubbard, American Airlines deputy general counsel and chief privacy and data protection officer. The breach notice follows a meeting the White House held last week with airline and other aviation executives to discuss the cybersecurity threat facing the industry. AJ Vicens and Suzanne Smalley report.

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Commerce lacks intel resources, say experts

The Commerce Department unit that approves sensitive U.S. technology exports does not have the intelligence resources to fully realize the national security consequences of selling advanced equipment and software to China, several experts and a former agency official told CyberScoop. These critics are especially alarmed by the high percentage of technology approved for the Chinese market and question whether the Bureau of Industry and Security has the staffing and Intelligence Community connections to carry out its mission to safeguard U.S. national security and protect economic interests. Last year, for example, BIS approved 86% of all technology export licenses, a number of experts say is far too high given the national security concerns in play since many of the technologies have potential military uses. And multiple experts estimated that the unit approved about 90% of all export licenses for technology sales to China over the past decade. Suzanne has more.

The problem with alt payment apps

Experts warned members of Congress against a myopic focus on the illicit role of cryptocurrencies, instead pointing to how payment apps developed in China and Russia pose a national security threat. “Focusing only on cryptocurrency risks misunderstanding this global, thriving ecosystem,” Scott Dueweke, global fellow at the Wilson Center, told members of the House Financial Services subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy on Tuesday. Dueweke pointed to the use of payment apps such as China-based Alipay and Russia-based Qiwi, which Russian actors used to purchase Facebook ads to influence the 2016 presidential election. “The nexus between adversarial illiberal regimes and cybercrime cartels acting as their proxies using these systems is clear,” he said. Tonya Riley writes.

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