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The Biden administration is ramping up its battle against ransomware. Facial recognition technology is gaining attention from Congress. And Google has some telling data on zero-days. This is CyberScoop for July 15, 2021.

Biden administration tackles ransomware on several fronts

The White House has formed an interagency task force to combat ransomware, among other steps to go after hackers who hold organizations hostage by encrypting their systems. The freshly-launched initiatives include plans to crack down on gangs' ability to use cryptocurrency to receive payment, and a State Department offer to pay up to $10 million to help track down foreign government-sponsored hackers who attack critical infrastructure. It's part of a response to major incidents at Colonial Pipeline, JBS and Kaseya. Tonya Riley was on the story.

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Facial recognition legislation warms up

Lawmakers in the House and Senate are considering legislation that would halt the use of facial recognition and biometric data collection tools by federal law enforcement, signaling that the controversial technologies may soon be subject to oversight after years of debate and revelations about its role in discriminatory policing. One bill gaining momentum would ban facial recognition tech in federal agencies altogether, and block funding to state and local law enforcement who don't stop using the tech. High-profile uses of facial recognition technology, such as on Black Lives Matter protesters, has helped propel the movement. Tonya dives deeper.

Browser zero-days point to potential growing commercial availability

Google’s Threat Analysis Group uncovered several zero-days (or previously undisclosed vulnerabilities) that rendered Microsoft Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari vulnerable. All have been fixed, but they might be evidence of a bigger problem. Google didn't name the apparent vendor behind the exploits of the vulnerabilities, but said the apparent rise in the overall number of zero-days this year could point to commercial outfits selling them more readily. Tonya has this one, too.

LuminousMoth glides from Myanmar to Philippines, somehow

Kaspersky identified a cyberespionage campaign that didn't behave like one as it spread from Myanmar to the Philippines, expanding from a small victim list to more than a thousand. Cyberespionage efforts tend to be tightly focused to avoid arousing attention, but this one may have spread via USB drives in a way that went beyond the hackers' control. LuminousMoth, as Kaspersky dubbed the attackers, appears connected to a Chinese state-sponsored group called HoneyMyte or Mustang Panda. Tim Starks looks closer.

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