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Spammer Severa is sentenced to time served. An alleged hacker in the 2020 Twitter breach that compromised high-profile accounts is under arrest. And a state and local government cyber grant bill gets revived. This is CyberScoop for July 21, 2021.

Twitter account hijacking suspect arrested

Spanish national police arrested a U.K. citizen Wednesday charged by U.S. law enforcement in connection with a July 2020 Twitter hack that compromised over 130 accounts, the Justice Department announced. The 2020 breach compromised dozens of high profile accounts including those of former president Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and rapper Kanye West. The suspect, Joseph O’Connor, is also charged with allegedly hacking TikTok and Snapchat user accounts as well as cyberstalking a juvenile. Tony Riley reports.

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Severa, a pioneering spammer, is sentenced

A U.S. judge sentenced a Russian man who built a reputation as a global spam kingpin to time served in prison, over the wishes of prosecutors who hoped the defendant would spend more than a decade behind bars. Peter Levashov, known by the online alias “Severa,” who was arrested in Spain in 2017, faced up to 12 more years in prison after he pleaded guilty to operating one of the largest botnets ever. The botnet, an army of hacked computers used for fraud, was called Kelihos, and primarily trafficked in denial-of-service attacks and email spam. Levashov also admitted to running two other botnets, Storm Worm and Waledac, which prosecutors said sent up to 1.5 billion spam messages a day at its most prolific. Jeff Stone looks closer.

House renews push for state and local cyber grants measure

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved legislation that would create a new grant program giving state and local governments $500 million annually to bolster their cybersecurity efforts. The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which has been a longtime priority of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, passed amid a growing focus from the federal government on ransomware and other threats to government and critical infrastructure. A similar grant bill passed the House last year but failed to move forward in the Senate. Benjamin Freed has the update at StateScoop.

Warner, Senate Intel members announce incident notification bill

Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., announced bipartisan legislation on Wednesday that would require critical infrastructure owners, federal contractors and cyber response firms to notify the federal government within 24 hours of a cyber incident. It's similar to the draft version that he and his cosponsors circulated last month, with some minor changes. “We shouldn’t be relying on voluntary reporting to protect our critical infrastructure," Warner said. "We need a routine federal standard so that when vital sectors of our economy are affected by a breach, the full resources of the federal government can be mobilized to respond to and stave off its impact.” Here's our coverage of the earlier draft.

FBI alerts about cyber threats to Tokyo Summer Olympics

The FBI this week warned that criminals and nation-state hackers might try to disrupt the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, perhaps to steal data or cause trouble. Targets could include media broadcasts, hospitality, transit, ticketing or security. Possible methods include DDoS attacks, ransomware, social engineering, phishing campaigns or insider threats. It wouldn't be the first time hackers went after the Olympic Games. Read the alert.

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