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REVEALED: FBI says pernicious Russian hacker Berserk Bear has infiltrated multiple US government websites

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A hooded man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

The federal government is warning of a cyber-attacks by Russia that ramped up in September.

“This joint cybersecurity advisory—written by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)—provides information on Russian state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) actor activity targeting various U.S. state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) government networks, as well as aviation networks,” CISA revealed on Thursday.

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“Since at least September 2020, a Russian state-sponsored APT actor—known variously as Berserk Bear, Energetic Bear, TeamSpy, Dragonfly, Havex, Crouching Yeti, and Koala in open-source reporting—has conducted a campaign against a wide variety of U.S. targets. The Russian state-sponsored APT actor has targeted dozens of SLTT government and aviation networks, attempted intrusions at several SLTT organizations, successfully compromised network infrastructure, and as of October 1, 2020, exfiltrated data from at least two victim servers,” the agency reported.

“The Russian-sponsored APT actor is obtaining user and administrator credentials to establish initial access, enable lateral movement once inside the network, and locate high value assets in order to exfiltrate data,” the agency explained. “To date, the FBI and CISA have no information to indicate this APT actor has intentionally disrupted any aviation, education, elections, or government operations. However, the actor may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence U.S. policies and actions, or to delegitimize SLTT government entities.”

Authorities are also worried about the timing, with election day less than two weeks away.

“As this recent malicious activity has been directed at SLTT government networks, there may be some risk to elections information housed on SLTT government networks. However, the FBI and CISA have no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised. Due to the heightened awareness surrounding elections infrastructure and the targeting of SLTT government networks, the FBI and CISA will continue to monitor this activity and its proximity to elections infrastructure,” the agency noted.


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