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The GRU's Facebook hangouts draw attention again. Business email compromise scams made up roughly half of all reported cybercrime losses last year. And states still need more federal money for cybersecurity. This is CyberScoop for Wednesday, February 12.

Facebook scrubs three networks tied to foreign militaries

The latest bogus accounts identified by Facebook were tied to entities in Iran, Malaysia and Vietnam and, most urgently, Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU. Researchers found a network of 78 accounts, 11 Pages, 29 groups and four Instagram pages that often posted about news such as Russia’s involvement in Syria and the downing of the Malaysian airliner MH17 and also had links to Russian military intelligence services, the company said. Sometimes, the account holders misrepresented themselves as citizen journalists, and contacted policymakers, reporters and other known figures in the region who could help amplify their content, Facebook said. Researchers from FireEye, Graphika and the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab also analyzed the activity. Jeff Stone all the context you need.

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The FBI’s forever war against BEC scams

Business email compromise scams, when crooks use social engineering to take over email accounts and trick victims into sending them money, continue to top the list of misdeeds reported annually to the FBI’s cybercrime portal. All told, cybercrime cost victims $3.5 billion in 2019. Organizations reported $1.7 billion in adjusted losses to BEC scams, half a billion dollars more than in 2018. But the FBI says it’s fighting back: A “recovery asset team” it set up in 2018 recouped $300 million from scammers last year. Buried in the report is a note about money reportedly lost to ransomware attacks — it doubled from 2018 to 2019. But the $8.9 million that victims of ransomware flagged to the FBI in 2019 is just a fraction of the damage, because many attacks go unreported as organizations quietly pay off criminals to unlock their data. Here's the full report.

CISA and states say the next step is more money

The Department of Homeland Security’s top cybersecurity official and two state-government leaders told senators the same thing on Tuesday: The feds and the states are collaborating better than ever on issues like ransomware threats and election security, but those efforts need more funding. Chris Krebs, director of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, urged lawmakers to continue working on legislation to get the job done. Krebs and the two state officials — Michigan Chief Security Officer Chris DeRusha and Amanda Crawford, executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources — also talked about the advantages of moving state and local agencies to the federally administered .gov domain. StateScoop’s Benjamin Freed has more from the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.

Russian tax scammer 'Kusok' takes a plea deal

Anton P. Bogdanov, a Russian citizen, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to hacking-related charges in connection with a scheme to steal $1.5 million in tax refunds from the Department of Treasury. CyberScoop in December broke the news that Bogdanov, who went by the name "Kusok," would take a plea deal. He and his team exploited a security flaw in tax software to direct real tax refunds into accounts under the scammers' control. Bogdanov was arrested while on vacation in Thailand in November 2018, and was facing up to 27 years if convicted on all counts. Here's Jeff's story.

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