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04/09/2020
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Qualified security minds are urging U.S. decision-makers to treat mobile voting with extreme caution. American and British officials team up . And Microsoft quantifies coronavirus scams. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, April 9.

Security experts to internet voting: Nah

With the 2020 presidential election all but set to be a decision between Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden, our new reality is starting to shape the way votes will actually be tallied. At this point, COVID-19 doesn't present an excuse to postpone the general election in November, but it's looking more like things won't be normal. Whatever states decide, the cybersecurity community is throwing up a red flag to the notion of conducting the 2020 election online. In the first of a two-part series conducted with cybersecurity podcast Risky Business, multiple experts say that even in the midst of a crisis, there are too many issues to solve and not enough time to do so. Dive in here.


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On that same note...

A slew of election security experts have written to U.S. governors and secretaries of state urging them not to embrace internet voting in light of the COVID-19 crisis, which has disrupted several primaries already. “At this time, internet voting is not a secure solution for voting in the United States, nor will it be in the foreseeable future,” states the letter, which was organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Longstanding security concerns with online voting are competing with the temptation of convenience and accessibility offered by mobile apps. The AAAS letter advises election administrators to consider expanding voting by mail and early voting in the face of COVID-19. Here's more context.


The Special (Cyber) Relationship in action

State-linked hackers and criminal groups will continue to exploit the coronavirus pandemic for weeks, if not months, American and British cybersecurity agencies said in a joint advisory. APT groups are impersonating “trusted entities” during the health crisis to further their hacking operations, while criminals are scanning for vulnerabilities in remote software, said DHS’s cyber wing and the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre. It is the latest warning of a surge in COVID-19-related malicious cyber activity as governments around the world grapple with how to address emerging threats. Sean Lyngaas has the details.


Consumer and health advocates to Pence: Crack down on coronavirus scammers

More than 30 public health and trade groups are calling on the Trump administration to further crack down on scammers and hackers who are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, they want U.S. officials to stop companies from profiting from the sale of domains used in fraud and phishing. More broadly, “the FTC and Department of Justice should focus enforcement efforts on bringing the perpetrators of these [phishing] schemes to justice,” says the letter to Vice President Mike Pence from the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies and others. This comes weeks after Attorney General William Barr promised the Justice Department would prioritize COVID-19-related scams. Here's the new letter.


Less than 2% of attacks use the coronavirus theme

Microsoft's threat intelligence team has tracked 76 variations of hacking tools that rely on COVID-19, or some variation, to bait global web users into falling for their traps. Some 60,000 phishing messages have included malicious links, or come with nefarious documents attached. If that sounds like a lot, remember the figure makes up less than 2% of what Microsoft says it observes every day. Much of the malicious activity, which includes the TrickBot and Emotet trojans, involves older infrastructure re-fitted to capitalize on concerns about the pandemic. It's only the latest example. Here's Microsoft's explanation.


Box will scan your malware files itself

Cloud service provider Box has announced a new malicious-software detection tool, in what is the latest indication that technology companies are exploring how to protect customer data in ways that used to be the domain of standalone security firms. California-based Box on Wednesday said it will add anti-malware software to Box Shield, its existing security product. Box says it works with 68% of the Fortune 500, and is perhaps best known for offering file-sharing and collaboration software meant to increase corporate efficiency. By adding automated malware alerts to its existing security software, though, the company is aiming to serve the influx of people working remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic. Jeff Stone has a short story.


Subscription scams lurk in the App Store

Researchers from the security firm Sophos found more than 30 apps in Apple's app marketplace that, they say, enlist unwitting users in premium subscription services. Depending on the program, the apps may charge $30 per month, or $9 per week, after users sign up for a short free trial. Many of the apps are re-packaging versions of free programs, like picture-editing tools or horoscope games. And forgetting to cancel is costly: Sophos calculated that, for one popular app, a full year may cost $468. Read all about it.


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