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Twitter accounts hijacked. UK reports Russian influence ops during 2019 elections. Cozy Bear is snooping on vaccine developers. | #espionage | #surveillance | #ceo | #businesssecurity | #

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Twitter sustained a major hack late yesterday, embarrassing the company with takeovers of high-profile, verified accounts. The attack seems to have involved extensive, effective, social engineering, perhaps a bribed insider, according to Motherboard. The Wall Street Journal and others list Bill Gates, Kanye West, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Apple Inc. among the owners of affected accounts. Reuters reports that Twitter took the “extraordinary” step of suspending many verified accounts.

The incident’s extent and preparation seem disproportionate to its ostensible objective, a hackneyed Bitcoin advance fee scam in which an impersonator offers to return the mark’s donation many times over. The wallet set up to receive donations accumulated about $100,000, but that sum probably doesn’t represent the actual take, given the common criminal practice of salting their wallets with their own funds, the better to lend plausibility to the imposture.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary informed Parliament today that Russian operators targeted the 2019 elections, seeking to influence voters through illicitly obtained “sensitive Government documents relating to the UK-US Free Trade Agreement.” The campaign staged the material through Reddit.

Cozy Bear is also back in the UK. The National Cyber Security Centre warns in an alert that the SVR unit has been actively targeting British COVID-19 vaccine developers. The goal appears to be theft of intellectual property and other information relevant to biomedical research that’s responding to the pandemic. The espionage campaign is using, the NCSC’s report says, WellMess and WellMail malware. The British Foreign Secretary has condemned the Russian activity.



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