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.

Anti-Violent Video Games Senator Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Former California state senator, Leland Yee became a household villain in the gaming industry for outlandish claims regarding the link between video games and violent behaviour. In an absurd move, Yee attempted to pass a bill banning the sale of violent games to children. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and he was unsuccessful, but this rightfully angered a great number of people. There’s no clear evidence linking games to violent activity, and some scholars argue it has the opposite effect. The ability to quash one’s frustrations in a virtual world reduces the probability of doing the same in real life and causing harm. Despite Yee’s apparent impeccable moral compass and crusade to help society, it appears he isn’t a law-abiding citizen.

Last July, Yee pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in connection with two criminal enterprises and weapons smuggling. Recently, he was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement. According to a report from San Jose Mercury News, Yee was facing a 20 year prison sentence and fine of $250,000 plus restitution. However, his plea dramatically reduced the sentence to 5 years. Prosecutors in the case said Yee demonstrated “a venal attitude toward his position as an elected public official” “and had no qualms abusing his position to the detriment of his constituents.”

As you can see, it was pretty hypocritical for Yee to make sweeping statements regarding violent video games considering his terrible character. I do feel the sentence is awfully lenient and the justice system should be setting a better example for politicians in office. At least this is a sweet moment for gamers, who felt the brunt of Yee’s ridiculous claims. It’s clear he was trying to use gaming to further his own biased agenda and cover up any criminal activity. Clearly, the violence in video games debate always gains a lot of media attention and involves discussion from politicians without any knowledge of the industry.

Image courtesy of Polygon 

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.

Hack Reveals Recordings of 70 Million Calls From Prison Phones

With companies that provide phone services to prisons being scrutinised for the prices they demand and the leaks and hacks that have recently revealed the lack of security at some major companies, including the likes of TalkTalk, it was only a matter of time before the two stories became connected in some way. Some recently obtained records, which led to a surprising realisation of just how unsafe we are in this digital world.

Over 70 million records of phone calls were placed in SecureDrop, an online service designed to allow users to share files anonymously, and reveals that Securus, a company that is considered one of the leading providers of phone services inside US prisons and jails, has not only recorded all the phone calls but has stored them in a way that someone was able to download them (and in this case, also share them). The 70 million calls cover 37 states and as far as the records start in December 2011 and end only in Spring 2014.

While usual to record calls, the more worrying fact regarding this exposure was that at least 14,000 of those records were between inmates and attorneys. Designed originally to help protect people by blanket observing any communications between inmates and the outside, there are obvious flaws in the system given that all conversations between inmates and attorneys are protected by law and are designed to be confidential, as such they are not allowed to be recorded, and any breach of this attorney-client confidentiality is a breach of their constitutional rights.

A New Age of Humane Treatment: How Technology Can Change Prisons

Corporations all over New Zealand are increasingly becoming more high-tech as a way to increase productivity while cutting costs. That’s where companies like BlueJeans enter the picture, with their video conferencing equipment, making it possible to hold meetings across a variety of platforms. But today’s high-tech world also makes it possible for prisons to treat its inmates more humanely.

The concept of humane treatment has been at the forefront of the New Zealand prison system since it is believed that by treating prisoners with care and respect as well as giving them the means to integrate themselves back into society, this can help to prevent them from walking back down a criminal path. It is based on the concept of humane treatment in action that one of the current debates within the New Zealand government has been to implement new technological methods into the way in which prisoners are dealt with. This is due to the need for both rehabilitation as well as lowering the overall cost of management in today’s prison system.

Fewer Guards and Fewer Walls

One of the first proposed changes for the New Zealand prison system is the implementation of RFID prisoner tracking which would enable the prison guards to monitor the movements of prisons throughout the facility. Basically, as explained by Computerworld.co.nz, the system utilizes medical grade RFID chips which will be placed into prisoners as a means of tracking their movement throughout the prison which would result in a faster and more efficient method of prisoner tracking. The Identity Chip, a small innocuous device no bigger than a grain of rice, can be surgically inserted within the skin of a prisoner enabling a safe and efficient way for prison staff to access the personal history of prisoners as well as track their movements within the jail without having to track them via CCTV cameras and prison personnel.

