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DOJ is making a deal with an alleged FIN7 scammer. Mandiant makes a surprise discovery regarding a shadowy hacking group. And lessons in ransomware from across the Atlantic. This is CyberScoop for November 17, 2021.

A big fish is making a deal

An alleged member of the FIN7 hacking group is set to plead guilty, admitting to a role in a criminal organization that used front companies and array of fraud techniques to steal more than $1 billion from victims worldwide, CyberScoop has learned. Attorneys for Denys Iarmak, a Ukrainian national, have notified a federal court in Washington state that Iarmak intends to change his plea after he declared himself not guilty at a May 2020 arraignment hearing. While one defense counselor said Iarmak could change his mind before his next hearing, scheduled for Nov. 22, attorneys have agreed in principle to a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice. Jeff Stone broke the news.

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An update to a years-old cyber mystery

The Belarusian government is partially responsible for a years-long influence operation targeting Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, according to research published Tuesday. Operation “Ghostwriter,” a propaganda campaign that has pushed fabricated narratives about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and COVID-19, among other topics, is the work of people in Belarus, including the country’s military, as part of an overall effort to hack and leak information, pollute political discourse with amplified narratives, and collect intelligence, according to the threat intelligence firm Mandiant, which has tracked the group for years. The new research adds a complicating wrinkle to a narrative that had focused primarily on Russia going back the last couple of years. AJ Vicens explains.

British cyber officials had a hectic year, like everyone else

The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre responded to a record 777 incidents over the past 12 months, an approximately 7% increase from the previous year. Ransomware was the main reason, with the agency saying it responded to the same number of ransomware attacks in the first four months of 2021 as it did in all of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic also was a factor, with 20% of the incidents the center responded to in the health care sector. Tim Starks covers the news.

CISA issues cybersecurity incident, vulnerability response playbooks for federal agencies

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has issued new playbooks to guide federal agencies’ responses to cybersecurity incidents and software vulnerabilities.The documents, which were published Tuesday, reinforce the Department of Homeland Security component agency’s work to formalize the communications processes and action plans federal agencies turn to when a cyberattack is discovered. John Hewitt Jones has the FedScoop story.

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