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With one year to go until the 2020 elections, federal officials are spending today testing their incident response plans to prepare in case anything goes wrong on the big day. The accused Capital One hacker is free ahead of her trial. And a New Mexico school district is still offline one week after a ransomware attack. This is CyberScoop for Tuesday, November 5.

A year from 2020, election security drills heat up

With the first Democratic primaries just three months away, federal officials on Tuesday will ramp up their training to secure the 2020 vote up. A tabletop exercise run by security firm Cybereason will put officials from the Secret Service, DHS, the FBI, and Arlington County Police Department against a red team of private-sector hackers. The drill will test officials’ ability to thwart a (hypothetical) state-sponsored adversary bent on undermining confidence in a general election. It’ll be a cat-and-mouse game of four moves. What participants learn from the drill can be worked into future election security exercises, which will only grow more frequent as the 2020 vote approaches. Sean Lyngaas had the preview.

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Paige Thompson is free, at least until March

The accused Capital One hacker is scheduled to be released from jail Tuesday after a judge determined the 33-year-old defendant does not pose enough of a threat to the community to warrant her incarceration. Thompson, who is transgender, was arrested in July for allegedly hacking Capital One to access information about 106 million people, and has been held in a men’s detention center in Seattle in the months since. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik previously told attorneys he was “very concerned” about whether Thompson would receive adequate mental health treatment from the Bureau of Prisons. She's now required to move to a federal halfway house, avoid using electronic devices without explicit permission from the court or Pretrial Services, participate in location monitoring, and a range of other conditions. Jeff Stone has the court documents.

Donald Trump can add ransomware to the list of things named after him

Numerous ransomware attacks, screenlockers and remote access trojans are named after Trump, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin. It’s the latest evidence that digital miscreants will use any trending topics to woo potential victims, according to Cisco's Talos team of researchers. The scammers’ emails mention the world leaders to catch victims’ attention, or the malicious files themselves contain references to Trump or the others. One message that appeared to be from the director of global risk from Visa alerted recipients to an apparent fraud alert. Instead of including information about fraud prevention, though, the files has malicious email attachments with names like “trump.exe.” Attackers are trying to trick users into engaging with an emotional response where they “just click and don’t fully think things though,” said Craig Williams, Talos’ director of research. Jeff has some examples.

Who needs snow days when you have ransomware?

All computers and internet servers across the Las Cruces Public School District in New Mexico were shut down last week in response to a ransomware attack. Administrators of the 39-school district confirmed Monday its servers will remain offline indefinitely. “There are still a lot of questions about the ransomware attack at LCPS,” Karen Trujillo, LCPS interim superintendent, said in a tweet. “Please know that we are not the first district to be attacked and we won’t be the last.” Ransomware was discovered on district servers on Oct. 29, at which point district officials used Facebook to inform parents and students that the district was experiencing “technical difficulties with internet and phone services” and was working quickly to resolve the issue. EdScoop's Betsy Foresman is on the case.

Securiosity: What's cybersecurity like at General Motors?

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Cyber cash keeps flowing

Email security company Proofpoint has agreed to purchase an insider threat detection company for $225 million in cash, a move meant to boost its appeal to larger enterprise clients. Sunnyvale-based Proofpoint intends to buy ObserveIT, which promises to stifle data loss by monitoring employees, gauging trends in user activity and watching user behavior on client networks. ObserveIT, founded in 2006, is based in Boston with a research and development center in Tel Aviv. In an unrelated deal, Sumo Logic, an event management firm, also announced the acquisition of the security operations startup Jask. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Jeff has more context.

What government experts are saying about cybersecurity

We spoke to a number of top government cybersecurity experts on the sidelines of CyberTalks about a number of trends: cloud security, zero-trust networks, third-party risks, and more. Check them out:

More context here.

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