The RFID system can also limit the ability of prisoners to enter particular areas of the prison by keying the RFID frequency emitted by the chips to the door locks which helps to minimize instances where prisoners inadvertently get a hold of the keys to a restricted area of the prison. Through the implementation of a prisoner tracking system, the New Zealand government will be able to save significant amounts of money on the cost of prison operations. This in turn could go towards improving the conditions within prisons such as better access to medical care and more productive activities (i.e. classes so that inmates can learn skills which they can apply outside of prison). It is expected that once the tracking system has been successfully implemented, this will result in altered operations for local prison systems towards more efficient and effective prison management without having to scale up personnel.

Changing Prisoner Visits

Aside from using RFID tags on prisoners, another change that has been implemented over the past few years has been the use of video conferencing in order to create a means by which families and friends can stay in touch with their loved ones that have been incarcerated in prison. Globalmed.com explains that this program was implemented as a means of enabling prisoners to maintain ties with their family members and friends outside of prison. Medscape.com states that by maintaining these ties and having the prisoners know that they have people missing them and waiting for them outside the prison that this can aide in their rehabilitation. Such a notion does have a lot of promise since it is thought that one of the reasons why criminals go back to being criminals after their prison time is over is because they believe that there is nothing more for them in society. If they can see that there are people that love them and are missing them, it is likely that rehabilitative measures are going to be more successful due to the desire of a prisoner to continue to maintain such bonds.

Creating Access to Online Courses

Another possible change that may be underway in the New Zealand prison system is the potential for prisoners to have access to online lessons. This can range from enabling them to finish high school or even earn a certificate for a particular skill such as plumbing, construction, etc. The point of this system is help prisoners integrate better into society once they are out of prison.

Conclusion

Through the implementation of an RFID prisoner tracking system, the job of the support staff will be that much easier since they will be able to immediately monitor and restrict the movement of prisoners throughout the facility. By knowing where all prisoners are at all times, this helps to reduce the need for a block by block examination of the entire facilities of the prison and makes their job safer since they do not need to be among the general prison population to conduct a daily headcount of the prisoners. Aside from this, the use of video conferencing also aides in helping prisoners realize the need to become a positive part of society through proper rehabilitation and potentially even taking some of the prison sponsored courses so that they will be able to have some means of earning a livelihood once they are out of jail.

Prisons Get Capped Phone Rate as Prices Hit $14 Per Minute

People often complain about how much they pay for their phone, be it a monthly bill or a subscription we tend to buy what we think is a good deal, often unaware of the hidden fees or the limits we easily pass. This isn’t the case for all, and if you thought your bill was bad try being in prison where the prices were said to have reached even $14 a minute.

The Federal complaints commission is facing a lawsuit regard the prices some prisons have charged $14 a minute, roughly £9 per minute. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn stated that “None of us would consider ever paying $500 a month. where calls are dropped for seemingly no reason”. With a vote deciding that all rates within prisons should be capped at a mere 11 cents per minute (7p per minute), not everyone, however, is happy with this decision.

Securus, a company involved with the running of several prisons has warned that this move could end up harming more than it helps with the medium and smaller sized prisons ending up more damaged by the decision.

With the vote winning at a 3-2 ratio it is clear that this is something the FCC want to put in place, although more lawsuits may come with many arguing with how the final cap was calculated.

Image courtesy of Telegraph.

The Pirate Bay Founder Freed From Prison After Three Years

The founder of infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay, Gottfrid Svartholm, has been freed from prison after three years. Svartholm, also known by his nickname Anakata, served his prison time in both Sweden and Denmark on charges related to his activities with The Pirate Bay, but is now a free man. Supporters have long campaigned for Svartholm to be released.

While Svartholm and his family have, understandably, refrained from making an official statement, his mother confirmed Anakata’s release via Twitter:

In 2011, Svartholm was sentenced to one year in prison by Stockholm District Court for his activities related to The Pirate Bay, but he fled to Cambodia. A year later, he was arrested in Cambodia and transferred to Sweden to serve his prison sentence. After serving his sentence, he was then prosecuted for hacking and fraud, charges which Svartholm has always strenuously denied, winning his subsequent appeal in part and was cleared of hacking Nordea Bank.

