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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Researchers have discovered new “highly malleable, highly sophisticated” malware from a state-backed Chinese hacker group, according to Palo Alto Network’s Unit 42 threat intelligence team.

Why it matters: The malware “stands in a class of its own in terms of being one of the most sophisticated, well-engineered and difficult-to-detect samples of shellcode employed by an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT),” according to Unit 42.

  • The malware, which Unit 42 has dubbed “BendyBear,” bears some resemblance to the “WaterBear malware family” (hence the bear in the name), which has been associated with BlackTech, a state-linked Chinese cyber spy group, writes Unit 42.

Background: BlackTech has been active since at least 2013, according to Symantec researchers.

  • BlackTech has historically focused chiefly on intelligence targets in Taiwan, as well as some in Japan and Hong Kong.
  • The group has targeted both foreign government and private-sector entities, including in “consumer electronics, computer, healthcare, and financial industries,” said researchers with Trend Micro.
  • Trend Micro also previously assessed that BlackTech’s “campaigns are likely designed to steal their target’s technology.”

Go deeper: According to Symantec researchers, a BlackTech-initiated espionage campaign that began in 2019 also targeted “organizations in the media, construction, engineering, electronics, and finance sectors” with targets in Taiwan, Japan, the U.S. and China.

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.