Six things PR pros need to know on Tuesday morning, 2.17.2015

State Department grows comms team fighting ISIS' message; ACA signup period extended; Broad NSA computer spying program exposed.

1. The State Department is expanding a little-known unit, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, to blunt ISIS’ efforts to recruit and communicate internationally. The terrorist group is growing quickly in Libya and Egypt, according to CNN. Leaders and experts from around the world will gather in Washington, DC, on Wednesday to discuss how to best counter the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

2. A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive order to protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, rolled out in November with an address from the White House and social media push. The decision gives a coalition of 26 states opposing the order more time to ready their legal case.

3. Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs has exposed an NSA program that can hide surveillance software on widely used hard drives, meaning the government agency can listen in on most computers used around the world.

4. The enrollment period for signing up for healthcare insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act has been extended through February 22 after computer glitches again hassled users of healthcare.gov. The White House used an unconventional media relations push to promote signups to young consumers, highlighted by the president taking selfies on BuzzFeed.


5. Hackers have stolen up to $1 billion from a group of global banks after a long cyberattack that reportedly exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office. Customers should still keep a close eye on their accounts, experts told Yahoo News.

6. Business trip to Boston? Plan even further ahead. The city’s mass-transit system won’t return to normal for 30 days due to record-setting snow this winter.

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