Tag: fbi

FBI is investigating Russian gaming of the US election

 

The FBI is investigating how Russia used an internet army to bombard America with right-wing news and fake stories when candidate Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump was on the defensive during the 2016 election.

The Untouchables are concerned that some of those news outlets might have worked to help Russian operatives.

Led by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, the investigation is examining how stories from sites like Breitbart News, InfoWars, and the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, were spread across the internet.

The investigation, the sources said, is examining whether certain far-right sites took any action to aid Tsar Putin.

In early January 2017, America’s intelligence agencies concluded Russia had mounted a disinformation campaign to influence the US election and picked out RT’s American division as one of the culprits.

FBI Director James Comey told a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the issue that Russia’s efforts were targeted to “hurt our democracy” and specifically “hurt” Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and “help” current President Donald Trump.

Of course, he did a little bit of that himself during the election and managed to keep his job after Trump took office.

Investigators are now looking at millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to real stories, and others that mixed fact and fiction, on conservative websites sent out by social media bots. These computer programmes, of “bots,” were operated by Russia on multiple social media accounts and were programmed and coordinated to spread and amplify messages across the internet.

Russia apparently used these social media accounts to bombard the internet with pro-Trump stories at times during the campaign when he was on the defensive against Clinton.

Russian bots and paid trolls used the timed release of information “to propagate stories underground and these stories appear to have been amplified by fringe elements of our media like Breitbart.

The investigation into the bots is just one branch of several investigations being run by the FBI probing Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election. Others are working to identify those behind the hacks and publication of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, leading Republicans, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.

Others are pursuing leads from informants and foreign communications intercepts about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian intelligence officers before the November election.

This is the first time that Comey has revealed officially that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile Alex Jones of the conspiracy theory website InfoWars has claimed that the whole thing is a witch hunt by the left. “I’m not gonna sit here and say, ‘I’m not a Russian stooge,’ because it’s a ******* lie,” said on his talk show.

FBI allow a “paedophile” to go free

The Untouchables do not want to be touched by a court demands that it explain how its Tor hack works.

The court wanted to know how the FBI located a child porn suspect, and federal prosecutors responded by dropping all charges against a man accused of accessing Playpen, a notorious and now-shuttered website.

The case is one of nearly 200 cases nationwide that have raised new questions about the appropriate limitations on the government’s ability to hack criminal suspects. Michaud marks just the second time that prosecutors have asked that case be dismissed.

Annette Hayes, a federal prosecutor, wrote in a court filing that the government had to choose between disclosure of classified information and dismissal of its indictment.

“Disclosure is not currently an option. Dismissal without prejudice leaves open the possibility that the government could bring new charges should there comes a time within the statute of limitations when and the government be able to provide the requested discovery.”

The Department of Justice is currently prosecuting over 135 people nationwide whom they believe accessed the illegal website.

To find those them, federal authorities seized and operated the site for 13 days before closing it down. During that period, the FBI deployed a Tor exploit that allowed them to find out those users’ real IP addresses.

The DOJ has called this exploit a “network investigative technique,” (NIT) while many security experts have dubbed it as “malware.” Defense attorneys want the NIT’s source code as part of the criminal discovery process.

Last year, US District Judge Robert Bryan ordered the government to hand over the NIT’s source code in Michaud. Since that May 2016 order, the government has classified the source code itself, thwarting efforts for criminal discovery in more than 100 Playpen-related cases that remain pending.

On the plus side many of the Playpen defendants have pleaded guilty, and only a few have had charges dropped altogether.

FBI running three probes into Russian gaming of the US elections

The Untouchables have three separate probes into the Russian hacking of the US presidential elections.

For those who came in late, it is widely believed Tsar Vladimir Putin ordered his crack team of hackers to game the US presidential election to put a wealthy orange businessmen who owes him and his Russian chums rather a lot of cash in the top job.

Donald (Prince of Orange) and Tsar Putin have denied it, but then it is likely they would. Trumpets who support Donald Trump have been appearing all over the internet saying that “there is no proof” despite rather a lot of evidence that this sort of thing was going on.

