The Resale Cost Of Stolen Data

Crime doesn’t pay. Cyber crime on the other hand pays handsomely according to the current resale price tag associated with the data breach, which led to 4.2 million American Federal data of employees being transferred from the Office of Personal Management to as yet unknown source. Analysis has identified places within various dark net marketplaces which are reselling the data from as little as 50 cents to $10 (£6.30) Now I know what you’re thinking, “You cannot become rich over 10 bob” Very true, you can’t, But experts have placed a total value of every single piece of data which had been breached to nearer $140 million dollars (£88,186,198.86)

These so-called “sets” contain every piece of information from a particular person which includes name and birth etc. While scanning through the information it becomes clear the fly is very much in the ointment for people up to no good, at first glance you would think all these identities are genuine which they are, but if you had your information stolen you would correct this, If you had a password hacked then you would change it, this is exactly what has happened with the data. Once someone suspects they have been breached, they make plans to correct it. The odds are for every 10 pieces of information which are sold for $10 each, only one will work.

It’s shocking but not surprising that sensitive data as personal as in this case did not have a better protection mechanism, it’s also clear this data was not encrypted if criminals have had access to it. I also think companies who hold sensitive information about our identities need to invest to build infrastructure to cope with it, otherwise essentially every single person could be cloned. Only time will tell if this data breach was indeed state-sponsored or a lone wolf acting with criminal intent

Thank You Vocativ for providing us with this information

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Donating to Snowden Now Illegal in the US; Guilty Parties Can Have Assets Seized

The White House has issued an emergency executive order that effectively prevents US citizens from donating money to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for fear of having their assets seized. The order is designed to choke funds for “malicious cyber-enabled activities” launched by persons outside of the United States.

Though the executive order – issued under the declaration of “a national emergency” by President Barack Obama – doesn’t mention Snowden by name, he is the highest profile figure affected by the ruling. Snowden, after revealing the extent of the indiscriminate mass surveillance undertaken by US intelligence and security services, was forced into exile in Russia, where he currently resides.

Section 2 of the order effectively states that by donating to parties considered to be involved in “malicious cyber-related activates” would impair the President’s ability to deal with this “national emergency”. It reads:

Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

While section 7 warns anyone that does make such donations is at risk of having their assets seized by the US government:

Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

The order is so vaguely worded and free of due process as to be open to abuse. If a US citizen gives money to someone that, in the opinion of the US Government, is considered guilty of “malicious cyber-enabled activities”, it can take that person’s possessions, with no prior warning and with no recourse, bypassing the judicial system entirely. Ironic, since it is this kind of abuse of power that Snowden felt he had to stand against.

Source: The White House

Google Released WikiLeaks E-Mails to US Government

Three years after formal requests, Google has admitted that it released e-mails and other digital data own by WikiLeaks staff to the US government, after being served with a secret warrant from a federal judge.

Google revealed details of the warrant to WikiLeaks on Christmas Eve. Now, WikiLeaks , through its New York-based lawyer Michael Ratner of the Center For Constitutional Rights, has written to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt to voice its displeasure. WikiLeaks says it is “astonished and disturbed” that Google took so long to notify them, and violating its “privacy, association and freedom from illegal searches”.

The federal warrant that granted the US government access to this batch of data was related to the ongoing criminal investigation into WikiLeaks launched by the US Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and Department of State, back in 2010. The data included embassy cables, Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, and video footage of an Apache helicopter killing civilians in Baghdad.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called the warrants a “serious, and seriously wrong attempt to build an alleged ‘conspiracy’ case against me and my staff,” and that people should be more concerned with “Google rolling over yet again to help the US government violate the constitution – by taking over journalists’ private emails in response to give-us-everything warrants”.

Source: The Guardian

U.S. Department of Energy to Spend $425 Million on Supercomputers

The US Government’s Department of Energy has announced it is to invest $425 million to build two supercomputers, which, when built, will be the fastest computers in the world. The ultimate aim is to research science projects, including nuclear weapons.

The two computers, named Summit and Sierra, will be installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, respectively.

NVIDIA, IBM, and Mellanox have provided the components for use in the two computers. Summit will run at 150 petaflops, with Sierra operating at 100 petaflops. For comparison, the world’s current fastest supercomputer, the Chinese Tianhe-2, runs at 55 petaflops.

An extra $100 million will go to fund research into extreme-scale computing, under the project name FastFoward2.

Source: Reuters

World Under Water Google Maps Hack Is Both Cool And Frightening

The US Government launched their National Climate Assessment Report this week, it showed that all regions of the country are experiencing the affects of climate change. Following on from this, the team at Carbon Story have launched their World Under Water campaign, a mod for Google Maps that let’s you see what your hometown, or any part of Google Maps would look like if sea levels continued to rise. According to recent reports, the time between 2001 and 2013 was warmer than any previous decade throughout the entire country in the last 100 years.

