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12/22/2020
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Cyber-savvy lawmakers say Cyber Command should stay put, for now. The latest on the SolarWinds incident. And the attorney general has a parting shot for his boss. This is CyberScoop for Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020.

Idea for Cyber Command split may be DOA

Although Pentagon officials have suggested in recent days that the nation’s offensive cyber arm, Cyber Command, should split away from the NSA, the command is a long way from being ready to stand on its own, according to a bipartisan group of lawmakers. In order to split from the NSA, the command would have to meet congressionally mandated standards intended to prevent any premature split from destabilizing the command’s military readiness. The DOD has not certified to Congress that this is currently the case, according to Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. For now, acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller has decided that he cannot move forward with the proposal, according to The Washington Post. Shannon Vavra has the rundown.


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Another hacking group joins the SolarWinds party

The access that SolarWinds software offers attackers to victim networks makes it a rich target for a variety of hacking groups. So it's no surprise that Microsoft has confirmed that a second group — in addition to the suspected Russian spies — has deployed malicious code against SolarWinds' Orion software. It's unclear who the second hacking group is. Microsoft declined to comment. The good news is that this is not another supply chain compromise. Sean Lyngaas has the research.


New details on the hack's Treasury impact

We are gradually learning more about the impact of a suspected Russian hacking operation against the U.S. government, thanks to lawmakers who have been briefed by officials who aren’t authorized to speak with the media. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Monday that Treasury officials had told him “dozens” of department email accounts had been breached. Meanwhile, at the Department of Commerce’s NTIA, roughly three dozen email accounts had been broken into, according to a U.S. official. Sean has more.


Barr rebuffs a desperate Giuliani ploy

In the waning days of the Trump administration, Attorney General William Barr has declined to sign on to a desperate effort by Rudy Giuliani to overturn the results of the election by seizing voting machines. Barr said at a press conference Monday that he had not seen evidence of widespread fraud that could change the result of the election, and he declined to name a special counsel on the issue. That the rhetoric has even gotten this far — with Giuliani pushing to confiscate voting equipment — is a source of concern among election officials from both parties. Sean has this one, too.


Safe-Inet 'bulletproof hosting' services seized

The FBI and European police say they have taken down a virtual private network (VPN) favored by high-profile cybercrime operations worldwide. The sting Monday on locations in the U.S. as well as France, Germany the Netherlands and Switzerland effectively shut down the Safe-Inet service, which promoted its "bulletproof hosting" services in cybercrime forums, officials said. The VPN helped obscure the online activities of major ransomware gangs, including campaigns that were active as of this week, the FBI and Europol said. Joe Warminsky has the details.


Journalists in the crosshairs of zero-click exploits

Hackers suspected to work for the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates breached 36 devices belonging to Al Jazeera journalists in recent months by using a zero-click iPhone exploit and NSO Group spyware, according to new Citizen Lab research. The hacking operations, which researchers attribute to those two governments with “medium confidence,” could have allowed the operators to record audio, take pictures, track device location and access passwords or stored credentials on compromised phones, the researchers said. Shannon breaks it down.


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Right back at you, Joe: We are consistently wow'd by your work, too.


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