While serving his second prison sentence in Sweden, Danish authorities launched further legal action against Svartholm in 2013, charging him with compromising the mainframe of IT firm CSC. Svartholm again denied the charges, but was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and extradited to Denmark to serve his time. Svartholm lost his appeal, but continued to fight against the charge.

Svartholm has been released from prison early for good behaviour during his sentence.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Al Jazeera.

The Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Not Allowed to Play on His Nintendo in Prison

Fredrik Neij, one of The Pirate Bay’s operators and so-called co-founders, is not only a ‘pirate’, but a gamer too. This is why he requested to have his Nintendo 8-bit console brought to him in prison. However, the request got denied because the console cannot be opened to check for concealed items. Bummer, huh?

Neij avoided a prison sentence back in 2010, but eventually got trialled and sentenced to a prison in Skänninge, Sweden, last November. All fine and dandy up until now, but like every other human being, life got boring when living behind four walls (and some metal bars in his case).

He eventually filed a request to have his Nintendo 8-bit console brought in to kill some time on it, but his request got denied by the prison administration. Why? Well, it’s not because gaming is banned in prison of course, but because there is “no way to open the box to check it for concealed items”.

“The console is sealed in such a way that it can not be opened without the machine being destroyed,” the prison wrote in a reply. In light of this, the institution can’t implement the necessary control of the game console and it is therefore impossible to ensure that it does not contain prohibited items.”

The administration may have denied his request, but that won’t stop Neij. He is now appealing the administration’s decision and told them that a simple screwdriver can open console. A simple “How to repair…” search on the Web reveals the same thing, so what is going on here? Does the administration lack the IT skills to do a simple Google or YouTube search, or do they have other reasons to deny Neij’s request?

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Swedish Man Faces up to Two-Years Prison and Fines for Leaking Music

Premature release of new material, or material never intended for release, is considered some of the most damaging by artists and record labels, and while it can create a buzz, it robs the artists of their choice of when and what to release. Such leaks can happen anywhere in the supply chain and usually they happen at the end, during mass production of the physical disks and close to the release date.

The current case against a Swedish man is a little bit different as the accused man didn’t work in the industry like so many other leakers, but rather hacked the email addresses of major record labels including Sony, Warner, and Universal and obtained unreleased songs. Some of the named artists include Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown and Mary J Blige.

The accused then sold the stolen tracks to DJs around the world, after which they started to turn up in the public. The FBI got involved in the case and they tracked the money wires and IP tracks to Sweden where the local authorities arrested the 25-year-old man.

The prosecution claims that the man, who denies the charges, made around $12,000 from sales of the tracks. He will go on trial in Sweden next month and will face fines and up to two years in prison. There isn’t really any doubt that the record companies will be back after the trial seeking damages they believe has been done to them.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of RigaPortal

Online Trolls Can Now Receive up to 2 Years in Jail

The UK government is ramping up efforts to tackle online abuse. Internet trolls are nothing new, but with more people spending more time online than ever before, online abuse and trolling is being taken more seriously than ever before.

There have been several high-profile cases in recent months, such as abuse towards the daughter of Robin Williams on Twitter after her fathers death, Judy Finnegan and her family receiving threats and more. In fact, it seems any major tragic event spawns some form of hatred and it’s not long before the abuse starts to flood in one direction or another.

Freedom of speech may be one thing, but the right to say almost anything you want doesn’t make you unaccountable for your actions. An amendment will be made to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that quadruples that maximum prison sentence for online trolling and abuse from 6 months to two years.

Mocking someone for owning an iPhone, joking around with your friends on Facebook or trying to reason with people in the YouTube comment section are still safe enough. Just remember to use some common sense before you take a joke too far.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information.

15 Year Old Boy Who “Swatted” Gamer Convicted of Domestic Terrorism!

Update: Turns out this story was a hoax, the following article should be seen as satire at best.

