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Top U.S. cyber officials are warning about an especially nasty ransomware strain. Phone scammers are using COVID-19 to try duping users. And spies seized on a Microsoft vulnerability and targeted hotels. This is CyberScoop for September 23, 2021.

A DHS alert you can't miss

The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency, the FBI and National Security Agency urged organizations in an alert Wednesday to update their systems amid an increase in Conti ransomware attacks. DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI reported over 400 attacks using Conti ransomware against mostly U.S. targets. At least 16 of those attacks have hit U.S. hospitals and health care providers. Tonya Riley has the latest.

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Phone scammers use COVID-19 vaccine appointments to try tricking victims

Hackers are targeting American and Canadian victims with a malware strain that used coronavirus-themed messages to dupe users into downloading software that collects their personal information, according to findings published Thursday. The scammers, whose identities are unknown, rely on SMS text messages focused on fictional COVID-19 regulations and vaccine information to trick recipients into clicking a link. That link triggers a malicious software — dubbed TangleBot — that infects a user device to collect call data, microphone and camera access and can be combined with other hacking tools to gather financial data. Jeff Stone has more.

FamousSparrow takes flight

It turns out yet another advanced persistent threat group exploited the Microsoft Exchange vulnerability this spring. ESET researchers say that they recently discovered a cyber-espionage group they called FamousSparrow taking advantage of the flaw, which had led to an outbreak of attacks in March. FamousSparrow has been around since 2019, according to ESET, primarily focusing on hotels but also going after governments, law firms and engineering companies. Tim Starks has the news.

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