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What does leadership on cyber issues mean for a U.S. tech giant? Another big international cybercrime bust. And be mindful of your sudo. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021.

Microsoft’s big role in cyberspace earns nation-state comparisons

Microsoft has been everywhere during the SolarWinds hack: first responder, victim, threat intelligence provider, defender. That incident has offered a glimpse into the enormous force Microsoft has become in cyberspace, both for good and ill. There are only a handful of things that nation-states do that the tech giant doesn't. It's been a long journey from 90s/00s "big tech" villain to cyber power. Tim Starks has the big picture.

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NetWalker gets a perp walk

U.S. law enforcement agencies teamed with their Bulgarian counterparts on a NetWalker crackdown, featuring charges against a Canadian national, seizure of nearly half a million dollars in cryptocurrency and the disabling of a dark web leak site. NetWalker ransomware attackers saw their profits grow in 2020 as they exploited the COVID-19 crisis and offered their ransomware as a service to other cybercriminals. The cryptocurrency totals seized represent the amounts three separate victims paid. Tim has this one, too.

Sudo flaw catches attention of Cybercom, NSA

U.S. intelligence officials are urging American companies and security workers to fix a flaw in sudo, a common tool found on nearly all Unix and Linux-based operating systems, which, if exploited, would give attackers deep access to a victim machine. The vulnerability, which now has a patch, would have allowed unauthorized users to gain what’s known as root privileges on vulnerable hosts as early as 2011 when the flaw was introduced, researchers at the security firm Qualys found. The Department of Defense’s Cyber Command warned system administrators Thursday to pay attention to the flaw, adding it “is a far more dangerous #Sudo vulnerability than seen in the rescent past [sic].” Dive in with Shannon Vavra.

2016 troll arrested on disinformation charges

The fallout from information operations in the 2016 election is ongoing. U.S. law enforcement officials on Wednesday arrested Douglass Mackey, a 31-year-old far-right troll, for allegedly using social media to urge people to vote by text in 2016. That’s not a valid way to vote. Nearly 5,000 phone numbers responded to Mackey’s phony call to vote, according to the Justice Department. Sean Lyngaas has the story.

A big Texas county brings back paper voting records

Until this week, Harris County, Texas, was the largest jurisdiction in the U.S. to use electronic voting machines that did not produce auditable paper records for in-person votes. The county announced a $54 million contract Tuesday with Hart InterCivic, one of three major voting equipment manufacturers, for a new system that gives voters a touchscreen interface and produces a paper records of each ballot. “My commitment to Harris County voters is to provide an open, transparent and accountable voting process,” said Isabel Longoria, the election administrator for the county, which includes Houston. Benjamin Freed has more at StateScoop.

ProtonMail, Tutanota weigh in on encryption

European encrypted service providers ProtonMail, Threema, Tresorit and Tutanota are urging the European Council to back away from a controversial resolution that critics say would undercut effective data protection measures. The resolution, adopted last month, calls for “security through encryption and security despite encryption,” which technologists have interpreted as a threat to end-to-end encryption. “[E]ncryption is an absolute, data is either encrypted or it isn’t, users have privacy or they don’t,” the our companies note in a statement. “The desire to give law enforcement more tools to fight crime is obviously understandable. But the proposals are the digital equivalent of giving law enforcement a key to every citizens’ home." Shannon Vavra has more.

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