Iran Captures US Spies

Grind for July 26th
“Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”
– Voltaire


The Headline

Iran says it captured 17 CIA agents

The Grind

Iran on Monday claimed it had captured 17 Iranian nationals working for the CIA and had already sentenced some of them to death.

None of the individuals were US citizens.

An unnamed Iranian official told reporters the CIA operatives had been monitoring “sensitive sites,” including military and nuclear facilities, and had been promised US visas or jobs in exchange for their work.

None of the spies were able to complete their missions and some are now working with the Iranian government “against the US.”

The Details

Iran’s announcement follows weeks of aggression in the Persian Gulf, including the capture of multiple ships and the destruction of an American drone, as Iran continues to struggle with crippling economic sanctions reimposed after President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA.

Iranian state media aired footage of the spies on Monday, but faces were blurred and voices were distorted. Iran claims to have identified the CIA agents who recruited the spies, but has refused to release any names.

“The report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false,” said Trump. “Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a religious regime that is badly failing and has no idea what to do. Their economy is dead and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”

If Trump is correct, then Iran’s claims are a show of force coming from a nation that is desperate to regain the upper hand. If Iran is telling the truth, this is a massive blow to the CIA that could endanger the agency’s relationship with its partners around the world.

The Takeaway

Iran has a long history of lying, but the regime has also been successful in identifying and executing American spies in the past. According to former intelligence officials, Iran executed dozens of US spies between 2009 and 2013.

On Monday morning during an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged viewers to interpret Iran’s claims with caution: “They lied about where they shot down the American UAV, they now lied about where they took down this tanker. It’s part of the nature of the Ayatollah to lie to the world. I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion of Iranian actions taken.”

Its About Time

The Headline

Equifax settles with FTC for $700 million

The Grind

Credit reporting agency Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million to settle a lawsuit over its failure to secure its own network against hackers.

Up to $425 million of that total will be used to reimburse victims for identity theft services and other expenses. The rest of the money will be divided between the states and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Details

The Equifax settlement will be the FTC’s largest data-breach settlement ever, topping the $148 million penalty Uber agreed to pay in 2018.

“Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “This settlement requires that the company take steps to improve its data security going forward, and will ensure that consumers harmed by this breach can receive help protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud.”

As part of the settlement, Equifax has also agreed to carry out annual audits of security risks, allow an external assessment of its security efforts every two years, and ensure that any third party given access to personal data has adequate security protections in place.

The Background

In March 2017, the FTC ordered Equifax to patch software flaws that left its Automatic Consumer Interview System (ACIS) vulnerable to hackers.

Equifax failed to correct the flaws and hackers had access to the system for months – obtaining names, DOBs, credit card numbers, passport numbers, and Social Security numbers.

More than 147 million people were affected.

Equifax discovered the breach in July, but withheld the news from the public until September, giving the company’s former CIO enough time to sell all of his Equifax stocks.

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