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09/30/2021
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WorkScoop
How investigators bank on hacker feuds to gather intel on digital extortion. The NSA's cyber director has a stark update. And an Amnesty International-themed fraud effort. This is CyberScoop for September 30, 2021.

Honor among thieves?

Cybercriminal forums have a long tradition of a Mafia-style justice that have kept hackers from screwing each other. But ransomware groups, which have brought increased scrutiny to the forums, have started to disrupt the system and introduced a new brand of chaos into the process. The stakes are high for forums trying to defend their reputation in the underground, researchers say. Arbitration disputes can turn ugly, with rivaling parties airing dirty laundry like attack methods and even training manuals. Tonya Riley gets deeper.


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National cyber exploitation programs are so trendy

Rob Joyce, the NSA's director of cybersecurity, said Wednesday that almost every country in the world now has a program to exploit digital vulnerabilities. They're mostly for espionage, but some also are "dabbling in offensive cyber," he said at the Aspen Cyber Summit. Smaller nations have shown signs of sophistication but are limited by things such as their budgets, Joyce said. Tim Starks wrote about it.


An Amnesty-themed anti-anti-virus

Fraudsters are posing as human rights group Amnesty International to trick individuals into downloading malware, researchers at Cisco Talos report. Hackers registered multiple domains using variations on the Amnesty name to advertise a demo for “Amnesty Anti Pegasus” software that could allegedly scan devices for the NSO Group spyware, which Amnesty has closely examined. Instead they were directing victims to download  malware that allowed hackers to access their machines and data. It’s not clear if a government is involved with the attack, which targets potential Pegasus victims, including activists and journalists. Some of the domains are still active, researchers say, so be on the watch. Tonya looks closer.


War (on pineapple) is over, if you want it

CISA Director Jen Easterly plans to keep the "Rumor Control" website on election disinformation and misinformation, she said Wednesday at the Aspen Cyber Summit. "I worry a lot about misinformation and disinformation, as a citizen, but also as a mom," she said. That site helped get her predecessor, Chris Krebs, fired by Donald Trump. In a break from Krebs, however, she said she'd discontinue his "War on Pineapple" pizza metaphor for foreign interference in favor of something closer to her own interests. "That's Chris's trademark," she said. "I need to come up with something else. It's probably like Rubik's Cubes, 80s music, dragons, something." Here's a look back at the pineapple pizza debate.


Bill to create cybersecurity workforce rotational program passes House

A bill that would establish a cybersecurity workforce rotational program passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support Wednesday. If it becomes law, the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act would allow senior tech industry workers to enter government for a set period of time and grant government workers the ability to rotate among federal agencies. Supporters of the proposed legislation have argued that it would open the door for more cyber expertise to enter government. Jackson Barnett covers the news at FedScoop.


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