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A rare firmware hack could have roots in China, Kaspersky says. John McAfee meets the feds. Europol provides an update about dark web markets. This is CyberScoop for Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

Rare firmware hack spotted in the wild

Hacking the UEFI firmware that controls a computer’s startup process is hard, but it’s espionage gold if you can pull it off. The reportedly second documented case of in-use UEFI firmware implants was revealed Monday by Kaspersky researchers. The Chinese speakers behind it were engaged in a broader hacking campaign against targets interested in North Korea, the researchers say. Experts expect to see more of this kind of hacking in the future. Sean Lyngaas has context.

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John McAfee had a very bad day

The law may have finally caught up to eccentric cybersecurity trailblazer John McAfee, after the Justice Department unsealed tax evasion charges on Tuesday and announced his arrest in Spain. Among the charges are an accusation that he hid income via the cryptocurrency exchange accounts of others. McAfee has been on the run for years over various alleged weapons, tax and drug offenses, and he was even a "person of interest" in the torture and murder of a man in Belize. (Coincidentally, the eponymous antivirus firm to which McAfee is no longer connected released its annual "most dangerous celebrity" list on Wednesday, and did not name its founder to the top spot — instead, Anna Kendrick is the celebrity name for whom an online search is riskiest due to links to malicious sites and viruses.) Tim Starks has the story.

Dark web vendors keep things moving

Administrators for the dark web's illicit e-commerce hubs have continued to adapt to pressures from law enforcement and the needs of customers, according to a new report by Europol. The 2019 takedown of the Deep Dot Web guide to the online drug trade threw a chill over the marketplaces initially, but since then things have stabilized, the report says. Instead of a few big names, the dark web is now home to more markets with shorter lifespans, Europe says, and that makes it tougher to disrupt the business overall. The markets are also finding more ways to keep transactions anonymous. Joe Warminsky digs in.

Faking worker's comp

A group of hackers has been sending malicious .zip files containing fake worker’s compensation claims to distribute malware to unsuspecting victims, according to new Malwarebytes research published Tuesday. The attackers launch their operation by injecting their payload into the Windows Error Reporting (WER) service, the researchers found. The new spate of activity, which Malwarebytes uncovered mid-September, is suspected to be state-sponsored, and appears to have some “loose connections” to Vietnamese threat actors APT32. Read the research here.

'Accuracy and integrity' over speed

The high volume of mail-in and absentee ballots this year will put a lot of pressure on election administrators to count votes in a timely fashion, but those officials are ready to lean on existing procedures to ensure the job is done securely and accurately, say experts from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. There could be a wait for final results in the presidential election in some states after Nov. 3, the experts said Monday in a call with reporters, but it shouldn't be a cause for alarm. “They are not going to sacrifice accuracy or integrity for speed,” said Elizabeth Howard, a Brennan Center senior counsel and former deputy elections commissioner in Virginia. StateScoop's Benjamin Freed has more.

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