The mod isn’t perfect, it just adds 6ft deep water to the entire map, disregarding elevation. So you could live half way up a mountain and still see what the flood would look like, if a tad biblical at that level. This is cool because it means you can see the effects anyway, seeing your own front door under water is more of an eyeopener than seeing some strangers house get flooded.

The site lists several popular locations for you to quickly jump to and view, such as New York, London and Paris, with the addition of 6ft of water of course. You can head over to the World Under Water Google Maps mod right here.

Thank you Businessinsider for providing us with this information.


American Military Funding “Self-Destructing” Electronic Development Projects

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, has provided IBM with a $3.5 million contract to work on its “vanishing programmable resources project” (VARP). The BBC reports that this project is looking to develop a class of transient electronics that can be destroyed by remote control functions. The electronics would be used in combat zones where destroying sensitive electronic equipment before it falls into the wrong hands is a necessity.

IBM’s current proposal involves a radio frequency trigger that shatters a glass coating on a silicon chip before turning it into powder.

“A trigger, such as a fuse or a reactive metal layer will be used to initiate shattering, in at least one location, on the glass substrate.” the US government said in its grant award notice.

The VAPR technology could also have medical users such as the deployment of sensors in the body which can then be absorbed by the body after self-destruction. Of course the technology would require the destruction process, the broken-down end product and the absorption process to be totally safe to the body.

The US DARPA has also involved several other companies with the same project including Xerox company Palo Alto Research Center (Parc) who were given $2.1 million, Honeywell Aerospace who were awarded $2.5 million and SRI International who received $4.7 million late last year. All the companies are approaching the VARP project from their respective angles but the consensus on outcomes is similar – to create electronics that can be destroyed remotely or that decompose naturally after a specified period of time (built in obsolescence).

Image courtesy of The Hacker News

US Government Pointing Fingers At Edward Snowden’s ‘Accomplices’, The Reporters

Given the news surfaced from former NSA analyst, Edward Snowden, it seems that U.S. officials are proving to be desperate, having one of their representatives stating that journalists are Edward Snowden’s ‘accomplices’.

The U.S. officials are still attempting to reason with Snowden and his continuous espionage disclosures from his former workplace. However all attempts have failed, having Snowden still in exile and in hiding, while news continues to flow. But it looks like the U.S. officials are becoming desperate now, having James Clapper, the Director of the National Intelligence, demanding his journalist “accomplices” return leaked documents.

Names and fingers have not yet been pointed, but rumors are that Clapper is looking at The Guardian with some ‘furious’ eyes. Though news will not be stopped, no matter what, since we live in an age where everyone is allowed to think what they want and say what they have to say. On the other side, Clapper demonstrated that the U.S. government is becoming more and more desperate as time passes. Are they hiding even more secrets not ‘deemed for our knowledge’? By the looks of it, it might seem so.

Spokespeople on Clapper’s side later clarified and said the U.S. official “was referring to anyone who is assisting Edward Snowden to further threaten our national security through the unauthorized disclosure of stolen documents related to lawful foreign intelligence collection programs.” Snowden may have recently been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, but government officials would still like to see him face espionage-related charges. Trying to equate journalists to accomplices clearly is a long stretch for a government administration desperate to make sure similar whistle-blower actions don’t take place in the future.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information
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Anonymous Hackers Break Into US Government Computers

The FBI has warned that the activist group, Anonymous, are in a campaign to exploit and breach sensitive US government information since last year. They appear to have been successful in secretly accessed US government computers throughout multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information.

The hackers exploited a flaw in the software of Adobe Systems to launch a rash of electronic break-ins that began last December, then left “back doors” to return to many of the machines as recently as last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a memo.

It described the attacks as “a widespread problem that should be addressed”, adding that the breach affected the US Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and perhaps many more agencies.

According to an internal e-mail from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’ chief of staff, Kevin Knobloch, the stolen data included personal information on at least 104,000 employees, contractors, family members and others associated with the Department of Energy, along with information on almost 20,000 bank accounts. System administrators were told by the FBI what to look for to determine if their systems are compromised.

Officials said the hacking was linked to the case of Lauri Love, a British resident indicted on October 28 for allegedly hacking into computers at the US Department of Energy, the army, the Department of Health and Human Services and elsewhere. Investigators believe the attacks began when Love and others took advantage of a security flaw in Adobe’s ColdFusion software, used to build websites.

Adobe spokeswoman, Heather Edell, said the majority of attacks involving the firm’s software had exploited programs that were not updated with the latest security software.

Thank you SCMP for providing us with this information
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