The FBI’s Pittsburgh field office, which runs many cyber security investigations, is trying to identify the people behind breaches of the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems, the officials said.

Those breaches, in 2015 and the first half of 2016, exposed the internal communications of party officials as the Democratic nominating convention got underway and helped undermine support for Hillary Clinton.

The Pittsburgh case has progressed furthest, but Justice Department officials in Washington believe there is not enough clear evidence yet for an indictment, two of the sources said.

The bureau’s San Francisco office is trying to identify the people who called themselves “Guccifer 2” and posted emails stolen from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s account, the sources said.

Those emails contained details about fundraising by the Clinton Foundation and other topics.

Beyond the two FBI field offices, FBI counterintelligence agents based in Washington are pursuing leads from informants and foreign communications intercepts, two of the people said.

This counterintelligence inquiry includes but is not limited to examination of financial transactions by Russian individuals and companies who are believed to have links to Trump associates. The transactions under scrutiny involve investments by Russians in overseas entities that appear to have been undertaken through middlemen and front companies, two people briefed on the probe said.

Scott Smith, the FBI’s new assistant director for cybercrime, declined to comment this week on which FBI offices were doing what or how far they had progressed. It is hard to see him being enthusiastic to find a culprit as he might find himself having arrest the bloke who appointed him,

A White House spokesman pointed to a comment Trump made during the campaign, in which he said: “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.”

Trump claims he has no business connections to Russia and that reports in the New York Times that Americans with ties to Trump or his campaign had repeated contacts with current and former Russian intelligence officers before the November election were fake news.

Yahoo being investigated for handling of data breaches

Marissa-Mayer-webex-ART-OLD-SITE (1)The troubled search engine outfit Yahoo is being investigated by Inspector Knacker of the US yard and financial regulators over its handling of two huge data breaches.

Yahoo was hacked in 2014 and huge amounts of personal data was stolen. Yahoo, which was a little concerned about more publicity failed to make the news public.

Now the FBI is looking into whether Yahoo’s two massive data breaches should have been reported sooner to investors. If Yahoo faces any fall-out from the case then it could be a major test in defining when a company is required to disclose a hack.

For those who came in late, the first data breach in 2013 that involved more than one billion users’ accounts. The second was in 2014, an intrusion which involved about 500 million accounts. SEC has requested documents from Yahoo.

The agency has been considering a model case for cybersecurity rules it issued in 2011. Yahoo has said that it was cooperating with the SEC, Federal Trade Commission and other federal, state, and foreign governmental officials and agencies including “several State Attorneys General, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York”.

When Yahoo reported the 2014 breach, it said that evidence linked it to a state-sponsored attacker. It has not announced a suspected responsibility for the larger 2013 intrusion, but the company has said it does not believe the two breaches are linked.

 

FBI wasted two years chasing “satire” cult

The_Untouchables_Desilu_Playhouse_1959The untouchables are getting rather a bad rap of late. Not only have they been seen as trying to get Donald Trump elected they also have spent two years investigating a made-up anti-Goth cult.

According to Muck Rock,  the FBI spent two years chasing down leaders of “God Hates Goths” church before realising the whole thing was made up.

In December 2005, the FBI opened a file on as religious extremist group the “Church of the Hammer.” Named after the infamous treaty on witchcraft and allegedly founded by a protégée of Westboro Baptists’ Fred Phelps, the group called for violent retribution on those in defiance of God’s will.

The Bureau’s main source on the case was a goth who had engaged with members of the Church via their Yahoo Group “GodHatesGoths.” For some reason the FBI thought that the Church enough of a threat to move beyond mere fact-finding into full-on investigation. To be fair, agents feared that if they didn’t act soon, they might have another Waco on their hands.

But agents soon found that none of the people asked about the many incidents the Church was supposedly involved knew anything about it.  Then after a couple of years the FBI visited GodHatesGoths.com and found a disclaimer – in small print, mind – that the site and and the Church were satire.

