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The NSA brings out the welcome mat for private security researchers in the name of collaboration. While Twitter makes headlines, the FBI is concerned about TikTok. And Google offers hacked governments a plan B. This is CyberScoop for Nov. 16.

NSA welcomes outsiders in fight for cybersecurity

Many of the National Security Agency’s most talented cyberthreat hunters have traded the beige corridors and heavily guarded security perimeter of Fort Meade for a surprisingly located new office — in an unsecured suburban office park in Maryland. Officials say the pedestrian location is exactly the point: The NSA’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center is designed to bring NSA cyber analysts closer to outside threat hunters. By anchoring the center in a largely unclassified environment, NSA officials say they are trying to reduce bureaucratic barriers and make it easier for agency talent to work more closely with increasingly vital private sector security researchers. “No guns, no guards, no gates,” Morgan Adamski, the director of the CCC, told CyberScoop in an interview. “We want to have a very friendly environment.” Suzanne Smalley writes.

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FBI 'extremely concerned' about a weaponized TikTok

FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress on Tuesday he is “extremely concerned” that Beijing could weaponize data collected through TikTok, the wildly popular app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Wray said during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on worldwide threats that application programming interfaces, or APIs, that ByteDance embeds in TikTok are a national security concern since Beijing could use them to “control data collection of millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which can be used for influence operations.” In his opening remarks, Wray noted that while America faces cyberthreats from a variety of nations, “China’s fast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more of Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined.” Suzanne covers this, too.

Google offers continuity-of-operations backups

Google’s public sector business arm Tuesday announced it would offer continuity-of-operations services for government entities that are hit with a cyberattack while using a competing technology company’s tools. Google will offer its Workspace collection of cloud computing tools for government agencies to deploy when breaches or attacks occur. “This product is driven by past hacks and attacks on the government like SolarWinds and others that could occur again in the future. The government’s dependency on one software or set of tools could lead to a single point of failure and so they need to make sure they have backup plans in place,” Google Cloud Director of Risk and Compliance Jeanette Manfra told FedScoop. Nihal Krishan writes for FedScoop.

DOE's Chief Data Officer leaves for private sector

Energy Department Chief Data Officer Emery Csulak has left government to take up a private sector role. He joined Boston Government Services earlier this month as chief information security officer and director of cybersecurity compliance, according to his LinkedIn. Csulak departs after more than a decade in federal tech leadership roles. Before becoming permanent chief data officer at the Energy Department in April, he was deputy CIO for cybersecurity and CISO at the department. John Hewitt Jones reports for FedScoop.

Log4J hits federal networks

CISA and the FBI warned on Wednesday that Iranian government-backed hackers compromised a federal network and installed a crypto miner and credential harvester. The alert said that Iranian hackers exploited the Log4Shell vulnerability on an unpatched VMware Horizon server. CISA didn't specify which federal agency was impacted but said the compromise could have been as early as February. The alert said that "all organizations with affected VMware systems that did not immediately apply available patches or workarounds to assume compromise and initiate threat hunting activities." Read the full alert.

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