Items tagged with FBI

At first, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wasn’t so certain that North Korea was the responsible party for the massive cyberattack on Sony. Earlier this month, FBI cyber division assistant director Joe Demarest simply stated, “There is no attribution to North Korea at this point.” Today, however, there is no doubt that North Korea was behind the attack. North Korea was no doubt incensed by the planned release of the movie “The Interview,” which details a plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The FBI released a statement this afternoon concluding that it "now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.” “North... Read more...
Since the massive security breach at Sony Pictures has occurred, speculation has been that North Korea was behind it. Sony, with the help of cybersecurity firm Mandiant and the FBI, has been investigating the perpetrators behind the breach. However, a senior FBI official stated has stated that government agency has not confirmed that North Korea is behind the attack, “There is no attribution to North Korea at this point,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director of its cyber division Joe Demarest on Tuesday at a cybersecurity conference sponsored by Bloomberg Government. This is the first time that a senior FBI official has said anything publicly regarding the... Read more...
It appears that things are going from bad to worse when it comes to the recent Sony Pictures Entertainment breach. Sony experienced a security breach last month and the fallout from the attack continues to mount. Not only has sensitive financial information been released — including the salaries of high-ranking Sony executives — but more damaging personal information including 47,000 Social Security numbers of employees and actors have been leaked to the internet. In addition, upcoming Sony Pictures Entertainment films "Annie," "Still Alice," "Mr. Turner," "To Write Love on Her Arms" and "Fury" have found their way to various sharing sites around the Internet. “Fury”, a World War II drama starring... Read more...
The ambitious, deeply troubled effort by the Los Angeles, Calif. school district to provide every student with an iPad ended this week with FBI agents seizing documents under a federal subpoena. Federal officials are investigating questions regarding the $1.3 billion contract. Ramon C. Cortines, the superintendent for L.A. schools, put an end to the contract yesterday citing controversy surrounding the failed plan. Agents reportedly removed about 20 boxes of documents during the raid. Image credit: AppleThe effort to equip students with iPads was experiencing problems in the classroom, as well. A review by a Washington, D.C.-based group concluded that most of the schools were not using the iPads... Read more...
It would seem that the ones responsible for hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment in a massive ransomware attack weren't just a bunch of script kiddies hiding out in a basement somewhere. That wasn't really a prevailing theory anyway, but lest there's any doubt about the seriousness of the security breach, the FBI is now warning businesses in the U.S. to be on high alert for signs of the same malicious software. The warning came by way of a five-page, confidential document provided to businesses late last night. It contained technical details about the newest malware threat, along with tips on how to respond. It also urged businesses to contact the FBI right way if they encounter similar malware.... Read more...
Sony can't seem to catch a break when it comes to hackers. If cyber criminals aren't infiltrating the company's PlayStation Network (PSN) and wreaking havoc there, then they're breaking into the company's movie division, as they did last week when Sony Pictures became the victim of a massive ransomeware hack. As a result, Sony has hired Mandiant, a cybersecurity and forensics firm, to help clean up the mess and assess the extent the damage. A hacking group known as Guardians of Peace, or #GOP, seemingly took credit for the security breach that forced Sony employees to shut down their systems and go old school by using pen and paper to complete daily tasks. The group posted a menacing photo on... Read more...
Last week a joint operation between the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Department of Homeland Security, and Europol was announced. Named Operation Onymous, it led to the arrest of 17 people, the shutdown of over 400 hundred .onion sites, and Tor relays seized by government officials. As a result, the Tor Project is asking for help to determine how government officials were able to locate these services. “Tor is most interested in understanding how these services were located, and if this indicates a security weakness in Tor hidden services that could be exploited by criminals or secret police repressing dissents,” reads a statement on the Tor Project blog. “We are also interested... Read more...
