Hacker Claims He Controlled The Outcome Of Mexico’s Election

We hear stories and watch movies about hackers, from the news that large companies like TalkTalk have their information accessed to hacking lottery terminals, we’ve heard it all. That was until a hacker who’s currently in jail has come forward saying he was even responsible for rigging the outcome of Mexico’s election.

Amongst his claims of controlling the outcome of Mexico’s election, Andrés Sepúlveda, a known hacker currently serving a 10-year sentence in prison for hacking Colombia’s 2014 presidential election, claims he was paid to ensure that Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary (PRI) candidate won the country’s election back in 2012. Claiming to have hired a team of hackers he states that his team installed malware on the routers at the PRI main opponents headquarters, giving them access to emails, campaign schedules, and speeches before they were even complete.

Sepúlveda claims that using hand-written accounts and 30,000 twitter bots he used the obtained information to adjust the playing field, giving the PRI candidate the upper hand. If that wasn’t enough, Sepúlveda states that they used fake 3am calls from rivals to help dissuade voters on the eve of the election.

Noting that some of the candidates he has helped over the year may not even be aware of his actions or the illegal methods used to obtain their upper hand, Sepúlveda now works on behalf of the government to help “track and disrupt drug cartels” as well as using his twitter skills to identify ISIS recruits on the social media site.

With a full account of his tale, Bloomberg has shared Sepúlveda’s story and have tried to validate what they can, including an anonymous source who “substantially confirmed Sepúlveda’s accounts” regarding the political consultant Juan José Rendón.

Silk Road Investigator Arrested Again!

The message we are often told is that no one is above the law. This became all too apparent last year when a secret service agent was caught stealing money in the Silk Road case. Shaun Bridges, the aforementioned agent, has now been re-arrested after looking to leave the country.

Silk Road was an online drug marketplace, where people could buy and sell drugs without any legal oversight or regulation. The case saw worldwide media attention, only expanding when it became apparent that one of the agents involved in the case had stolen bitcoins worth around $800,000. The former agent was scheduled to turn himself in on Friday to begin 71 months in a minimum-security prison; Imagine their surprise then when he was arrested at his home in possession of a bag containing passports, corporate records for three offshore accounts and even bulletproof vests.

Something tells me that the judge won’t be so lenient on Bridges now, with everything pointing towards him leaving the country and attempting to avoid his sentence. Seems a little weird though packing a bullet proof vest if you just wanted to leave the country?

Software Bug Releases Thousands of US Prisoners Early

Most software has bugs, sometimes small, sometimes large, but very rare is the bug that exists for 13 years and has consequences as serious as causing over 3,200 prisoners in the US to be released early. The bug in question existed in the system that Washington state used to calculate sentence reductions in good behavior, resulting in incorrect reductions in the sentence reductions.

The bug was introduced back in 2002, as part of an update to make the system conform to a new court ruling regarding the application of good behavior credits. The most disturbing part is that the bug was discovered in 2012, and the Washington Department of Corrections (DoC) made aware of it by the family of a victim which discovered the offender was getting out of jail early. It remained relatively ignored at the time until a new boss of IT for the DoC realized the true severity of the issue. At a press conference, Jay Inslee, Washington’s governor stated, “That this problem was allowed to continue for 13 years is deeply disappointing to me, totally unacceptable and, frankly, maddening.”

Mr. Inslee ordered the software fixed as soon as possible, with an update to the system that fixes the bug due to be applied by the 7th of January. Until the update is in place, the DoC have been ordered to check manually whether a prisoner should be released before doing so.

An analysis shows that the average amount of time that prisoners with miscalculated sentences got released early was 49 days. There were outliers, however, with one prisoner having had 600 days cut from his sentence. Those prisoners who were released early would have to return to prison to see out the correct remainder of their sentence, even those who have been released for a considerable period. Five prisoners have already been returned to jails, with state police working to see that all those who need to return to their cells do so.

As the world move to become more and more reliant on digital systems, it is shocking that a mistake of this calibre can be allowed to happen, especially over such a long period. Mistakes like this bring into question whether we can yet truly rely on electronic systems for such important tasks, and it is fortunate that the prisons have a way to manually assure the duration of sentences, else the error could have been uncorrectable. It was unconfirmed whether any prisoners released early had committed crimes, but it is concerning that for the last 12 years, criminals who had not seen out their full sentence could have been walking the streets of Washington.

