Barrett Brown’s Mother faces Prison

Anonymous hacktivist Barrett Brown’s Mother faces Prison for hiding Evidences

The legal troubles of Barrett Brown, the alleged spokesperson of the hacking collective Anonymous do not seem to be ending as of now. In fact, his mother is also bearing the brunt of his confrontation with the legal system. His mother Karen McCutchin has pleaded guilty to helping her son hide two computers which the FBI wished to seize during a raid on his house last year, and this can cost her a hefty sum as fine and a stint in prison.

Anonymous hacktivist Barrett Brown's Mother faces Prison for hiding Evidences

Anonymous hacktivist Barrett Brown’s Mother faces Prison for hiding Evidences

It was during the last week that Karen McCutchin had accepted her offense of obstructing the execution of a search warrant and at present she is waiting to be sentenced. She could be sentenced with up to an year in prison and a fine of 100,000 dollars.

It all started on March 6, 2012 when the FBI performed the raid on the house of Barrett Brown in Dallas, Texas so as to uncover evidence and information about his affiliation with the hacking collective Anonymous and their offshoot LulzSec as he was closely linked to both the groups. The FBI wanted to investigate his personal website as he headed the Operation PM and was linked in the hacking of StratFor, a private intelligence agency from which data was stolen. He wasn’t in the house at the time of raid and he moved his computers to his mother’s house nearby. When he was asked by the investigators to hand over his equipment, he denied and then the officers came back with a search warrant for his mother’s house and seized all equipment.

Brown himself wrote about this raid the very next day “They told me that they’d executed a search warrant at my apartment and that the door had been broken in the process, and then asked me if I had any laptops with me here at my mom’s place that I wanted to give them. I responded in the negative, and they left,” “At any rate, the Feds came back a couple of hours later with a search warrant for my mom’s place – they fully intended to take a certain laptop, and did.” 

After this altercation, he wrote more about the inclination of the authorities to prosecute his mom. In fact this was the reason for his posting of a video on YouTube in which he threatened an FBI agent with dire action which led to more stringent charges against Brown when he was finally arrested in September last year. Brown is awaiting prosecution as of now as his hearing has been delayed till September which means that he will have spent a year in prison by then. He has been indicted on three charges and could face up to 100 years in prison.

However, during an interview for a magazine from behind the bars he has mentioned that he is not worried about his trial and he is hopeful that others will continue his crusade. But it is unfortunate that his mother is facing a harsh penalty as a result of his case.

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Suspected Cyber Criminal Arrested In South London

A 28 year old man has been arrested in the area of New Addington, Croydon in South London in connection with an online banking scam during the wee hours of March 27, 2013. The arrest was made by the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) and the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA).

Suspected cyber criminal arrested in south London

Suspected cyber criminal arrested in south London

According to the Metropolitan Police, “This arrest is in connection with an ongoing operation investigating the distribution of malware designed to infect personal computers via the internet and then capture the user’s personal details to facilitate fraudulent transactions.”

Moreover, the police said that all the electric equipment and computer belonging to the man was seized for further investigation. The metropolitan police has posted the mechanism of such malware and its use in perpetrating fraudulent brank transactions in detail on their website and have also given the necessary precautions and safety measures that must be adopted by the public so as to stay clear of such scams. They advised the people to regularly update their antivirus and anti-spamming software for preventing such incidents of internet fraud.

The growing number of cyber crime incidents and similar frauds has led the legislation to propose the development of a specialized department to tackle cyber crime and the necessary procedure to establish such a cell is under consideration in the Parliament. The need for a special cell is growing by the day as numerous internet and malware based frauds are taking place in the United Kingdom and losses worth millions have been incurred by many during the last year and  this year has also seen a spate of cyber attacks.

Japan task force to fight cyber crime

Japan is going to launch a nationwide task force which is going to consist of 140 members with the intent of fighting cyber crime which has been plaguing the country for quite a while now. The force will also tackle cyber attacks originating from other countries, the National Police Agency announced on Tuesday.

Japan task force to fight cyber crime

Japan task force to fight cyber crime

The personnel who are going to be recruited in the task force will be experts in their respective fields and will possess skills in languages such as English, Korean, Chinese and Russian. Moreover, they will be deployed in many important locations like Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities, according to the statement made by the agency.

