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02/06/2020
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WorkScoop
Ransomware scammers seem to be accelerating their use of the Maze hacking tool in the face of government warnings. A CIA agent testifies against Joshua Schulte. And another warning about the military's supply chain. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, February 6.

2016 deep dive continues

The Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that the Obama administration’s response to Russian election interference during the 2016 presidential campaign was largely hamstrung by partisan concerns and a difficulty understanding the true scope of Russian capabilities. A bipartisan report issued Thursday reveals the administration was caught off-guard by the concept of Russian cyber-operations pivoting from espionage to more disruptive measures. The report broadly addresses information-sharing issues, why a delay in definitive attribution to Russia took place, and fears about undermining Americans’ trust in election processes. Shannon Vavra breaks it down.


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Good news for people who love bad news

Roughly a month after the FBI advised U.S. companies to protect themselves against a pernicious strain of ransomware, hackers have continued to attack victims and threaten to publicize their private information. In one recent note, the "Maze" group said it would release confidential data if three small law firms based in South Dakota didn’t meet their demands. While it remains unclear if the Maze group has made any information public in this case, this incident only is the latest example of scammers promising to publish data, rather than leaving it encrypted or deleting it outright. A French government cybersecurity agency on Wednesday published a Maze alert suggesting TA-2101, a hacker group which previously targeted German government agencies and U.S. tax professionals, was behind a spate of recent ransomware attacks. Jeff Stone has the story.


CIA officer testifies in Schulte case

A former colleague of ex-CIA developer Joshua Schulte said in court Wednesday that Schulte had grown increasingly agitated in the weeks and months before WikiLeaks published the Vault 7 files. What started as a series of pranks, with CIA hackers hiding each other's belongings, for instance, escalated to intense animosity between Schulte and another employee, identified only as "Amol," the witness said. Schulte would complain about Amol to other employees using racist language and derogatory terms about Amol's appearance. "I didn't want to deal with the drama around him anymore," the witness, who testified under a pseudonym, said of Schulte. Prosecutors have said Schulte carried out the largest leak in CIA history as retribution against the agency. Catch up on the story here.


Only a few need to bite

St. Louis Community College — a four-campus system that serves more than 50,000 students in and around the Missouri city — said it is cleaning up after a phishing attack that happened before it had completely implemented multi-factor authentication technology for users of its email platform. “There was a phishing email sent,” said Nez Savala, the college’s communications manager. “About 20-some people fell for it and that gave whoever was on the other end access to information that was stored in their email which led to access to student and employee information.” About 5,000 people had personally identifiable information exposed, and in that group, a small number had their Social Security numbers compromised, the college said. The college discovered the attack on Jan. 13; multi-factor authentication went into effect Jan. 31. Colin Wood has the details at EdScoop.


Another warning about the military’s supply chain

The Department of Defense has intensified its efforts to improve the cybersecurity of its contractors, but those efforts will take time to bear fruit, because the new requirements have to be written into contracts. In the meantime, the experts are warning that an agitated nation-state — specifically, Iran — could decide to focus its cyber-operations on the numerous small companies in the military’s complex supply chain. The idea is that if Tehran wants to retaliate more for the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, it could decide to avoid meeting the DOD head-on in cyberspace and instead cause big trouble in the defense-industrial base. Jackson Barnett of FedScoop reports.


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