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An Army cybercrime unit warns about QR code threats. Researchers say vaccine scams are on the uptick. And CISA issued an emergency directive on Microsoft vulnerabilities. This is CyberScoop for March 4, 2021.

Buyer beware of QR codes

Quick response codes, or QR codes, may be easy and convenient to use to read menus at restaurants during the pandemic or to enable touch free mobile payments — but the Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Cybercrime Unit warns they can be leveraged to drain victims’ bank accounts. Scams could also include connecting devices that scan QR codes to a malicious network and sending texts, or making calls to users’ contacts or adding contacts to the contact list, the Army alert warned. The prevalence of QR codes during the pandemic is raising concerns in the Army that fraudsters may be looking to take advantage. More with Shannon Vavra.

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Fertile ground for vaccine cyber scams

COVID-19 vaccine spearphishing emails are on the rise as the public races toward inoculation. Barracuda Networks estimated that since October, shortly before Pfizer and Moderna announced vaccine availability, such emails jumped 26%. Also on the rise, according to Check Point Research, are vaccine-related domain registrations, which increased by 300% over the past eight months. Tim Starks has the numbers.

CISA orders agencies to address critical Microsoft bugs

A day after Microsoft told the world that Chinese hackers were exploiting popular email software to steal data, the U.S. government is urgently trying to address the issue. DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has given civilian agencies until Friday to report back on their exposure to the flaws in Exchange Server software. It’s a reminder of the Chinese cyber capabilities with which the Biden administration has to contend. Sean Lyngaas reports.

Far right misinformation flies on Facebook

Far right misinformation shared on Facebook surrounding the 2020 presidential election received more engagement than real news, according to New York University research. Overall, misinformation authors on the far right received 65% more engagement per follower than other pages — and misinformation outranked real news only on the far right, according to the findings. The study was issued on the same day the Election Integrity Partnership issued their own report on election-related misinformation, which concluded that partisan media outlet accounts, along with right-leaning verified influencers, were among the main purveyors of such misinformation. Shannon has the breakdown.

Scammers hit cloud giant Qualys

The fallout from the hack of software vendor Accellion continued Wednesday as cloud giant Qualys became the latest victim of the criminal hacking campaign. After a group linked with the Clop ransomware leaked data on Qualys’ clients, the firm admitted that a “limited number of customers [were] impacted by this unauthorized access.” Qualys does business with some of the biggest banks around, and the financial sector was on high alert in the wake of the breach. Sean has the details.

Biden strategy emphasizes cyber norms, Chinese ‘cyber theft’

The Biden administration put a finer point on its cybersecurity strategy on Wednesday in releasing “interim national security strategic guidance” that prioritizes responding to hacking threats. The White House declared it would “renew our commitment to international engagement on cyber issues” while using “cyber and non-cyber norms” to respond to destructive or disruptive digital attacks. The document also refers to China’s alleged theft of trade secrets as a pressing issue. Check out the guidance.

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