Vice has a detailed article about how the FBI gets data from cell phone providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, based on a leaked (I think) 2019 139-page presentation.
EDITED TO ADD (11/12): My mistake. It was not a leak:
Ryan Shapiro, executive director of nonprofit organization Property of the People, shared the document with Motherboard after obtaining it through a public record act request. Property of the People focuses on obtaining and publishing government records.
Posted on October 27, 2021 at 9:01 AM •
These two sites tell you what sorts of information you’re leaking from your browser.
Posted on September 28, 2021 at 9:51 AM •
Apparently, a nation-state hacked Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services.
Not sure why Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services is of any interest to a nation-state, but that’s probably just my failure of imagination.
Posted on September 21, 2021 at 6:05 AM •
NSO Group, the Israeli cyberweapons arms manufacturer behind the Pegasus spyware — used by authoritarian regimes around the world to spy on dissidents, journalists, human rights workers, and others — was hacked. Or, at least, an enormous trove of documents was leaked to journalists.
There’s a lot to read out there. Amnesty International has a report. Citizen Lab conducted an independent analysis. The Guardian has extensive coverage. More coverage.
Most interesting is a list of over 50,000 phone numbers that were being spied on by NSO Group’s software. Why does NSO Group have that list? The obvious answer is that NSO Group provides spyware-as-a-service, and centralizes operations somehow. Nicholas Weaver postulates that “part of the reason that NSO keeps a master list of targeting…is they hand it off to Israeli intelligence.”
This isn’t the first time NSO Group has been in the news. Citizen Lab has been researching and reporting on its actions since 2016. It’s been linked to the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It is extensively used by Mexico to spy on — among others — supporters of that country’s soda tax.
NSO Group seems to be a completely deplorable company, so it’s hard to have any sympathy for it. As I previously wrote about another hack of another cyberweapons arms manufacturer: “It’s one thing to have dissatisfied customers. It’s another to have dissatisfied customers with death squads.” I’d like to say that I don’t know how the company will survive this, but — sadly — I think it will.
Finally: here’s a tool that you can use to test if your iPhone or Android is infected with Pegasus. (Note: it’s not easy to use.)
Posted on July 20, 2021 at 1:50 PM •
Interesting paper on recent hack-and-leak operations attributed to the UAE:
Abstract: Four hack-and-leak operations in U.S. politics between 2016 and 2019, publicly attributed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, should be seen as the “simulation of scandal” – deliberate attempts to direct moral judgement against their target. Although “hacking” tools enable easy access to secret information, they are a double-edged sword, as their discovery means the scandal becomes about the hack itself, not about the hacked information. There are wider consequences for cyber competition in situations of constraint where both sides are strategic partners, as in the case of the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf.
Posted on August 13, 2020 at 9:28 AM •
Motherboard is reporting that this week’s Twitter hack involved a bribed insider. Twitter has denied it.
I have been taking press calls all day about this. And while I know everyone wants to speculate about the details of the hack, we just don’t know — and probably won’t for a couple of weeks.
EDITED TO ADD (8/10): It was social engineering and not bribery.
Posted on July 17, 2020 at 6:04 AM •
It is amazing that this sort of thing can still happen:
…the list was compiled by scanning the entire internet for devices that were exposing their Telnet port. The hacker then tried using (1) factory-set default usernames and passwords, or (2) custom, but easy-to-guess password combinations.
Telnet? Default passwords? In 2020?
We have a long way to go to secure the IoT.
EDITED TO ADD (7/14): Apologies, but I previously blogged this story in January.
Posted on July 8, 2020 at 6:41 AM •
The Washington Post is reporting on an internal CIA report about its “Vault 7” security breach:
The breach — allegedly committed by a CIA employee — was discovered a year after it happened, when the information was published by WikiLeaks, in March 2017. The anti-secrecy group dubbed the release “Vault 7,” and U.S. officials have said it was the biggest unauthorized disclosure of classified information in the CIA’s history, causing the agency to shut down some intelligence operations and alerting foreign adversaries to the spy agency’s techniques.
The October 2017 report by the CIA’s WikiLeaks Task Force, several pages of which were missing or redacted, portrays an agency more concerned with bulking up its cyber arsenal than keeping those tools secure. Security procedures were “woefully lax” within the special unit that designed and built the tools, the report said.
Without the WikiLeaks disclosure, the CIA might never have known the tools had been stolen, according to the report. “Had the data been stolen for the benefit of a state adversary and not published, we might still be unaware of the loss,” the task force concluded.
The task force report was provided to The Washington Post by the office of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who has pressed for stronger cybersecurity in the intelligence community. He obtained the redacted, incomplete copy from the Justice Department.
It’s all still up on WikiLeaks.
Posted on June 18, 2020 at 6:34 AM •
Used Tesla components, sold on eBay, still contain personal information, even after a factory reset.
This is a decades-old problem. It’s a problem with used hard drives. It’s a problem with used photocopiers and printers. It will be a problem with IoT devices. It’ll be a problem with everything, until we decide that data deletion is a priority.
EDITED TO ADD (6/20): These computes were not factory reset. Apparently, he data was intentionally left on the computer so that the technicians could transfer it when upgrading the computer. It’s still bad, but a factory reset does work.
Posted on May 8, 2020 at 9:46 AM •
This is a big deal:
Whisper, the secret-sharing app that called itself the “safest place on the Internet,” left years of users’ most intimate confessions exposed on the Web tied to their age, location and other details, raising alarm among cybersecurity researchers that users could have been unmasked or blackmailed.
The records were viewable on a non-password-protected database open to the public Web. A Post reporter was able to freely browse and search through the records, many of which involved children: A search of users who had listed their age as 15 returned 1.3 million results.
The exposed records did not include real names but did include a user’s stated age, ethnicity, gender, hometown, nickname and any membership in groups, many of which are devoted to sexual confessions and discussion of sexual orientation and desires.
The data also included the location coordinates of the users’ last submitted post, many of which pointed back to specific schools, workplaces and residential neighborhoods.
Or homes. I hope people didn’t confess things from their bedrooms.
Posted on March 12, 2020 at 6:30 AM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.