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02/12/2021
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An appeals court OKs warrantless phone-checks at the border. Biden's Commerce Department takes a hard look at the TikTok and WeChat cases. And beware of food-delivery scams in Telegram. This is CyberScoop for Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.

No warrant needed at the border

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has ruled that Customs and Border Protection agents may conduct warrantless searches of cellphones and electronic devices at the U.S. border. The decision is already raising privacy questions among digital rights advocates, who have long argued that a search of a cellphone may be just as intrusive as searching a person or their belongings, if not more intrusive, given the kind of sensitive information contained on phones. The court's decision states that the government’s interest in searching persons at the border is “at its zenith,” therefore trumping privacy concerns. Shannon Vavra digs in.


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WeChat, TikTok bans under review in Biden administration

President Donald Trump had sought to ban Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok, but the Biden administration isn't sure whether it wants to continue those efforts yet. In court filings this week, the Commerce Department said it was reviewing whether it considered the national security threats the apps pose significant enough to battle legal challenges to the ban. The plaintiffs agreed to a pause on the proceedings, the filings said. Commerce said it would provide 60-day updates to the courts. Tim Starks has the story.


A scam for the pandemic era targets food delivery apps

Fraudsters on Telegram forums are advertising their ability to get hungry diners deeply discounted food orders via delivery apps, fraud prevention company Sift found. Diners contact the fraudsters with their orders and pay them a smaller fee in cryptocurrency than the cost of their orders, then the fraudsters use stolen credit card data or hacked accounts to provide bogus payments to the restaurants or food delivery companies. The fraudsters heavily advertised their services on Super Bowl Sunday in particular. Tim has this one, too.


Ukrainian pleads guilty in decade-old cybercrime case

Aleksandr Musienko has been in federal custody for a couple of years, and he'll remain behind bars for a few more under a plea deal announced Thursday. The 38-year-old Ukrainian earned more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to money laundering charges, the Department of Justice said. Prosecutors said he coordinated the "money mules" connected with a 2011 hack into the bank account of a North Carolina paper-products company. Court documents don't name the cybercrime gang, but say it was "Eastern European" in origin. Prosecutors note that Musienko was responsible for helping to launder at least $3 million overall. Joe Warminsky has the court documents.


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