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James Comey’s computer must be equipped with some pretty heavy security software. But that doesn’t stop the FBI director from covering his webcam with tape. Why? Because he knows, perhaps better than anyone on the planet, what hackers can do.
“There’s some sensible things you should be doing, and that’s one of them,” Comey said.
“You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen. They all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so people who don’t have authority don’t look at you.”
Oh yes they can. For several years now, technology has existed that allows people to discretely access and turn on your webcam from anywhere on the planet. Thousands of people learned about this the hard way in 2014, when hackers set up a website showcasing a multitude of live webcam streams from around the world.
Just this month, hackers broke into a Canadian couple’s webcam as they were cuddling and watching Netflix. The hackers bypassed their webcam’s ‘on’ light completely.
“We obviously had no idea it was taking place in the moment, but retroactively it was like a really, really deeply creepy feeling,” one of the victims told Global News. “It was very unnerving. I mean it does feel like there’s someone just in your home with you.”
This also happened to Miss Teen USA, who was tormented for more than a year by a webcam hacker who tried to blackmail her with nude images.
It’s a cyber catastrophe. Yahoo on Thursday confirmed a massive security breach that saw hackers steal personal information for over 500 million accounts. Yahoo YHOO says a foreign government is to blame. The incident is a big deal, since so many have a Yahoo account of some type or other — for email or finance…
It’s a Fact! No matter how smart the criminals are, they always leave some trace behind.
Two Harvard students have unmasked around 229 drug and weapon dealers with the help of pictures taken by criminals and used in advertisements placed on dark web markets.
Do you know each image contains a range of additional hidden data stored within it that can be a treasure to the investigators fighting criminals?
Yeah it’s true — “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Digital images come with basic metadata, as well as EXIF data that contains information about the device with which it was taken.
EXIF, stands for “Exchangeable Image File Format,” may contain image dimensions, date and time (when it was originally taken and modified), the model of camera and its settings, information about the software used for editing, it’s creator and copyright information, as well as GPS co-ordinates of the location where the photo was taken.
If a criminal, let’s say a kidnapper, has taken a photo or video of their captive from a GPS enabled phone or camera and send it as proof of life to victim’s family for ransom, the police would be able to trace back the kidnapper to the exact location where photo was taken.
The duo found 229 images that contained unique GPS coordinates which, unless spoofed, can be used by investigators to locate the places where the photos were taken within the range of two kilometers.
Remember, an anonymous hacker who was arrested by the FBI in 2012 after he posted a picture of his girlfriend’s breasts online?
Higinio O. Ochoa III, a.k.a Anonw0rmer, an alleged member of Anonymous-linked CabinCr3w hacking team, who was responsible for hacking into the United States law enforcement agencies and releasing the personal information including phone numbers and home addresses of police officers.
He took picture of his girlfriend’s boobs using his iPhone and posted it on Twitter without realizing the picture contained GPS data pointing directly to his house in Melbourne, Australia.
While the majority of metadata in photos is harmless, but removing EXIF data, especially geo-coordinates, is a smart idea, if you are privacy-conscious.
Vladimir Putin has claimed that he “[doesn’t] know anything” about the thousands of Democratic National Committee emails and documents that were hacked by an unknown source and then posted by Wikileaks earlier this year. But the Russian President added, in an interview with Bloomberg two days before a G20 meeting in China with President Obama…
The FBI warned states to check the security of their election systems after hackers stole voter data from one state election board earlier this summer and attempted to access another this month. The attacks were revealed in an FBI bulletin sent to the agency’s private industry partners and obtained by Yahoo News. One state’s election…
France and Germany are asking the European Union for new laws that would require mobile messaging services to decrypt secure communications on demand and make them available to law enforcement agencies.
French and German interior ministers this week said their governments should be able to access content on encrypted services in order to fight terrorism, the Wall Street Journal reported.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve went on to say that the encrypted messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp “constitute a challenge during investigations,” making it difficult for law enforcement to conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists.
The proposal calls on the European Commission to draft a law that would “impose obligations on operators who show themselves to be non-cooperative, in particular when it comes to withdrawing illegal content or decrypting messages as part of an investigation.”
