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Matt Masterson, formerly of the Department Homeland Security's cyber wing, urges action to secure the next election. Google caught Iranian spies trying to upload a fake app. And more from the White House's ransomware summit. This is CyberScoop for October 14, 2021.

A former election official has a warning about democracy

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s former lead election security official is recommending comprehensive changes to protect the ballot in future elections, from physical safety upgrades for election workers and federal agency revamps to mandated disclosure of cyber incidents. A report published Thursday from former CISA election adviser Matt Masterson is a response to the complications that surrounded the 2020 elections. Namely, 2020 was marred by misinformation that undermined public faith in elections, inconsistent funding to mitigate IT vulnerabilities and threats against election officials, the report concludes. Tim Starks has the details.

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APT 35 used Google Play store for failed espionage effort

Suspected government-backed hackers from Iran have used an array of techniques, from password theft to uploading a fake app to a prominent app marketplace, to try gathering intelligence from targets over the past year, Google said in a new bulletin. The espionage group APT35, also known as Charming Kitten, last year successfully uploaded to Google’s Play store an app that masqueraded as a virtual private network service, claiming the tool would safeguard user data. In fact, the apparent VPN program functioned as spyware, collecting call logs, text messages, contacts and location data from affected devices. Google said in an Oct. 14 update that it detected the program “quickly” and removed it before any downloads occurred. Jeff Stone looks closer.

They want you to invest in bitcoin? Red flag

Fraudsters are using Apple's developer program to spread fake cryptocurrency trading apps, Sophos researchers found. Scammers lure victims off dating apps, then convince them to download the bogus apps. So far the thieves have swiped nearly $1.4 million from victims across Europe and the United States. Sophos researchers say the scam highlights how hackers continue to successfully exploit the developer program. Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment. Tonya Riley has more.

Everybody hurts (from ransomware)

The White House on Thursday was continuing panel sessions on countering ransomware with more than 30 nations. The Wednesday kickoff saw participants recounting for hours their experiences wrestling with, and trying to defeat, ransomware in their countries. “No one country, no one group can solve this problem,” U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in introductory remarks. “Transnational criminals are most often the perpetrators of ransomware crimes, and they often leverage global infrastructure and money laundering networks across multiple countries, multiple jurisdictions to carry out their attacks.” Tim is tracking.

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