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Scam callers are bouncing back with some cyber tricks. Suspected Chinese government-linked hackers go after India's energy sector. And ransomware attackers are migrating tactics to different targets. This is CyberScoop for March 1, 2021.

Scam calls rebound with a cyber vector

Robocalls, including illegal scam calls, took a brief break during the onset of the pandemic. Now they're back and increasingly using methods that have cyber components. Scammers are combining phone calls with tricks to circumvent two-factor authentication, using information they obtain online to make more targeted calls and, in some cases, mimicking the attack methods of hackers, government and industry officials say. Phone scammers have had to get more creative in part because consumers aren't answering phone calls as much as they used to when they're from an unknown caller or labeled spam calls by a carrier. Tim Starks has the story.

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India’s energy sector on alert

A hacking group with suspected ties to China has been targeting entities in the power generation in India, according to Recorded Future. The group, which Recorded Future is calling “RedEcho,” has targeted 10 Indian power organizations since mid-2020, including four of five regional load dispatch centers that balance electricity supply and demand, according to the research. The operation could have been intended to allow Chinese hackers to lurk on India’s power assets to send a signal to India as border clashes between the two nations, Recorded Future’s analysis suggested. Shannon Vavra digs in.

Ransomware goes far beyond Windows

Ransomware gangs are taking their “big game hunting” tactics to non-Windows systems, CrowdStrike said in a report Friday that should have corporate CISOs on alert. Crooks are increasingly targeting the “hypervisor” computer servers that organizations use to manage virtual machines as a way of maximizing their extortion schemes, according to the report. The news comes as a growing number of organizations turn to virtual machines to consolidate their IT networks. Sean Lyngaas has the story.

Stalkerware’s surge

Nearly 54,000 mobile users in 2020 were impacted by stalkerware, malware that enables people to spy on their romantic partners’ devices or mobile phones without their knowledge or consent, according to a new analysis from Kaspersky. The overall number is lower than the previous year, but the global spread of stalkerware spells out “a silent call for help,” says Victor Chebyshev, a Kaspersky research development team lead. Stalkerware’s use was the highest in Russia, Brazil, the U.S., India and Mexico, according to the report. Dive in to the roundup here.

Cops flop disclosure drop

The first round of disclosures about the use of surveillance technology by the New York Police Department under a city law adopted last year left many of the privacy-rights and civil-liberties advocates who pushed for the law’s passage unsatisfied. Among other criticisms, the New York Civil Liberties Union accused the NYPD of taking a “lazy copy-and-paste approach” that repeated language across the 36 draft policies it released, sometimes without even bothering to describe the correct system. “The NYPD shows a complete lack of serious engagement on the bias of these technologies,” said Daniel Schwarz, a privacy and technology strategist with the group. Benjamin Freed has more at StateScoop.

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