MeriTalk News Briefs: New OSTP Head, Threat of Email Impersonators Grows, DoJ Announces Cyber Arrests

Welcome to MeriTalk News Briefs, where we bring you all the day’s action that didn’t quite make the headlines. No need to shout about ‘em, but we do feel that they merit talk.

President Trump Nominates New OSTP Head

President Trump announced Tuesday that Kelvin Droegemeier is his pick for the head of White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP). Droegemeier is currently the vice president for research and regents’ professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, as well as the secretary of science and technology for the state of Oklahoma. The Trump Administration has been without a chief science advisor since the inauguration. The last permanent Director of OSTP was John Holdren. In the interim, Michael Kratsios, who also serves as deputy U.S. CTO, has led the office. This won’t be Droegemeier’s first stint in the Federal government. He served served two terms on the National Science Board under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Droegemeier awaits Senate confirmation.

New Survey Finds Growing Threat From Email Impersonators

A new study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Valimail, finds that most organizations are concerned about the state of their email security but aren’t taking the significant steps needed to secure their accounts. While 80 percent of organizations are very concerned about the state of their company’s email security, only 29 percent of respondents think that their organization is taking significant steps to prevent phishing attacks. The survey also found that 77 percent found it very urgent to secure email from cyber attacks, but about half of organizations don’t have a schedule to review their security infrastructure. Twenty-nine percent of respondents use DMARC to authenticate emails, but the Federal government is ahead of the game, with 87% adoption.

DoJ Announced International Cybercrime Arrests

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today announced that three high-ranking members of the FIN7, an international cybercrime group operating out of Eastern Europe, were arrested and are in U.S. custody. The cybercriminals, who are facing charges filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, engaged in a highly sophisticated malware campaign targeting more than 100 U.S. companies, predominantly in the restaurant, gaming, and hospitality industries. According to the indictments, FIN7 hacked into thousands of computer systems and stole millions of customer credit and debit card numbers, which the group used or sold for profit. The defendants, Dmytro Fedorov, Fedir Hladyr, and Andrii Kolpakov, are all Ukrainian nationals. Each of the conspirators is charged with 26 felony counts alleging conspiracy, wire fraud, computer hacking, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

Senate Space Subcommittee Meets to Discuss NASA Reauthorization

The Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness met today to discuss National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) reauthorization. During the hearing, the Subcommittee heard expert witness testimony for NASA leaders and other industry experts regarding the space agency’s scientific priorities in space exploration. Today’s hearing was the second in a series of hearings leading up to a potential NASA reauthorization.

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