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How Chinese state media is learning from Russia. Kaspersky researchers uncovered an apparent advanced persistent threat group focused on engineers in the Middle East. And Google catches another 56 apps that were up to no good. This is CyberScoop for Tuesday, March 24.

China's new disinfo strategy

China's Communist Party is replicating Russian propaganda tactics to sow doubts about where the coronavirus pandemic originated. Chinese ambassadors and state-backed media outlets are blaming the U.S. and Italy, Laura Rosenberger, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and an expert on the subject, told a virtual panel on Monday. China argues, “'We can’t possibly know the truth, there’s too many different possibilities to know’ … [it’s] a potentially significant break from what many people had assessed to be a difference between China and Russia," Rosenberger said. Russia's disinformation strategy typically has focused on trying to poke holes in hard evidence, and create questions about the truth, rather than establishing a clear counter-narrative. (The COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, China.) Shannon Vavra has the story.

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APT intrigue, Middle East edition

Combine the words “Middle East,” “APT,” and “industrial targets” and you have our attention. Kaspersky on Tuesday said it found a previously undocumented hacking group that has been stealthily trying to hack engineers working at critical infrastructure in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. The hackers have been active for nearly a year, using code that doesn’t match other groups and carefully selecting their targets. It is only the latest chapter in an eventful history of hacking operations in a volatile region. Sean Lyngaas has the story.

Microsoft, PayPal fund emerging anti-fraud technology

Arkose Labs, a San Francisco fraud prevention vendor, said Tuesday its raised $22 million in Series B funding led by Microsoft's venture fund, M12, with involvement from PayPal and USVP, a venture capital firm. Arkose Labs, like other companies, aims to curb account takeover attacks, fake accounts, gift card scams and data scraping. Shape Security, which provides similar services, said in December it agreed to be acquired by F5 Networks for $1 billion. Arkose Labs said it works with Fortune 50 companies, including financial services and e-commerce firms, as well as video game developers like Electronic Arts. The new funding will go toward hiring, expansion and product development, the company said in a statement. Here's more on that.

Another ad fraud caper gets kneecapped

Research published Tuesday by Check Point details how fraudsters used a network of apps, which were downloaded more than 1 million times, to exploit users’ trust and make a buck. Unlike so many other ad fraud efforts, this campaign was tailored toward children, with 24 of the 56 apps marketed toward kids. Entertainment apps and games with titles like “Cooking Delicious” and “Let Me Go,” a puzzle app, tempted kids into downloading, and then launched the malicious tool. The apps included “Tekya,” malware that clicked banners and other ads from a variety of sources. Google has removed them all, but the discovery highlights the ways that scammers have integrated traditional hacking techniques to boost fraud efforts. Jeff Stone has more details.

Getting security and DevOps to agree on cloud

Matt Chiodi, Chief Security Officer for Public Cloud at Palo Alto Networks, talks with Greg Otto on how his company is helping enterprises set up cloud instances that help both development and security teams get their job done. Watch the video here.

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