Thieves cut through the wall of a coffee shop to get to an Apple store, bypassing the alarms in the process.
I wrote about this kind of thing in 2000, in Secrets and Lies (page 318):
My favorite example is a band of California art thieves that would break into people’s houses by cutting a hole in their walls with a chainsaw. The attacker completely bypassed the threat model of the defender. The countermeasures that the homeowner put in place were door and window alarms; they didn’t make a difference to this attack.
The article says they took half a million dollars worth of iPhones. I don’t understand iPhone device security, but don’t they have a system of denying stolen phones access to the network?
EDITED TO ADD (4/13): A commenter says: “Locked idevices will still sell for 40-60% of their value on eBay and co, they will go to Chinese shops to be stripped for parts. A aftermarket ‘oem-quality’ iPhone 14 display is $400+ alone on ifixit.”
Posted on April 13, 2023 at 7:22 AM •
Car thieves are injecting malicious software into a car’s network through wires in the headlights (or taillights) that fool the car into believing that the electronic key is nearby.
Posted on April 11, 2023 at 7:22 AM •
Tile has an interesting security solution to make its tracking tags harder to use for stalking:
The Anti-Theft Mode feature will make the devices invisible to Scan and Secure, the company’s in-app feature that lets you know if any nearby Tiles are following you. But to activate the new Anti-Theft Mode, the Tile owner will have to verify their real identity with a government-issued ID, submit a biometric scan that helps root out fake IDs, agree to let Tile share their information with law enforcement and agree to be subject to a $1 million penalty if convicted in a court of law of using Tile for criminal activity. So although it technically makes the device easier for stalkers to use Tiles silently, it makes the penalty of doing so high enough to (at least in theory) deter them from trying.
Interesting theory. But it won’t work against attackers who don’t have any money.
Hulls believes the approach is superior to Apple’s solution with AirTag, which emits a sound and notifies iPhone users that one of the trackers is following them.
My complaint about the technical solutions is that they only work for users of the system. Tile security requires an “in-app feature.” Apple’s AirTag “notifies iPhone users.” What we need is a common standard that is implemented on all smartphones, so that people who don’t use the trackers can be alerted if they are being surveilled by one of them.
Posted on February 20, 2023 at 7:09 AM •
Suspected members of a European car-theft ring have been arrested:
The criminals targeted vehicles with keyless entry and start systems, exploiting the technology to get into the car and drive away.
As a result of a coordinated action carried out on 10 October in the three countries involved, 31 suspects were arrested. A total of 22 locations were searched, and over EUR 1 098 500 in criminal assets seized.
The criminals targeted keyless vehicles from two French car manufacturers. A fraudulent tool—marketed as an automotive diagnostic solution, was used to replace the original software of the vehicles, allowing the doors to be opened and the ignition to be started without the actual key fob.
Among those arrested feature the software developers, its resellers and the car thieves who used this tool to steal vehicles.
The article doesn’t say how the hacking tool got installed into cars. Were there crooked auto mechanics, dealers, or something else?
Posted on October 17, 2022 at 10:07 AM •
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FBI has recovered over $30 million in cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean hackers earlier this year. It’s only a fraction of the $540 million stolen, but it’s something.
The Axie Infinity recovery represents a shift in law enforcement’s ability to trace funds through a web of so-called crypto addresses, the virtual accounts where cryptocurrencies are stored. These addresses can be created quickly without them being linked to a cryptocurrency company that could freeze the funds.
In its effort to mask the stolen crypto, Lazarus Group used more than 12,000 different addresses, according to Chainalysis. Unlike bank transactions that happen through private networks, movement between crypto accounts is visible to the world on the blockchain.
Advanced blockchain-monitoring tools and cooperation from centralized crypto exchanges enabled the FBI to trace the crypto to where Lazarus Group tried to cash out, investigators said.
The money was laundered through the Tornado Cash mixer.
Posted on September 13, 2022 at 6:51 AM •
Beanstalk Farms is a decentralized finance project that has a majority stake governance system: basically people have proportional votes based on the amount of currency they own. A clever hacker used a “flash loan” feature of another decentralized finance project to borrow enough of the currency to give himself a controlling stake, and then approved a $182 million transfer to his own wallet.
It is insane to me that cryptocurrencies are still a thing.
Posted on April 20, 2022 at 8:57 AM •
This is a clever hack against those bike-rental kiosks:
They’re stealing Citi Bikes by switching the QR scan codes on two bicycles near each other at a docking station, then waiting for an unsuspecting cyclist to try to unlock a bike with his or her smartphone app.
The app doesn’t work for the rider but does free up the nearby Citi Bike with the switched code, where a thief is waiting, jumps on the bicycle and rides off.
Presumably they’re using camera, printers, and stickers to swap the codes on the bikes. And presumably the victim is charged for not returning the stolen bicycle.
This story is from last year, but I hadn’t seen it before. There’s a video of one theft at the link.
Posted on February 21, 2022 at 6:31 AM •
The US has returned $154 million in bitcoins stolen by a Sony employee.
However, on December 1, following an investigation in collaboration with Japanese law enforcement authorities, the FBI seized the 3879.16242937 BTC in Ishii’s wallet after obtaining the private key, which made it possible to transfer all the bitcoins to the FBI’s bitcoin wallet.
Posted on December 22, 2021 at 10:20 AM •
From Ontario and not surprising:
Since September 2021, officers have investigated five incidents where suspects have placed small tracking devices on high-end vehicles so they can later locate and steal them. Brand name “air tags” are placed in out-of-sight areas of the target vehicles when they are parked in public places like malls or parking lots. Thieves then track the targeted vehicles to the victim’s residence, where they are stolen from the driveway.
Thieves typically use tools like screwdrivers to enter the vehicles through the driver or passenger door, while ensuring not to set off alarms. Once inside, an electronic device, typically used by mechanics to reprogram the factory setting, is connected to the onboard diagnostics port below the dashboard and programs the vehicle to accept a key the thieves have brought with them. Once the new key is programmed, the vehicle will start and the thieves drive it away.
I’m not sure if there’s anything that can be done:
When Apple first released AirTags earlier this year, concerns immediately sprung up about nefarious use cases for the covert trackers. Apple responded with a slew of anti-stalking measures, but those are more intended for keeping people safe than cars. An AirTag away from its owner will sound an alarm, letting anyone nearby know that it’s been left behind, but it can take up to 24 hours for that alarm to go off—more than enough time to nab a car in the dead of night.
Posted on December 6, 2021 at 10:25 AM •
A hacker stole $31 million from the blockchain company MonoX Finance , by exploiting a bug in software the service uses to draft smart contracts.
Specifically, the hack used the same token as both the tokenIn and tokenOut, which are methods for exchanging the value of one token for another. MonoX updates prices after each swap by calculating new prices for both tokens. When the swap is completed, the price of tokenInthat is, the token sent by the userdecreases and the price of tokenOutor the token received by the userincreases.
By using the same token for both tokenIn and tokenOut, the hacker greatly inflated the price of the MONO token because the updating of the tokenOut overwrote the price update of the tokenIn. The hacker then exchanged the token for $31 million worth of tokens on the Ethereum and Polygon blockchains.
The article goes on to talk about how common these sorts of attacks are. The basic problem is that the code is the ultimate authority—there is no adjudication protocol—so if there’s a vulnerability in the code, there is no recourse. And, of course, there are lots of vulnerabilities in code.
To me, this is reason enough never to use smart contracts for anything important. Human-based adjudication systems are not useless pre-Internet human baggage, they’re vital.
Posted on December 2, 2021 at 8:32 AM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.