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12/04/2019
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The Justice Department's cyber boss details how new threats accompany more sensitive case work. FireEye catches scammers and spies exploiting a patched Outlook vulnerability. And new insight on how the Marine Corps handles malicious activity. This is CyberScoop for Wednesday, December 4.

Here’s what’s different about hacking threats facing DOJ

The Department of Justice’s dual law enforcement and counterintelligence mission means it faces a unique medley of criminal and state-sponsored hacking threats, the department’s cyber chief says. The “threat profile” facing DOJ stems from the sensitive case work officials pursue against criminal hackers and foreign spies, Nickolous Ward told CyberScoop on Tuesday at the Fortinet Security Transformation Summit. In the last 18 months, the department has unsealed a number of hacking charges in federal court, whether for alleged state-sponsored cyber espionage or traditional criminal activity. Each of those cases is of interest to the foreign governments and hacking groups implicated, who might be willing to use their hacking tools to research a case. Sean Lyngaas spoke with Ward.


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IBM uncovers more destructive malware from Iran

IBM’s incident responders say they’ve found previously unknown malware used in an attack against unnamed energy and industrial organizations in the Middle East. Like Shamoon, the infamous Iranian malware that damaged tens of thousands of computers at oil giant Saudi Aramco in 2012, this newfound code overwrites the master boot record on Windows machines. “It is possible that it is a recently developed malware and that the campaign we analyzed is one of the first to use this version,” said IBM X-Force analyst Limor Kessem. Sean has the details.


A patch in Outlook isn't stopping hackers

A Microsoft security update that was meant to squash a bug in the Outlook email service fails to completely prevent attacks. The issue involves an Outlook feature called Home Page, which allows users to load content from outside websites. Hackers, if they obtain a victim's username and password credentials, can infiltrate the victim's Outlook, then hop to the larger operating system. FireEye said Wednesday its observed an uptick in attacks which exploit this flaw, despite patch implementation. Find the full details here.


How the Marine Corps battles cyberthreats

The U.S. Marines' Cyberspace Command’s cyber technology officer says one of the best ways to defend against spearphishing attempts is to give employees context. The goal is not to just make sure personnel understand they should avoid clicking on what appear to be malicious links, but to make sure they understand the bigger picture of what they’re protecting, Renata Spinks said Tuesday. “Instead of just [test] phishing attempts, teach your employees why phishing attempts are so important and make it relatable.” For her division, known as MARFORCYBER, that’s no small order: they run offensive and defensive operations in cyberspace, and if anyone loses credentials to adversaries, any number of missions, including countering ISIS online, could be compromised. Shannon Vavra breaks it down.


Supply-chain security haunts federal CISO

While the U.S. government is working to prevent foreign telecommunications firms like Huawei from building 5G networks in the U.S. and abroad, there are still few answers on how to secure the government’s technology supply chain, according to federal CISO Grant Schneider. “Could [a company] come under the influence of a foreign adversary in any way shape or form? Is there quality where we need it to be?" Schneider asked Shannon Vavra on the sidelines of the Fortinet Security Summit, produced by FedScoop and StateScoop. “I don’t think we have an answer on what are the solutions to all those [questions.]” The administration also isn’t clear yet on whether the government itself should be assessing which contractors are meeting requirements, or whether that assessment should be completed elsewhere, according to Schneider. Shannon has more from the conversation.


Another cyber incident ahead of Britain's general election

Ben Bradshaw, a candidate from the U.K.’s Labour Party, has been vocal about Russian interference in British politics. Now, he says Russian hackers tried to phish him. Bradshaw reported a suspicious malware-laced email he received on his Gmail account to the U.K.’s cybersecurity agency, which is investigating. The email included a ruse that used the signature of a Russian envoy and PowerPoint slide purportedly produced by Russia’s FSB intelligence agency, The Guardian reported. This is the second big cybersecurity incident in British politics in a month. Brits go to the polls next week in what is effectively a referendum on politicians’ handling of Brexit. Sean has more context.


Utah observes an uptick in attack opportunities

Utah Chief Information Officer Mike Hussey told StateScoop that he’s watched as cyberattacks against his state’s election systems have ramped up as each new candidate has been announced. With 2020 being a presidential election year and with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert up for reelection next November, Hussey said in a video interview that interest in the state’s election systems is rising, both from those responsible from protecting them and those attempting to hack them. One of the things the state’s seeing, Hussey said, is opportunities to improve as “very bright” attackers search for ways to influence their election systems and statewide voter registration database. Watch the video.


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