Items tagged with FBI

The FBI may have overstepped its bounds (again) and acted outside what was made legally permissible by a 2008 Justice Department memo when it asked Twitter to provide information about certain account holders. Twitter received the data requests by way of two national security letters (NSLs) that were served, one in 2015 and the other in 2016, which at the time were protected by gag orders preventing Twitter from notifying the affected account holders or publicly disclosing their existence. Those gag orders have been lifted and just as other tech companies have done in recent months—most notably Google and Yahoo—Twitter is making public the data requests in an effort to remain transparent. While... Read more...
Police are supposed to catch criminals; not become the victims of their antics. However, one Texas police department is finding out the hard way that ransomware is a big problem, as one of its employees fell for one of the oldest tricks in the [computer hackers’] playbook. According to a local news report, someone from within the department clicked on an email that featured a cloned address, thinking that it originated from someone within the department. However, all it did was open up the department’s computer network to a ransomware attack. Once the tainted email was accessed, malware weaved its way through the department network, encrypting files in the process. Once the malware did its dirty... Read more...
The FBI is currently investigating a series of cyberattacks on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), that they believe the Chinese military to be responsible for. The attacks on high-level employees' computers started in 2010 and resurfaced again in 2011 and 2013. Victims included former FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair. The FDIC is one of three institutions responsible for regulating commercial banks in the United States. They manage confidential plans regarding how big banks would deal with bankruptcy. They also have access to the information of millions of individual American deposits. The FDIC allowed congressional staff last month to look at communications between high-level FDIC... Read more...
The Supreme Court approved a series of changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by the United States Department of Justice that go into effect today. Those changes, which the DoJ proposed earlier this year and that were never discussed by Congress, gives the FBI permission to hack into multiple computer systems here and abroad with a just a single warrant in cases where they're part of a botnet or otherwise can't be traced to a precise location.Any U.S. judge can authorize such a warrant, including magistrate judges who typically only issue warrants within their own jurisdiction. The rule changes effectively make it far easier for agencies like the FBI to carry out international... Read more...
The Federal Bureau of Investigation made a big deal out of Apple's unwillingness to help it crack a locked iPhone 5c handset that was used by a terrorist in the deadly San Bernardino shooting, but it turns out it rarely needs assistance. Nine of out ten times, the FBI is successful in its attempts to unlock a secured smartphone or laptop, the agency admitted to attendees at a public meeting on encryption. Jim Baker, General Counsel for the FBI, provided some interesting numbers for the public to digest. According to Baker, the FBI's forensic labs analyzed 6,814 phones and laptops from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. Out of those devices, 2,095 (a little less than a third at 31 percent)... Read more...
Less than two weeks before U.S. elections kick off on November 8th, the FBI has released a new bombshell that threatens to shakeup what has already been an almost circus-like campaign season. FBI Director James Comey, who is known more widely in the circles for his staunch criticism of Apple in the San Bernardino iPhone encryption case, just sent a letter to Congress informing them that there have been newly uncovered emails that are pertinent to the department’s investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s personal email server. "In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” wrote... Read more...
The battle between the FBI and locked phones is far from over. The FBI is currently trying to crack into another locked iPhone that once belonged to a now deceased terrorist. The iPhone in question belonged to Dahir Adan, who stabbed ten people in a Minnesota mall before a police officer shot and killed him. ISIS has claimed credit for the attack over social media. FBI special agent Rich Thorton recently stated, “Dahir Adan’s iPhone is locked. We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.” It is unclear what what model iPhone Adan owned and what operating system it used. Since 2014 with iOS 8, Apple has encrypted... Read more...
It's come to light that a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) was arrested back in August by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The agency suspects the contractor might have stolen and disclosed classified computer code developed by the NSA to hack into networks of governments around the world. And no, his name is not Edward Snowden, though he comes from the same consulting firm (Booz Allen Hamilton). The former contractor's name is Harold T. Martin III, a 51-year-old out of Glen Burnie, Maryland. He had already left the NSA and was working as a contractor for the Defense Department at the time of his arrest on August 27. According to The New York Times, some two... Read more...
