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Kaspersky just detailed an espionage operation that was busted because of bad security. The FBI investigates an apparent hacking attempt on that mobile voting app. And a bureau official discusses his cyber fears. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, October 3.

The evolution of Uzbekistan's espionage tactics

For years, Uzbekistan's security service (NSS) has been accused of aggressively spying on citizens and abusing human rights in the name of its counterterrorism and security operations. Now, new Kaspersky research brings the evolution of NSS’s pursuit of surveillance tools into focus. After burning multiple zero-day exploits acquired from vendors, an NSS-linked group dubbed SandCat has been rapidly testing its own malware, according to Kaspersky’s Brian Bartholomew. The findings show how a proliferation of surveillance vendors has made it easier for governments of all sizes to get into the hacking game. “If they would have had better op-sec in how they handled these exploits, we probably would have never caught them,” Bartholomew said. Sean Lyngaas has more details.

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VMware boss says big security budgets aren't rewarded

Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of VMware, says the security industry has “failed its customers” and that security must become more intrinsic if enterprises are ever going to keep up with the threats they face on a daily basis. “Every year we are asking [enterprises] for more money from their security budgets and every year there’s an increasing number and cost of breaches,” Gelsinger said at VMware’s Security Through Innovation Summit produced by FedScoop and StateScoop. “This is a failure.” He compared the state of the industry to lawyers who make a living chasing after car accident victims in the hopes of scoring a personal injury settlement. Greg Otto has the interview.

Bureau brass hints at the malicious kind of information sharing

Cybercrime investigators at the FBI are preparing for a time when hackers (state-sponsored and otherwise) pool their resources, trading lessons and intelligence gleaned from U.S. targets, according to associate deputy director Paul Abbate. Abbate, speaking at the Aspen Institute's Cyber Summit in New York, didn't cite any concrete examples of this happening. Yet, when pressed about how Iran might share details from its own hacks with, say, Russia, Abbate said, "I think we can expect it, anticipate it and we need to be on the look out for exactly [that]." Meanwhile, the FBI already is busy.

The FBI is investigating a mobile voting hack. Who could've guessed?

The FBI is looking into a hacking attempt against the mobile app that West Virginia officials used to collect ballots from some overseas voters during the 2018 election cycle. Mike Stuart, the U.S. attorney for West Virginia, said his office was notified about an "attempted intrusion" into the Voatz mobile voting app during he midterm election season. While the hack appeared to be unsuccessful, Virginia officials said referred the matter to the FBI to deter outsiders from trying anything similar in the future. Since its use in West Virginia, Voatz has gone on to test its app in other jurisdictions, including Denver, which used the app in its mayoral election last May, and Utah County, Utah, which offered it in a set of local races. StateScoop's Benjamin Freed is following the story.

Customer service company probes 2016 breach

Up to 10,000 Zendesk support and chat accounts may be impacted by a 2016 data breach. Zendesk is a customer service software provider that promises to help clients ranging from Spotify to Vimeo via customer chats and data analysis. A third-party alerted the firm to a security incident impacting roughly 10,000 Zendesk support and chat accounts, including expired trial accounts and accounts that are no longer active. An initial investigation has confirmed agent names and contact information was compromised, along with user names and hashed and salted passwords. Jeff Stone has the announcement.

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