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07/02/2021
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Russian military hackers are applying brute force in a two-year campaign, U.S. and U.K. agencies say. DHS is touting hundreds of cyber hires. And a House panel is aiming more money at CISA. This is CyberScoop for July 2, 2021.

Fancy Bear up to its fearsome old habits

U.S. and U.K. cyber agencies say that Russian military hackers have been going after hundreds of government and private sector targets worldwide, using Kubernetes clusters to launch brute force attacks. In a joint alert, the agencies said GRU hackers (also known as Fancy Bear or APT28) have been bombarding targets with commonly known passwords since mid-2019 to gain access to their networks with the idea of stealing data. They've been particularly fond of going after organizations relying on Microsoft Office 365 cloud services. Tim Starks reports.


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More about that Russian cyber-espionage activity…

Fancy Bear’s attack last year on the Norwegian parliament involved the theft of “sensitive content” from some lawmakers’ email accounts. More than 10 Norwegian organizations were part of the same campaign, police in Oslo said at the time, though the spying effort likely was part of a broader initiative also aimed at targets dating back to 2019. Relations between Russia and Norway had grown more tense in recent months after Norwegian authorities expelled a Russian diplomat because of his alleged connection to an espionage case, and Russia retaliated by expelling a Norwegian diplomat. Sean Lyngaas covered the news at the time.


DHS cybersecurity hiring spree gets department 12% closer

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the department's "Cybersecurity Workforce Sprint" netted nearly 300 hires, more than the two-month goal of 200. That's 12% of the more than 2,000 cybersecurity vacancies at DHS, however. Still, the department has extended another 500 offers. DHS cybersecurity hiring has endured years of criticism. Tim has this one, too.


Plan to boost CISA funding moves ahead

A funding bill that would allocate $2.4 billion for the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency is headed to the House Appropriations Committee after passing unopposed through that subcommittee Wednesday. The bill is aimed at funding the larger DHS — including cash for immigration issues, for instance — but the latest version includes $288 million more for CISA than President Joe Biden had requested. “If we are going to stop the current wave of ransomware and prevent another SolarWinds-like hack, Congress must step up to the plate and adequately fund CISA,” said Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. We've been expecting this.


Crucial ransomware code surfaces

Some rare good news for security personnel trying to stop the spread of digital extortion: Malware used to carry out Babuk ransomware attacks leaked online, proving the good guys with a glimpse into how to stop it. An unidentified contributor added the code to VirusTotal, a popular security repository, earlier this week. The code also generates decrypts, meaning Babuk victims have a means of unlocking their data. "Hopefully this can be used to drive research on detection and decryption," tweeted Kevin Beaumont, a leading mind on the issue. Here are more of his thoughts.


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