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01/14/2021
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What's next for the FBI's cyber programs? Biden's National Security Council will include an NSA leader. And Treasury sanctions more Iranian companies. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, Jan. 14, 2020.

Humbled by SolarWinds, FBI presses on with cyber strategy

Before the suspected Russian spying scheme involving SolarWinds came to light, the FBI was talking tough about cracking down on digital adversaries. Now, the bureau has even more incentive to implement its more aggressive cyber strategy. The FBI’s Tonya Ugoretz offered an update on the strategy, along with news that the head of the FBI’s cyber division is retiring. Sean Lyngaas has the exclusive interview.


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Biden picks Neuberger

Anne Neuberger, the NSA’s cybersecurity director, will be joining the Biden administration as deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, the Biden transition team announced Wednesday. Neuberger’s selection could be a signal the Biden administration intends to prioritize cybersecurity issues at the NSC. Neuberger led a team meant to improve NSA’s information-sharing with the private sector to “prevent and eradicate” intruders. The announcement comes as the federal government continues to grapple with the massive SolarWinds breach, which has raised questions about how the suspected Russian hackers slipped past the intelligence community’s radar. Shannon Vavra has more.


Treasury sanctions Iranian venture capital firm that invests in cyber

The Trump administration is using some of its waning days to issue sanctions, with Wednesday's batch including a designation for an Iranian venture capital firm that the Treasury Department said invests in cyberspace and information technology. The sanctions against Barkat Ventures, a division of an organization known as EIKO that Treasury said Iran's supreme leader controls, follow sanctions earlier this week against associates of a Ukrainian parliament member who has sought to smear the Biden family. EIKO stands accused of enriching the supreme leader and violating dissidents' rights. Tim Starks has details on the company.


Charming Kitten was busy over Christmas

Iranian spies, meanwhile, used the holiday season as cover for a spearphishing campaign, according to CERTFA, a cybersecurity organization that focuses on Iran. The efforts had two prongs: an email campaign that used holiday-related content as a lure, and a text-message ruse with a fake "Google Account Recovery" link. In both cases, the hacking group — known as Charming Kitten, APT35 or Phosphorous — was interested in quietly spying on people at think tanks, universities, environmental activist groups and more. The emphasis was on targets in the Persian Gulf, Europe, and the U.S. Joe Warminsky has more.


Feds tighten their list of approved drone companies

If a federal agency wants to buy drones, it will now have to source them exclusively through a new program from the Defense Department. The goal is to ensure that civilian agencies are purchasing drones that do not have parts manufactured in China, which has captured a big portion of the commercial drone market. The program, known as Blue sUAS, will ensure agencies comply with a 2019 law targeted at Chinese technology. The General Services Administration is managing civilian agencies' purchases through Blue sUAS. Jackson Barnett explains at FedScoop.


Tweet Of The Day

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Might want to mute that conversation pretty quickly, though.


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