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The head of the NSA and Cyber Command talks about China's microchip manufacturing prowess. A ransomware suspect faces a U.S. federal court. And phishing campaigns are still finding lowbrow ways to evade email filters. This is CyberScoop for March 11.

Nakasone: Microchip trade is of 'great concern'

Gen. Paul Nakasone, who heads U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, said Thursday that China's quest to produce enough semiconductor chips to not rely on foreign trade is of "great concern" and has "broader impacts." Rep. Rick Crawford, an Arkansas Republican, said that in a closed door session, Nakasone discussed some of those concerns, including the fact that China could supply chips to Russia, helping Vladimir Putin's government evade crippling economic sanctions. Nakasone also reportedly talked about the fact that Russia and Ukraine produce 90% of the neon gas the U.S. relies on to make its own chips. Suzanne Smalley reports.

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NetWalker ransomware suspect appears in US court

Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, 34, made his first appearance in a Florida federal court Thursday, more than a year after he was arrested by Canadian police for his alleged role in the international NetWalker ransomware operations. At the time of his arrest in January 2021, police seized 719 bitcoins — valued today at more than $28 million — and $790,000 in Canadian currency. He faces charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and wire fraud, intentional damage to a protected computer and transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer. AJ Vicens has more.

Sometimes it’s the simple things

Email security Avanan company is warning that at least one phishing campaign is using a simple trick to evade email filters. The messages are fake auto-renewal alerts for an expensive subscription, but they’re really just an attempt to harvest a person’s credentials. The emails evade some filters because they contain strings of nonsense characters, Avanan says, but that text is highlighted in white, and to the naked eye the message doesn't look extra-suspicious. The point is to appear normal to the reader while potentially slipping past security scans. Joe Warminsky explains.


Taking action against ICS/OT cyber threats

Cyber risk to industrial sectors has grown and accelerated, mainly through ransomware. The lack of insight into the industrial control system (ICS) and operational technology (OT) threat landscape prevents the community from having meaningful discussions to address the risks surrounding critical assets. A new Dragos report offers actionable insights to mitigate and remediate cyberthreats. Read the full report. 

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