Recently we brought you news of someone being hit with a stupid and incredibly dangerous prank known as “swatting”, the act of calling the real SWAT police on another gamer. Today we have the results of what happens to people who think doing something like this “is a good idea”.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/Nz8yLIOb2pU[/youtube]

15 year old Paul Horner broke down in tears in front of a judge after he was found guilty on two counts of domestic terrorism, which even at the age of 15 has landed him with a staggering 25 years to life sentence, ouch! This makes Horner the first person in history to be charged on offences for swatting and given that this is a worrying and growing trend, he is likely being made into an example to prevent this prank from happening again.

It’s a waste of valuable police resources and it puts peoples lives at risk. Horner was upset that a follow Battlefield 4 gamer was beating him, so he obtained his private information and called police on a reported murder and hostage situation at the gamers address. When SWAT raided the house things went to hell, the gamer father was shot and critically injured in the process.

Prosecutors played audio of Horner’s 911 phone call to the jury: “I just shot and killed four people. If any police enter my home I will kill them too,” the statement read in part.

In short, Horner has got a lot of time to think about what he has done.

Thank you Nationalreport for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Nationalreport.

Justin Carter Out On Bail After Anonymous Person Posted $500,000 Bail

When does your online life become your real life? Always, apparently. As a bonus anything you do in your life, especially any felony actions will stay to haunt you forever! Justin Carter, 19 and a gamer at heart was placed in jail and given a $500,000 bail for making a comment.

“Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head,” “I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” Making this comment on Facebook after a League of Legends match.

Not only is the comment considered a “Terroristic Threat” or “Criminal Threat” in some places, it can carry a 10 year prison sentence. Carter has already spent nearly four months in jail awaiting trial. Making a comment, sometimes even taking a single action could place the title of Felon over your name for the rest of your life in the United States, there are no second chances.

For those of you who are gamers, most likely know that what he said is just trash talk, and anyone in their right mind would likely know that he was not serious. After making the comments Carter supposedly followed the comment with “lol” and “JK”, which stand for Laugh Out Loud, and Just Kidding.

Much trash talk from gamers or anyone online for that matter, many times consist of homophobic, racist, threatening and sexist remarks. While many websites, and even games give you a feature to report said comments, or even posts, someone felt the need to report this comment to the police.

For those of you who have heard about this before, and are following the case, you might be interested in learning that Carter has been released from jail. According to Kotaku an anonymous person posted the $500,000 bail. If found guilty, Carter could spend up to 10 years in prison, and carry the lifetime title of felon, not a title that you earn from a video game, but a title you earn in real life. One that will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. If he does earn this title, he will likely be forced to work a dead end job, and be judged by everyone he meets for the rest of his life.

In the State of Texas a “Terrorist Threat” is a third-degree felony.

Do you feel that Carter deserves to earn the title of a felon, and serve a lengthy prison sentence. Or do you think he should be free?

Image courtesy of Christian Post.

Kim Dotcom states he will never end up in a US prison

“I will never be in a prison in the U.S., I can guarantee you that.” These are the words that file sharing service Mega’s founder (and also the former Megaupload) used whilst appearing virtually at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas earlier this week. The known figure appeared at the conference via Skype to discuss his current battles with the US government over piracy.

He added to his statement that he will never be locked up stating that he “doesn’t expect the Obama Administration a predator drone over to his mansion either”. Dotcom is a man that is wanted heavily by the US government that he fled from months ago and currently resides in New Zealand, however this has not stopped the US trying to get him back for a face-to-face trail. His latest battle has been to fight a motion to extradite him back to US soil where he would face trail for piracy, although this motion was overturned giving Dotcom another victory to celebrate.

According to a recent study based on the closure of Megaupload, movie sales globally saw a boost following the closure of the former file sharing site, however Dotcom claims the research is not conclusive. He made a note that because the research was undertaken by the MPAA, their studies were as reliable as “a study from the tobacco lobby on the health effects of smoking.”

Kim later on went to reveal at the conference that he is looking to add another service to his collection called Megabox. This is to be his disruptive music service and hopes to launch it within the next six months. He believes that his own music service will reduce the amount of piracy that appears in the industry and it should give the music artists the credit and money for their work that they are entitled to.