US Cybersecurity Agency Will Review Malware Samples Sent by the Public – ExtremeTech

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The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) now allows the general public to submit suspicious files to Malware Next-Gen, its malware analysis tool. Previously reserved for government organizations at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, Malware Next-Gen has expanded to address a broader range of shady software. 

CISA introduced Malware Next-Gen in late 2023 to stay up-to-date on the ransomware, spyware, and other malicious software threatening government networks and employees. Since November, nearly 400 users have submitted over 1,600 files to Malware Next-Gen, allowing for roughly 200 suspicious file and URL identifications. Now, CISA is opening the software checker’s doors to internet users across the US who might not have government or military-affiliated email addresses.  

In an update issued Wednesday, Malware Next-Gen was made compatible with Login.gov. This public-facing login portal allows individuals to apply for government jobs, submit forms related to trusted traveler programs, request disaster assistance, and more. After creating a Login.gov account, members of the public can ostensibly access a submission form that allows them to send in concerning files or URLs for automated review. (We say “ostensibly” because we weren’t provided access to the form using a civilian, non-governmental account, but there’s a chance CISA is still ironing out a few wrinkles.) There’s also an anonymous form that doesn’t require credentials to access; this one appears to be working as expected. 

A screenshot of a form requesting the user's name, phone number, email address, and a description of the file they're submitting for review.

CISA’s anonymous Malware Next-Gen submission form.
Credit: CISA

Unlike government employees, members of the public won’t be able to view the analytical results associated with their submissions. This means Malware Next-Gen’s latest update is largely a one-way street: The public can help CISA track suspicious files, but they’ll never know the results of their efforts or whether their submissions helped identify a larger trend.

Nonetheless, CISA’s decision to open Malware Next-Gen submissions to the public is undoubtedly a response to the proliferation of malware hits affecting virtually every industry and demographic. Over just the past few months, ransomware gangs have hacked major game publishers and paralyzed the pharmaceutical industry, the latter of which froze drug access for millions of Americans. Threat actors are also said to be targeting everyone from the newly wealthy to the poor, focusing especially on communities of color and the elderly.

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