Phone-cracking firm Cellebrite hacked

Source: BBC

Information about the customers of Cellebrite, an Israeli firm that markets hacking tools, has been stolen in a cyber-attack.

 

The breach was first reported by tech site Motherboard, which said it was sent 900 gigabytes of data by a hacker.

Cellebrite confirmed some information had been taken but said it was not aware of any “increased risk” to clients.

The firm added that it was now notifying affected customers.

Motherboard said the data – which was not distributed online – included “what appears to be evidence files from seized mobile phones, and logs from Cellebrite devices”.

However, Cellebrite did not respond to this in its statement.

When contacted by the BBC, a spokesman said its investigation was ongoing and it had no further information to add.

The firm did say that it recently detected “unauthorised access” on an external web server – activity it described as “illegal” – and that it had launched an investigation into the incident.

It added that the data taken related to an older user account system.

Last year, Cellebrite was linked to the FBI’s attempt to hack an iPhone used by San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook. The firm has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

“The information accessed includes basic contact information of users registered for alerts or notifications on Cellebrite products and hashed passwords for users who have not yet migrated to the new system,” the company said.

Cellebrite advised users of the my.Cellebrite system to change their passwords.

“The sort of people who use Cellebrite products don’t necessarily want others to know that they’re using it,” said Prof Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Surrey.

“Law enforcement agencies and perhaps security services will be using it.”

In 2015, hackers stole data from Italian surveillance company Hacking Team and released it on to the web.

The dump included information on countries that had bought Hacking Team products.

“It’s a direct analogy I would say,” Prof Woodward told the BBC. “The embarrassment factor is going to be the same.”

Shadow brokers’ farewell

Separately, 58 hacking tools for Windows PCs were released on to the web by a group calling itself “Shadow Brokers”.

The group announced the release in a farewell message, having attempted to auction the malware online last year. At the time, Shadow Brokers claimed it had been stolen from the NSA.

Besides the newly released files, Shadow Brokers said a full cache of exploits had been left online at a price of 750 bitcoins (£500,000).

Many of the exploits were not “zero days” – attack methods that have not yet been uncovered – but ones that had already been detected by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, according to one analyst.

“Nobody was willing to pay them,” said Prof Woodward. “They sort of stomped off in a huff, basically.”

Prof Woodward added that while some of the exploits looked “sophisticated” there was no proof that any of the data had been taken from the NSA.

US visa-free residency for Cubans ‘ends’

Source: BBC

President Barack Obama has ended the longstanding policy that grants residency to Cubans who arrive in the US without visas, US media report.

The 20-year-old policy allows Cuban migrants who reach US soil to become legal permanent residents after a year.

In exchange, Havana has agreed to start accepting Cubans who are turned away or deported from the US.

The move comes as President Obama tries to continue the thawing of relations with Cuba in his final days of office.

It is unclear where relations between the two countries will go now.

His successor, President-elect Donald Trump, has taken a much tougher stance and could reverse the change.

Until now, this so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy has applied solely to Cubans.

Other immigrants who come to the US without a visa could be arrested and deported.

A joint statement by the US and Cuba is expected later on Thursday, unnamed officials told Associated Press.

US watchdog to probe FBI Clinton email actions

Source: BBC

A US government watchdog has launched an investigation into actions taken by the FBI during the election campaign.

FBI director James Comey’s decision to reopen an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server 11 days before the election shook up the race.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he would look into “certain actions” by the FBI and DoJ.

Mrs Clinton was cleared of any wrongdoing days before the US voted.

Her campaign team has blamed the FBI announcement as a key factor why she lost the election to Donald Trump.

The announcement on Thursday does not mention Hillary Clinton by name but refers to public disclosures by Mr Comey.

Mr Horowitz said his review would look at a news conference in July 2016 when Mr Comey said he would not recommend charges for Mrs Clinton.

A letter to Congress on 28 October, in which Mr Comey said there were more emails to look at, will also be subject to this new inquiry.

An explosive move – Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

It seems the 2016 election isn’t going to go gently into that good night. Thanks to this decision by the Justice Department inspector general, one of the more controversial moments of the recently concluded presidential campaign is going to be given closer scrutiny.

Hillary Clinton and her campaign team say FBI Director James Comey’s two interventions close to election day cost her the presidency. It certainly knocked the Democrat off her stride and dominated headlines, allowing Donald Trump – who had been staggered by sexual harassment allegations – to regain his political footing.

They also contend that the action violated Justice Department guidelines and was an overtly partisan act from a law enforcement agency that should be apolitical. Perhaps they will view this announcement as bittersweet vindication.

The scope of the review covers more than just Mr Comey’s actions throughout the campaign, however. It will also address concerns expressed by Republicans that some lower-level FBI officials may have improperly shared information with the Clinton campaign.

Depending on how this investigation is conducted, and the conclusions it draws, the fuse may have just been lit on a stick of political dynamite that will explode later in the year.

The inspector general said his investigation had come in response to “numerous” requests from the public and from members of Congress.

Mrs Clinton said she had set up a home email server for reasons of convenience, but admitted it was a mistake.

In clearing her in July, the FBI said Mrs Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless” in handling classified materials.

But there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing, it said.

Then in October they briefly reopened the investigation after finding new related emails from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

They were found on a laptop belonging to her estranged husband, disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, but nothing was found on them and the case was closed for a second time.

Trump election: US presidency is not a family business, says Obama

Source: BBC

US President Barack Obama says he has advised his successor Donald Trump not to attempt to run the White House “the way you would manage a family business”.

