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FBI officials warn about a 'large uptick' in a particularly predatory kind of extortion. Two scammers are headed to the clink. Lessons from a big state cyber audit. This is CyberScoop for September 3, 2021.

A far more sinister kind of ransomware

Hackers and creeps extorted $8 million from Americans over the first seven months of the year by threatening to publish sexual images unless victims paid a fee, according to figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI bulletin published Thursday confirms what many cybercrime researchers may have already feared: Sextortion scams are prevalent, and profitable. More than 16,000 victims reported their issues to the FBI, with nearly half of the complaints coming from people between 20 and 39 years old. Jeff Stone has the bulletin.

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Tax prep hacks, money laundering earns two men prison time

A U.S. court sentenced two men to prison for hacking tax preparation companies, using the stolen identities to file fraudulent income tax returns and COVID-19 relief claims, then laundering the cash. The wrongdoers managed to scam Washington state into sending them $280,000 in pandemic-related unemployment loot over the course of one week, and sought millions in refunds. It's the latest case of hackers both targeting tax preparation firms and exploiting the pandemic. Tim Starks writes.

WhatsApp earns fine for a GDPR violation

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined WhatsApp for $225 million for failing to provide users enough information about the data it shared with other Facebook companies. The fine is the largest penalty that the Irish regulator has waged since the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect in 2018. The watchdog ruled that Facebook failed to fully explain what “legitimate interests” the company used personal data for, or how that data was processed. In addition to the fine, the ruling requires WhatsApp to take “corrective measures” in order to come into compliance with GDPR. Tonya Riley covers the update.

Oregon IT audit highlights cyber policy gaps

Oregon's Secretary of State published an audit calling on the state’s technology division to improve its governance of cybersecurity across the government. The audit included 10 recommendations, including calls for the state’s Enterprise Information Services division to update outdated definitions and clarify the roles of various cybersecurity officials. State Chief Information Officer Terrence Woods said he agreed with the intent of the recommendations, but that his office is sometimes challenged by a “unique” arrangement in which cybersecurity is centralized under his office, while overall IT operations remain decentralized. Colin Wood has the StateScoop story.

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