Security firm Cellebrite made headlines earlier this year when its services were employed by the FBI to help break into the phone of the San Bernardino shooter. Cellebrite recently invited a bunch of UK press to an event to show off what it's capable of.Equipped with an outdated smartphone, BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones went off for a half an hour, password-protected the device, and took pictures -- basically using the phone normally. You can see where this is going. Despite the password, Cellebrite plugged the phone into a bulky tablet, and after a few taps, the phone's security was disabled. From that point on, the phone was completely accessible, so any photos that the journalist would... Read more...
Earlier this year, the FBI and Apple were embroiled in a bitter battle of words with regards to unlocking an iPhone 5c that was used by Syed Farook, one of two San Bernardino shooters. After much bluster on the part of FBI, and complete stonewalling from Apple, the FBI eventually went to a third-party vendor to bypass the iPhone 5c’s security protocols and obtain the data it was searching for. With the Freedom of Information Act on their side, three news organizations — the Associated Press, USA Today, and Vice Media — reached out to the FBI to obtain details on how the hack was carried out on the iPhone 5c in question, and how much was paid to the third-party for access. FBI director James Comey... Read more...
Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire whiz kid who created the most popular social networking site on the planet, puts tape on his system's webcams. While that might sound paranoid to some, it's a common privacy measure against hackers who might be trying to spy on you or your company. Zuckerberg is far from alone—James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), uses a piece of tape on his personal laptop's webcam and recommends that everyone else does as well. "There's some sensible things you should be doing, and that's one of them," Comey said during a recent conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. According to Comey, covering webcams is common practice... Read more...
Google has just reported that there were over 40,000 request for user data from the government between June and December 2015. Requests for user data has steadily increased since 2009, however this was the highest number yet. Google admitted that this number was not comprehensive. For example, the same Gmail account may be specified in several different requests for user information. Google also might receive a request for a user for account that does not exist at all.   It believes that these discrepancies do balance out. The statistics do cover all government entities that request user data. What exactly is this data and how do governments obtain it? The Director of the FBI or a senior... Read more...
The HFS and HFS+ file systems have served Apple well for years, but it’s time to make a clean break from the past. That break from tradition is coming in the form of the Apple File System (APFS), which uses unified encryption to bolster the security of nearly every device that Apple makes. APFS has been in development for far too long to cite the FBI as the reason for its arrival, but we’re sure that the agency is by no means happy about its existence. Apple explains the need for APFS by writing: HFS+ and its predecessor HFS are more than 30 years old. These file systems were developed in an era of floppy disks and spinning hard drives, where file sizes were calculated in kilobytes or megabytes.... Read more...
The FBI is determined to gain access to any and all electronic information from targeted devices whenever it wants, and by any means necessary (as we’ve seen in the drawn-out and very public battle with Apple over encryption). However, many feel that the FBI is really overstepping its authority with an expansion of the National Security Letter (NSL) statute. An amendment to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which is sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), is set to go before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and would expand the FBI’s warrantless vacuuming of user data. Under the proposed amendment, the FBI could request internet browsing history (exact URLs that internet users... Read more...
The FBI ultimately dropped its suit against Apple involving the now infamous iPhone that was connected to a terrorist in the San Bernardino shooting, but the quest to set a legal precedent marches on. FBI Director James Comey hinted as much when said this week there would be more legal battles over encryption and with regards to forcing tech companies to help law enforcement access data on electronic devices.It's not game over, in other words. Though the FBI ultimately didn't need Apple's help in extracting data from the iPhone 5c model it confiscated from a dead terrorist who had locked the handset with a passcode, there's still the issue of whether or not the government has the power to force... Read more...
