Tag: FBI

FBI captures its most wanted cyber criminal

The_UntouchablesThe Untouchables have finally fingered the collar of the world’s most wanted “cybercriminal”.

Noor Aziz Uddin, 52, was wanted for his alleged involvement in an international telecommunications scheme that defrauded victims of amounts in excess of $50 million.

He was found in Pakistan following a two-and-a-half year manhunt. Aziz Uddin’s presumed accomplice, Farhan Arshad, 41, was also arrested in the pre-dawn raid carried out by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency in Karachi.

The FBI had offered separate rewards of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of both Aziz Udin and Arshad, having issued arrest warrants for the men on 29 June, 2012.

“(The telecommunications scheme) defrauded unsuspecting individuals, companies, and government entities, to include large telecom companies, in both the United States and abroad,” the FBI’s Most Wanted files on the pair stated.

“Between November of 2008 and April of 2012, Noor Aziz Uddin is alleged to have compromised computer systems and conducted the scheme which ultimately defrauded victims of amounts in excess of $50 million.”

The international operation extended into Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Italy, and Malaysia, according to the FBI.

Aziz Uddin was arrested by Interpol in Malaysia but let go due to a lack of evidence.

Dotcom denies defence case collapsing

budillionaire-kim-dotcomKim Dotcom’s US lawyer has denied that a guilty plea by one of the Megaupload’s former employees could cause his case to collapse.

Andrus Nomm did a deal with prosecutors where he was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement while working for the now defunct file-sharing site.

The US is trying to extradite Mr Dotcom, who founded Megaupload, from New Zealand to stand trial.

Nomm, a 36-year-old Estonian citizen, agreed to the movie studio’s estimate of $400m of harm to copyright owners as part of the deal.

Also as part of the deal Nomm had acknowledged that through his work as a computer programmer for Megaupload, he had become aware of copyright-infringing material being stored on its sites, including films and TV shows that had contained FBI anti-piracy warnings.

Assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell said that the conviction was a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history.

Dotcom has long maintained that he had not encouraged users to upload pirated material, and has said he cannot be held responsible for what others had stored on his service.

He said that he had no grudge against Nomm, saying that he had nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm and I hope he will soon be reunited with his son.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Mr Dotcom’s lawyer attempted to play down the significance of the latest development.

Nomm was interested in just getting one year and being done with this, essentially he lost on procedure rather than merit.  It looked more like a scripted guilty plea that was more of a Hollywood public relations stunt.

He thought it strange that Nomm pleaded guilty as Nomm was involved particularly in video streaming which was not a copyright crime in the United States.

He also said as part of his plea bargain that no filtering was going on, but the failure to filter was at most a civil and not a criminal issue.

The issue as to whether all this case is civil and not criminal appears to be at the heart of Dotcom’s defence. If the movie studios can convince the US government that its civil cases are criminal conspiracies then it can use government-funded police as private security guards and lock people up rather than suing for damages.

An extradition hearing for Mr Dotcom and three of the other accused is scheduled to take place in Auckland in June.

Panda blamed for healthcare hack

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 15.29.14A report said that investigators into a hack at US healthcare firm Anthem are blaming the Chinese government for the breach.
Bloomberg, which said it has spoken to three people on conditions of anonymity, claim the hacks are to provide the Chinese government with data on government workers and others.
Hackers managed to grab as many as 80 million details of Anthem’s customers.
The wire is blaming an espionage unit dubbed “Deep Panda” for orchestrating the attack.
China consistently denies that it hacks into organisations or into other countries’ computer systems.   It’s widely believed, however that many countries, including China, have cyber warriors testing others’ systems.
“Deep Panda”, if it exists, is alleged to have made hacking attacks on contractors and other health care companies over the last few months, Bloomberg alleges.
The investigation into the Anthem attack is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Anthem has not yet explained the vulnerability in its IT systems which allowed its data to be hacked.