The move has been taken so as to protect national interests by providing cyber security to government organizations, defense contractors and private corporations which control infrastructural facilities like power plants and gas storage sites etc.

National Police Agency commented that the recruitment of experts in foreign languages will help counter cyber threats from other countries and these experts would “gather information on cyber attacks from abroad”. Until now, such cases were handled by provincial police departments who use to get help from specialists in their respective fields.

This move was necessitated when Japan came under attack from across the border in the September last year, which occurred when Japan decided to administer control over Tokyo governed Senkaku islands, on which the Chinese also stake a claim and call them as Diaoyus. The resultant attack was a widespread one which affected around 19 or so websites which included the websites of a government ministry, some courts, and even a medical facility. The attack was said to have been perpetrated by the Chinese state as per the statement made by the agency. In fact, Japan was victim of more than 1000 cyber attacks in the year 2012 according to the National Police Agency, and most of them had their origins in the Chinese states.

Moreover, a report by a leading US firm earlier this year also pointed towards the same fact when they said that the Chinese were investing money so as to organize cyber attacks. The report also asserted that the People’s Liberation Army was connected with a long running campaign of cyber espionage.

The effectiveness of this venture by the National Police Agency will be demonstrated only with time but it is surely a step in the right direction against the growing menace  of cyber crime.

US Companies blame China for hacking

The allegations of hacking between the U.S. and China have once again come into the spotlight. Recently the American Chamber of Commerce in China conducted their annual survey and found that more than one fourth of the U.S. companies who own major operations in China have responded that they have suffered data theft of intellectual property or trade secrets at the hand of cyber attackers in China. Well, this is not the first time such allegations have arisen between the two countries that are already having tense relations because of this particular issue.

US Companies blame China for hacking

US Companies blame China for hacking

While more than twenty six percent of the companies interviewed in the American Chambers survey responded in the affirmative to hacking, the troublesome fact is 95 percent of the companies feel that the situation is not likely to improve in the near future. The chamber commented in their study that
“Over 40 per cent of respondents say the risk of a data breach is actually increasing, “This poses a substantial obstacle for businesses in China, especially when considered alongside the concerns over [intellectual property rights] enforcement and de facto technology transfer requirements.”

U.S. Representative Dutch Ruppersberger recently commented that US companies suffered losses worth more than $300 billion last year as a result of intellectual property theft, with the majority of losses being the result of hacking by the Chinese. In fact, U.S. President Barack Obama along with other senior officials like Thomas Donilon, who is the national security advisor, have publicly called on the Chinese government to stop sponsoring hacking attacks on U.S. companies with the intent of stealing trade secrets.

Moreover, a report by Mandiant Labs, a major security vendor last year also accused the Chinese military of having a special operations unit to which they referred as the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) and that it was the most harmful of all such operations.

While on a visit to the Chinese capital recently, Jack Lew, the US Treasury secretary got down the Chinese leaders and discussed the matter of cyber security and state sponsored cyber attacks at great lengths with them, referring to it as “a very serious threat to our economic interests”.

Beijing on the other hand, has maintained its usual stand of denying any involvement whatsoever in any hacking related activity and retorted with saying that it is itself a victim of hacking attacks which originated from the U.S. A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hong Lei called the accusations baseless and without any proof, and the survey by the American chamber, “a completely irresponsible action”. Hong said that “We hope the relevant side doesn’t politicize financial and trade problems, does not exaggerate the so-called issue of online leaks and does more conducive things for China and the United States,”.

Well, whatever the case might be, but there is no denying the fact that the business confidence levels of the U.S. companies in China is dropping fast and the survey is just an example of that and these escalated levels of tension could be detrimental to the trade relations between the two countries.

AT&T Hacker Andrew Auernheimer sentenced to 3.5 Years in prison

Grey hat hacker Andrew Auernheimer, also known famously as “weev” has been handed a sentence of 41 months in prison for the AT&T hack and has also been fined 73,000 dollars as restitution by a New Jersey district court. The hack had led to the theft of personal information and credentials of more than 114,000 iPad users including many prominent personalities.

