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An update in the case of a Russian man who just arrived in the U.S. The security boss for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign hints at how he's trying to avoid a repeat of 2016. And Twitter improves account protection capabilities. This is CyberScoop for Friday, November 22.

Alleged Russian hacker cracks a smile in court

Accused scammer Aleksei Burkov pleaded not guilty Friday to allegations that he operated two hacking forums where members bought and sold payment data worth roughly $20 million. The 29-year-old St. Petersburg native arrived in the U.S. on Nov. 12 from Israel after a prolonged extradition battle in which the Russian government tried coercing Israeli officials into sending Burkov to Russia, rather than the U.S. Burkov appeared relaxed to the point of laughing at a joke Judge Thomas Ellis made about his own penchant for eating ice cream in the former Soviet Union. Defense attorney Gregory Stambaugh said Burkov has been in good spirits — a mood the attorney described as “amazing” under the circumstances. Jeff Stone and Sean Lyngaas have new details.

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Buttigieg’s security boss talks campaign strategy

For Mick Baccio, chief information security officer for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, the real race is stopping foreign adversaries from hacking into the campaign infrastructure. “I don’t care if it’s left or right, I care if it’s Russian or Iranian [intrusions]. That’s who I really [care about], that’s the competitor,” Baccio said during remarks at CYBERWARCON, a cybersecurity conference held Thursday in Arlington, Virginia. On top of convincing staff to care about cyber-hygiene and use encrypted chat apps, he is also worried about deepfakes. His vision to combat possible doctored video of Buttigieg? “We keep [Buttigieg] in front of a camera pretty much all of his waking hours.” Shannon Vavra explains.

Twitter finally toughens up

Twitter says it will allow users to remove their phone numbers from the secure login process, a move that has triggered widespread praise from the security community. Users can now use a one-time code, an app or a physical security key to as a second factor of authentication into their account. Before Thursday, Twitter customers trying to login in a secure way only could enter their username and password, then ask the site to send them an SMS message to verify their identity. The company also forced users who did use a third-party authentication app to use their phone number to sign up. (Facebook announced in May 2018 it would stop requiring phone numbers for multi-factor authentication.) Jeff has the blog.

Another Russian hacker is off to the slammer

A Russian man who helped create a hacking tool capable of extracting funds from victims’ bank accounts will spend four years behind bars, a punishment that fell short of the five years for which federal prosecutors had asked. A judge in the U.S. Southern District of New York handed down the 48-month prison sentence, including time served, to Stanislav Lisov for his role in deploying the NeverQuest malware. Lisov admitted he profited $885,000 from NeverQuest, while government investigators said the hacking technique had been used to try to steal a total of $4.4 million from international banks. Find all the context here.

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