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A former CIA director talks about the origin of an infamous cyber phrase. Police in Europe keep cracking encrypted services. And ransomware shut down two factories in Italy. This is CyberScoop for April 8, 2021.

The evolution of 'cyber Pearl Harbor' rhetoric

Phrases like “cyberbombs” and “cyber 9/11” have for years served as rhetorical catchphrases for national security officials trying to amplify their messaging or secure cyber-related funding from Capitol Hill. In 2012, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned the U.S. was under threat from a “cyber Pearl Harbor” that could involve foreign hackers derailing trains carrying lethal chemicals. Now, some former intelligence officials wonder if the terms have worked as intended. Panetta, though, is sticking to his guns. Shannon Vavra tells the story.

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How ransomware shut down two factories in Italy

Last week, CyberScoop reported on how ransomware stalks the manufacturing sector, often leaving factories sputtering. This week brought a fresh example of how. Crooks behind the so-called Cring ransomware caused two factories in Italy to stall for two days earlier this year, Kaspersky researchers said. It was but one in a series of Cring-involved attacks on European industrial firms in early 2021. Sean Lyngaas has some exclusive details.

Wine scammers must be stopped at all costs

Wine-themed domain registrations rose once COVID-19 lockdowns took hold, some of them malicious and used in phishing campaigns, Recorded Future and Area 1 Security said in a joint report out Wednesday. Researchers observed a mild jump in wine domain registrations in March of 2020, from the usual 3,000 to 4,000 per month up to nearly 5,500. April saw a bigger leap, to almost 7,200, and the numbers took off in May to 12,400. They’ve stayed high ever since. Tim Starks is on the trail.

European cops are infiltrating drug dealers' messaging

Belgium’s Federal Police force on Monday said they had seized nearly 28 tons of cocaine with a street value of $1.65 billion. The activity came after police said in March they had decrypted half a billion messages sent via the Sky ECC service, and arrested 48 people. Dutch and French officials last year broke into another messaging service, EncroChat, which officials said functioned as a “criminal marketplace” for 60,000 people who allegedly sold narcotics, laundering money and engaging in murder-for-hire conspiracies. Jeff Stone digs into it all.

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