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Tag: hacking

Google Tips Off Users about FBI Investigation into Some Users

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Google alerted dozens of people or more that the search engine giant was ordered by the FBI to release user data as part of an unspecified investigation.

The news site Motherboard indicated that the “unusual notice appears to be related” to a hacking tool called LuminosityLink. 

Several people reported receiving the email and posted the information on popular social media platforms and HackForums, a popular source of information about hacking and cybersecurity.

“Google received and responded to legal process issue by Federal Bureau of Investigation (Eastern District of Kentucky) compelling the release of information related to your Google account,” the email read, according to people who said they received it.

A lawyer who specializes in cybercrimes said it appears Google was eventually given permission to notify users.

“It looks to me like the court initially ordered Google not to disclose the existence of the info demand, so Google was legally prohibited from notifying the user. Then the nondisclosure order was lifted, so Google notified the user. There’s nothing unusual about that per se,” the lawyer, Marcia Hoffman, told Motherboard in an online chat. “It’s common when law enforcement is seeking info during an ongoing investigation and doesn’t want to tip off the target(s).”

Ex-CIA Employee Suspected of Leaking Documents to WikiLeaks Faces Sexual-Related Charges

Joshua Adam Schulte (Linkedin photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There may be a lot questions surrounding 30-year-old former CIA employee Joshua Adam Schulte, but one thing is certain: This man needs lawyers.

First, the federal government suspects he gave a massive trove of agency documents to WikiLeaks about the CIA’s hacking operations, though he has yet to be charged with that, reports Huffington Post.

In the meantime, he faces child pornography charges and charges in Virginia, where he’s accused of snapping photos as he sexually assaulted a passed-out friend as she lay on the floor of his bathroom.

Schulte was arrested back in August on federal child pornography charges, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that The Washington Post and New York Times reported the government was interested in Schulte because it suspected WikiLeaks leaks.

NBC News reports that he’s currently in a Manhattan federal jail on the child porn charges.

 

Mueller Pursuing Criminal Charges Against Russians Who Stole, Spread Democrats’ Emails

FBI cyber crime agents, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is building a criminal case against another batch of Russians who hacked and leaked information from Democrats.

The potential charges involve conspiracy, computer fraud and violations of election law, but would rely on intelligence gathered by the CIA, FBI, NSA and Homeland Security, NBC News reported, citing multiple current and former officials familiar with the investigation.

An indictment would reveal for the first time the identities of the hackers, their connection to Moscow and other details behind the theft and public disclosure of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. During the presidential campaign in July 2016, Trump even called on Russia to find and release Clinton’s emails.

One source said charges could be filed in the next few weeks or months.

Last month, Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian groups for waging a propaganda campaign to help Trump win.

But so far, no one has been charged with stealing e-mails and leaking them to WikiLeaks.

Russia Expected to Ramp Up Campaign to Meddle in America’s Mid-Term Elections

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

U.S. intelligence agencies warned Congress that Russia is expected to ramp up its campaign to meddle in America’s midterm elections in July.

The agencies issued a worldwide threat assessment that predicts Russia will use hackers and social media to target the elections. 

“We assess that the Russian intelligence services will continue their efforts to disseminate false information via Russian state-controlled media and covert online personas about U.S. activities to encourage anti-U.S. political views,” the assessment reads.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was emboldened by its ability to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceived that its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian midterm operations,” Coats said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “is likely to increase his use of repression and intimidation to contend with domestic discontent over corruption, poor social services, and a sluggish economy with structural deficiencies,” according to the assessment.

FBI Fails to Warn Scores of U.S. Officials Who Were Targeted by Russian Hack

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As Russian hackers tried to hack into the personal Gmail accounts of dozens of U.S. officials, the FBI failed to provide a warning despite having at least a year’s worth of evidence that they were being targeted by the Kremlin.

Of nearly 80 Americans targeted by a Russian government-connected cyber-espionage group, Fancy Bear, only two officials were notified of the attack, the Associated Press has found

“It’s utterly confounding,” said Philip Reiner, a former senior director at the National Security Council, who was notified by the AP that he was targeted in 2015. “You’ve got to tell your people. You’ve got to protect your people.”

The FBI declined to discuss cyber campaign, but provided a statement: “The FBI routinely notifies individuals and organizations of potential threat information.”

Among those targeted were the former head of cybersecurity for the U.S. Air Force, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and an ex-director at the National Security Council.

The FBI knew about the hacking attempts for more than a year. A senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the number of attacks overwhelmed the bureau.

Russia Targeted at Least 21 States in Hacking Scheme During 2016 Election

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security alerted 21 states that Russian tried to hack their election systems in 2016.

Some of the states were critical battlegrounds in the presidential election, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Arizona, according to the Washington Post

Homeland Security didn’t release details or say whether the hacking attempts were successful.

“We need Congress and the president to help states with their security systems for elections and ensure funding for more secure equipment where needed, and we need it to happen now,” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) said. “Rather than investigating this attack on our democracy from a hostile foreign power, the Trump administration has formed a commission to prove that he won the popular vote, an idea that has been entirely discredited by numerous studies.

At least one state’s election system was breached, according to Bloomberg

In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois board of elections. The hackers had gained access to the state’s voter database, which contained information such as names, dates of birth, genders, driver’s licenses and partial Social Security numbers on 15 million people, half of whom were active voters. As many as 90,000 records were ultimately compromised.

Ukrainian Hacker Cooperating with FBI in Investigation of Russia, Trump Campaign

hacker-artBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A hacker in Ukraine known as “Profexer” is cooperating with the FBI as it investigates Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, the New York Times revealed Wednesday evening. 

Profexer, who wrote and sold malware on the dark web, is accused of writing a program used to break into the Democratic National Committee  servers and obtain thousands of emails that were leaked ahead of the election.

The hacker, whose real identity has not been released, turned himself into the FBI earlier this year and became a witness in the case. He has not been arrested, and there is no proof that he worked for Russian intelligence, according to Ukranian police.

But U.S. intelligence officials, based on a sample of the malware, believe Russians used the program to hack into the DNC.

The FBI, federal lawmakers and special counsel Robert Mueller are investigating whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to leak damaging information about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Neighbor Hacked into College Students’ Wireless Account to Download Child Pornography

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Six years ago, FBI agents knocked on the door of three honor students at the University of California in Davis because the roommates’ AT&T wireless router was used to access child pornography.

“When it became pounding, I stumbled out to open the front door – to the complete and utter shock of having FBI agents on my front porch shoving a warrant in my face and suddenly appearing armed in my home,” Caitlin Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to the FBI two weeks ago, the Sacramento Bee reports. “Even thinking about it now, years later, my stomach starts to tighten.”

Turns out, the roommates’ 22-year-old neighbor was downloading child pornography by using “his great computer savvy” to hack into their password-protected wireless account, according to federal court records.

Today, the neighbor Alexander Nathan Norris is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Sacramento, where prosecutors are calling for a 17.5-year sentence on charges of possession and distribution of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

“This case is not a run-of-the mill child pornography case because the defendant hacked into and used his neighbors’ password-protected wireless internet to download and distribute child pornography, thereby roping innocent bystanders into his criminal activity,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Morris and Shelley Weger wrote in their sentencing memorandum to the judge.

“His actions caused the FBI to search his neighbors’ personal computers, cell phones, bedrooms and living space.”