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04/10/2020
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An alleged cybercriminal complains he's incarcerated alongside coronavirus patients. Discounted hacking tools are littering the dark web. And U.S. authorities push to blacklist another Chinese telecom. This is CyberScoop for Friday, April 10.

Accused Methbot boss cites COVID-19 in bid for release

Aleksandr Zhukov’s lawyer argued in a court filing that U.S. authorities should release his client, who is currently incarcerated at New York's Metropolitan Detention Center, in part because he is accused of a nonviolent crime. Zhukov is scheduled to stand trial for allegedly directing an international advertising fraud ring in which scammers have admitted using a range of known hacking techniques to commandeer victims’ computers to view internet ads. Two members of the so-called Methbot/3ve conspiracy have pleaded guilty, while Zhukov has maintained his innocence in the effort to defraud victims out of $29 million. He has spent more than a year in the federal jail, where 14 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Zhukov’s attorney. Jeff Stone has the court filing.


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No federal bailout for these small businesses

Cyber crooks are updating their policies to try to make a buck during the coronavirus pandemic, just like everyone else. Multiple threat intelligence companies say they’ve seen criminal forums offer discounts on everything from distributed denial-of-service attacks to spamming services. Stolen credit card data is for sale, too. “Some discounts reached as high as 30 to 40%,” said Andrei Barysevich, CEO of dark web intelligence firm Gemini Advisory. Sean Lyngaas went hunting for deals.


China Telecom under the microscope

Several executive branch agencies recommended Thursday that the FCC block a Chinese state-owned telecommunications firm, China Telecom, from providing service to American customers. The Departments of Justice, Defense, State, Commerce, and Homeland Security each said the move was necessary due to cybersecurity and national security concerns. Namely, China Telecom can “provide opportunities for [China] to engage in malicious cyber activity enabling economic espionage and disruption and misrouting of U.S. communications,” the Justice Department said in a statement. Shannon Vavra breaks it down.


Zoom makes a big fix

Earlier this week video teleconferencing company Zoom fixed an issue that would have allowed users in Zoom “waiting rooms” to spy on meetings even if they weren’t invited, according to researchers at Toronto-based Citizen Lab. Before the fix, which was issued on Sunday, Zoom servers automatically sent live streams of meetings and meeting decryption keys to the users in the rooms, where they must wait for approval to join a meeting. This vulnerability allowed those users to eavesdrop without approval. Shannon had the story.


Maryland creates cyber task force staffed by National Guard

A new team of security staffers, according to the Maryland National Guard, is responsible for monitoring state government websites — such as the portal for unemployment benefits — to make sure that the public can still access state services and public-health updates. More than 6,000 Marylanders had tested positive for coronavirus by Friday morning, with many more out of work thanks to the pandemic. Hackers have been tailoring their phishing campaigns to prey on fears of the coronavirus since the early days of the crisis, according to multiple security researchers. The emptying out of government offices as employees are sent home to work remotely has only exacerbated the need for states to bolster their cyberdefenses, said Mike Wyatt, a principal in Deloitte’s risk and financial advisory group. Benjamin Freed has more at StateScoop.


On the latest Securiosity.

Greg Otto and Shannon Vavra go in depth on this week's Winnti Group report, what malware the group is using, how it may be tied to a company known as "World Wired Labs," and what it tells us about the Chinese cybercrime underground. Listen here.


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