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The U.S. called out Russian intelligence for cyberattacks against Georgia. Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and chief technology officer of the company known for investigating the DNC hack, is out. And it's been another big week for cybersecurity funding. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, February 20.

State Dept. blames Russia for Georgian attacks

The State Department is formally blaming Russian intelligence for disrupting thousands of government and private websites in Georgia last year. The rare reprimand comes just as the U.S. government and intelligence community brace for possible foreign interference efforts in the 2020 presidential elections and work with partners abroad to halt adversarial hacking campaigns. “This action contradicts Russia’s attempts to claim it is a responsible actor in cyberspace and demonstrates a continuing pattern of reckless Russian GRU cyber operations against a number of countries,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, adding in a statement the U.S. would work with Georgia on technical assistance and additional capacity building moving forward. Dive in with Shannon Vavra.

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CrowdStrike shuffles leadership

Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s chief technology officer and co-founder, has left the company to launch a nonprofit “policy accelerator,” Alperovitch said in a tweet Wednesday. Michael Sentonas, the current vice president of technology strategy at CrowdStrike, will be taking over as worldwide CTO. Under Alperovitch’s leadership, CrowdStrike has gained notoriety for attributing the 2016 Democratic National Committee breach to two Russian APT groups, known as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear. The company also recently went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Shannon has more details.

The economics of phishing

Cybercriminal forums are littered with advertisements from scammers who are selling pre-made tools necessary for carrying out phishing attacks. The average cost of a tutorial that includes instructions on how to carry out a scam is under $25, while templates for malicious websites meant to dupe victims out of their usernames and passwords are typically worth $3 apiece. The numbers are included in research published Tuesday by Digital Shadows, a threat intelligence firm which monitors illicit web forums for criminal activity. The sales figures, if not always surprising, help illustrate how business email compromise attacks, which sometimes begin with compromised accounts, caused more than $1.7 billion in cybercrime-related losses reported to the FBI last year. Jeff Stone has more numbers.

A ransomware incident at industrial facility

As if energy and other industrial facilities needed any more reason to pay attention to ransomware, a new report details how a previously undisclosed infection of the Sodinokibi ransomware “that disabled multiple systems required for control of the affected plant.” Dragos responded to the incident, and now says hackers were able to “brute force” their way into the plant’s network by guessing passwords on remote access software. The cautionary tale in control systems-related ransomware comes on the heels of the Department of Homeland Security’s disclosure that ransomware caused a natural gas pipeline operator to shut down for two days last year. Find more details here.

A special kind of cloud

The U.S. intelligence community (IC) has embraced working with the big cloud providers and their offsite data centers, but it still has a need for computing networks that are dedicated to its cause. The IC has announced a new acquisition, the Hybrid Compute Initiative, that will enhance and replace the NSA-operated GovCloud, which handles high-speed signals intelligence work from more than a dozen agencies. John Sherman, the IC’s chief information officer, said that the HCI will be “complementary” with the community’s other big cloud contract, the Commercial Cloud Enterprise, which is being developed by the CIA. One detail about the HCI: The feds don’t need it to be onsite at the NSA’s home in Fort Meade, Maryland, but they want the facility to be close by. Billy Mitchell explains the announcement at FedScoop.

A flurry of VC funding

It's been quite a week at the intersection of venture capital and cybersecurity. On Wednesday, SentinelOne, which sells a monitoring service built on top of machine learning, announced a $200 million Series E funding round, for a $1.1 billion valuation. This comes just six months after the company raised $120 million in its Series D. If that wasn't enough, OneTrust, an Atlanta-based privacy, security and third-party risk technology platform, announced Thursday it raised a massive $210 million Series B round, more than doubling its valuation to $2.7 billion. Additionally, social media monitoring service ZeroFOX announced a $74 million funding round Thursday. It doesn't look like the money injections are going to slow down any time soon: earlier this week, ForgePoint Capital announced earlier this week it has raised $450 million to invest in early-stage cybersecurity companies. We're starting to think the talk of a cybersecurity bubble is unfounded. Here's more on that.

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