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Several of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission's top proposals will become law. What was Cyber Command doing in Estonia this year? And Kaspersky points a finger at some cyber-mercenaries. This is CyberScoop for Friday, December 4, 2020.

Solarium Commission scores a few wins

The incoming Biden administration looks as though it will have a national cyber director in the White House, after Congress teed up a final agreement to include that requirement in its annual defense policy bill. The Trump administration had eliminated the White House cyber coordinator position, but this is a different version of a similar idea: It would be Senate-confirmed, and exist outside the National Security Council. It was just one of many recommendations the legislation includes from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Tim Starks spells out what's in the legislation.

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Why we need a cyber director more than ever

As Congress was finishing up the defense bill, a former senior policy adviser for the Obama administration was among the voices pushing for the creation of the national cyber director position. Camille Stewart argues in an op-ed for CyberScoop that the U.S. government needs to White House official who can coordinate, support and deconflict efforts on cyber and technology. “The cybersecurity landscape has only grown more complex since President-elect Biden has left office as vice president,” Stewart writes. “The lack of a coordinator is a vulnerability that can reduce the efficacy of cyber strategy.” Read Camille Stewart's op-ed.

Clarifying the National Guard's role

State governments also would get a cybersecurity boost from the defense bill, including a provision that would give National Guard units broader abilities to respond to cyberattacks. The legislation would update the National Cyber Incident Response Plan to greater incorporate those units, codifying how they interact with federal agencies like the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, state and local governments, law enforcement and other non-federal entities. Benjamin Freed has more at StateScoop.

Cybercom deployed to Estonia

Personnel from U.S. Cyber Command deployed to Estonia in recent months as part of a broader effort to protect U.S. elections against foreign hacking, American and Estonian officials announced Thursday. The mission allowed personnel from the U.S. military and Estonia’s Defense Forces Cyber Command to collaborate on hunting for malicious hacking efforts on critical networks from adversaries. It’s the kind of partnership Cyber Command has said is crucial to protecting U.S. elections against foreign meddling. Shannon Vavra has the details.

A spicy hack-for-hire firm

The cyber-mercenary business is thriving. The latest example comes courtesy of Kaspersky researchers, who found new malware being used by the theatrically named DeathStalker hack-for-hire group. The targets are all over the map, and the clients are unclear. One tactic includes malware hidden in photo files of peppers or ferns. Sean Lyngaas reports.

US to send hacker back to Kosovo

A foreign hacker who has spent more than four years in federal prison is being deported to Kosovo after a judge decided to grant his request for a compassionate release due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ardit Ferizi, who is from Kosovo, was arrested at age 19 in Malaysia after hacking into a U.S. company and sending information about U.S. military and government personnel to the Islamic State. Ferizi's obesity and asthma make him vulnerable to COVID-19, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema wrote. Ferizi had told the court that immaturity and ego — and not ideology — drove his behavior. Joe Warminsky has more from the release order.

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