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The FBI identified more than 50 suspicious election-themed websites. DHS loses another cyber-minded official. And ransomware attackers are getting in through the same open door. This is CyberScoop for Monday, August 24.

US flags sites that are poised for cybercrime

Typosquatting — in which malicious sites mimic the spelling of legitimate ones — is a common way that scammers try to compromise unsuspecting users. This year, there are a bevy of typosquatters looking to pounce. In an Aug. 11 DHS bulletin distributed to states, the department says that the FBI has identified dozens of suspected websites that impersonate federal and state election domains. The websites could be used for phishing, influence operations or advertising, although CyberScoop has seen no evidence that the domains have been used in malicious activities. Sean Lyngaas has context.

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Another cyber hand at DHS heads toward the exit

John Felker, who helped expand the Department of Homeland Security’s cyberthreat-sharing efforts with the private sector, announced Monday that he would retire on Sept. 25 after spending five years at DHS and more than three decades in the federal government. Felker was best known at DHS for heading the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, the department’s 24/7 watch floor and threat-sharing hub for hacking threats, from 2015 to 2019. For the last year, Felker has led a division at the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency that oversees the agency’s field offices across the country. Sean has more details.

Group-IB finds 'Dharma' ransomware at global victims

Hackers possibly operating out of Iran are deploying an emerging strain of ransomware to demand between one and five bitcoin (currently worth between $11,700 and $59,000) from victims in Russia, Japan, China and India, according to new Group-IB research. The hacking tool, known as Dharma, utilizes publicly available tools, developed either on GitHub or accessible in Telegram. Windows' Remote Desktop Protocol, an oft-targeted software tool, again provides the entry point. Here's the full report.

Vishing, it’s all the rage

Young hackers who allegedly used phone calls to phish Twitter employees last month might have been on to something. The last several weeks have seen a wave of such “vishing” attacks, prompting a warning from the FBI and DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. In a campaign that began in mid-July, unidentified attackers used stolen credentials to scour corporate databases for personal information they could monetize and use in other attacks. The feds suggest companies consider putting in place a formal process for verifying the identity of employees who reach out by phone. Sean has more.

Not all hacks are digital

For fraudsters looking to swindle big corporations, sometimes it’s just a matter of asking. Someone posing as an Experian client tricked the credit monitoring firm into coughing up a ton of personal data on South African customers. The firm downplayed the incident, but it’s a reminder of the reams of personal data that credit monitoring firms are sitting on, and the high stakes they face in protecting it. Social engineering comes in many forms. Sean explains.

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