Cyber Actors Target K-12 Distance Learning Education to Cause Disruptions and Steal Data

This Joint Cybersecurity Advisory was coauthored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC).

The FBI, CISA, and MS-ISAC assess malicious cyber actors are targeting kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) educational institutions, leading to ransomware attacks, the theft of data, and the disruption of distance learning services. Cyber actors likely view schools as targets of opportunity, and these types of attacks are expected to continue through the 2020/2021 academic year. These issues will be particularly challenging for K-12 schools that face resource limitations; therefore, educational leadership, information technology personnel, and security personnel will need to balance this risk when determining their cybersecurity investments.

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Safeguarding Your Vote: A Joint Message on Election Security

The directors of the FBI, National Security Agency, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and National Counterintelligence and Security Center discuss their agencies’ commitment to protect the integrity of the 2020 election.

Statement by NCSC Director William Evanina: Election Threat Update for the American Public

ODNI Press Release

On July 24, 2020, I issued a statement to the American public providing an unclassified overview of foreign threats to the 2020 election and offering basic steps to mitigate some of these threats. At that time, I pledged that the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) would continue to update the American public and other key stakeholders on the evolving election threat landscape, while also safeguarding our intelligence sources and methods.

Today, we are making good on that promise by sharing additional information with the public on the intentions and activities of our adversaries with respect to the 2020 election. This information is being released for the purpose of better informing Americans so they can play a critical role in safeguarding our election. Below is the latest public update:


Ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process. They may also seek to compromise our election infrastructure for a range of possible purposes, such as interfering with the voting process, stealing sensitive data, or calling into question the validity of the election results. However, it would be difficult for our adversaries to interfere with or manipulate voting results at scale.

Many foreign actors have a preference for who wins the election, which they express through a range of overt and private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer. We are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by China, Russia, and Iran.

  • CHINA – We assess that China prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win reelection. China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China. Although China will continue to weigh the risks and benefits of aggressive action, its public rhetoric over the past few months has grown increasingly critical of the current Administration’s COVID-19 response, closure of China’s Houston Consulate, and actions on other issues. For example, it has harshly criticized the Administration’s statements and actions on Hong Kong, TikTok, the legal status of the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to dominate the 5G market. Beijing recognizes that all of these efforts might affect the presidential race.
  • RUSSIA – We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia “establishment.” This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia. For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption – including through publicizing leaked phone calls – to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party. Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.
  • IRAN – We assess that Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on on-line influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-U.S. content. Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change.

The intelligence assessments above represent the most current, accurate, and objective election threat information the IC has to offer in an unclassified setting at this time.  Providing objective intelligence analysis is the solemn duty of the men and women of the IC, who work day and night around the world, often at great personal risk, to safeguard our nation.

The IC also recognizes there will continue to be demand for more information as the election approaches. The IC has and will continue to provide classified election threat briefings to the presidential campaigns, political committees and all Members of Congress. We have provided nearly 20 classified election threat briefings to these stakeholders since mid-May 2020. We will also keep providing updates to the American public, consistent with our national security obligations. The steps we have taken thus far to inform the public and other stakeholders on election threats are unprecedented for the IC.

Aside from sharing information, let me assure you that the IC is also doing everything in its power to combat both cyber and influence efforts targeting our electoral process and continues to support DHS and FBI in their critical roles safeguarding the election. As I emphasized in my July 24, 2020 public statement, we are all in this together as Americans. Our election should be our own. Foreign efforts to influence or interfere with our elections are a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy. For more information on election participation, understanding foreign influence and disinformation, and ways in which the U.S. Government is working to secure the 2020 election, we encourage Americans to visit the following websites:

Suspected Fraud Schemes Related to COVID-19

Citizens Academy Grads and Community Partners,
Please see the news release below from U. S. Attorney Kennedy along with a PDF link to more information from the FBI regarding some of the fraudulent activities occurring during COVID-19.  The attachment and the information below may be shared widely.

 

Download FBI Office of Private Sector Liaison Information Report (LIR)
Criminals Exploiting COVID-19 Outbreak for Financial Gain through Procurement and Consumer Fraud

 

U.S. ATTORNEY KENNEDY URGES THE PUBLIC TO REPORT SUSPECTED COVID-19 FRAUD
Appoints Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. today urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address [email protected]

In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of Coronavirus fraud schemes.

