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01/19/2022
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Two familiar House members are leaving Congress at the end of the year. Europol announces a takedown of a key piece of cybercriminal infrastructure. And the White House issues a cyber memorandum for defense and intelligence agencies. This is CyberScoop for January 19.

Congress losing two big cyber names

Decades of combined cybersecurity leadership are set to disappear from the House at the end of 2022 after Reps. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and John Katko, R-N.Y. announced plans, within days of each other, not to seek reelection. Matt Masterson, a former election security official at CISA, called the exit of Langevin and Katko "tough" and "a big loss." Langevin's resume is the longer of the two, as co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and the co-chair of a commission that made recommendations to incoming President Barack Obama in 2008. Katko has made his mark as the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, as well as that panel's cybersecurity subcommittee. Both also had a reputation for working in a bipartisan fashion. So where do their planned exits leave Congress? Tim Starks surveys the scene.


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International effort takes down VPN service frequented by criminals

Law enforcement authorities from 10 countries worked together to investigate and seize the website and servers associated with VPNLab, a virtual private network service that authorities say facilitated various forms of cybercrime, including the distribution of malware and ransomware operations. The service, which dates back to 2008, offered encryption of internet traffic and online anonymity for as little as $60 per year, Europol said Tuesday, making it “a popular choice for cybercriminals, who could use its services to carry on committing their crimes without fear of detection by authorities.” AJ Vicens reports.


Pentagon, spy agencies get memorandum from Biden

The White House issued a memorandum Wednesday with instructions for the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies as the government implements President Joe Biden’s big cybersecurity executive order from 2021. The memo spells out how the network requirements for civilian federal agencies included in that order — such as instituting zero-trust security principles — also should apply across national security systems. The document also authorizes the National Security Agency to create binding operational directives that require agencies to take specific actions against known or suspected cybersecurity threats. John Hewitt Jones has the news at FedScoop.


Malicious QR codes draw FBI’s attention

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), issued a general alert Tuesday about “malicious” QR codes that reroute unsuspecting consumers to the dark side of the web. “[C]ybercriminals are taking advantage of this technology by directing QR code scans to malicious sites to steal victim data, embedding malware to gain access to the victim’s device, and redirecting payment for cybercriminal use,” IC3 said. QR codes have become a greater part of daily life over the last two years as restaurants and other businesses deploy them for contactless menus and payments. Joe Warminsky has more.


Another CISA warning in light of Ukraine conflict

Following up on a Jan. 11 advisory about potential attacks from state-sponsored hackers, CISA on Tuesday issued a reminder about cyberthreats that “can disrupt essential services and potentially result in impacts to public safety.” The agency specifically pointed to incidents affecting the Ukrainian government’s digital infrastructure. “The identification of destructive malware is particularly alarming given that similar malware has been deployed in the past—e.g., NotPetya and WannaCry ransomware—to cause significant, widespread damage to critical infrastructure," CISA said. Read the document.


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