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Top U.S. officials are warning about a security issue in Microsoft technology. The FBI says it noticed suspected Chinese hackers in American systems. And who's behind the ransomware attacks against U.S. schools? This is CyberScoop for Tuesday, September 15.

A software flaw strikes Microsoft

Nothing brings urgency to a software vulnerability like an exploit demonstrating its potency. That’s what happened when researchers at security firm Secura released a “proof of concept” exploit for a vulnerability in a popular Microsoft protocol. It’s hard to remember a flaw this critical that was this easy to exploit (based on the description.) The demo prompted warnings from NSA and CISA officials. Patching will happen in two phases, so organizations shouldn’t take their eye off the ball. Sean Lyngaas has the story.

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.

Chinese intel accesses US targets

Hackers connected to a Chinese intelligence agency have infiltrated U.S. government and the private sector entities in recent months by exploiting a series of common vulnerabilities with known patches, the FBI and DHS’s CISA warned. The attackers, tied to China’s Ministry of State Security, use phishing emails with malicious links to infiltrate victim organizations via flaws in F5 Networks’ Big-IP Traffic Management User Interface, Citrix VPN Appliances, Pulse Secure VPN appliances, and Microsoft Exchange Server, FBI and CISA said. At times, the U.S. government has observed hackers taking advantage of newly announced vulnerabilities within days of their announcement, and in some cases they have been successful. Dive in with Shannon Vavra.

VA notifies 46,000 vets of breach

The Department of Veterans Affairs said malicious actors used “social engineering techniques” and exploited “authentication protocols” to access information about 46,000 people. Affected veterans have been notified with information on how to protect themselves given the breach, the department said. The faulty applications used to gain access to the system and alter information to falsely receive payments have been taken offline and system access has been disabled pending a security review. Jackson Barnett covered the news at FedScoop.

Maze gangsters claim credit for school attacks

Actors using the Maze ransomware are claiming credit for a recent string of attacks against large public school districts across the United States, just as students and teachers are returning to their mostly virtual learning environments. The school system in Fairfax County, Va., which enrolls nearly 200,000 students, just reported that it had been compromised by Maze, which posted a file containing stolen data on a website it uses to extort its victims into paying. That attack occurred days after similar attacks against schools in Toledo, Ohio, and Clark County, Nevada. StateScoop's Benjamin Freed is all over it.

House passes long-awaited IoT security bill

If the internet of things is broken, then Congress is trying to fix it. The House of Representatives on Monday passed a bill that would requires devices the government buys to meet certain security standards. The bill also would require government contractors to maintain coordinated vulnerability disclosure policies. A companion Senate bill has yet to be voted on. Read the bill here.

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