Amercians have a bit problem with satire in that they do not have a clue what it is.  For years people, have been putting up unfunny made up news and calling it “satire.”  Usually “the joke” is obvious but it took two years after the FBI opened an investigation into the Church of the Hammer, it got the gag.

Hillary Clinton was silly but did nothing illegal

hillary-sillyHillary Clinton was jolly silly when it came to network security, but an FBI investigation said she did nothing wrong.

After all, if they locked Hillary up for being a bit insecure when it came to data, they would probably have to lock up every network manager, or owner of a corporate network in the country.

The FBI Director James Comey rebuked the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate for “extremely careless” handling of classified information.

Republicans, which hoped Hillary would have been jailed for her “crimes” are trying to make the best of it.  House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest- ranking elected U.S. Republican, said in a statement that Comey’s announcement “defies explanation.”  Probably because it was not the explanation he wanted.

He is planning to haul Comey over the coals before the testify before the House Oversight Committee to see if he can squeeze a bit more mileage from the situation as the election arises. The issue then starts to get as dull as trying to find the other scandals that the Republicans try to pin on the Clintons.

However, what is clear is that as far as security is concerned, the Clinton’s cocked up. But it was the sort of cock up that people do when setting up networks.  Silly, risky, but not worth jailing the CEO or the network manager for.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said.

No reasonable prosecutor would bring charges, he said. Of course the Republicans would cheerfully dig up a few banjo picking red-neck prosecutors from its ranks, it is unlikely they would get anywhere.

The reason is that the courts are not interested in whether or not Clinton lied to anyone, they are interested if she knowingly set up an insecure server and leaked classified information.  The evidence says she didn’t.  She said up a private email network which did not meet the security standards of for government use and a few emails ended up on it. Lots of companies have done the same thing.  A few have been bitten, and some, like Clinton, were lucky to get away with it.

At a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday night, Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, said the controversy should disqualify Clinton from being president and that her email system may well have been hacked by US enemies.

However, Trump must be aware that he is on shaky ground with that argument. After all, has he got total confidence that none of his companies have ever been hacked because network security was not up to par? There was a small matter of his voice mails being hacked by anonymous. His presidential campaign website, DonaldJTrump.com, was hacked and press releases replaced.  While Clinton’s site was a bit insecure at least it was not hacked. Is he saying that every company which has set up an insecure network should be jailed?  If that is the case he would have to be carting himself off too.

The issue here, which is being over looked by almost everyone, is the fact that corporates and politicians have a woeful ignorance of computer security. The issue is not trying drag these types into court, but to educate.

 

Tor developer helps spooks hack Tor

tor-sheepA former Tor Project developer is making a living creating malware for the Federal Bureau of Investigation that allows agents to unmask users of the anonymity software.

Matt Edman is a cybersecurity expert who worked as a part-time employee at Tor Project, the non-profit that builds Tor software and maintains the network, almost a decade ago.

Apparently he has developed some killer malware which is being used by the Untouchables to unmask Tor users. It’s been wielded in multiple investigations by federal law-enforcement and U.S. intelligence agencies in several high-profile cases.

The Tor Project has announced that it came to its attention that Matt Edman, who worked with the Tor Project until 2009, subsequently was employed by a defence contractor working for the FBI to develop anti-Tor malware.

Edman was only with Tor for a year. In 2008 he joined and worked on Vidalia, a piece of software meant to make Tor easier for normal users by implementing a simple user interface. He was a graduate student then, pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science that he would obtain in 2011 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Of course there was a few fears that had Edman been considering his future he could have been installing backdoors into Tor. However Vidalia was the only Tor software to which Edman was able to commit changes and that software was dropped in 2013.

By 2012, Edman was working at Mitre as a senior cybersecurity engineer assigned to the FBI’s Remote Operations Unit, the bureau’s little-known internal team tapped to build or buy custom hacks and malware for spying on potential criminals. Edman became an FBI contractor tasked with hacking Tor as part of Operation Torpedo, a sting against three Dark Net child pornography sites that used Tor to cloak their owners and patrons.

