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The president-elect has more to say about the SolarWinds situation. More details about Iran's pre-election meddling. And a lawsuit against NSO Group draws more amicus briefs. This is CyberScoop for Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. Editor's note: This is our final newsletter of the year. Enjoy the holidays.

Biden goes deep on cyber over SolarWinds breach

President-elect Joe Biden offered his most extensive post-election commentary on cybersecurity on Tuesday, bashing Russia and President Donald Trump over the SolarWinds breach. Trump, he said, gave too little attention to U.S. digital defenses before the cyber-espionage campaign, has downplayed the damage of the hack since and muddied the waters by hinting at China's involvement — even though multiple top administration officials have blamed Russia. Biden vowed to make the attack — and cybersecurity overall — a big focus of his administration, although he stopped short of saying how he'd punish the Kremlin. Tim Starks recounts the speech.

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US blames Iran for site that targeted election officials

Iran interfered in U.S. affairs before Election Day by sending intimidating emails to voters, according to intelligence officials. Now, the FBI and DHS have concluded that Tehran is very likely behind a post-election attempt to sow discord and incite violence among Americans, according to two people familiar with the matter. A now-defunct website bearing the bull’s-eyed images and purported addresses of senior U.S. officials is a sign that Iran has gotten more aggressive since the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general in January. Sean Lyngaas has the story.

Support for NSO Group lawsuit grows

Facebook’s lawsuit against Israeli software surveillance firm NSO Group just got a big boost from U.S. tech titans. Microsoft, alongside Google, Cisco, GitHub, LinkedIn, VMWare and the Internet Association, filed an amicus brief this week to join the lawsuit, which alleges that NSO Group exploited a vulnerability in WhatsApp last year to spy on thousands of users. The added attention and interest from powerful tech companies, enshrined in the amicus brief, could spell a new arc in the story of the fight against commercial spyware, digital rights advocates say. More filings from other companies and organizations, including Access Now, Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists, are expected in the coming days. Shannon Vavra has more.

Plum Island, the sequel

A raging pandemic was never in the script for a recurring grid cybersecurity exercise held by the Pentagon and Department of Energy. But exercise planners decided to roll with it. They made this year's exercise virtual, with just a skeleton crew on the usual site: Plum Island, one of the creepiest places in the country. State-sponsored hackers aren’t slowing down, so the exercise couldn’t either. Sean has the scoop.

ACLU sues FBI for answers on decryption capabilities

The FBI's Electronic Device Analysis Unit (EDAU) appears to have solid capabilities for breaking the encryption on people's mobile devices, and the ACLU says that in the interest of transparency, the bureau should give the public more information about what it can do. The civil liberties group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit Tuesday spelling out the publicly available information about the EDAU's phone-cracking technology and arguing that the feds were wrong to issue a "Glomar" response to previous FOIA actions. The lawsuit amounts to the latest offensive in the legal and policy battles over whether tech companies should be required to put encryption backdoors into consumer products. Joe Warminsky has the court documents.

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