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02/11/2021
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Sue Gordon provides a strong metaphor for the government's cybersecurity posture. The Election Assistance Commission has new guidelines for voting machines. And an India-linked mobile malware campaign draws attention from researchers. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

US needs dramatic cyber updates to avoid another major breach, experts warn

During testimony in front of the House Homeland Security Committee, former top intelligence official Sue Gordon likened the state of data protection in the U.S. to the Great Depression. The government responded to reckless behavior on Wall Street by creating oversight in the form of the SEC and requiring financial filings from public companies. Recent events in cyberspace — such as an alleged Russian espionage campaign involving the federal contractor SolarWinds and a Feb. 5 hack at a Florida water treatment facility — are proof that the U.S. faces a similar moment of reckoning in 2021, Gordon added. Former CISA Director Chris Krebs, former cyber coordinator Michael Daniel and CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch also had big ideas. Jeff Stone explains.


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VVSG 2.0 finally arrives after 5-plus years of work

The Election Assistance Commission adopted a long-awaited update to its voting system security guidelines, to mixed reviews. Overall, most experts considered the first update to the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines in 15 years to be an improvement. But version 2.0 also drew condemnation for how it handled wireless connectivity in those systems. Most states use at least some parts of the guidelines for their own testing and certification, so they're important despite being voluntary. It might take years, though, for anyone to see voting machines that reflect the updated standards. Tim Starks and Sean Lyngaas have more.


A mobile espionage campaign aligns with India’s interests

A pro-India hacking group has been using two kinds of invasive Android surveillance software to spy on hundreds of victims’ cell phones for years, Lookout found. The malware, which researchers have dubbed SunBird and Hornbill, are capable of exfiltrating several kinds of sensitive data, including text messages, call logs, contacts, the contents of encrypted messaging applications and target geolocation. The spyware also allows hackers to take pictures with the targets’ cameras or take screenshots of their devices, according to the research. It’s the kind of information that could reveal the most sensitive and secretive parts of targets' day-to-day lives. Shannon Vavra has the story.


Romance scams are only getting worse, FTC says

Last year was an especially bad year for romance scammers who find victims through dating apps and social media, says the Federal Trade Commission. The agency received reports of $304 million in such scams, a record high. It's a familiar story: Through fake accounts, the crooks spin bogus tales of woe or loneliness and then typically escalate to requests for gift cards or wire transfers. The coronavirus pandemic appears to have intensified the problem, the FTC says, as more people turned to apps to socialize. One way everybody can help stem the tide: Learn a little basic OSINT, including reverse-image lookups. Joe Warminsky has more numbers.


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