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Researchers respond to a mobile voting firm's argument to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Postal Service left vulnerable apps...well, vulnerable. And ransomware figures are up, again. This is CyberScoop for Monday, September 14.

Drama between researchers, Voatz escalates

Computer scientists and vulnerability disclosure experts criticized Voatz’s argument that a federal anti-hacking law should only authorize researchers with clear permission to probe computer systems for vulnerabilities. An amicus brief filed by the mobile voting firm earlier this month, the security specialists charged, “fundamentally misrepresents widely accepted practices in security research and vulnerability disclosure.” Legal experts and technologists see the decision as a chance, after decades of ambiguity, to clarify just what well-meaning security researchers are allowed to do in probing third-party systems. Sean Lyngaas has the latest.

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More ransomware claims haunt insurers

Nearly half of the cyber-insurance claims filed in the first half of this year were the result of ransomware attacks, further proof that digital extortion attempts are having a ripple effect throughout the private sector. Ransomware attacks were the cause of 41% of the cyber-insurance claims filed over the first six months of 2020, according to a report published by Coalition, a cyber-insurance vendor that compiled the data based on findings from 25,000 small and medium-sized companies in the U.S. and Canada. Coalition reported a 47% increase in the number of ransomware attacks, with the average size of the demand jumping by 46%. Jeff Stone has the numbers.

The real security issues at USPS

A Postal Service inspector general report paints an unflattering picture of the agency’s IT management, pointing to critical vulnerabilities that hackers could have exploited to steal sensitive data. In one case, the IG report found, “common, well-known vulnerabilities...have been present for three years that could be exploited by an attacker utilizing publicly available methods.” The IG sent its report to Postal Service leadership in July. The agency has since fixed the issues and pledged to do better. Sean has the rundown.

LA's contact tracing apps comes with privacy concerns

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city will debut a new contact-tracing app developed by Citizen, a developer accused by some privacy advocates of “breeding paranoia." Garcetti, flanked by Citizen CEO Andrew Frame and several regional health officials, said at a presser that the city will integrate a mobile app called “SafePass” into its existing COVID-19 response, which has tested two million Angelenos so far. But the app's use of GPS, rather than the Bluetooth, along with the company's track record, has some worried. “This app collects A LOT of personal information," Angel Diaz, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice wrote on Twitter. Ryan Johnston breaks it down.

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