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Lawmakers say they have some big questions after Colonial Pipeline's CEO confirmed they paid an extortion fee. Russian hackers were in SolarWinds tech for two years. And a Russian scammer gets five years. This is CyberScoop for May 20, 2021.

Get your popcorn ready for Colonial Pipeline's appearance on Capitol Hill

After days of speculation about how much Colonial Pipeline had paid digital extortionists, CEO Joseph Blount confirmed to the Wall Street Journal he approved a $4.4 million check. Some lawmakers weren’t happy, accusing the pipeline operator of exacerbating the ransomware epidemic and failing to effectively communicate with federal investigators. Colonial defended the move as “the right thing for the country.” Blount’s testimony on Capitol Hill next month will be a must-watch. Sean Lyngaas breaks it down.

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Attack on SolarWinds apparently began nearly two years before discovery

The SolarWinds hackers got an even earlier start than previously known. CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna said in an interview that aired at the 2021 RSA Conference that the company has seen evidence of the attackers conducting reconnaissance as far back as January of 2019 — about eight months earlier than SolarWinds had once thought the attack began. No one discovered the sweeping espionage campaign until December of 2020. Ramakrishna also offered a mea culpa for the company blaming an intern during congressional testimony for a password lapse. Tim Starks reports.

Facebook scrambles to refute misinformation over Gaza Strip

Amid rampant misinformation spreading on social media about Israel’s attacks against targets in the Gaza Strip, Facebook has stood up an operations center to address the lies spreading on its site. Disinformation about the conflict has included the false notion that Israel was planning a ground invasion in the Gaza Strip. The 24-hour operations center is staffed by Hebrew and Arabic speakers, said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president for content policy. Shannon Vavra has the breakdown.

Russian man to spend five years in Brooklyn after Thai trip goes awry

A U.S. federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a Russian man to five years in prison for his role in a scheme to use malicious software to steal the equivalent of $1.5 million in tax returns meant for American taxpayers. Anton Bogdanov, 35, worked as part of a small crew that used vulnerabilities in accounting software to redirect tax refunds into their own accounts. Bogdanov was apprehended in Bangkok, Thailand during a vacation with his wife. Jeff Stone has the story.

New Zealand’s big ransomware mess

Another day, another apparent ransomware attack disrupting health care for a major hospital system. The IT systems of Waikato District Health Board, which oversees health services for 425,000 people in New Zealand, have been down for days as elective surgeries have been postponed. Waikato DHB's chief executive said the recovery could extend into next week. Sean has more.

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