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Tag: Internet

FBI Operated Child Pornography Websites to Help Identify Thousands of Hidden Users

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI took over one of the Internet’s largest child pornography websites last year, allowing users to download thousands of images and videos in an effort to identify the culprits.

The USA Today reports that the FBI has taken control of at least three child pornography sites while keeping them online to capture the users who have hidden behind behind an encrypted and anonymous computer network.

The FBI was able to identify hundreds of users by infecting the sites with security-busting software.

The Justice Department confirmed that the FBI operated a site known as Playpen from Feb. 20 to March 4, 2015. During that time, more than 215,000 registered users were able to access more than 23000 sexually explicit videos and pictures of children.

Authorities said the new tactic of maintaining the sites allowed them to identify people who otherwise couldn’t be tracked.

“We had a window of opportunity to get into one of the darkest places on Earth, and not a lot of other options except to not do it,” said Ron Hosko, a former senior FBI official who was involved in planning one of the agency’s first efforts to take over a child porn site. “There was no other way we could identify as many players.”

FBI Investigates Spate of Attacks on Internet Cables in California

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Authorities are worried about a spate of attacks on high-capacity Internet cables in the San Francisco Bay Area in the past year, including one early Tuesday morning, USA Today reports.

The latest attack, which involved breaking into an underground vault and cutting fiber-optic cables, cut off Internet service for businesses and residents in and around Sacramento.

Authorities were tight-lipped about the impact of the attack because of the ongoing investigation.

The attacks began in the summer of 2014, said FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich.

“When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing,” Wuthrich said. “We definitely need the public’s assistance.”

FBI: Women Looking for Love Online Targeted Most Often by Internet Scams

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com. 

People looking for love online are targeted for Internet fraud more than anyone else, the FBI revealed in its annual online fraud report.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, said romance confidence scams cost victims an average of $14,214.

Although men are slightly more likely to be victimized by Internet crime, the report  found that women were disproportionately victimized by romance cons, accounting for 70% of the cases, NBC reports. 

“Criminals search dating websites, chat rooms, and social media websites for personally identifiable information, and use well-rehearsed scripts to attract potential victims,” it said. “Victims of these scams believe they are in a relationship with someone who is honest and trustworthy without meeting them in person.”

IC3 offered the following tip to avoid being scammed:

  • Don’t respond to any unsolicited email, phone call or mail requesting your personal information.
  • Don’t fill out forms in email messages asking for personal information.
  • Don’t click on email links. Instead, go to the official website of the business or group and start from there,
  • Maintain at least two email addresses — one for people you know and one for all other purposes.
  • Frequently check your bank statements to avoid unauthorized charges and monitor for fraud.
  • Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you made the call.
  • Don’t do business with people or companies operate only from a post office box address.
  • Don’t accept packages which you didn’t order.
  • If someone you’ve never met tells you he or she loves you but needs money to visit you, don’t buy it.

Homeland Security Chairman Suggests Terrorism ‘Has Gone Viral’

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The House Homeland Security chairman suggested terrorism “has gone viral” because of the accessibility of the Internet, where terrorist groups are recruiting new members.

“I think there’s been an uptick in the stream of threats out there,” Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said.

“It’s very concerning.”

McCaul only needed to point to the shooting in Garland, Texas, over a “Draw Muhammad” event for one example of the growing threats.

McCaul said he’s fearful the internet will help terrorists connect with other extremists.

“I think the threat environment today is one of the highest that I’ve ever seen,” McCaul said, comparing the atmosphere to the period around the 9/11 attacks.

“It’s going to get worse, not better,” he said. “This is very difficult to stop.”

FBI Director James Comey: ‘We’re Making Progress’ Against Lone-Wolf Terrorists

Director James B. Comey speaking in Orlando.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

FBI Director James Comey said the FBI is making progress combating so-called lone-wolf terrorists who are becoming radicalized on the Internet and are willing to act alone.