The proposed laws would force major technology companies including Apple, WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, and many others, to build encryption backdoors into their messaging apps.
The European Union has always been a strong supporter of privacy and encryption, but the recent series of terrorist attacks across both France and Germany this summer, including Normandy church attack carried out by two jihadists who reportedly met on Telegram, which made the countries shout for encryption backdoors loudly.
Although the proposal acknowledges encryption to be a critical part in securing communications and financial transactions, it says that solutions must be found to “enable effective investigation” while protecting users’ privacy.
Privacy advocates have been alarmed by the new proposals, as recent NSA hack just recently proved all of us that no system is hack-proof for hackers with right hacking skills and sufficient resources.
Related Read: Microsoft handed over encrypted messages and Skype calls to NSA
So, what happened to the NSA, which is the highly sophisticated intelligence agency of the world, could happen to encrypted messaging services that would feature an encryption backdoor for law enforcement.
The European Commission is believed to come up with new laws on privacy and security for telecom operators this fall, which would include third-party services such as WhatsApp or Telegram.
Source: Broader Perspectives
Spies are constantly trying to steal things from foreign governments, and the development of hacking tools has allowed them to swipe sensitive records from thousands of miles away.
But when are hacks more than traditional spying?
Is there a line? And if so, when does one cross it?
The theft of sensitive and embarrassing records from the Democratic Party by hackers—or a hacker—is forcing U.S. officials to confront new questions about when cyber espionage poses a national security threat.
The hackers stole emails. They stole personal cellphone numbers and email addresses of lawmakers, some of whom have security clearances that give them access to top secret information.
The records weren’t just stolen. It also has been leaked to the public in a way that has proven damaging to political careers and even the security of officials. And more stolen information is expected to be released in the coming weeks and months.
It is the release of this information that is roiling—and embarrassing—U.S. officials. They are trying to understand the intent of the leaks of information about members of the Democratic Party.
Is it to shine a spotlight on the messy U.S. political process? Or is it an attempt to influence the election by damaging Democrats with voters?
“It appears to be the latest example of geopolitical ‘hacktivist’ harassment,” said Steve Grobman, chief of technology for Intel Security, a computer security company.
In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, stole information and then leaked it, saying he did it because the American public had the right to know the extent that the government was collecting information about ordinary Americans.
In recent weeks, a person or entity self-named Guccifer 2.0 has released stolen records from the Democratic National Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, claiming to have done this to expose corruption in the Democratic Party.
The hacker, who many Democrats and some cybersecurity companies accuse of having ties to the Russian government, has obtained sensitive information, records that foreign spies could use to intercept communications from lawmakers.
Russia has denied involvement in the hackings.
If Guccifer 2.0 really is a spy network for a foreign country, wouldn’t the information be more valuable if it was held in secret and not shared with anyone with internet access? Wouldn’t that make it easier to eavesdrop on phone calls or monitor email accounts?
Democratic lawmakers are now changing their phone numbers, passwords, and maybe ditching their Gmail accounts.
Much could change if and when Guccifer 2.0’s real identity and motives are revealed. Is it a true-believer hacking group or a foreign government trying to embarrass the Democratic Party? Perhaps Guccifer 2.0 is someone else.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking the lead in the probe of the stolen records, though the National Security Agency also is likely playing some role if a foreign country is involved. Many people have a theory as to who Guccifer 2.0 actually is, but the FBI and intelligence community are so far providing few details and the investigation remains at a sensitive stage.
It is unclear exactly how sensitive of a stage this is. Guccifer 2.0’s Twitter account, used to communicate about the hack, was suspended on Saturday. Then it was “unsuspended” several hours later.
This article was licensed through Dow Jones Direct. This article was previously published in the Wall Street Journal on August 14, 2016.
The federal government is now looking into this week’s hack of comedian Leslie Jones’s personal website, in which hackers posted the Ghostbusters star’s personal information and nude photos stolen from her iCloud account. The Department of Homeland Security is investigating the incident, which took place on Wednesday. In addition to explicit photos, hackers posted images…
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