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If it's Russian, and it's an app, the FBI thinks it's a threat. If you are invited to talk about cryptocurrency in North Korea, you should probably avoid it. And an international law enforcement effort just brought down a RAT. This is CyberScoop for December 3, 2019.

Look what FaceApp hath wrought

The FBI has assessed all mobile apps developed by Russian entities may be counterintelligence threats to the United States. That’s according to a letter the FBI sent to Sen. Chuck Schumer on Monday. The letter, which CyberScoop obtained, was sent in response to Schumer’s concerns about FaceApp, the photo-aging app that went viral this summer, which the FBI also assesses might be a counterintelligence threat. The FBI’s concerns center around the legal framework that allows government access to data in Russia, which has rapidly evolving guardrails. The letter is timely: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed legislation mandating Russian apps and software come installed as a default on all smartphones, computers, and smart TVs sold in Russia. Shannon Vavra reports on the letter.

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Blockchain, North Korea and the U.S. government don't mix

The North Korean government has long viewed cryptocurrency, and the blockchain technology that underlies it, as key to evading U.S. sanctions. Under U.S. law, helping the Hermit Kingdom navigate sanctions by exporting know-how, technology, or services is a crime. That is what 36-year-old Virgil Griffith is accused of doing after he spoke at a cryptocurrency conference in North Korea in April. U.S. prosecutors accuse Griffith of identifying North Korean government officials at the conference, who asked him technical questions about how blockchain works. Griffith faces 20 years in prison for allegedly violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Sean Lyngaas has more.

Death of a RAT

After years of operating with impunity, the thousands of people who bought the Imminent Monitor Remote Access Trojan have been silenced by a police crackdown in Australia and Europe. The RAT, which gave access to a victim’s computer, had been used in more than 115,000 different attacks on Palo Alto Networks customers alone. But after a slew of arrests and the seizure of hundreds of devices, the RAT is no more. The identity of the RAT’s creator is not publicly known, but Palo Alto Networks researchers shared some clues based on their investigation Sean has more.

Hackers are setting up their own concierge at Brazilian hotels

Brazilian hotels and tourism companies have suffered a scourge of intrusions from at least two criminal hacking groups in the last year, according to researchers from Kaspersky. While the hacking campaign isn’t confined to Brazil, the South American country is the epicenter of the activity. The research highlights Brazil’s longstanding struggles with cybercrime, as well as the security challenges facing the hospitality industry, which collects a wealth of personal and financial data on customers. Sean has more.

New mobile malware you should know about

A new kind of mobile malware that can steal victim’s personal information, including files and victims’ location data is hidden under the guise of chat apps, according to new research from Trend Micro. The spyware, dubbed CallerSpy, appears to only target Android users for now, and the company has not discovered any victims, according to the research. But the malware’s capabilities, which include collecting call logs, text messages, contacts, taking screenshots, and recording audio, raise concerns about vulnerable populations that could be unwittingly tracked by this spyware. Shannon has more context.

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