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We talk to insiders about what was behind 2021's rush of investment and acquisitions involving cyber companies. Three makes a trend, at least for Russian law enforcement activity against cybercriminals. And a cryptocurrency laundering case introduces the world to Razzlekhan. This is CyberScoop for February 9.

A record-setting year for cyber company deals

Funding for cybersecurity companies was up 136% in 2021, and the overall volume of mergers and acquisitions activity was up 294%, making it the biggest year yet for the industry, according to a new report from Momentum Cyber. Analysts and executives say that companies across the economy in general are spending more on cybersecurity services than ever before, and investors are following that money. Innovation from startups is also driving the growth, too, as major corporations look for opportunities to add security-oriented pieces to their existing platforms. Joe Warminsky explains.

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Microsoft in talks to acquire Mandiant, report says

The news about potential cyber company acquisitions continues to roll into 2022: Bloomberg reported Tuesday afternoon that Microsoft was in talks to acquire cybersecurity company Mandiant. Such a deal would add Mandiant’s long-running reputation for threat intelligence and other services to Microsoft’s efforts to boost security for customers. People familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg that the deliberations might not result in an offer from Microsoft. Neither company commented on the news. Read more.

Russia continues its cybercrime crackdown

Russian law enforcement seized a series of cybercrime websites this week, including Sky Fraud, a well-known forum for trading stolen identities and credit card information, and another site which sold remote desktop protocol (RDP) access, which allows buyers to essentially buy access to open target systems. The seizures — and the possibly-related arrest of six people for "cyberfraud" — are just the latest Russian government actions against major cybercriminals in recent weeks. The government there took down suspects related to the shuttered Infraud Organization on Jan. 22, a formerly powerful cybercrime forum, and also arrested a series of REvil ransomware suspects on Jan. 14. AJ Vicens reports.

From rap to rap sheet?

The Department of Justice said it so far has seized more than $3.6 billion in cryptocurrency tied to a 2016 hack of cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, its largest recovery to date. On Tuesday it charged Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife, Heather Morgan, 31, for allegedly laundering the money over a course of five years, sometimes into their own financial accounts. It's not clear if the defendants were involved with the actual hack on Bitfinex. Both defendants are cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and Morgan performs under the moniker “Razzlekhan.” Tonya Riley has more.

JCDC is well worth the effort, experts say

CISA's Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative got some major shout-outs Tuesday at a Senate hearing for being a key source of collaboration between the government and the private sector to quickly address the serious Log4Shell vulnerability. Experts say they hope to see more means of collaboration in the future. “From a threat intelligence perspective, there is real policy benefit from sharing cyber incident information, especially if CISA is able to then provide bi-directional benefit,” said witness Jen Miller-Osborn, deputy director of threat intelligence at Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42. Tonya has the recap.

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