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Three former U.S. intelligences operatives tell the Justice Department they worked on behalf of a foreign government. Air Force pauses a big plan over cyber plans. And top U.S. officials discuss the current state of ransomware. This is CyberScoop for September 15, 2021.

Former US intelligence operatives charged with helping UAE hack rivals, Americans

The Justice Department charged three former U.S. intelligence operatives on Tuesday with hacking and conspiracy charges in connection with their work helping United Arab Emirates spy on activists and political rivals. The charges allege that defendants Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke “knowingly and willfully” provided the UAE with spy technology without approval from the U.S. government. The charges back up a 2019 Reuters investigation that found a secret hacking unit of UAE-based cybersecurity firm DarkMatter was hiring former U.S. intelligence officers to help the UAE to spy on the phones of activists, diplomats and other nation’s leaders. Tonya Riley has the story.

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Air Force suspends plan over cyber concerns

Efforts to expand the Air Force’s software development environment, Platform One, have stalled after some senior military IT leaders raised cybersecurity concerns about the platform, FedScoop has learned. The concerns center on officials’ understanding of the architecture, policies of the environment and a perceived lack of security documentation. Jackson Barnett broke the story at FedScoop.

Inglis, Nakasone talk action against ransomware

National Cyber Director Chris Inglis touted the U.S. government's steps to tackle ransomware, including the seizure of bitcoin from the Colonial Pipeline hackers and other, more vague actions. "There have been perhaps some kind of cyber activities that have shut these activities down," he said at the Intelligence & National Security Summit on Tuesday. It'll take more than one approach, he said: "There has to be a comprehensive belts and suspenders and Velcro and zippers and buttons approach where these things are interlocking and mutually supporting." The remarks from Inglis came the same day that Gen. Paul Nakasone, head of U.S. Cyber Command, talked about mounting a "surge" against ransomware that has evolved from mere criminal activity to something with national security implications. Read the Nakasone interview.

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