Cyberbullying Now Illegal In New Zealand

Cyberbullying is a problem a lot of people have faced. The concept of being able to bully without having to directly see the results or the person your bullying has meant that people feel like cyberbullying is almost victimless. The truth is far from this, with people being haunted and hunted both offline and online, often resulting in the desired effect of causing emotional harm to the messages recipient. The problem with cyber bullying is that because the location of the attacker is across the other side of the world and because of the means they use to communicate, it is often hard or impossible to catch up with and charge the culprit.

New Zealand has brought into law a new piece of legislation which prohibits several of the common habits that are considered cyberbullying. The legislation bans any communication which would be considered racist, sexist, against someone’s sexuality or religion or makes a comment about disability. The law also goes on to expand to messages where they are “designed to cause serious emotional distress”, this of course leads to the problem of determining if a person meant hard when they sent a message. If you are found to be guilty of cyber bullying you can face up to two years in jail.

In addition to the cyberbullying act, the legislation also expands on inciting suicide, resulting in three years in jail if you are found to be encouraging the act.

In order to combat the new issues, a new agency has been formed and are investigating and continuing on acts which Twitter and Facebook have reported.  The hope is that companies such as Facebook and Twitter will sign deals with thew new agency, allowing a series of collaborations that will allow all three groups to act quicker and with greater efficiency than before.

Have you ever been cyberbullied? Do you believe it should be regarded as a crime? Should other countries take heed and create their own legislation for dealing with cyber bullying?

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of StopCyberbullying.org

Megaupload Programmer Sentenced to One Year in Prison

We mostly hear news about Kim Dotcom in regards to Megaupload and the ongoing legal issues, but he isn’t the only one indicted by the United States in the case.

Andrus Nomm, a 36-year old programmer living in Netherlands, traveled to the US last week to plead guilty to the charges set up against him.

The Department of Justice announced that Nomm pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

While the authorities celebrate their first victory in this legal battle, it is far from a glamorous one. Just as most of this case has been up until now, this rather reminds one of a bully than a legal authority.

“Nomm was aware that copyright-infringing content was stored on the [Megaupload] websites, including copyright protected motion pictures and television programs, some of which contained the ‘FBI Anti-Piracy’ warning,” the DoJ statement reads. “Nomm also admitted that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites. Nomm continued to participate in the Mega Conspiracy.”

While the authorities celebrate this as the result of years of hard work, Megaupload’s founder as well as lawyers have another view on the issue.

Kim Dotcom went to his twitter account to slam the U.S legal system a bit, Megaupload layyer Rothken explained that they might have taken advantage of Nomm’s situation. As an Estonian citizen living in a foreign country, he was vulnerable and running out of funds to defend himself.

“The DOJ apparently used Andrus Nomm’s weak financial condition and inability to fight back to manufacture a Hollywood style publicity stunt in the form of a scripted guilty plea in court,” Rothken says.

“The facts mentioned in court, like a lack of cloud filtering of copyrighted works, are civil secondary copyright issues not criminal issues,”

“The DOJ apparently convinced Andrus Nomm to say the conclusory phrase that Kim Dotcom ‘did not care about protecting copyrights’ and such point shows off the weakness in the DOJ’s case as Megaupload, amongst many other ways of caring, had a robust copyright notice and takedown system which gave direct delete access to major content owners and from which millions of links were removed.”

It is clear that both Dotcom and his lawyers defend the former employee, but several law experts have also expressed concern over the conviction. There was only one example of possible copyright infringement in the indictment, and that referred to watching a copy of a pirated TV-show. For now it remains unclear what other evidence the authorities have.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

Torrent Site Admin Sentenced to Five Months Prison

The case started two years ago when Rights Alliance filed a complaint against Tankaner, a Swedish torrent site. The alleged owner has now been sentenced to five months of jail in the somewhat bizarre trial.

The 40-year old man was prosecuted for copyright infringement related to the illegal distribution of 32 movies during 2012 and 2013. Since there were ads on the page and the owner tried to make money that way, the prosecutor was pushing for a prison sentence.

The man however claimed that he had “disposed of the site four years ago,” but the court didn’t buy that. There was extensive evidence against the man in form of signed contracts for the piracy server, login information, bookkeeping, e-mails and photos working against the 40-year old site-owner.

“In the case the suspect argued similar standpoints to the ones argued by the suspects in the Pirate Bay case and they were dismissed on the same merits. However a difference from the Pirate Bay case is that the man was convicted as a direct infringer and not for contributory infringement,”  said Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén to TF.

So while the torrent site was the reason for his arrest, and the site is still is online, it seems that he was prosecuted very lightly and for direct offenses. To me it looks like a small win for the anti-piracy lobby on a minor fish in a sea full of large whales.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

American Gamer Who Flew to UK to Kill Woman Receives Life Sentence


Shane Coffey, a 20-year-old American gamer who attacked a British woman in a chaotic knife attack, has been sentenced to a life sentence. After pleading guilty for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, the American will have to serve at least eight-and-half-years.