A joint law enforcement operation has managed to seize hundreds of Dark Web domains that have been associated with over a dozen black market wesbites. On top of taking and shutting domains, was the seizure of various products such as computers, drugs, weapons, and gold. The operation was revealed on Thursday, which involved the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Europol, and the Department of Homeland Security. Called Operation Onymous, the joint venture resulted in the arrest of 17 people that included Silk Road 2’s alleged operator Blake Benthall (26 years old) in San Francisco. Benthall is accused of running the new Silk Road under the handle “Defcon” for the past year ever... Read more...
The current prosecution of Ross Ulbricht has brought to light the U.S. government’s stance when it comes to hacking into servers outside the country without a warrant. According to a new legal filing for the Ulbricht case, the Justice Department said that such a warrantless search is permissible. This revelation came about as questions have been asked regarding the method the government used to locate the Silk Road servers in Iceland. Ulbricht, who the government suspects of being the operator of the illicit drug website, challenged the government’s explanation that a leaky CAPTCHA on the site’s login was responsible for leading them to the IP address and accused them of unlawfully... Read more...
There's a fine line between privacy and safety, and the question we face as a nation is how much information should government agencies be allowed to access? Privacy advocates would argue that the U.S. government is stepping way over the line with the level of spying it's capable of, and in the aftermath of that all that, Google and Apple have implemented strong encryption schemes into their latest mobile platforms. This isn't sitting well with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). James B. Comey, director of the FBI, heavily criticized Google and Apple for their decision to lock down smartphones with encryption that's so strong, law enforcement officials would have a tough time breaking... Read more...
Lizard Squad has been on a DDoS attack rampage for the past couple of weeks with Sony’s PlayStation Network, Blizzard’s Battle.net, League of Legends, and NCSoft all succumbing to its attacks with Twitch being its latest target. However, it appears that Lizard Squad’s activities may be curtailed if reports are true. The FBI has been hunting down the person, or persons, responsible not only for the DDoS attack but the grounding of a plane when the group tweeted a false bomb threat as well. The group came into the spotlight by claiming responsibility on its Twitter account and announcing its targets. Lizard Squad’s activities also attracted the attention of a group called... Read more...
More details have surfaced on how the FBI uses its own custom malware to penetrate the Tor network's anonymizing service -- and while those tools have been deployed in some important investigations, it's sure to raise hackles in the post-Snowden era. Several years ago, the FBI launched a major sting operation against the operator of a Tor-anonymized website dubbed Pedoboard. They eventually traced the account back to one Aaron McGrath, discovered he was hosting three separate child pornography distribution hubs, and smashed all three of them. Hosting child pornography via Tor is a flagrant violation of the ToS, national, and international law, and few tears have been shed over the outcome. What... Read more...
Kim Dotcom, founder of the now-defunct Megaupload website, scored a victory in his battle with U.S. regulators today. A New Zealand judge has barred authorities there from giving the FBI any codes that would could unlock Dotcom’s encrypted hard drives. That’s not likely to please the U.S. officials attempting to extradite Dotcom to face charges. After Megaupload was brought down by authorities, Kim Dotcom launched Mega, which provides free encrypted storage, no questions asked. New Zealand officials have been seeking the passwords to Kim Dotcom’s encrypted hard drives for years. The drives in question were collected during the dramatic raid on Dotcom’s mansion, which netted... Read more...
Last week, the ACLU was scheduled to meet with local police in Sarasota Florida to discuss the use of cell phone interception towers, dubbed stingrays, that are an increasingly common feature of federal and local investigations. A stingray is a fake cell phone tower that law enforcement can configure to temporarily replace the real towers a device would normally connect to. In an astonishing turn of events, the US Marshals Service has acted to prevent the meeting from taking place -- seizing all of the relevant records and claiming that they're the property of the Marshals (and by extension, the US government). Meanwhile, a Tallahassee judge reviewing a similar request for access to what ought... Read more...
One of the most troubling facts that came out of Edward Snowden's disclosures last year was the degree to which the government has relied on National Security Letters to compel companies to reveal information about their clients without producing a warrant. Many NSLs were accompanied by non-disclosure orders that forbade the receiving company from revealing to the accused that their information had been demanded. Microsoft had previously gone to court over such tactics and today, the details of the company's strategic victory became public for the first time. Last year, the FBI demanded information on an unidentified Office 365 enterprise customer and included a non-disclosure requirement alongside... Read more...
