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U.S. Cyber Command is taking steps to hire people faster, then keep them around. Remember the Dark Overlord? It looks like one of the main suspects could soon be on trial in the U.S. And bigger botnets aren't always better. This is CyberScoop for Friday, November 14.

Accused Dark Overlord member could be headed west soon

The Dark Overlord is a well-known gang that specializes in stealing sensitive material, then threatening victims with exposure unless they pay an extortion fee. The group is perhaps best known for leaking unreleased episodes of the Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black,” though it also has forced the closure of U.S. schools by threatening students’ families and published stolen documents related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nathan Wyatt, a 38-year-old U.K. resident, has been charged in connection with a U.S. investigation into the Dark Overlord, according to British court documents. He’s nearing the end of a year-long legal battle in which his attorneys have argued he shouldn’t be sent to the U.S. Jeff Stone has the court documents.

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Cyber Command streamlines hiring time

Cyber Command has reduced how long it takes to hire someone by approximately 60 percent, from 111 days to 44 days, under the Cyber Excepted Service program, says Department of Defense CISO Jack Wilmer. The CES program, authorized by Congress in 2016, establishes market-based pay scales and allows hiring with or without public notification or vacancy announcements, two moves intended to decrease red tape in the Pentagon’s hiring process. Since implementing the CES program, the Pentagon has seen fewer cases of candidates leaving for the private sector, Wilmer said Thursday at the 2019 Workforce Summit in Washington, D.C., produced by WorkScoop and FedScoop. Shannon Vavra has the numbers.

Who said botnets need to be so noisy?

Botnets — the hordes of zombie computers used for nefarious ends — are sometimes comprised of thousands of machines across the world. But APT33, an Iranian government-linked hacking group, has been using clusters of no more than a dozen computers to hit targets including a U.S. defense firm and a university. That's according to new report from Japanese cybersecurity company Trend Micro which is chock-full of intrigue. The Iranian hackers also set up their own virtual private network and have been using a hacked website of a European politician to phish companies in the oil industry's supply chain. Sean Lyngaas examines the new report.

SIM-swappers use threats, too

Two men have been charged in connection with a multi-year SIM-hijacking scheme that allowed them to steal $550,000 worth of cryptocurrency, the Department of Justice said Thursday. The swindlers allegedly stole victims’ phone numbers by convincing cell carriers to pass victims' phone numbers to SIM cards in phones the suspects controlled. Upon taking control of victims’ phone numbers, scammers then would access victims' email, social media, and cryptocurrency accounts to reset passwords or credentials, according to the indictment. Then they walked off with the cash. In one case, the indictment says, someone in the conspiracy abused their access to a victim’s phone to call the victim’s wife, and send a text message to the victim’s daughter saying, “TELL YOUR DAD TO GIVE US THE BITCOIN.” Shannon has more details.

About those phone vulnerabilities...

The consulting firm Trail of Bits on Thursday announced iVerify, a toolkit meant to help users secure their iPhones with a series of instructional guides. If the app works as intended, it also will scan iPhones for odd behavior that could prove its been hacked, like if other apps are transferring data in a way they shouldn’t be authorized. “It’s normally almost impossible to tell if your iPhone has been hacked, but our app gives you a heads-up,” the company said in a blog post. “iVerify periodically scans your device for anomalies that might indicate it’s been compromised, gives you a detailed report on what was detected, and provides actionable advice on how to proceed.” Jeff explains.

DHS official opens up on threat-sharing challenges

DHS officials say they’ve made strides in convincing private sector organizations to share threat data with the government. But they still need to push back on misconceptions that the data could somehow hurt the companies down the road. “I’ve heard that there are a lot of private sector companies that don’t necessarily want to give information to the federal government,” Rick Driggers, an official at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency, said Thursday. “And I totally get that.” In a pitch to further the threat-sharing between government and industry, Driggers touted the privacy protections his agency has in dealing with the data. “In a lot of ways, the private sector [is] leading in…cybersecurity. And we need to embrace…[and] support that,” he said. Sean was at FedScoop's Workforce Summit.

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