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Costa Rica's president makes a claim about a $20 million extortion attempt. Feds are lagging on multifactor authentication. But CISA is lending a hand on federal endpoint detection and response. This is CyberScoop for May 18.

Costa Rican president decries alleged Conti collaborators

Collaborators within Costa Rica are helping the notorious Conti ransomware gang in its ongoing $20 million extortion attempt against the Costa Rican government, the country's president said Monday. Rodrigo Chaves, in office for less than two weeks, said the country is "at war ... against an international terrorist group," and that there is "clear indications that people inside the country are collaborating with Conti." Chaves didn't offer any proof, but the gang itself said on its website that it had insiders. This comes after Conti called on the people of Costa Rica to rally in the streets and demand the gang get paid. AJ Vicens reports.

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Federal cyber officials face tough questions at House hearing

Officials from the CISA and the White House testified Tuesday before the House Homeland Security panel's cybersecurity subcommittee, fielding questions about why efforts to secure federal agencies against cyberattacks are lagging. CISA's executive assistant director for cybersecurity, Eric Goldstein, hailed the progress CISA has made in response to a cybersecurity executive order mandating that federal agencies move to a zero-trust framework. But Goldstein faced tough questions from Rep. Ritchie Torres D-N.Y., who cited a January letter he sent to CISA Director Jen Easterly asking for an update on progress. Torres said Easterly told him then that only 13 federal agencies had adopted multifactor authentication but promised many more would do so by mid-March. Torres asked for updated numbers on how many more agencies have adopted MFA to date, but Goldstein could not provide figures. Read our earlier coverage on the EO and MFA.

CISA expects most agencies to be deploying endpoint detection by FY23

CISA is helping 26 agencies deploy endpoint detection and response technologies, affording them greater network visibility, and expects that number to reach 53 by the end of fiscal 2022, Goldstein also said at the House hearing Tuesday. Goldstein said CISA has made “tremendous” progress as the cyber operational lead for civilian agencies and wants to work with Congress to annualize American Rescue Plan Act investments in its efforts — starting with the fiscal 2023 budget. Deploying endpoint detection and response tools is one such effort, part of a broader push begun by the cybersecurity executive order issued one year ago to move agencies from perimeter-based to zero-trust security. Dave Nyczepir writes at FedScoop.

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