Youth arrested over console hack

wargames-hackerA British youth has been arrested over the hack that brought down the Playstation network and Xbox Live over the holiday period.
UK police are working in tandem with the FBI to track down the perpetrators, who identified themselves as the Lizard Squad.
In addition to arresting the 16 year old youth, the police from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SERCO) seized computer equipment, which they will now scrutinise.
SERCO said it is working with both business and the academic world to create specialist tools to protect the public.
The Sony and Microsoft hacks happened on Christmas Day, using a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack.
The police said they were still in the early stages of its investigation.


FBI investigates Gamergate

untouchablesThe FBI has confirmed that it has opened an investigation related to the #Gamergate campaign, which had rapidly turned from a debate about “journalistic ethics in the gaming software world” to a hate campaign against women.

The bureau stated that, while they have documents related to the loose coalition of Gamergate those files are part of an ongoing investigation, and release “would interfere with law enforcement proceedings.” Who or what is being investigated remains is unknown.

A number of individuals, including Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu, have reported death threats after being targeted by Gamergate.

This will be bad news for the hackers and script kiddies who thought that they would be allowed to cyber stalk women and threaten to kill them without any reaction from the police. It is also a bit embarrassing for those who thought that #Gamergate was not illegal and the negative response was just the ranting of a few women who were trying to stop them playing games and go outside.

Although how it could justify DDOSing a disabled charity  is anyone’s guess.


North Korea causes US to surrender

Kim Jong Un, courtesy of North Korea news agencyWhen it comes to winning a war which does not involve flinging bullets at the enemy, flying high tech-drones, or cruise missiles, it seems that the US is hopeless.

After the FBI identified that the Sony hack was caused by North Korean cyber warriors who were miffed about a comedy film which involved North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Sony immediately surrendered and pulled the flick “The Interview” from distribution.

This followed the fact that five theatre circuits in North America have decided not to play Sony’s The Interview.

Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment have all decided against showing the film.

“Due to the wavering support of the film The Interview by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theatres,” Regal said.

Cinemark also confirmed Wednesday that the chain had determined that they would not exhibit the film “at this time.” In addition, Cineplex, which is based in Canada, said it had decided to “postpone” the movie, with a spokesman saying, “Cineplex takes seriously its commitment to the freedom of artistic expression, but we want to reassure our guests and staff that their safety and security is our number one priority.”

It seems that the hackers managed what Kim Jong-un’s rocket threats, and artillery shelling could not – the complete surrender of US forces.

Sony had refused to back down from its plans to release the film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, on December 25. Instead, in discussions with exhibitors, it told the exhibitors it was up to them whether or not they played the movie and that Sony would support whatever decision they made.

However, clearly, the distributors were terrified of the North Koreans and any stiff upper lip was above a loose flabby chin.

What this means, of course, is that Kim’s Cyber Warriors will be back. After all, if you have a weapon which can bring the United States to its knees that easily, you will use it. Sony would have been better off running the film and telling everyone it was a matter of patriotic pride to show North Korea who really was boss.  Apparently running screaming like a four year-old girl from a guy in a clown mask is US defence policy now – clearly following the role model given by the French who helped found the country.


FBI warns of more North Korean cyber attacks

USmilitaryOUTThe Untouchables have warned businesses that North Korean hackers are using malicious software to launch a destructive cyberattack in the United States.

The alert appeared to describe the one that affected Sony, which would mark first major destructive cyber-attack waged against a company on US soil. Such attacks have been launched in Asia and the Middle East, but none have been seen in the United States. The FBI report did not say how many companies had been victims of destructive attacks.

Analysts think that the attack is a watershed event and that politics now serve as harbingers for destructive cyberattacks.

The five-page, confidential “flash” FBI warning issued to businesses last night provided some technical details about the malicious software used in the attack. It provided advice on how to respond to the malware and asked businesses to contact the FBI if they identified similar malware.

The malware overrides all data on hard drives of computers, including the master boot record, which prevents them from booting up.

“The overwriting of the data files will make it extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible, to recover the data using standard forensic methods,” the report said.

The document was sent to security staff at some U.S. companies in an email that asked them not to share the information.