At Mitre, Edman worked closely with FBI Special Agent Steven A. Smith to customize, configure, test, and deploy malware he called “Cornhusker” to collect identifying information on Tor users. More widely, it’s been known as Torsploit.

Cornhusker used a Flash application to deliver a user’s real Internet Protocol (IP) address to an FBI server outside the Tor network. The malware targeted the Flash inside the Tor Browser. The Tor Project has long warned against using Flash as unsafe but many people enough people made security mistakes and Operation Torpedo netted 19 convictions.

According to court documents, Cornhusker is no longer in use. Since then, newer FBI-funded malware has targeted a far wider scope of Tor users in the course of investigations.

iPhone hack method will remain secret

spyThe outfit that helped the FBI unlock a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone to get data is keeping sole legal ownership of its methods.

This means that it highly unlikely the technique will be disclosed by the government to Apple or any other entity.

In a statement, the White House said that it has a procedure for reviewing technology security flaws and deciding which ones should be made public. But it is not set up to handle or reveal flaws that are discovered and owned by private companies, the sources said, raising questions about the effectiveness of the so-called Vulnerabilities Equities Process.

The secretive process was created to let various government interests debate about what should be done with a given technology flaw, rather than leaving it to agencies like the National Security Agency, which generally prefers to keep vulnerabilities secret so they can use them.

Without cooperation from the company, the FBI can’t submit the method to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process even if it wanted. The Feds don’t know the technque either, just that it works.

 

 

Apple does not want to know how the FBI hacked its iPhone

3 monkeys 3Fruity cargo cult Apple is not going to try and force the FBI to tell it how it hacked the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist and what security hole it used.

Attorneys for Apple speaking on background during a media briefing call on Friday said that it believed the method used to unlock the iPhone 5c would be short lived.

FBI director James Comey admitted that the hack used to unlock the encrypted phone works on a “narrow slice” of devices.

Of course Apple’s attorneys were guessing. They don’t know what the flaw was, but argued that the normal product development would see that a fix for the flaw would be implemented down the line. A little bit of an odd argument.  Apple is basically saying that it will fix a flaw it did not notice sometime in the future when it does not matter.

Apple is usually slow in fixing flaws in its software, it is hard to see it fixing this one, if it finds it, for any reason other than rubbing the FBI’s face in it. Apple was extremely embarrassed when it told the world that its iOS system was so secure it would require it to write a backdoored version of the OS to allow the FBI access. Then an Israeli firm used one of the many security loopholes it has at its disposal to let the FBI in.

Apple to send lawyers after the FBI

stupid-lawyer1The fruity cargo cult Apple is furious with the FBI for hacking its iPhone and is unleashing its mighty briefs on the FBI to force them to explain how they did it.

Apple says it wants to close the loophole the FBI found in its apparently super-secure operating system.  This would mean that everytime the FBI wants to unlock a criminal’s iPhone it will have to go through expensive court cases in a bid to force Apple to help it. We can understand why the FBI would tell Apple to go forth and multiply.

The Justice Department will disclose over the next two weeks whether it will continue with its bid to compel Apple to help access an iPhone in a Brooklyn drug case, according to a court filing on Tuesday.

Prosecutors have not said whether the San Bernardino technique would work for other seized iPhones, including the one at issue in Brooklyn. Apple deep throats have claimed that if the Brooklyn case continues, Apple could pursue legal discovery that would potentially force the FBI to reveal what technique it used on the San Bernardino phone.

It is not that clear why a court would assist Apple to ignore court orders but it does show how silly the whole Apple versus the FBI thing is getting.

Apple clearly angry that it does not know how the FBI’s hacked its phone. After all its super secure system is supposed to be unbreakable, at least in its own eyes.  In fact it has even implied to the Tame Apple Press that it has not managed to hack it at all calling the hack method “alleged.”