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02/10/2020
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U.S. prosecutors just named for members of China's military for allegedly carrying out the 2017 data breach at Equifax. Other voting apps play defense after Iowa. And scammers are trying to exploit coronavirus concerns. This is CyberScoop for Monday, February 10.

U.S. indicts 4 in connection with Equifax hack

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday announced charges against four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army for allegedly hacking into credit reporting agency Equifax and stealing personal information that affected some 145 million Americans. The charges mark an escalation in the U.S. government’s long-running pressure campaign to hold alleged Chinese state-sponsored hacking to account. The four officials — Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke, and Lieu Lei — are said to work for the PLA’s 54th Research Institute, which is part of Chinese military. Sean Lyngaas has the report.


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The latest in the paper-ballots battle

The mobile app Voatz has been used by the state of West Virginia, the city of Denver and a county in Utah for collecting official ballots from overseas voters, and the app’s creators say its blockchain-based technology is secure and reliable. Sen. Ron Wyden, however, is concerned that two counties in his home state of Oregon are too eager to use it. The senator would prefer that all voters — including those living outside the U.S. — get paper ballots. Wyden expressed that view in a public letter to Oregon’s top election official, and Voatz shot back with comments that claimed the senator is stoking “fear of technology.” The company says it is working with a Department of Homeland Security team on security audits and penetration testing. Wyden’s view, meanwhile, is hardly radical within the cybersecurity community. Benjamin Freed of StateScoop continues his coverage.


Netanyahu’s voting registry app exposed

An app used by Likud, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, has leaked its entire voting registry, exposing the personal identifying information on more than 6 million Israeli citizens. That includes names, addresses, identity card numbers, and other personal information, such as gender. The exposure was made possibly by right-clicking on app’s home page and selecting “view source,” which revealed usernames and passwords of the system administrators. The developer of the so-called “Elector app,” Feed-b, said the exposure was a “one-off incident that was immediately dealt with.” Haaretz has the story.


Scammers are trying to exploit coronavirus concerns

Hackers are preying upon fears about the new coronavirus from China by sending companies malicious emails cloaked as warnings about the economic repercussions that could occur as the illness spreads. Researchers from the email security firm Proofpoint discovered a series of phishing attempts aimed at businesses in sectors that are particularly vulnerable to a disruption in trade because of the coronavirus, such as manufacturing, transportation and finance. The messages feature subject lines like “Coronavirus – Brief note for the shipping industry,” then direct recipients to download a Microsoft Word document promising more information. That Word file activates a strain of malicious software, AZORult, which allows attackers to make off with sensitive data. Jeff Stone has more context.


2020 Dems weigh in on cyber policy

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said that she thinks a presidential order should be required to launch a “cyber strike,” according to a survey The New York Times sent to each Democratic presidential candidate in December. It was not immediately clear what “cyber strike” meant to Warren, or to other candidates, but former Vice President Joe Biden said he doesn’t think a presidential order would be necessary. On the other hand, Biden said some cyber-operations “may have such a significant impact on civilian targets that a presidential order is appropriate.” Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., both said they would continue the Pentagon’s and Cyber Command’s “persistent engagement” strategy the U.S. military uses to launch offensive cyber-operations abroad, such as the 2018 attack on Russia’s troll farm. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., did not directly answer whether he would continue this strategy, noting he would put it under a "comprehensive review.” The Times has more.


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