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Powerful testimony from a leading Microsoft executive on U.S. government data requests. Denmark's central bank was caught up in the SolarWinds breach. And it looks like Chinese hackers used Dropbox to gather intel from Afghanistan. This is CyberScoop for July 1, 2021.

How the feds use gag orders to keep data requests quiet

The Justice Department is abusing secret subpoenas to collect cloud user data at alarming rates, a top Microsoft executive testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Microsoft VP Tom Burt told lawmakers that the company receives between 2,400 to 3,500 secrecy orders each year. That’s roughly a third of the total number of requests that federal law enforcement sends to Microsoft, and it’s a number that has grown as more companies and organizations rely on cloud providers to serve as their virtual offices. The hearing comes on the heels of a revelation that the Justice Department had used such gag orders to secretly subpoena Microsoft and Apple for data from two members of Congress, Capitol Hill staffers and some family members. Tonya Riley has it covered.

A Message From AWS Educate

With over 1,500 institutions and hundreds of thousands of students who use AWS Educate, we wanted to take you on a trip around the world and highlight how students are learning and innovating with the cloud. Learn more.

SolarWinds hackers accessed Denmark's central bank: report

A group of Russian hackers is accused of compromising a Danish bank in the latest example of fallout involving cyber-espionage emanating from Moscow, according to a European media outlet. Denmark’s central bank, or Danmarks Nationalbank, was compromised by the same spies who used software made by the U.S. federal contractor SolarWinds to breach nine U.S. government agencies and dozens of companies, said Version 2, a Danish new site. "In addition, the SolarWinds attack generally affected the financial infrastructure in Denmark," the bank said. "The relevant systems at Danmarks Nationalbank were quickly contained and analyzed as soon as the compromise of SolarWinds Orion became known." Jeff Stone explains.

Chinese hackers suspected of using Dropbox to snoop on Afghan officials

Hackers with ties to China have been targeting the emails of Afghan security officials with malware meant to scoop up everything on their desktop, according to a Thursday report from researchers at Check Point. In one example shared by researchers, a hacker sent a malicious file to an official at the Afghanistan National Security Council posing as someone from the administrative office of the president of Afghanistan. Researchers at Proofpoint also recently flagged a rise in cybercriminals turning to trusted services like Dropbox and Google Drive to send malware while avoiding security concerns. Tonya looks closer.

Unpacking NSO Group's first transparency report

Israeli spyware vendor NSO Group, which sells the Pegasus surveillance platform used to monitor phones of journalists and human rights activists, released its first-ever transparency report Wednesday. Details include some data about customers (60 clients in 40 countries, including lots of police agencies) and the argument that NSO doesn't operate Pegasus, it only developed it. "There is nothing particularly new in the language here," tweeted Patrick Howell O'Neill of the MIT Technology Review, who has covered the company closely, adding that the carefully-worded report comes amid ongoing questions about how NSO Group technology may have aided human rights violations. "At the end of the day, we're left with more of the same big open questions as before," Patrick went on. Read his thread yourself.

How one college is coming back from a ransom attack

Following a ransomware attack last October that disrupted the operations of Illinois’ Heartland Community College, leaders approved a budget this month designed to rebuild defenses, but also to position systems to quickly adjust to future threats. The ransomware attack at Heartland, as well as a general spike in cyberattacks on higher education, sparked a $1 million investment in cybersecurity in its budget this year. Some of the improvements planned include multi-factor authentication, secure messaging, virtual desktop infrastructure and increased monitoring for phishing attempts. Emily Bamforth has the EdScoop story.

Lessons from Age of Identity, an event sponsored by Okta

Public sector organizations are responsible for solving some of the world’s most difficult problems. Learn more about the role identity and trust play in data protection from CrowdStrike's James Yaeger, Netskope's Lamont Orange and George Freeman, of Lexis Nexis. Find more event details here.

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