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05/15/2020
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Microsoft is making some crucial threat data public in an attempt to help fend off coronavirus attacks. A strike in the electricity supply chain. And a security incident has downed a U.K. supercomputer system for days. This is CyberScoop for Friday, May 15.

Microsoft aims for transparency with COVID-19 threats

Microsoft is making the threat intelligence it’s collected on coronavirus-related hacking campaigns public, the company announced. The information includes indicators that have been used in malicious attachments in pandemic-related spearphishing email campaigns. “As a security intelligence community, we are stronger when we share information that offers a more complete view of attackers’ shifting techniques,” the Microsoft Threat Intelligence team said in a blog. Many of the email lures included in the feed have imitated World Health Organization and Red Cross branding, while others appear to be sharing information about COVID-19 with targets. Shannon Vavra has more details.


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UK power organization jolted by an attack surge

While the cyber-defenses at utilities that deliver electricity reap all the public attention, there are plenty of companies that facilitate energy transactions that hackers can target. Case in point: Elexon, a British company that manages transactions worth roughly $2 billion every year. The company says that a cyberattack had its internal computers, cutting off email access for employees. Electricity delivery wasn’t affected. The U.K.’s national grid operator is investigating. Sean Lyngaas covered the news.


Supercomputers, we have a problem

ARCHER — the British supercomputing system that scientists use to model climate change and coronavirus — has been down since Monday, following what reps described as a “security exploitation.” User passwords have been reset, but the system likely won’t be back online until at least next week. The U.K.’s cybersecurity agency is investigating. Meanwhile, other supercomputers in Europe appear to be offline, too. The head-scratching incident could be another example of how scientific data and know-how has been in the crosshairs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sean Lyngaas has all the intrigue.


Cyber aid for state and local governments still on the table

While the latest pandemic relief package unveiled in the House of Representatives did not contain the state and local cybersecurity grants that some had advocated for, Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., says that kind of program could find a home later this year as part of other critical federal legislation. The House bill introduced Tuesday contains nearly $1 trillion in emergency support for state and local governments. None of that money is tailored specifically for IT and cybersecurity operations, despite lobbying from governors and security pros who say the pandemic is putting unprecedented stress on government technologies. StateScoop's Benjamin Freed explains.


Air Force adds more tech to the bug bounty pile

Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, says he wants to have enough bug bounty programs for civilian hackers to “make a living” of finding flaws in the service’s technology. The department will be hosting its own “Aerospace Village” at the upcoming DEF CON conference — held online this year, instead of in Las Vegas — where satellites will be up for grabs for white-hat hackers. The event will offer up to $50,000 for the grand prize with other smaller prices, and it will be one of many, Roper said. Jackson Barnett weighs in at FedScoop.


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Seriously, though: How do you create a new cell?


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