Bitcoin is a digital currency that has been rather volatile both in regard to its legality and in terms of its value. Up and down it goes, and the value has dropped again to $129 after hitting $140 the previous day in the wake of the shutdown of online marketplace Silk Road by the FBI. Silk Road was a space where illegal drugs and other shady miscellany were allegedly sold, and the anonymity afforded by Bitcoin was certainly an appeal for buyers. Those Bitcoins--all $3.6 million worth--have now been “seized” by the FBI, and Silk Road’s owner Ross William Ulbricht (aka “Dread Pirate Roberts”) has been arrested. It’s likely that the arrest had something to do... Read more...
It’s not just criminals (and their direct antagonists in the security industry); the FBI likes to hack, too. According to the Wall Street Journal, the FBI has been using hacking techniques and products to break into Android phones in order to perform surveillance on criminal suspects. Allegedly, the FBI can hack a device and activate the microphone to surreptitiously record conversations; it can supposedly do the same with some laptop microphones, as well, according to the WSJ’s sources. The agency can’t perform the hacks without a court order, but of course, using a court order as a check and/or balance hasn’t been working out very well lately. (NSA,... Read more...
In the week since word of the NSA's Boundless Informant and Prism programs leaked online, there's been a great deal of concern over to what degree various companies cooperated with the NSA's requests. Some companies, like Google, have pointed to their repeated requests for greater transparency. Twitter, of course, is the major social app that isn't on Prism's list at all. And then, there's Microsoft. It's been notably quiet since the Prism leak, and while the PR team has had its hands full dealing with the fallout over the Xbone E3 debacle, there's certainly been bandwidth for a situation as serious as the idea that MS is facilitating the NSA's access to its user databases. Worse, the company... Read more...
In the wake of the Washington Post leaks, there's been a great deal of discussion over how, exactly, companies like Google share data with the government. The original report implied that the NSA has direct datacenter access and either grabs the information directly  from Google or was copying and analyzing traffic as it flowed through the tubes. Google has gone on the offensive in recent days to simultaneously clarify its own cooperation with the NSA and to push for greater transparency where access requests are concerned. It should be noted, in fairness to Google, that this greater transparency push lines up with the company's pre-Snowden statements. In recent months, Google has filed... Read more...
The Internet is an amazing place. But, increasingly, it's a place filled with peril and pitfalls, particularly if you're hosting something of value. International cybercrime has found itself in the spotlight of late, and now Microsoft is making a concerted effort to help curb it. Microsoft has just announced that it is working lockstep with leaders in the financial services industry, including the Financial Services – Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association, the American Bankers Association (ABA) – Agari, and other technology industry partners, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Why? Glad you asked. It has successfully... Read more...
If you ever wondered what would happen if you started hacking the United States at large, here's a clue. A new report has stated that President Obama's administration is mulling "more assertive" action against China in order to put up an offensive attack against "a persistent cyber-espionage campaign it believes Chinese hackers are waging against U.S. companies and government agencies." What started out as reports that China may have hacked into a few U.S.-based news systems has spiraled completely out of control, and now there's something of a cold war brewing between the two nations when it comes to digital transmissions. The FBI was already looking into the reports from the WSJ and NYT, but... Read more...
Late last year, the FBI kicked DNSChanger in the teeth when it arrested a sextet of Estonian nationals running a cybercrime enterprise and shut down their servers. DNSChanger is malware that hijacked DNS servers and made users incredibly vulnerable to redirects to fake and malicious websites, malware attacks from other sources, and miscellaneous remote interference; to keep users safe from harm, the FBI had the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) set up temporary clean DNS servers. At the time, a small note in the announcement indicated that those temporary servers would be taken offline on July 9, 2012 and that any systems still affected by DNSChanger may lose Internet connectivity. If you’re... Read more...
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