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Guidance from the National Security Agency could also help protect protesters nervous about the collection of their location data. Disinformation is the largest threat to election security. And a ransomware attack is reverberating across the education space. This is CyberScoop for Wednesday, August 5.

NSA urges attention on location data

There's no way to fully eliminate the risk that a smartphone is exposing location data, but there are ways to limit what leaks and why. New NSA guidance on the issue is targeted at U.S. national security personnel, but the public document could have a much wider appeal as concerns mount that law enforcement agencies track crowds during protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S. The NSA provides some recommendations on limiting the risks of location data exposure through social media, web browsing and fitness apps. But “even when location settings or all wireless capabilities have been disabled,” cellphones may still transmit data. Shannon Vavra has the context.

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The biggest threat to election security

Online campaigns aimed at misleading the public about the voting process, particularly the availability of mail-in ballots or tallying of votes, is the biggest digital threat to election security this year, a panel of experts told members of Congress. Witnesses said state and local election officials need to make sure not only that their IT assets like voter registration databases are well-defended, but that the public’s trust is protected, too. "It’s not just the cast and count of the vote,” said John Gilligan, the president and chief executive of the Center for Internet Security. “It’s what’s the confidence level the American public has in the system?” Benjamin Freed has the StateScoop story.

California university system probes an extortion attempt

California State University administrators are investigating a ransomware attack that may have affected up to 23 campuses in the public education system, where half a million students are enrolled. It appears to be more collateral damage from a cyberattack against Blackbaud, a cloud storage provider that was breached. Hackers apparently used their access at Blackbaud to infiltrate the company's clients. A range of other victims are based in the U.K. EdScoop's Colin Wood is watching.

Online shopping scams jump

A public service announcement from the FBI urges Americans to be on the lookout for e-commerce sales that seem to good to be true. The bureau says victims are purchasing items from websites that advertise prices at a lower rate than retail goods, only to never deliver. Risky products include disposable face masks shipped from China, anything that encourages consumers to send money via an online money transfer service and discounts that far exceed other rates. Read the alert here.

Interpol: We’re still in a pandemic, and hackers are still hacking

During the COVID-19 crisis, cybercriminals have shifted from targeting individuals and small business to major corporations and government agencies, Interpol said in a report. The international policing organization found that, as the pandemic took hold in the first two weeks of April, there was a spike in ransomware attacks from long-dormant criminal groups. Interpol concludes that “a further increase in cybercrime is highly likely in the near future” as the virus keeps people in their homes. Here's the bulletin.

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