Coffey was from Boston, Massachusetts, and broke into the 19-year-old woman, Farha Dowlut’s, home in Epsom, Surrey, on April 18, and then attacked her with a hunting knife. The victim’s 23-year-old brother was able to intervene to stop the attack before local police arrived.

Coffey and the victim first began communicating online when she was 14-years-old, and the blossoming relationship began to fizzle out after Coffey reportedly hacked her computer. He had her address because they exchanged several Christmas gifts with one another, and began chatting again in November 2013.

However, in March 2014, Dowlut told Coffey to “get out of her life,” and that is when the online relationship took a sinister turn – Coffeey already had a ticket booked for the UK, and passed through customs with cable ties, tape, and a hunting knife. Shortly thereafter, the attack took place, and the victim sustained cuts to her arms, legs and chest, along with post-traumatic stress from the incident.

A Surrey Police spokesman noted:

“This case was extremely complex and involved a set of unusual circumstances which could never have been foreseen by the victims. Coffeey had previously been in contact with the two victims through online gaming. He persisted in harassing them even after they tried to break off communication and in April travelled to their address from America without their knowledge or invitation.”

(Thank you to Daily Mail for providing us with this information. Image courtesy of YourLocalGuardian)

Pirating Fast & Furious Costs 33 Months of Jailtime

Pirating movies is wrong and illegal, nothing new in that. But it is quite rare that someone is caught and convicted considering the amount that gets pirated each day. The 25 year-old computer programmer Philip Danks has now learned the hard way that it can hit anyone and has just received  33 months jail time.

Philip had recorded Fast & Furious at the cinema  in Walsall, near Birmingham with his camcorder and then uploaded it to a torrent site. It was then downloaded 779,000 times, a number Universal Pictures claims to have cost them almost £2.3 million.

He didn’t just have the movie uploaded to KickassTorrents and other torrent sites, he also sold physical copies of the film for £1.50 each, making him about £1000 in total. His sisters ex-boyfriend, that helped him upload the movie, was sentenced to 12 months community order with 120 hours of unpaid work while Philip himself got 33 month of jail time after pleading guilty to three charges of distributing pirate copies of films on Thursday under the Fraud Act 2006 and the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988.

 “Seven billion people and I was the first. F*** you.” was his message on Facebook two days after his arrest.

Sentencing, Recorder Keith Raynor said: “This was bold, arrogant and cocksure offending. Your approach to the film industry was made clear in the posting you made on Facebook two days after your arrest.”

Detective Sergeant Rod Rose, from West Midlands Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “We assisted the Federation Against Copyright Theft throughout this case with search warrants, forcing entry to addresses and making arrests. Fraud comes in many disguises and ultimately affects all of us.”

Thank you rt for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of fast&furious.

The British Government Wants To Take Away Your ‘Privileges’ To Access The Internet

A meeting has been held this week at the House of Commons in the UK to debate the Intellectual Property Bill, which ended with a lot of fingers being pointed at Google and its tolerance towards illegal websites that are displayed on its search engine.

The Prime Minister’s staff is reportedly looking to shove more laws upon file sharers, including removing internet access privileges to offenders that repeat such actions and naming them ‘persistent offenders’. Now let’s just stop there and think about it for a second. Remove your privileges to access the internet? The last time I heard of such severe actions was in the communist era. ‘The Internet’ is not something that you can take away from anybody on this Earth. Even Pope Francis considered it a ‘gift from God’ earlier this week, along with pointing out that people without access to it are ‘in danger of being left behind’.

Of course, such actions are more aimed at people who attempt to make a profit out of content downloaded illegally, and their decision to raise the penalty of imprisonment to 10 years might be a good idea. However, the most interesting statement comes from Helen Goodman (UK MP) which noted that it seems ignorant to distinguish between the teenager downloading music for a mobile device and organized copyright piracy groups.

It seems that the government are more focused on users and not the actual websites and servers, not to mention Google, which was yet to cooperate in removing the links to illegal websites from its searches. Or is it that their incompetence is reflecting upon the weaker, which is the end-user that browses the internet? Type ‘torrent’ in any search engine and watch the miracle unfold, dozens of torrent websites appear. Of course most are blocked by your ISP (if that is the case) but others are not. And what if a 13-year-old accesses one of these websites and downloads the so-called ‘torrents’? Is the government going to throw his or her parents in jail, or ship him or her to a correction facility, even if they do not know what they are doing?

Thank you TweakTown and TorrentFreak for providing us with this information