Daily Digest (10/1)

Hacker Publishes Data of More Than 320,000 Students in Nev. County; Hacker Gains Access to Federal Agency’s Data; Tech Firms Allegedly Sending Hong Kong User Information to China; Mnuchin: TikTok to Be Shut Down If Oracle Deal Does Not Meet US Security Needs. Click “Continue reading” below.

Hacker Publishes Data of More Than 320,000 Students in Nev. County

A hacker published Social Security numbers, grades and other private information for more than 320,000 students last week after school officials in Clark County, Nev., refused to pay a ransom to unlock the district’s computer servers.

Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, is the largest school district known to be hit with ransomware since the pandemic began, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Administrators said in a statement that they would be individually notifying affected individuals as the district’s investigations continued.

Many school districts have gone online during the COVID-19 pandemic and rely heavily on access to computer servers.

Cyber experts told the Journal that hackers had become more demanding in their tactics, sensing the desperation to stay online. 

“A big difference between this school year and last school year is they didn’t steal data — and this year they do,” Brett Callow, of the Emsisoft cybersecurity firm, told the Journal.

“If there’s no payment, they publish that stolen data online — and that has happened to multiple districts.”

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Hacker Gains Access to Federal Agency’s Data

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published a report disclosing that a hacker last Thursday gained access to a federal agency’s information that it did not identify.

The report reveals how the intruder gained access to the agency’s internal networks through different channels, ZDNet reports.

The hacker leveraged compromised credentials for Microsoft Office 365 accounts as well as domain-administrator accounts and credentials for the agency’s Pulse Secure VPN server, according to the report. 

CISA also disclosed in its report that the attacker logged into Office 365 accounts and downloaded help-desk email attachments with “intranet access” and “VPN passwords” in the subject line.

CISA said it discovered the breach through its intrusion-detection system, which monitors federal civilian networks from various vantage points, ZDNet reports. 

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Tech Firms Allegedly Sending Hong Kong User Information to China

A top U.S. State Department official alleged Wednesday that big tech companies already might be complying with secret Chinese requests for user information held in Hong Kong. 

The allegation follows the implementation of Beijing’s controversial national security law on Hong Kong, which allows authorities to demand sensitive user data from companies if it is deemed a national-security threat, The Guardian reports.

In June, Facebook, Google and Microsoft were among the companies who said they would pause all cooperation in complying with Hong Kong data requests — though global activists, legal experts and the U.S. government official doubted that the companies could fend off data requests from Hong Kong authorities.

“There is a possibility that things are happening, but because of the restrictions put on by the Hong Kong authorities, (the companies) would not be able to divulge this,” the U.S. official told the Guardian. 

Facebook and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

“As we would with any new legislation, we are reviewing the new law to understand its implications,” a Microsoft representative told the Guardian.

“In the past, we’ve typically received only a relatively small number of requests from Hong Kong authorities, but we are pausing our responses to these requests as we conduct our review.”

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Mnuchin: TikTok to Be Shut Down If Oracle Deal Does Not Meet US Security Needs

If the Oracle deal for TikTok cannot be closed to meet U.S. security requirements, the app’s U.S. operations will be shut down, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.

One requirement includes holding all of the app’s code in the U.S., he said, according to Reuters.

“All of the code will have to be in the United States,” Mnuchin told a CNBC investor conference.

“Oracle will be responsible for rebuilding the code, sanitizing the code, making sure it’s safe in their cloud — and … it’ll satisfy all of our requirements.” 

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By DPN Staff