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06/01/2020
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WorkScoop
Taking a closer look at lawmakers' claims about an apparent denial-of-service attack that hit Minnesota government websites. Rod Rosenstein is advising NSO Group. And GitHub was ensnared by an insidious hacking tool. This is CyberScoop for Monday, June 1.

Don't believe the DDOS-hype

Minnesota technology officials said state networks were inundated over the weekend by malicious attempts to knock government agencies offline. Officials have not said if the attempt was explicitly linked to the reaction to the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who was killed while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department in a videotaped incident that has sparked protests and violent clashes with law enforcement nationwide. While the state repelled the cyberattack, it's worth remembering that surges in digital traffic are among the most basic forms of cybercrime, despite claims suggesting otherwise. Benjamin Freed has more details at StateScoop.


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Rod Rosenstein's NSO ties

Rod Rosenstein, former U.S. deputy attorney general, has been providing counsel on cybersecurity and national security to NSO Group, the Israeli software surveillance firm accused of spying on human rights activists and journalists, court documents show. The revelation that Rosenstein has been been providing advice on accusations of spying stands in stark contrast to his work at the DOJ, where he prosecuted foreign hackers. It also raises questions about what knowledge he has about the FBI investigation into NSO. Shannon Vavra is on the case.


Georgia election hacking claims debunked

When former Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp alleged that "a failed hacking attempt" had hit voter registration systems in the 2018 gubernatorial election, he was wrong. That's according to case files from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which show that Kemp's office misunderstood planned security tests and a warning about possible election security vulnerabilities as malicious hacking, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The state's attorney general previously closed an investigation into now-Gov. Kemp's claim of an attack, citing a lack of evidence. Local reporters get to the bottom of it.


In an Octopus's [malware] garden

GitHub’s security team last week revealed that malware known as Octopus Scanner had infiltrated 26 projects on the open-source platform in an example of the challenges of rooting out malicious code from software supply chains. The security team had to dig deeper than they expected to address the issue — simply notifying the project owners wasn’t enough. But leaving the code unattended wasn’t an option either because it could’ve provided a foothold into other development environments. Sean Lyngaas has the story.


How does cybercrime affect unemployment aid?

As a wave of unemployment fraud slows the ability of states to deliver funds to legitimate applicants, Washington state officials said that recent tweaks to the unemployment benefits system are helping the state reclaim stolen money and process legitimate claims faster. The Washington Employment Security Department said it recovered $300 million in funds fraudulently diverted by scammers, while many workers affected by business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic wait for assistance. One official blamed the fluctuations on the way Washington screens for unemployment fraud, a type of cybercrime that earlier this month the Secret Service warned was being leveled at states with heightened frequency, particularly from foreign actors. StateScoop's Colin Wood explains.


DHS pushes new internet tech to help secure government agencies

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency wants to limit ransomware, phishing, botnet and malware threats to civilian agencies by rolling out a new Domain Name System resolver service, with a plan to eventually provide it governmentwide. As the DNS translates websites’ people-friendly domain names into the numerical IP addresses that computers use, resolver technology rides along to allow or block access to sites. Millions of federal employees visit nongovernmental websites each day, and the CISA technology is intended to improve their protection from malicious infrastructure capable of launching cyberattacks. Dave Nyczepir has the story at FedScoop.


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