Cybercrime , Governance , ISMG Security Report

Russia's Election Meddling: CIA Offensive at the Ready

Also, Criminals Love Cryptocurrencies for Scams, Money Laundering
Russia's Election Meddling: CIA Offensive at the Ready
CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb. 13. (Photo: CSPAN)

Leading the latest edition of the ISMG Security Report: U.S. intelligence chiefs warn Congress that Russia's information operations continue. Also, the EU's law enforcement intelligence agency Europol warns that criminals are laundering their ill-gotten gains via cryptocurrencies.

In this report, you'll hear (click on player beneath image to listen):

  • Russian interference unchecked: Six of the top U.S. intelligence chiefs warned the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that they've seen no decrease in Russia's information warfare tactics and predict that Moscow will meddle in in 2018 and 2020 elections. CIA Director Mike Pompeo says his agency has offensive tools at the ready to punish anyone who would meddle in U.S. elections. But will the Trump administration use them? (See Russia Will Meddle in US Midterm Elections, Spy Chief Warns)
  • Stealth cryptocurrency mining attack: Attackers recently snuck Coinhive cryptocurrency mining code into the code base of Browsealoud, a widely used website accessibility plugin developed by Texthelp. As a result, visitors to thousands of websites unknowingly had CPU cycles stolen to mine for cryptocurrency, which involves solving mathematical puzzles to get back cryptocurrency as a reward - in this case, potentially for attackers. Jeremy Kirk, ISMG Managing Editor for Security and Technology, says attackers' ability to infect thousands of sites shows that too few sites are using readily available and effective defenses (see Cryptocurrency Miners: How to Shield Browsers From Bad Guys).
  • Criminals launder billions via bitcoin: Criminals don't just use cryptocurrencies for ransomware payments demands. Crooks have also been laundering "billions" in "dirty money" using bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, Rob Wainwright, director of EU law enforcement intelligence agency Europol, tells BBC Panorama. Scammers are targeting cryptocurrency enthusiasts too. In Austria, police are investigating "Optioment," an alleged Ponzi scheme that may have scammed 10,000 bitcoin holders out of more than $115 million (see Criminals Hide 'Billions' in Cryptocurrency, Europol Warns).
  • SETI hits a snag: The cryptocurrency craze has been having an unforeseen impact on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Radio astronomers tell the BBC that they've been having trouble finding the graphical processing units they need to analyze data captured by their large listening arrays, owing to demand from cryptocurrency miners.

The ISMG Security Report appears on this and other ISMG websites on Fridays. Don't miss the Feb. 2 and Feb. 9 editions, which respectively analyze why life is getting harder for cybercrime-as-a-service darknet marketplace buyers and sellers, as well as England's Court of Appeal rejecting a U.S. extradition request for suspected hacker Lauri Love.

The next ISMG Security Report will be posted on Friday, Feb. 23.

Theme music for the ISMG Security Report is by Ithaca Audio under a Creative Commons license. Pulsar recordings from the Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester.




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