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07/25/2022
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Surveillance tech gets attention in Congress with a hearing this week and legislation meant to stop its spread. A ransomware gang claims a major victim in Italy. And hacktivists go after evangelicals. This is CyberScoop for July 25.

Congress takes aim at spyware

Congress is poised to vote on legislation to prevent firms that sell foreign commercial surveillance from working with U.S. intelligence agencies. If passed, the bill would also allow the president to sanction the firms if they target the American intelligence community. Many experts say it will be hard to prevent spyware from being used improperly, but prominent security researchers and congressional staffers say Congressional attention is significant. "Many companies like [Israeli spyware maker NSO Group] see entering the US market as the ultimate prize and what we've seen so far is that the US government does have the ability to chill investment interest in bad actors, and that's really important," said John Scott Railton of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, which has conducted groundbreaking research on spyware. Suzanne Smalley has more.


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Hackers post 74GB of data associated with evangelical orgs

Unnamed hackers posted more than 74 gigabytes of data related to several evangelical organizations last week as part of a protest against the organizations' stances on LGBTQ and the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The hackers posted data taken from Florida web services firm WMTEK to Enlace Hacktivista, a site offering space for hackers to post data. The hackers specifically called out Liberty Counsel, an evangelical organization that was the subject of recent Rolling Stone article that reported a member of the group claimed to pray with Supreme Court justices.   AJ Vicens reports.


LockBit claims to have 100GB from the Italian tax agency

The ransomware group LockBit claimed Monday to have taken 100GB of files from l'Agenzia delle Entrate, the Italian national tax agency. An Italian news outlet reported police were investigating but put the total amount of data taken at about 78GB. The agency put a notice on its website stating that it was working with a state-owned IT company to figure out exactly what had happened. LockBit is one of the most prolific ransomware crews going, accounting for a major portion of all known ransomware-related incidents this year. That said, some skepticism could be warranted: Experts in the past have warned the group can be prone to bluster. AJ covers this one, too.


DHS personal data purchases gets Congress' attention

Revelations of federal government agencies buying large troves of personal data, including cellphone location data, from controversial data brokers and government contractors has spurred Congress to try and pass legislation that would severely constrain what data the government can buy from contractors. The American Civil Liberties Union recently published thousands of pages of previously unreleased records about how Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other parts of the Department of Homeland Security bought from government contractors enormous volumes of people’s cell phone location information secretly extracted from smartphone apps. Details in FedScoop from Nihal Krishan.


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