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Ukraine loses a round with ICANN. The U.S. sanctions a news agency it says that a GRU cyber-espionage unit controls. And the Kremlin makes claims about cyberattacks on its country. This is CyberScoop for March 4.

Ukraine loses domain battle

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, turned down Ukraine's request to shut down Russian domains and other technical asks that it said goes against both its mission and capabilities. But the nonprofit internet steward isn't the only group getting caught in Russia and Ukraine's battle over the internet. Both countries have increased pressure on social media companies to restrict services. Human rights advocates warn that the rights of civilians will get caught in the campaign and the looming information gap could increase the risk of violence against Ukrainians. Tonya Riley has the latest.

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Treasury announces sanctions over pro-Russia disinformation campaigns

The Biden administration on Thursday sanctioned a news agency the Treasury Department says is run by a Russian cyber-espionage and offensive unit. The nominal news agency, InfoRos, and dozens of others were hit with sanctions for, among other things, spreading disinformation in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Treasury said the GRU, which controls the Russian military intelligence service and operates its own special forces units, is running InfoRos behind the scenes. The GRU’s 72nd Main Intelligence Information Center, a unit within Russia’s Information Operations Troops, is Russia’s “military force for conducting cyber espionage, influence, and offensive cyber operations” and is in charge of InfoRos, Treasury said. Others sanctioned include Putin's spokesman and an oligarch who owns one of the world's largest "super yachts." Suzanne Smalley has the story.

Some info on cyberattacks in Russia

The Russian government's Computer Incident Response and Coordination Center on Wednesday published a notice to Russian organizations about cyberattacks it says are hitting the country. The notice included a list of 17,500 IP addresses supposedly involved in the ongoing distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, as well as 174 domains used. That list included domains such as the main websites for the FBI and CIA — although DDoS incidents can be tough to attribute to any specific actor, and otherwise benign internet domains can be hijacked by attackers to misdirect attention. Independent data also showed ongoing DDoS attacks on the infrastructure supporting the ".ru" top-level domain, but at that point it's likely little more than a symbolic action, an expert told CyberScoop. AJ Vicens reports.

Iowa to expand cybersecurity operations center

Iowa will relaunch its cybersecurity operations center in the coming weeks, with 24-hour threat monitoring and heightened support for local governments, interim state Chief Information Officer Matt Behrens told StateScoop. Though the state already runs a SOC out of an office building in Des Moines, it’s not staffed around-the-clock, said Behrens, who predicted an April launch of the new capabilities. The announcement arrives as technology officials around the country watch the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Read more from StateScoop's Colin Wood.

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