US cyber team unearths malware during ‘hunt-forward’ mission in Latvia

WASHINGTON — A team of U.S. cyber specialists discovered malware during a three-month deployment to Latvia while scouring digital infrastructure for weaknesses.

The so-called hunt-forward operation, conducted by the Cyber National Mission Force, was the second such endeavor in the former Soviet state. It wrapped up “recently,” U.S. Cyber Command announced May 10.

“During the hunt activities in Lativia, the cyber teams found malware, analyzed it and have an increased understanding of the adversary’s [tactics, techniques and procedures],” according to a statement by the command. C4ISRNET inquired about the malware and its potential attribution.

The mission force worked alongside the CERT.LV, Latvia’s primary cyber emergency response team, and the Canadian military. Canada has spearheaded a NATO reinforcement mission in the European nation since 2017.

“With our trusted allies, the U.S. and Canada, we are able to deter cyber threat actors and strengthen our mutual resilience,” Baiba Kaškina, general manager of CERT.LV, said in a statement. “This can only happen through real-life defensive cyber operations and collaboration. The defensive cyber operations conducted allowed us to ensure our state infrastructure is a harder target for malicious cyber actors.”

The CNMF has deployed nearly four dozen times to 22 countries — including Ukraine, ahead of Russia’s invasion, and Albania, in the wake of Iranian cyberattacks — to strengthen far-flung networks and return with insights that can be applied stateside.

The U.S. considers China and Russia its most significant cyberthreats. Iran and North Korea also make the list, to a lesser degree.

Kaškina described Latvia as a favorite target of “Russian

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