It all started in June 2010 when weev along his congregation of computer experts known as Goatse security exposed a security flaw in the iPad user data base of AT&T. After exposing the security loophole, he gave the details of the hack and the leaked data to the website Gawker, which then published them in an article while also mentioning the high profile persons whose emails had been hacked.

He was apprehended in January 2011 by the F.B.I. after the investigation was handed over to them and he was to be charged with a single count of conspiracy of unauthorized access to a computer and one count of computer fraud. His co-defendant Daniel Spitler was let out on a bail and he pleaded guilty to the same charges and awaits a sentencing.

Auernheimer was convicted in November last year by a jury in Newark, New Jersey on one count of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access and a count of identity theft. The range of the sentence could have been from 33 to 41 months, and the court went with the higher one in this case as prosecutors were of the opinion that high prison serving time would lead to repetition of such acts by hackers.

Prominent people affected in the AT&T hack included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer and a Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

According to the prosecutors and related officials, the hacker chose to go with the security flaw exposing theory after he found that he was in deep waters. U.S. attorney Paul Fishman commented that  “When it became clear that he was in trouble, he concocted the fiction that he was trying to make the Internet more secure, and that all he did was walk in through an unlocked door,” and that “The jury didn’t buy it, and neither did the court in imposing sentence.” Moreover, prosecutors have termed Auernheimer as a well known computer hacker and internet troll and that his intent had been to disrupt the services on the internet.

AT&T Hacker Andrew Auernheimer sentenced to 3.5 Years in prison

AT&T Hacker Andrew Auernheimer sentenced to 3.5 Years in prison

Auernheimer had protested against the sentence and his lawyer had asserted that since no passwords had been stolen there was no need of a long term prison sentence. He also quoted a similar case where the defendant was let off with six months prison for much serious intrusion.

The result of his appeal will be revealed only at the right time but his case has become the hot trending topic. This is because many have criticized the handling of the case by the judicial system. Many thinkthat AT&T could have done better by thanking him for exposing security flaws and this harsh treatment of hackers should stop.

Hackers Play Space Invaders on Billboard

It is normal to hear news of hackers getting reprimanded by the legal system and the authorities whether they do some real damage or not. However, in a recent happening in Serbia, the hackers were rewarded, and well rewarded, we must say.

Well, it all happened when two young computer science students who were getting bored decided to play Space Invaders on a Billboard in Belgrave, and did so by hacking the security system of the Billboard using their iPhones for a good many twenty minutes on March 10. The two lads were Ivan Petrovic, Filip Stanisavljevic who are 21, and 20 respectively who hacked the Billboard, played the game and added a message “Hacked 4 fun” at the end, along with the logo of Pirate Bay and a quote by Gandhi i.e. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win”. Moreover, they also uploaded their video on Youtube which became popular and one can see that the onlookers were quite pleasantly surprised as they looked by. The duo, have however claimed that they are not hackers in the typical sense of the word, especially the negative sense, and that they are two computer science students who did it just to show that people in their country especially are not very serious about cyber security.  They left a message as a further explanation for their motives which is

Hackers Play Space Invaders on Billboard

Hackers Play Space Invaders on Billboard

“We are not members of “Anonymous” and are in no way affiliated with them.

We are not members of any hacker organization or group and this clip proves that in a way – we do not want to stay anonymous in any way.

We are not hackers nor do we participate in any form of hacking. We are two computer science students who did this for research purposes only, to demonstrate the lack of security in IT systems in general.

We wanted to demonstrate how companies sometimes pay very little attention to security—it had nothing to do with this specific company or even billboard companies, but rather any company that uses any form of technology that can be targeted by this kind of “attack“. We chose the billboard simply because we believed it is the strongest way to prove our point.

No damage was done by us—the billboard was inactive for a total of 22 minutes and normal function was restored as soon as our demonstration was over. The billboard owner was contacted about the weaknesses in the system with all the necessary information to fix the problem.”

The owner of the Billboard, Slobodan Petrovic, apparently liked their style of demonstration and rewarded the lads with two iPad minis. He also commented that, “This has never happened before, but we appreciate the fact that these guys have, in a charming way, pointed us to this huge problem, “ Now it is clearer than ever that we need to protect ourselves better. In more developed countries, these actions are unthinkable because of severe sanctions.” This incident will hopefully set a good precedent.