The FBI has seized the entire email database of a popular anonymous webmail service called TorMail meaning that all those secret mails now can be read by the US government.
The database was taken while investigating a hosting company known for sheltering child porn last year and now the FBI claims that it has uncovered a vast trove of email which can be used in unrelated investigations.
Taken from Freedom Hosting, the database surfaced in court papers last week when prosecutors indicted a Florida man for allegedly selling counterfeit credit cards online. The untouchables built a case in part by executing a search warrant on a Gmail account used by the counterfeiters, where they found that orders for forged cards were being sent to a TorMail e-mail account: “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
They then obtained a search warrant for the TorMail account, and then accessed it from the bureau’s own copy of “data and information from the TorMail email server, including the content of TorMail email accounts.”
In othe rwords, the FBI is gathering information into a virtual lock box, and leaving it there until it can obtain specific authority to tap it later. So far it is not searching the trove for incriminating evidence before getting a warrant. But now it has a copy of the TorMail’s servers, the bureau can execute endless search warrants.
What is alarming for TorMail users is that the mail service once boasted of being immune to spying. This is the second major victory for the Untouchables over so-called anonymous communication. Last year it won a court order compelling secure email provider Lavabit to turn over the master encryption keys for its website. This would have given agents the technical ability to spy on all of Lavabit’s 400,000 users. Rather than comply, Lavabit shut down and is appealing the surveillance order.
TorMail was the webmail provider of the Darknet of anonymous and encrypted websites and services, making the FBI’s cache extraordinarily valuable.
The US FBI is apparently the proud owner of the world’s largest bitcoin wallet.
After the agency allegedly shut down the Silk Road online drug marketplace, it started seizing bitcoins belonging to the Dread Pirate Roberts. The FBI said that “Roberts,” who ran Silk Road, was an American man named Ross Ulbricht.
Of course, Silk Road continues to operate and someone on that site claims to be the real Spartacus er Dread Pirate Roberts.
Nevertheless the seizure made the FBI the holder of the world’s biggest Bitcoin wallet.
According to Wired, the Untouchables control more than 144,000 bitcoins that reside at a bitcoin address that consolidates much of the seized Silk Road bitcoins. At today’s rates that is $100 million. Another address, containing Silk Road funds seized earlier by the FBI, contains nearly 30,000 bitcoins or $20 million.
The FBI can’t beat the record of bitcoin’s inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, who is estimated to have mined one million bitcoins in the currency’s early days, but it means the FBI have a percent of all 12 million bitcoins in circulation.
The Untouchables have worked out a way of turning on your computer camera so that the green light does not come on.
The Washington Post reports that the FBI has had the ability to secretly activate a computer’s camera “without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording” for years now.
Marcus Thomas, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, told the Post that that the spy laptop recording is “mainly” used in terrorism cases or the “most serious” of criminal investigations. Well if it is protecting from terrorism that makes it all ok then.
The story was about how the FBI tracked a bloke called Mo who made a series of threats to detonate bombs at universities and airports across the United States last year.
The FBI’s hacker team designed a piece of malicious software that was to be delivered secretly when Mo signed on to his Yahoo e-mail account. The goal of the software was to gather details of the Web sites he had visited and indicators of the location of the computer.
Ironically, while the Untouchables were able to get a fair bit of search technology into Mo’s computer they are still yet to be able to arrest him. Apparently because he is in Iran now. If he ever does come back, it would not be surprising that a court gets many evidential snaps of him looking dazed into his computer first thing in the morning.