Cyber Fireworks Fly

Just in time for Independence Day, the United States may be taking its freedom a little too literally. Weeks after National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden exposed the agency for spying on its citizens’ phone and internet use, the NSA is back in the spotlight again. This time, accused of tapping half a billion phone calls, text messages, emails and internet data from Germany, the U.S.’ biggest ally in Europe.

German news magazine Der Spiegel broke the story Sunday, after reporting that it had viewed secret documents leaked by Snowden. Furious over the latest reports, Germany said the U.S. is treating it “like a cold war enemy.” As the fireworks fly, the Guardian has the story.

Another Leaker Under Investigation

Snowden isn’t the only one being investigated for leaking U.S. secrets. Retired General James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the target of a Justice Department investigation into information that leaked regarding a U.S. cyber attack.

According to accusations, Cartwright allegedly exposed Stuxnet, the U.S. cyber attack targeting Iran’s nuclear operations. However, the retired general’s lawyer released a statement Friday claiming, “General Jim Cartwright is an American hero who served his country with distinction for four decades. Any suggestion that he could have betrayed the country he loves is preposterous.” NPR has the story.

The Power of a Cyber Attack

Beyond Iran, the U.S. seems to have some energy issues of its own. According to a new report from DHS, the energy sector is seeing a spike in cyber attack attempts. Over the past six months, 111 cyber incidents have been reported

“Many governments around the world have realized that there is military advantage to infiltrating the critical energy infrastructure of potential future adversaries,” Ed Skoudis of SANS Institute told The Wall Street Journal, which has the story.

Let’s Go Phishing

And finally, if you plan to spend the holiday doing some online shopping, e-banking or social networking: beware. Hackers are increasingly setting up phony websites to carry out scams, and for some consumers, it’s hook, line and sinker.

According to security researchers at Kaspersky Lab, “The number of Internet users who faced phishing attacks over the last 12 months has grown from 19.9 million to 37.3 million, an increase of 87 percent.” Skip the scams, read the report, and have a safe Fourth of July.

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Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is creator of the blog