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U.S. intelligence officials flag hacks, ransomware attacks to water treatment centers. Missouri's governor threatens a reporter who found website flaw. And the White House's ransomware summit ends with a plan. This is CyberScoop for October 15, 2021.

FBI, CISA warn water facility operators of ongoing malicious cyber activity

Ransomware attackers are continuing to target water and wastewater facilities, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials warned in a bulletin based on incidents in five states. A cybersecurity advisory published by the FBI, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Security Agency highlighted incidents between March of 2019 and August 2021, where systems were targeted by either ransomware attacks or other hacks. In one case, a former employee of a Kansas-based facility tried to "threaten drinking water safety by using his user credentials … to remotely access a facility computer," according to the alert. AJ Vicens explains.

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Governor mistakes reporting for 'hacking'

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson accused a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter who discovered a data exposure on a state education agency’s website with "hacking" teachers' sensitive data. The governor then threatened the reporter and his colleagues with criminal and civil prosecution. Despite Parson's huffing, the reporter — who notified Missouri officials of the flaw and gave them time to fix it before publishing his story — followed ethical vulnerability disclosure practices, said Katie Moussouris, the CEO of Luta Security. "Going after security researchers with lawsuits and threats is the fastest way to weak security," she said. Benjamin Freed breaks it down at StateScoop.

Nations agree on principles for combatting ransomware

A gathering of nations at the White House emerged from two days of meetings with a joint agreement on how to counter ransomware gangs. The most concrete recommendations were about putting a halt to illicit finance. Ransomware gangs have used cryptocurrency to better hide their activity from investigators, and the gathered nations agreed they needed to do a better job of implementing anti-money laundering standards. Tim Starks has more.

WhatsApp rolls out encrypted backups

Facebook on Thursday began its global rollout of end-to-end encrypted backups for WhatsApp. Until now, users had to back them up on a third-party like Google Drive or iCloud. That turned out to be a problem for former President Donald Trump's one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort when the FBI got a court order to investigate his iCloud. Users have to opt into the service. Tonya Riley reported on the development last month.

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