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Suspected Chinese spies are collecting sensitive data after breaching the global telecommunications system. Winners of the CyberScoop 50 awards, a collection of security-minded leaders making a difference, are announced. And more lessons from CyberWeek. This is CyberScoop for October 19, 2021.

Chinese-aligned hackers are pulling a lot of data from the global telecommunications network

New research from CrowdStrike documents a prolific hacking network that's managed to pull sensitive telecommunications data from around the world for years. The group's "extensive knowledge of telecommunications protocols" has enabled it to pull "highly specific" data from mobile communications infrastructure, including subscriber information and call metadata, the research suggests. The report lands amid growing concern over the Chinese government's geopolitical goals and capabilities. AJ Vicens breaks it down.

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Unveiling the CyberScoop 50, a list of the brightest security minds

Scoop News Group is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 CyberScoop 50 awards. Voters nominated and selected the most impactful leaders in government and the private sector who spend their time detecting foreign espionage, stopping ransomware attacks and safeguarded data. Scoop News Group received more than 700,000 votes across the eight categories in 2021. The past year saw a flurry of malicious activity, innovation and changes that highlighted the way technology undergirds Americans’ daily lives. From changes throughout the federal government to an apparent increase in hacks against medical facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, security personnel have played a stabilizing role during uncertain times. Find the winners here.

Lessons about Pentagon defenses from CyberWeek

Effective authentication techniques have emerged as a key priority for security personnel in the U.S. Defense Department, Dave McKeown, deputy chief information security officer at the Pentagon, told Jackson Barnett at CyberWeek this morning. Emerging threats, insider threat mitigation and widespread remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic have combined to shift some work, McKeown explained, a strategy that other government agencies and U.S. businesses are poised to emulate. It's just one lesson from CyberWeek, CyberScoop's annual gathering of cyber minds. Tune in here.

BlackMatter stays hungry

CISA, the NSA and the FBI published an alert Monday on BlackMatter ransomware that the agencies said had targeted U.S. critical infrastructure since its emergence in July. In particular BlackMatter targeted two U.S. food and agriculture organizations; while the alert didn’t name them, both New Cooperative and Crystal Valley Cooperative were BlackMatter victims. The cybercriminals have been known to seek ransoms from $80,000 to $15 million, the alert says. Tim Starks reports.

Broadcast group Sinclair is the latest media outlet hit with ransomware

Sinclair Broadcast Group, a major television news and media provider, confirmed Monday that it was the victim of a ransomware attack that “disrupted” some office and operational networks. The attack apparently caused widespread technical difficulties and made it difficult for some stations to go on the air. Attackers also data from the company’s network, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Maryland-based company began to investigate the attack on Saturday, Oct. 16, and by Sunday “identified that certain servers and workstations in its environment were encrypted with ransomware,” the company said in the filing. The incident comes after separate extortion events affected television stations owned by Cox Media Group, while attackers also have struck small newspapers in the U.S. AJ has more.

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