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Federal agencies need to shift their security focus, CISA's leader says. A Russian man pleads guilty in the Tesla case. And Finland points the finger at Chinese hackers. This is CyberScoop for March 19, 2021.

A blunt assessment on federal agency defenses

The federal government has work to do before it can reliably detect SolarWinds-style hacks on its systems, the top CISA official told senators on Thursday. Brandon Wales, acting director of the agency, said that defenses of federal agencies have been too focused on the perimeter, and that there needs to be an increased focus on moving inside to devices and servers. That includes giving CISA the ability to look at them, rather than agencies having exclusive authority to do so on their own systems — a subject Wales said he was hoping the Biden administration would soon address. Tim Starks has the rundown.

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Another guilty plea

A 27-year-old Russian has pleaded guilty to working to recruit a Tesla employee to hack the Nevada-based company last year. The man, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, last year tried to convince the unnamed employee to launch malware against the company’s computer network, allowing Kriuchkov and co-conspirators to steal data, according to court documents and admissions in court. The plan was that Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators would then extort the company with threats to disclose the purloined information. Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed in August that Kriuchkov’s plot had targeted his company. The court documents do not name Tesla as the victim company. Shannon Vavra dives in.

Finland says APT31 hacked its parliament

Finnish intelligence officials on Thursday implicated China-linked spies for a big hack of the Nordic country’s parliament last year. The Finnish statement blamed APT31, which researchers have tied to Beijing, for accessing email systems in the parliament. It’s the second Nordic country in a matter of months to accuse a foreign government of cyber-espionage on its parliament; Norway pointed the finger at Russia for its own breach. Sean Lyngaas has more.

Apple developers beware

Hackers appear to be targeting Apple developers with a backdoor that has worked its way into a shared Xcode project, according to SentinelOne research published Thursday. SentinelOne says the attackers have made a version of a legitimate project to execute a malicious script and target a victim’s development machine with a backdoor. If they leverage the backdoor properly the attackers could record through the victim’s microphone or camera, or log keystrokes from their keyboard. Shannon has this one, too.

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