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Iranian hackers targeted U.S. government employees by masquerading as job recruiters on Facebook. The latest on a big Chrome bug. And the latest merger and acquisition talks are underway. This is CyberScoop for July 16, 2021.

Iranian hackers used Facebook to pursue US defense and military targets

Facebook said it disrupted a campaign from Iranian government-sponsored hackers who targeted U.S. military personnel and defense companies. The campaign, which Facebook attributed to a group known as Tortoisehell or Imperial Kitten, involved fake recruiting sites and attempts to move conversations to other forums, like email, in an attempt to infect victims with malware. Facebook said it took down the culprit accounts and notified potential victims, among other steps. Tim Starks explains.

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Israeli spyware firm exploited Chrome flaw

Google updated a threat report it released Wednesday to include new research from Citizen Lab tying vulnerabilities that were used to spy on Armenian targets to the Israel-based spyware company Candiru. A related Microsoft investigation found at least 100 victims of the company's spyware across countries including Palestine, Israel, Iran and the United Kingdom. Targets of the spyware included journalists, activists, politicians, dissidents and human rights workers. Tonya Riley has more.

NortonLifeLock, Avast deep in acquisition talks

NortonLifeLock, the Arizona-based security firm that sells antivirus and identity theft protection tools, is in talks to buy Avast, a consumer cyber company, in a deal that could be worth more than $8 billion, the Wall Street Journal first reported. Both companies issued statements indicating that negotiations were in advanced discussions, with a final deal possible in the coming weeks. NortonLifeLock was known as Symantec until 2019, when the firm sold its enterprise-security business to Broadcom. Avast, meanwhile, says it has 435 million active users, and a market valuation of $7.2 billion. The news is here.

Cyber task force with a mission

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly this week created a cybersecurity task force with the aim of protecting the state from an increasingly fierce barrage of cyberattacks. The 15-member group, which includes state chief information technology officer DeAngela Burns-Wallace, is tasked with developing a “comprehensive plan” to protect the state’s networks and digital services. The group forms as the software publisher Kaseya this week rebooted its servers after a ransomware attack disrupted services for its many private and public-sector customers. Colin Wood has the story for StateScoop.

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