The government’s ability to compel you to cough up the contents of your smartphone is growing with each day. Just last week, we reported that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted federal law enforcement agencies the ability to issue search warrants for computing devices in any jurisdiction in the United States; an act that U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said would allow the government to “search thousands or millions of computers at once; and the vast majority of the affected computers would belong to the victims, not the perpetrators, of a cybercrime.” Now, U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Rosenberg has granted the FBI the the authority to force a suspect to unlock her iPhone using her fingerprint. According... Read more...
As we’ve seen in the San Bernardino iPhone case, the FBI is willing to go to extreme lengths to retrieve [potentially valuable] personal information for investigative purposes. When Apple wouldn’t comply with FBI requests to unlock the iPhone 5c in that case, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit. A day before the case was to go to trial, the lawsuit was unexpectedly pulled, as the FBI had found a way to break into the iPhone through the help of a third-party. In the future, the FBI might not have to go through so many hoops to crack large numbers of smartphones and PCs, as the U.S. Supreme Court signed off on new procedural rules that grant judges the ability to grant search warrants on... Read more...
For the second time in less than a month, the U.S. government has backed down from attempting to force Apple through a court order to help authorities access the contents of a locked iPhone. This time it was the Justice Department that sought Apple's assistance, willingly or not, with opening an iPhone 5s handset that was seized in 2014 as part of a drug investigation. "Yesterday evening, an individual provided the passcode to the iPhone at issue in this case,’’ prosecutors stated in a letter to the judge. "Late last night, the government used that passcode by hand and gained access to the iPhone. Accordingly, the government no longer needs Apple’s assistance to unlock the iPhone, and withdraws... Read more...
From the get-go, FBI Director James Comey insisted that his agency's attempt to force Apple to crack the security protecting the contents of the iPhone 5c handset that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters was not a ploy to set a precedent. Instead, it was about a debt to the victims, to which he said "we owe them a thorough and professional investigation under the law." Well, the FBI (and taxpayers) ultimately provided one, paying a third-party more than $1.3 million to hack the phone. It's the largest sum for hiring hackers the FBI has ever publicized, coming in over $300,000 above even what security outfit Zerodium is willing to pay for iPhone vulnerabilities. Further attempts to... Read more...
The situation that played out between the FBI and Apple over a locked iPhone 5c model has been like a Soap Opera with plenty of drama and unexpected twists and turns. In case you thought it was coming to an end, think again—the latest plot twist is that Israeli security outfit Cellebrite supposedly wasn't the one that helped the FBI crack the iPhone in question.Up to this point, there have been several reports saying that Cellebrite helped the FBI extract the contents from the iPhone 5c handset that once belonged to Syed Farook, one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino shooting. There was even a plausible theory making the rounds as to how it might have been done, one that involved de-soldering... Read more...
The legal battle between Apple and the FBI has been an ongoing saga that has not only caught the attention of the tech press, but also the general public. Today we’ve learned that Apple won’t fight the FBI to gain insight into the tool used to unlock the iPhone 5c at the center of brouhaha. For starters, the tool only works on a “narrow sliver” of devices according to Comey; it’s limited to just the iPhone 5c. In addition, while speaking to reporters today on a briefing call, Apple lawyers indicated that any tool the the FBI has access to would have a “short shelf life.” Apple engineers will undoubtedly further increase security going forward in the never-ending quest to not only stay ahead of... Read more...
Whatever method the Federal Bureau of Investigation used to extract data from the iPhone 5c model that was once in possession of Syed Farook, one of the terrorists involved in the deadly San Bernardino shooting, it appears it will not work for any other generation iPhone. That's if taking FBI director James Comey's comments at face value.Comey was on hand at Kenyon College in Ohio to give a speech on encryption and surveillance. During the talk and subsequent question and answer session, Comey said the U.S. government bought a tool that made it possible to access the iPhone 5c handset in its possession, but claimed the tool doesn't work on other models."This doesn't work on 6s, doesn't work in... Read more...
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