 

In an interview with ABC News, Mr Obama said that Mr Trump must “respect” US institutions.

“After you have been sworn in,” he said, “you are now in charge of the largest organisation on Earth”.

He warned that there was a difference between governing and campaigning.

“There are world capitals and financial markets and people all around the world who take really seriously what he [Mr Trump] says,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama also talked about the US intelligence agency’s report into alleged cyber-attacks by Russia and the attempt to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign.

He said that he had “underestimated” the impact of such attacks.

“I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation… and so forth to have an impact on our open societies.”

He said that a conversation had taken place with Mr Trump in which he had discussed the importance of having faith in the intelligence community.

“There are going to be times where the only way you can make a good decision is if you have confidence that the process is working,” he said.

Last week Mr Trump said he was a “big fan” of intelligence agencies, after months of casting doubt on the Russian link to the security breach. But he later raised questions over how the Democratic Party had responded to the cyber-attacks.

“How and why are they so sure about hacking if they never even requested an examination of the computer servers? What is going on?” Mr Trump asked in a tweet.

Mr Trump will be inaugurated on 20 January.

Kim Kardashian West: Several held over Paris robbery

Source: BBC

Sixteen people have been arrested in connection with an armed robbery of Kim Kardashian West in Paris in October, officials say.

Authorities said at the time that the American reality TV star was robbed at gunpoint by at least two men dressed as police officers.

The men entered Kardashian West’s luxury apartment before tying her up and locking her in the bathroom.

They escaped with an estimated €10m (£8.7m; $10.5m) in jewellery.

French police said that traces of DNA left at the scene led to the arrests.

The men were detained in early morning raids in the Paris region, Normandy and the French Riviera following three months of investigations.

“One of the DNA samples matched an individual known to police for robbery and criminal offences,” police said.

Following the discovery, French police kept the man under surveillance, along with those he came into contact with, the BBC has learned.

Kardashian West, who is married to the rapper Kanye West, said she feared she was going to be killed at the time. The star was left badly shaken but unhurt.

“They’re going to shoot me in the back,” Kardashian West is heard telling her sisters in a promotional clip for the new season of the US show Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

The 36-year-old mother-of-two, who became a household name thanks to the reality TV series, was in the French capital at the time of the robbery for Paris Fashion Week, with her mother Kris Jenner and her sister Kendall Jenner.

Indonesian arrested for streaming porn on billboard

Source: BBC

Indonesian police have arrested a man accused of hacking into a public billboard in Jakarta and streaming a pornographic film.

The 24-year-old IT analyst has admitted the crime, said police, for which he could face up to six years in jail.

Motorists were left in shock last week when footage from a Japanese porn film was displayed on an electronic screen in south Jakarta.

The video ran for five minutes on Friday before power was eventually cut.

However the clip had already been captured on many mobile phones and soon spread across social media.

The man, who was arrested in his office, allegedly carried out the prank after seeing login details displayed on the billboard.

“The suspect claims he worked alone,” Jakarta Police Chief Muhammad Iriawan told news agency AFP. “But we are still investigating whether he was working alone, whether he had a particular motive or whether he was just fooling around.”

Access to pornographic websites is blocked in Muslim-majority Indonesia, which has in the past also banned popular websites such as Tumblr and Vimeo for adult content.

The police chief previously told the Associated Press that the perpetrator could be charged under either the Electronic Transaction Law, which carries a maximum prison sentence of six years and a fine of 1 billion rupiah ($77,000; £60,000) or the Pornography Law, which carries a prison sentence of up to 12 years.

Massive web attack hits security blogger

Source: BBC

ddos

One of the biggest web attacks ever seen has been aimed at a security blogger after he exposed hackers who carry out such attacks for cash.

The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was aimed at the website of industry expert Brian Krebs.

At its peak, the attack aimed 620 gigabits of data a second at the site.

Text found in attack data packets suggested it was mounted to protest against Mr Krebs’ work to uncover who was behind a prolific DDoS attack.

Web protest

In a blogpost, Mr Krebs detailed the attack, which began late on Tuesday night and quickly ramped up to its peak attack rate.

DDoS attacks are typically carried out to knock a site offline – but Mr Krebs’ site stayed online thanks to work by security engineers, who said the amount of data used was nearly twice the size of the largest attack they had ever seen.

“It was among the biggest assaults the internet has ever witnessed,” added Mr Krebs.

Security firm Akamai said the attack generated such a huge volume of data by exploiting weak or default passwords in widely used net-connected cameras, routers and digital video recorders. Once in control of these “smart” devices the attackers used them to swamp the site with data requests.

“These new internet-accessible devices can bring great benefits, but they are also an increasingly easy and lucrative targets for cybercriminals,” said Nick Shaw from security firm Symantec.

The security firm has carried out research which shows swift growth in the number of malware families scouring the net for vulnerable devices. Typically, said Mr Shaw, malicious hackers who take over gadgets are not interested in stealing personal data.

“Cybercriminals are interested in cheap bandwidth to enable bigger attacks,” he said.

Mr Krebs speculated that the attack could have been prompted by an article he published, in early September, that named two young men allegedly associated with a service called vDos that carried out DDoS attacks for cash.

Soon after the article was published, Israeli police arrested the two men named by Mr Krebs. Released on bail, the pair were barred from using the net for 30 days.

Buried inside many of the data packets despatched towards Mr Krebs’ site was text calling for the release of one of the men named in that article.

“I can’t say for sure, but it seems likely (to be) related,” said Mr Krebs.