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Voter registration 'a huge target' for ransomware

State and local election officials manage their voter registration databases using several pieces of software known to be favorite targets of ransomware actors, a leading analyst said during a webinar Thursday. Allan Liska, of the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, said that many voter files are hosted on like Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle database software, while end users run software like Windows 7, Microsoft RDP and Citrix, all of which are known to be vulnerable if left unpatched. He also said that with the rise of extortion tactics in ransomware attacks, successful hackers could publish a stolen database or sell it on a dark-web marketplace. “Or if we’re being honest, because ransomware actors are bastards, both,” he said. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Philly pushes free internet before new school year

As part of Philadelphia’s digital equity initiative, the city announced on Thursday that it will connect 35,000 households with K-12 public school students who lack internet access with up to two years of broadband service, along with devices like laptops or tablets. The $17 million connectivity initiative, called PHLConnectED, will rely on programs from Comcast and T-Mobile to offer wired or mobile hotspot-enabled internet, at no cost to the families eligible for the program. Philadelphia is beginning its new school year Sept. 2 with online-only instruction. Ryan Johnston has details.

Virginia launches first statewide contact tracing app using Apple-Google platform

Virginia officials this week announced the release of the first statewide mobile app to trace the spread of COVID-19 using the Bluetooth-based interface developed jointly by Apple and Google. The app, called Covidwise, runs on the Exposure Notifications API that the two tech giants released in May for state and national health agencies to use in their efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic. A Google spokesperson recently told StateScoop as many as 20 states are developing apps based on the API. Ben has more.

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