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Tag: Internet

Justice Department Demands IP Addresses of Visitors to Anti-Trump Site

department-of-justice-logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has issued a warrant for records from a website used to organized protests against President Trump’s inauguration, but the web-hosting and domain registration company is putting up a fight.

DreamHost said the Justice Department filed a motion to force the company to release 1.3 million visitors’ IP addresses from disruptjj20.org, a website organized by a group of activists “building the framework needed for mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump.”

In a blogpost by DreamHost, the web hosting provider said the Justice Department’s request is unconstitutional and is seeking additional contact information, content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website. 

“Chris Ghazarian, our General Counsel, has taken issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution,” the blogpost reads.

It adds: “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

The Justice Department declined to respond to several news organizations’ requests for information.

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.”

FBI: Abduction Suspect Viewed Sexual Fetish Website Before Kidnapping

Abduction suspect Brendt Christensen, via LinkedIn.

Abduction suspect Brendt Christensen, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

About two months before police say he kidnapped a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois, the 28-year-old suspect appears to have visited the most popular sexual fetish networking site on the internet.

Brendt Allen Christensen was charged in the June 9 abduction of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who authorities believe is dead. On April 19, federal investigators said Christensen used his phone to visit FetLife.com, a forum that included threads called “Perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping,” CNN reports. 

Christensen, who remains behind bars, is expected in federal court in Urbana on Monday.

FetLife bills itself as “the Social Network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community” and was created in 2008 by Canadian software developer John Baku. Since then, the site claims to have more than 5 million registered members.

The site dubs itself as a “safe place for kinksters” and is only intended for consensual adults.

According to the FBI, Zhang was kidnapped during the day after she was running late to sign a lease. Authorities believe she agreed to hop in the case with Christensen, a stranger, after missing two buses.

During surveillance, the FBI said Christensen admitted to kidnapping the Chinese scholar.

Affidavit: FBI Took Over 23 Child Porn Sites As Part of International Sting

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI ran 23 child pornography websites as part of an investigation to catch pedophiles, according to newly unsealed documents.

It was revealed last year that the FBI took over a child pornography site called Playpen for 13 days to track users internationally. But an affidavit obtained by the ACLU shows that the FBI oversaw nearly two dozen child pornography sites as part of its “network investigate technique,” which is a form of dark web hacking, the New York Daily News reports. 

“While Websites 1-23 operate at a government facility, such request data associated with a user’s actions on Websites 1-23 will be collected,” a passage from the documents said.

“Such request data can be paired with data collected by the NIT, however, in order to attempt to identify a particular user and to determine that particular user’s actions on Websites 1-23.”

What’s unclear is whether the sites went live.

U.S. Must Combat Terrorism Inspired by Internet, Homeland Security Chairman Says

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As domestic terrorism cases continue to rise, the U.S. must take on extremism on the Internet, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said Tuesday.

McCaul said terrorism is spreading because of the Internet, creating a “global jihadist movement,” The Dallas Morning News reports. 

“Now we have a new generation of terrorists that are very savvy on the internet. They know how to exploit it, both how to recruit and train, and to radicalize from within,” he said, later adding: “Through the power of the internet, you don’t have to travel to Syria. You can get radicalized here.”
McCaul is calling for a nonpartisan proposal that will be pitched to the presidential candidates.

McCaul was speaking at the American Enterprise Institute.

Guardian: Internet Security Becomes Huge, Growing Problem

hacking By Editorial Board
The Guardian

The phone in your pocket gives you powers that were hard to imagine even five years ago. It can talk to you, listen, and give sensible answers to questions. It knows your fingerprint and recognises your face and those of all your friends. It can buy almost anything, sell almost anything, bring you all the news you want, as well as almost all the books, films and music you might want to look at. What’s more, it will even allow you to talk to your friends and to communicate with almost anyone.

The problem is that these powers are not yours – at least they don’t belong to you alone. They belong to whoever controls the phone and can be used to serve their purposes as well as yours. Repressive governments and criminal gangs are all contending to break into phones today, and this kind of hacking will increasingly become the preferred route into all of the computer networks that we use – the ones we don’t call “phones”.

Apple’s sudden forced upgrade to the iPhone operating system last week was a response to these anxieties. A dissident in the UAE appears to have had his iPhone hijacked by a very sophisticated piece of malware produced by a security company and sold legally, if in secret, to regimes that want to spy on their enemies. This offers its controllers complete knowledge of anything the infected phone is privy to: that’s all the contacts, all the messages of any sort, whether chats, texts or emails, all the calendars and even, potentially, any voice conversation that it overhears. It’s difficult to imagine a more assiduous or intimate spy. And once one phone has been subverted, it becomes a tool for spying into all other the networks to which it or the owner has access.

To read more click here.

Government Technology: Stop Letting Cybercriminals Hide from FBI

hacker-istock-photoBy Editorial Board
Government Technology

Imagine that a criminal investigator has identified one or more computers that are part of ongoing criminal activity. Unfortunately, the people operating these computers are hiding them. The machines could be anywhere in the world, using anonymous email or tools like Tor to conceal their location.

The investigator also has a tool, a carefully engineered piece of software, which she calls a “Network Investigatory Technique,” or NIT, that will cause a targeted computer to reveal itself. Once she sends the software to the computer she’s investigating, it will reply with a message saying, “I am at this location.” The rest of the security world calls the NIT “malicious code” (“malcode” for short) and deploying it “hacking,” because the software exploits a vulnerability in the target’s computer, the same way a criminal would.

Federal court rules currently say she can use this tool only if she gets an electronic search warrant from a judge. But the computer could be anywhere: to which court should she go to get the warrant?

This is not a hypothetical problem. Online investigations face this problem all the time, when tracking down fraudsters or those issuing threats using anonymous emails, botmasters who have compromised thousands of computers around the planet or purveyors of drugs or child pornography. The current federal rules of criminal evidence (in particular a section known as Rule 41) require investigators to seek warrants from a magistrate judge in the federal court district where the target computer is located.

But if investigators don’t know where in the country, or indeed the world, the computer is, the existing rules effectively dictate that there is no judge who could approve a warrant to actually find out its specific location. In essence, the rule is, “The investigator can get a warrant to hack these computers to reveal their location only when she knows where they already are.” That rule might have made sense before the digital age, but in today’s digital world it forces an end to promising investigations.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

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.”