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Tag: hackers

Hacker Who Harassed FBI, CIA Directors Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

Justin Liverman, via LinkedIn.

Justin Liverman, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A hacker who exposed private online accounts of the directors of the CIA and FBI, among others, in 2015 has been sentenced to five years in prison.

The Washington Post reports that 23-year-old Justin Liverman harassed leaders at the CIA and FBI and was a member of the “Crackas With Attitude” collective. 

The accounts were breached by a British teenager impersonating officials. Liverman and a co-defendant harassed the victims with the exposed information.

The harassment included threatening and explicit phone messages.

Co-defendant Andrew Otto Boggs was sentenced to two years in prison, and the British teenager is being prosecuted in his country.

Russians Prime Suspects in Cyberattacks Targeting U.S. Nuclear Plants

Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, via the U.S Tennessee Valley Authority.

Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, via the U.S Tennessee Valley Authority.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Homeland Security have warned that Russia is the chief suspect behind recent computer network breaches at U.S. nuclear power plants and other energy facilities.

Federal authorities said hackers have been targeting the computer networks of companies that operate the energy plants in what security specialists worry could be a search for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid, Bloomberg reports. 

Among the targets was the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas, which runs a nuclear power plant on a lake shore near Burlington, Kan.

A joint report from both intelligence agencies did not indicate whether the cyberattacks were intended to cause destruction or access industrial secrets.

But officials were worried enough to issue an urgent amber alert, the second-highest rating for a potential threat.

The possibility that Russia is involved has alarmed U.S. intelligence agencies because Russian hacker managed to disable parts of Ukraine’s electrical grid and are believed to be testing advance technology to disrupt power supplies.

Analysts: Robert Mueller’s Team Could Become Targets of Cyberattacks

cyberattack-hackers-fbiBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s high-powered team assembled to investigate the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election may become targets of cyberattacks by the very people they are investigating, analysts told the Washington Times.

That may help explain why some of the 13 attorneys on the team have yet to be identified. 

Intelligence agencies have said Russian operatives penetrated the system of the Democratic National Committee and the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and targeted state election systems. So it’s no stretch to fear the hackers may try the same thing with Mueller’s team.

“There is no question that anyone involved in a matter this high profile is going to be a target for some sort of attempted cybersurveillance,” said R. David Edelman, director of the Project on Technology, Economy and National Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former director of international cyberpolicy at the White House National Security Council.

Mueller is expected to add “several more” attorneys to his team. So far, officials have confirmed the identities of eight members of the team.

Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined to say what precautions that team is taking to head off a cyberattack.

“Naming these individuals publicly makes them targets,” Edelman said. “Every day you can delay, that helps protect them from adversaries — foreign and domestic.”

FBI Never Examined Servers of DNC, But Still Blamed Russia-Linked Hackers

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI blamed Russian-backed hackers for infiltrating servers of the Democratic National Committee without ever examining the servers.

BuzzFeed reports that no one from the U.S. government conducted an independent forensic analysis on the system. 

“The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington (DC) Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers,” Eric Walker, the DNC’s deputy communications director, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

The FBI, however, hired a third-part tech security company, CrowdStrike, which concluded in May that the servers had been accessed by Russia-linked hackers.

“CrowdStrike is pretty good. There’s no reason to believe that anything that they have concluded is not accurate,” the intelligence official said, adding they were confident Russia was behind the widespread hacks.

The FBI declined to comment.

“Beginning at the time the intrusion was discovered by the DNC, the DNC cooperated fully with the FBI and its investigation, providing access to all of the information uncovered by CrowdStrike — without any limits,” said Walker, whose emails were stolen and subsequently distributed throughout the cyberattack.

Homeland Security Detected No Evidence of Cyberattacks During Election

ballot box flintBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fears that hackers would target the U.S. election were assuaged late Tuesday after no evidence of attacks or intrusions were suspected.

Homeland Security said it fielded no reports of cyber breaches, the USA Today reports. 

Still, the threat of a cyberattack appeared to discourage voters, who expressed much less confidence that their vote would count, according to exit polls.

“All the discussions this year about security gave states another measure of protection,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for elections accuracy.

To Combat Hackers, Homeland Security Hires New Experts in Cybersecurity

hacker-artBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security is facing an increasing threat from hackers.

To combat the challenge, Homeland Security held its first-ever Cyber and Tech Job Fail July 27-28 in Washington D.C.

The Federal Times reports positive results: 14,000 applicants, 2,500 walk-in candidates, 842 on-site interviews, 400 prospective job offers and 120 new employees.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson made the announcement as part of October’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month celebrations.

“We thank Congress for new legal authorities in support of our cyber recruitment and retention efforts,” Johnson said. “The department is maximizing its use of these authorities to build our cyber workforce. We also thank the Office of Personnel Management for granting DHS the authority to hire 1,000 cyber professionals this calendar year.”

FBI Intensifies Investigation into Russian Hackers Who Are Disrupting Election

hacker-artBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is boosting its investigation of Russian hackers who are believed to be targeting the Democratic Party and politicians.

Reuters reports that the FBI hopes to get enough evidence to gain indictments against Russians who are behind the cyberattacks.

The State Department said the hacking attempts by Russians are increasing and could disrupt and discredit the November elections.

“Doing nothing is not an option, because that would telegraph weakness and just encourage the Russians to do more meddling, but retaliating in kind carries substantial risks,” said one U.S. official involved in the administration’s deliberations.

Russian continues to deny its behind the hacks.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that it’s not an easy task to track down and indict the hackers.

“We’re in unexplored territory here, and the president is quite interested in trying to establish international norms,” said Earnest. “I’ll let the FBI speak to what evidence they have amassed, but I think they’re also cognizant of the fact that as soon as they make a declaration like that, most people are going to understandably be interested in seeing that evidence. And some of that evidence may not be something we want to show.”

Alleged Hackers Who Dumped Data about CIA, FBI Were Arrested

hacker-istock-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A hacking group that called itself “Crackas With Attitude” bragged earlier this year about hacking the CIA, FBI and Justice Department, gaining access to thousands of names, phone numbers and email addresses.

Now two alleged members of the group are behind bars, accused of executing the data breaches, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Andrew Otto Boggs, 22, and Justin Gray Liverman, 24, both from North Carolina, were charged with  conspiring to commit offenses against the U.S. in late 2015 and early 2016.

Among the victims were CIA Director John Brenna and then-Deputy FBI Director Mark Giuliano.

Investigators also are looking into three teenagers in the U.K. who may have been involved.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Authorities said the suspects often gained access to the accounts by calling the help lines at Internet-service companies and impersonating employees at those companies or the victims they were targeting. They were then able to reset the account passwords to their targets’ private email accounts, giving them access to those accounts. Computer-security experts refer to such techniques as social engineering, rather than hacking, because they typically depend on one person tricking another into providing key information that allows the suspect to access private accounts.

The “Crackas With Attitude’’ then used their access to taunt the officials, particularly Messrs. Brennan and Giuliano, with harassing phone calls and public ridicule posted online.