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Tag: Internet

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.”

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.”

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