Comey made the statements during a “Q&A” with the Sun Sentinel while visiting Broward County in Florida to dedicate the bureau’s new Miramar headquarters.

There are reports of investigations into lone-wolf types happening in every state. How worried should America be, and what is the FBI doing about it?

“I think Americans should be comforted knowing that we’re working on this all day long, every day. I have a lot of people focused on this in all 50 states and we are covering it, I think, in a good way. It’s a challenge for us given how hard it is to spot these people because they’re on the Internet, in their homes. But as you can see, we’re locking a bunch of them up. So we’re making some good progress against this.”

Is the FBI getting involved in any investigation of officers on behalf of Fort Lauderdale police?

“We’ve been in touch with the department, as has the Department of Justice, but I don’t want to comment on what we’re doing in particular.”

What kind of lessons has the bureau learned from the Tsarnaev case?

“Well we’ve learned a lot of lessons. The first is we did a pretty good job with that investigation, but that we could work better with our partners and our joint terrorism task forces, and then a bunch of things related to our systems. We use every single case as an opportunity to learn and grow and there was learning there. But I think on balance we did a pretty good job there.”

What could have been done better?

“One of the issues was local police chiefs felt like they didn’t have a clear view of what cases we were closing, in case they wanted to do something additional. So we changed our process so that we now meet in every joint terrorism task force with the local chiefs and review the inventory: ‘Here’s what came in, here’s what we’re closing, are there any questions?’ That was a very important change.”

So more people are watching these lone-wolf suspects?

“Yes. But our relationship with our state and local partners is critical to these investigations. So one of the things that grew out of Boston is we even improved that relationship.”

To read more click here. 

Microsoft Turned over Data on Charlie Hebdo to FBI in Less Than Hour

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Microsoft took less than one hour to provide the FBI with data connected to the Charlie Hebdo investigation, an attorney for the software giant said Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reports.

After concluding the request was “proper,” Microsoft gave the FBI the information in within about 45 minutes.

Microsoft attorney Brad Smith said the quick turnover underscores that private companies can work with law enforcement.

But Smith emphasized that new laws expanding the government’s right to access information from the Internet could sacrifice civil liberties.

“If those in government want to shift the line between safety and privacy, the appropriate path is to do so by changing the law rather than asking those of us in the private sector to shift this balance ourselves,” he said. “Democratic societies, not private companies, need to decide on the balances to be struck between public values such as public safety and personal privacy.”

OMG! FBI Maintains 83-Page Glossary of Shorthand Internet Slang

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

BOGSAT. DILLIGAD. SOMSW.

Those are three terms – or acronyms – that the FBI considers serious enough to add to its 83-page glossary if Internet slang.

And the reason for adding the nearly 3,000 terms may be as confusing as the terms themselves, the Washington Post reports.

The glossary is called “Twittter shorthand,” although it’s not limited to Twitter; it’s designed to familiarize agents with shorthand used on the Internet.

So what does BOGSAT mean? Bunch of guys sitting around talking.

DILLIGAD? Does it look like I give a damn?

And SOMSW? Someone over my shoulder watching.

“So while I might wanna (want to) LMSO (laugh my socks off) over this glossary, it’s actually kind of serious, when you TOTT (think on these things),” Washington Post writer Caitlin Dewey concludes.

Obama Administration Considers Making Internet Wiretapping Easier

istock illustration

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Obama administration is close to stiffening surveillance laws to make it easier to wiretap people who use the Internet, the New York Times reports.

Saying it’s much easier to wiretap people using traditional phone services, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III wants the federal government to extend the practice to monitor suspects who communicate using the Internet.

The proposal is being reviewed by the White House, the Times wrote.

Privacy advocates aren’t so happy about the proposed change.

“I think the F.B.I.’s proposal would render Internet communications less secure and more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves,” said Gregory T. Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “It would also mean that innovators who want to avoid new and expensive mandates will take their innovations abroad and develop them there, where there aren’t the same mandates.”