The FBI released the document in the wake of last Monday’s unprecedented attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which brought corporate email down for a week and crippled other systems as the company prepares to release several highly anticipated films during the crucial holiday film season.

A Sony spokeswoman said the company had “restored a number of important services” and was “working closely with law enforcement officials to investigate the matter.”

The FBI said it is investigating the attack with help from the Department of Homeland Security. Sony has hired FireEye’s Mandiant incident response team to help clean up after the attack, a move that experts say indicates the severity of the breach.

Hackers used malware similar to that described in the FBI report to launch attacks on businesses in highly destructive attacks in South Korea and the Middle East, including one against oil producer Saudi Aramco that knocked out some 30,000 computers. Those attacks are widely believed to have been launched by hackers working on behalf of the governments of North Korea and Iran.

Sony may have been targeted by North Korea for releasing a film called “The Interview”.

The movie, which is due to be released in the United States and Canada on Dec. 25, is a comedy about two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Pyongyang government denounced the film as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war” in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in June.

The FBI report said some of the software used by the hackers had been compiled in Korean, but it did not discuss any possible connection to North Korea.

Russians hacked into White House nets – report

thewhitehouseThe Washington Post claimed that hackers, backed by the Russian government, have penetrated some White House computer nets.

Unnamed  sources insisting on anonymity told the Post that the hacks were into “unclassified” networks and that there’s no evidence that classified computers had been compromised.

A White Office official said that admins noted the activities straight away meaning there was some disruption to web services.

The National Security Agency (NSA), the FBI and the Secret Service have been invoked to assist with inquiries into the hackers.

The Russian government has not, so far, commented on the alleged intrusion. But it’s thought that hackers have targeted computers at NATO, official Ukraine sites, and companies supplying the US defence with kit.

The White House said that people try to hack US computers on a regular basis but the country has a military wing called US Cyber Command which can defend – or attack – intruders.

FBI worried about unsearchable phones

untouchablesThe Untouchables are worried about Apple and Google’s smartphones which cannot be searched by the FBI.

James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director, said he was “concerned” over Apple and Google marketing smart phones that can’t be searched by law enforcement which would force them to investigate criminals like the old days.

He told hacks that the companies are marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.

Comey said the bureau has “reached out” to Apple and Google “to understand what they’re thinking and why they think it makes sense”.

Phone makers have moved to encryption in the wake of NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations about massive US government surveillance.

Apple announced the enhanced encryption for iOS 8, which Apple says makes it impossible for the company to decrypt a locked device, even for law enforcement. While Android’s encryption was optional, it works similarly. In its upcoming Android L release, encryption will be enabled by default.

Of course the actual ability for Google and Apple to keep the spooks out of communication is limited.  Both companies store data on the cloud and it can be obtained using a court order.

Encryption will probably protect users from individuals trying to snoop in on a stolen or resold phone, but there’s nothing to stop the FBI from getting a warrant for data on your phone or for data stored in the cloud connected to your account.


Kiwis forbidden to hand over data to the FBI

KiwiKiwi cops have been forbidden from sharing encrypted computer keys belonging to Kim Dotcom with their chums at the FBI.

In 2012, New Zealand police seized computer drives belonging to Kim Dotcom, copies of which were unlawfully given to the FBI. Dotcom wants access to the seized content but the drives are encrypted. He is worried that if he types them in the Kiwi cops will give them to the FBI who will use it against him.

A judge has now ruled that even if the Megaupload founder supplies the passwords, they cannot subsequently be forwarded to the FBI.

In May 2012 during a hearing at Auckland’s High Court, lawyer Paul Davison QC demanded access to the data stored on the confiscated equipment, arguing that without it Dotcom could not mount a proper defence.

But while Dotcom subsequently agreed to hand over the passwords that was on the condition that New Zealand police would not hand them over to US authorities.

The police agreed to give Dotcom access to the prompts but only if the revealed passwords could be passed onto the United States.

Justice Winkelmann ruled that if the police do indeed obtain the codes, they must not hand them over to the FBI. Reason being, the copies of the computers and drives should never have been sent to the United States in the first place and they had been illegally handed over.