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Beijing-backed hackers are accused of spying on the Vatican. Bad news: A security hole in a huge number of computers is activated when users turn on their machine. And breach costs quantified. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, July 30.

Hackers need to schedule a confession

Suspected Chinese government hackers have been targeting the Vatican and the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong with malicious emails, Recorded Future found. China has long been interested in hacking religious groups, especially the Muslim Uighurs, but the latest network intrusions mark the first public evidence that Beijing's attackers had targeted the Vatican. The hackers were likely gathering intelligence on the Vatican’s stance on upcoming negotiations with Chinese authorities, trying to diminish Christians’ perceived influence in China, or monitor the Vatican’s stance on Hong Kong protests, researchers said. Shannon Vavra has the news.

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There's a snake in my boot!

The trusted process by which a computer turns on, and loads the code it’s supposed to, was revealed to be fundamentally vulnerable when researchers unveiled a serious bug in a bundle of code known as the GRUB2 bootloader. Just about every Linux-based operating system is affected. Oh, and so is any Windows device that uses a Microsoft certificate to sign the bootloading process. Patching could take years. The good news: there haven’t been any exploits in the wild yet, as far as we know. Sean Lyngaas has more details.

Clicking a phishing email can be a (really) costly mistake

The average cost of a data breach in which anywhere from 3,400 to 99,730 records are compromised is $3.86 million, according to a new IBM survey of 524 organizations. The number is based on the price of detecting and investigating an incident, notification costs, lost business from downtime and disruption, as well as legal fees and costs. Of course, the final tab depends on the type of attack (nation-state incidents cost some $4.4 million apiece) and the amount of time hackers spent inside. Find the breakdown here.

Cyber jobs are unfilled, even in the current climate

The shortage in qualified cybersecurity practitioners has affected 70% of the companies polled by the Enterprise Strategy Group, a market research firm. It's a problem that's complicated by a lack of clear career path for cyber pros, and that security careers depend on hands-on experience, which can be hard to come by without specific certifications. The effect, for would-be hiring companies, is an increased workload, and a failure to deploy cyber technologies to their fullest potential, resulting in potential vulnerabilities. Read the findings here.

Consider the ransom

Coyre Douglas, a security scholar with a degree in emergency management, authored a StateScoop editorial examining the options for organizations that are infected with ransomware. The tempting option is to pay a digital extortion fee and be done with it, Douglas wrote. "Yet paying a ransom does not guarantee the return of data, and even when decryption keys are shared, regaining normalcy takes time and data is frequently lost, with only a 20-50% chance of its recovery." Read more at StateScoop.

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