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11/09/2021
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Justice Department officials ramped up efforts to curb ransomware. A close look at how mobile hacking tools are threatening Americans' security. And trading app Robinhood discloses another incident. This is CyberScoop for November 9, 2021.

A big day for ransomware enforcement

The U.S. government announced a sweeping set of actions Monday targeting alleged REvil ransomware attackers in Europe, including an arrest, an indictment, seizure of more than $6 million in stolen money and new sanctions against a cryptocurrency exchange service and companies that support it. Yaroslav Vasinksyi, a 22-year-old Ukrainian national, was arrested Oct. 8 as he crossed the border into Poland at the behest of US authorities, CyberScoop first reported Nov. 2. Vaskinskyi is accused of writing the code behind REvil malware, also known as Sodinokibi, which has become among the most virulent ransomware strains in use. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the malware has been “deployed” against roughly 175,000 computers worldwide, generating at least $200 million in extortion fees. U.S. officials also announced criminal charges against Yevgeniy Polyanin, a Russian national. AJ Vicens has the story.


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Spyware goes to the fair

European and Middle Eastern spyware and surveillance firms are marketing intrusion software to adversaries of the U.S., its intelligence allies and NATO, according to Atlantic Council research. The report underscores growing concerns about the threat that spyware companies pose to the U.S. Researchers at the think tank urged allied forces to tighten export controls on the technology and work with arms fairs to limit attendance by companies that sell their technology to authoritarian or adversarial governments. Tonya Riley reports.


Outlaw targets Robinhood

Popular stock-trading app company Robinhood says it suffered a breach on Nov. 3 that exposed information on 7 million people. That person gained access to 5 million email addresses and 2 million full names, with another approximately 310 having additional information like zip codes and dates of birth exposed. Around 10 more had “more extensive account details” exposed. After, the company said that the culprit tried to extort Robinhood, which claims 18 million clients and $80 billion in assets. Tim Starks has the news.


Midwest grid security to get boost from NSA-backed research group

Researchers at Iowa State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are leading a new effort to improve the cybersecurity of the electrical grid in nine Midwestern states, as part of a program supported by the National Security Agency. The Regional Coalition for Critical Infrastructure Protection — also known as ReCIPE — plan to spend two years using a $2 million grant developing attack simulations and training materials to better protect the rural region’s energy sector. Benjamin Freed has more at StateScoop.


Treasury advances blockchain proof of concept for grant payments

The Treasury Department continues to test a blockchain proof of concept tokenizing grant payments to increase transparency and reduce the amount of reporting recipients must do, the program’s lead said Monday. Through the pilot program, data on the award amount, key dates and recipient is scraped from National Science Foundation-issued grant letters and meshed with payment information inside a blockchain token for real-time, transactional transparency. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service has spent the last two-and-a-half years working on the proof of concept, which continues a 2017 effort, in light of grant recipients reporting they submit about 400 reports to agencies annually and 350 quarterly. Dave Nyczepir looks closer for FedScoop.


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