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More scrutiny of U.S. computer networks uncovers more flaws. Chris Inglis backs a big idea in his first public remarks. And Chinese hackers were all over a big Microsoft vulnerability. This is CyberScoop for August 3, 2021.

Federal agencies fail to protect sensitive data, Senate report finds

Of eight federal agencies audited for their cybersecurity programs, only the Department of Homeland Security showed improvements in 2020, according to a report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Released by the panel on Tuesday, the report expresses concerns about the state of federal agencies’ cyber posture during an overall 8% rise in security incidents across agencies. The report underscores the increased scrutiny of federal cybersecurity by lawmakers in the aftermath of a months-long alleged Russian cyber-espionage campaign the private sector first uncovered in December 2020. Tonya Riley has the story.

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National cyber director backs plan for a new bureau

National Cyber Director Chris Inglis called for the creation of a bureau of cyber statistics while outlining his priorities for the office in a speech Monday. The idea, initially proposed by Congress’s bipartisan Cyberspace Solarium Commission, would require the Department of Homeland Security to collect, process, and analyze statistics relevant to cyber threats and cybercrimes. It would require organizations that provide incident response services or cyber insurance to report information every 180 days. Inglis was a member of the same commission prior to his current role. Tonya breaks it down.

Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft vulnerability

Hackers with ties to China took advantage of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange for several months starting in late 2020 to steal call logs from a Southeast Asia telecommunication company, researchers at Cybereason report. The White House last month formally blamed Chinese government-affiliated hacking group HALFNIUM for a massive hacking campaign exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange servers, a kind of mail technology. Cybereason found that the groups targeting the unnamed Southeast Asian telecom had access to the same vulnerability for months prior to Microsoft’s disclosure. More from Tonya.

Senate bill includes $20M for cyber response and recovery

The Senate's $1 trillion infrastructure bill would put $20 million in the Cyber Response and Recovery Fund in fiscal 2022 and every year thereafter through fiscal 2027. The fund supports the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency‘s response efforts after the Homeland Security secretary, in consultation with the national cyber director, declares a significant cyber incident at the federal, state, local or tribal level. CISA can spend the funds on vulnerability assessments, technical incident mitigation, malware analysis, analytic support, threat detection and hunting, and network protections. Dave Nyczepir has the FedScoop story.

Red tape is hindering Pentagon’s cyber recruiting

Department of Defense components have not accurately coded jobs for their civilian cybersecurity personnel, limiting the ability to recruit and retain the targeted positions they most need, according to an inspector general report. While the DOD has followed mandates to issue guidance on coding civilian cybersecurity jobs per the 2015 Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act, the application of those codes at the component level has been inconsistent or inaccurate, the IG found in a recent audit. “As a result, the DoD may be unable to accurately determine the skill set and size of its civilian cyber workforce,” the watchdog said in a report made public Monday. Billy Mitchell looks closer at FedScoop.

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