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Evidence published Friday illuminates recent activity from the Cozy Bear hacking group. A prominent scammer pleaded guilty in secret. And the cyber angle to that infrastructure package. This is CyberScoop for July 30, 2021.

Russian hackers keep on hackin'

President Joe Biden urging Vladimir Putin to crack down on cyberattacks coming from within Russian borders doesn’t seem to have convinced the Kremlin to give it up just yet. RiskIQ said in a report Friday that it uncovered active hacking infrastructure that Western governments attributed last summer to the Russian SVR intelligence agency-linked APT29 or Cozy Bear, which it used at the time to try to steal Covid-19 research. Known as WellMess or WellMail, the malware warranted government alerts in July of 2020 from the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Tim Starks has the news.

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Criminals are using call centers to spread ransomware in a crafty scheme

An ongoing ransomware campaign that employs phony call centers to trick victims into downloading malware may be more dangerous than previously thought, Microsoft researchers say. Because the malware isn’t in a link or document within the email itself, the scam helps attackers bypass some phishing and malware detecting services, Microsoft researchers noted in a report Thursday. When the company first examined it in May, the scheme features attackers posing as subscription service providers who lure victims onto the phone to cancel a non-existent subscription. Once there, the call center worker guides them to download malware onto their computer. Tonya Riley looks closer.

Instagram influencer Hushpuppi pleads guilty

Ramon Abbas — a Nigerian influencer better known as Hushpuppi — has pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges in a U.S. court. Hushpuppi admitted to his role in trying to steal more than $1 million from a Qatari businessman who sought to build a new school, as well as other crimes that cost victims a total of $24 million. The 37-year-old has attracted international headlines for documenting his lavish lifestyle on Instagram, including frequent posts that showed private jet travel and grandiose meals in far-flung locations. BBC News had the story.

$1B for state and local cyber grants in Senate infrastructure deal

A $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package negotiated between the White House and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators includes $1 billion to create a new grant program to improve the cybersecurity of state, local, tribal and territorial governments, according to a summary of the spending plan released Thursday. The grant funding, which would be doled out by the Department of Homeland Security over a four-year period beginning in the 2022 fiscal year, would make good on a longstanding priority of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, which has been one of several organizations pushing the federal government to establish such a program. StateScoop's Benjamin Freed unpacks the numbers.

Internships are key to expanding federal workforce

The CEO of the Partnership for Public Service has called for an expansion of cybersecurity internship programs, describing them as the “primary mechanism” for getting new talent into entry-level jobs at federal agencies. “Our federal government needs to approach talent management as the best private sector organizations do,” said Max Stier, speaking at a congressional hearing on Thursday. The hearing came as lawmakers debate the most effective way to foster a new generation of cybersecurity experts in government in response to the rise in cyberattacks on critical infrastructure. John Hewitt Jones looks closer at FedScoop.

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