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What have ransomware gangs learned from the corporate world? At the White House, the paperwork keeps moving as the SolarWinds response continues. And Trump fires a shot at Chinese tech. This is CyberScoop for Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2020.

How hackers actually work together

Forget the old stereotype of a lone mastermind hacker breaching a computer mainframe from a basement somewhere. Today’s cybercriminals often function as part of a kind of cooperative shadow industry that rewards innovation and reputation. Groups behind hacking tools including Egregor, the Bugat malware and emerging ransomware strains function as cooperative units built on specialization. As one researcher put it, "That means everyone is taking a cut." Jeff Stone is on it.

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Feds formally implicate Russia in SolarWinds hack

After a smattering of Trump Cabinet heads suggested it, federal agencies investigating the SolarWinds hack have finally come out and said it: Russia is likely responsible. The statement Tuesday from CISA and intelligence agencies was the most detailed yet from investigators, which called the compromises “serious” and a long way from resolved, but also said that less than 10 federal agencies have been victimized so far. Sean Lyngaas has the details.

Trump takes more action against Chinese apps

With only about two weeks left in his presidency, Donald Trump is revisiting a theme that dominated tech headlines for awhile last year. In an executive order issued Tuesday, the president called for a U.S. ban on eight Chinese mobile apps, similar to action he tried to take last year against TikTok. The order won't take effect for 45 days, meaning that the incoming Biden administration could decide to nix it sometime after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. The affected apps include Alipay, owned by billionaire Jack Ma, and WeChat Pay, an offering from tech giant Tencent. Even if Biden allows such a ban to take effect, it probably would face long-term legal challenges. Trump's TikTok ban, for instance, is still tied up in court. Joe Warminsky has more.

More Biden appointees announced

Two tech officials who worked under President Barack Obama will be returning to the White House for the next administration. President-elect Joe Biden's transition team said David Recordon and Austin Lin will be serving in top positions at the Office of Management and Administration, a behind-the-scenes office that oversees White House operations. The announcement from the transition team suggested that Recordon and Lin could have more governmentwide influence — including some cybersecurity work — than previous holders of similar positions. Recordon and Lin both have experience at Facebook. Jackson Barnett has the story at FedScoop.

Ticket-buying bots for COVID-19 vaccines?

Every state is different when it comes to figuring out how to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations. In Florida's case, one of the solutions has been using event-scheduling website Eventbrite to fill up slots. And a decision like that potentially opens the door to all kinds of issues. “You have the same problem getting tickets to vaccinations as you do to a hot show,” said Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Those problems include extra headaches for people who aren't tech-savvy, and on the other end, the potential for tickets to be gobbled up by bots. Benjamin Freed breaks it down at StateScoop.

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