“My message to those who seek to exploit the pandemic for their own personal gain by stealing others’ money, or identity, or both, is simple,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy.  “We have a treatment for you and that treatment includes prosecution and federal prison.  While others may get sick from the virus, most will recover. Sadly, I am not so sure these predators will ever recover from their affliction—as it seems to have rotted their hearts and souls.”

Some examples of these schemes include:

  • Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
  • Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share Coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  • Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.
  • Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.

In a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys issued March 19, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also directed each U.S. Attorney to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator to serve as the legal counsel for the federal judicial district on matters relating to the Coronavirus, direct the prosecution of Coronavirus-related crimes, and to conduct outreach and awareness activities. U.S. Attorney Kennedy appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rudroff to serve as Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator for the Western District of New York.

The NCDF can receive and enter complaints into a centralized system that can be accessed by all U.S. Attorneys, as well as Justice Department litigating and law enforcement components to identify, investigate and prosecute fraud schemes. The NCDF coordinates complaints with 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state Attorneys General and local authorities.

To find more about Department of Justice resources and information, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus

FBICAAA COVID-19 Response & Resources

FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association

 COVID-19 Response & Resources

Dear FBI Buffalo CAAA Members,

After much consideration and monitoring of expert recommendations regarding the coronavirus outbreak, the FBI Buffalo CAAA Board of Directors has decided to suspend scheduled activities for the next 30 days. This includes member meetings and outreach programs. The health and wellbeing of our members, partners and community are of utmost importance to us and we want to take all measures to minimize risk and optimize containment of the outbreak.

We are committed to doing all we can to keep our members healthy and safe, and believe the best course of action is to stay informed and adhere to the guidance of our public health experts and government leaders. There are several excellent resources for tracking the spread of the virus as well as recommendations for prevention, and we urge you to stay up to date:

Additional Resources

Follow the FBI website (fbi.gov) and Facebook page (@fbi) and share warnings they issue regarding scams and other risks related to coronavirus. Join our CAAA National Chapter Forum Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NationalCAAAChapterForum/ where you can post questions and share your COVID-19 response plans and activities.

Thank you for being such an important part of our FBI Buffalo CAAA community, and for all you to do to support our mission. We will continue to provide updates about future programming.

Please take care of yourself. Stay safe and in good health.

FBI Launches ‘Stop Sextortion’ Campaign

As the new school year begins, the FBI is seeking to inform students about sextortion so they know how to avoid risky situations online and to ask for help if they are being victimized.

Unfortunately, the FBI is seeing an alarming increase in cases that involve adults coercing children into producing sexual images and videos online, a crime called sextortion. These predators have developed tactics that allow them to exploit children through smartphones, computers, and game consoles within their own homes.

The campaign provides information, posters and other resources to students, parents, and educators to help raise awareness of this crime, learn how to recognize and report dangerous activities, and how to prevent exploitation of our young people.

Resources available here: FBI Sextortion Awareness Campaign

 

Director Observes 30th Anniversary of ‘Miami Shootout’

Today outside the FBI’s Miami Field Office, Director James Comey took part in a solemn observance of the 30th anniversary of one of the Bureau’s most fiercest gunfights which left two Bureau agents—Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove—dead, and five other agents wounded. The two heavily armed bank robbery suspects being pursued were also killed.

FBI Recognizes Leaders from Around the Nation

Each recipient received the Director’s Community Leadership Award, presented every year since 1990 by FBI field offices around the country to publicly honor those who have gone above and beyond the call to service by tirelessly working to make their own cities and towns a better and safer place for their fellow residents.

Sextortion and Cyberstalking

“The victim basically was saying that she was being cyberstalked by some guy who got into her e-mail and was threatening to expose compromising photos of her to her friends and family,” said FBI Special Agent Andrew Young, who interviewed some of the hundreds of victims targeted by Michael C. Ford, a former State Department civilian employee who was sentenced last month to nearly five years in prison for hacking into the e-mail accounts of young women to extort them.