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From Times Online July 8, 2009 North Korea 'launches massive cyber attack on Seoul'
Richard Lloyd Parry
North Korea [b]is suspected of launching a cyber attack that paralysed the websites of South Korean and United States government agencies, banks and businesses, the first such large-scale attack attempted by the isolated communist state.[/b]
The attack came as Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, made a rare appearance at a ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the death of his father, the founding president, Kim Il Sung.
The younger Mr Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke last August and dropped from view completely for several months.
South Korea’s intelligence agency has reportedly told members of parliament that it believes North Korea is behind the attack, which hit 25 websites on Tuesday evening, shutting some of them down for up to four hours.
The targets included the websites of the Blue House, the office of South Korea’s president, the National Assembly, the defence and foreign ministries, the ruling party, a newspaper, two banks and the US-South Korea combined forces military command.
The Blue House reported that the attack affected only its external public website and that the hackers had not penetrated the confidential information on its internal network.
“This is not a simple attack by individuals,” the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a statement. “The attack appeared to have been elaborately prepared and staged by a certain organisation or state. The attacks consisted of massive harmful traffic to specific sites causing access slowdown or disablement. Some national institutions, banks and media sites have been targeted.”
The Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed member of parliament who said that the NIS had suggested that the attacks were the work of North Korea or “a pro-North Korean force”.
The statement said that South Korean and US authorities were working to identify the creators of a computer virus that apparently infected thousands of computers in South Korea and abroad, causing them to flood the targeted websites with traffic.
The simultaneous accessing by so many users overloaded the web servers, causing them to shut down – a kind of attack known as distributed denial of service (DDoS).
“Malicious codes which cause DDoS attacks have infected more than 18,000 personal computers,” a spokesman for the Korea Communications Commission said. Most of the websites had resumed service yesterday, but some pages were still inaccessible this morning.
Although nothing on this scale has been reported in South Korea before, the Prime Minister, Han Seung Soo, has warned of the danger of cyber espionage by Chinese and North Korean hackers. The country’s Defence Security Command said last month that it was logging attempts to penetrate military networks at an average rate of 95,000 a day.
Estonia accused Russia of launching a similar cyber attack on it in 2007. Two years earlier, Japanese businesses and government websites were temporarily shut down by Chinese hackers, during a row over the Japanese prime minister’s visits to a nationalist war shrine. Last September, websites run by exiled Burmese dissidents were subjected to a similar assault – the suspicion then was that it was done at the instigation of the dictatorship.
If this week’s attacks are the work of North Korea, then the timing is significant. Pyongyang has staged a series of verbal and physical provocations this year, including the launch of an intercontinental rocket and an underground nuclear test, which suggest that it has abandoned expectations of negotiation with the international community in favour of whipping up nationalist fervour at home.
Television footage form the capital, Pyongyang, today showed Mr Kim limping slightly and looking gaunt as he entered a packed auditorium.
The country’s notional head of state, Kim Yong Nam, told the gathering: “We will sternly smash the US imperialist forces and South Korea's puppet regime … We will achieve the historical mission of national unification by realising Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s policies.”
US, S. Korean Government Web Sites Targeted in Cyber Attack By Kurt Achin Seoul 08 July 2009
U.S. sites have also been affected, including the Treasury Department, Secret Service, and Federal Trade Commission. The Web site of Voice of America news has been unavailable in South Korea for two days.
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Motorola claims espionage in Huawei lawsuit
By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing
Published: July 22 2010 04:54 | Last updated: July 22 2010 04:54
Motorola has named an alleged spy as a co-defendent in a lawsuit against China’s Huawei telecoms group over the alleged theft of trade secrets.
In the civil lawsuit, Motorola alleged that Huawei had knowingly taken trade secrets from a company employing a dozen former employees of the US group, including Jin Hanjuan, who faces criminal charges of economic espionage in the US.
The civil case comes a sensitive time for Huawei, which has expanded rapidly into overseas markets to become one of the world’s largest telecom equipment suppliers.
In an amended lawsuit filed last week in a Chicago court, Motorola alleges Huawei and its founder Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army, began working with Chinese-born Motorola employees as early as 2001.
In the lawsuit, the company accuses a dozen former employees of setting up Lemko, a rival company, in 2002 while they were still employed by Motorola and stealing trade secrets over the next five years, some of which they transferred to Huawei.
Motorola claimed Ms Jin was secretly employed by Lemko in 2005 while still an employee at Motorola. Her criminal indictment alleged Ms Jin obtained Motorola trade secrets that “would benefit a foreign government, namely the People’s Republic of China, specifically its military”.
According to an affidavit from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ms Jin was caught at Chicago’s O’Hare airport in 2007 carrying Chinese military catalogues and stolen Motorola technology.
Her criminal indictment alleged she was also employed at about the same time by a company referred to only as “Company B”, which was based in China and “contributed to the Chinese national defense and developed telecom technology and products for the Chinese military.”
Her indictment also alleged she was introduced to “Company B” and its representatives by Pan Shaowei, a former Motorola employee and chief technology officer of Lemko.
Motorola has alleged in the lawsuit that he was main interface between Lemko and Huawei and transferred trade secrets to the Chinese company. The US Attorney’s Office in Chicago which is prosecuting the case has refused to identify “Company B”.
Huawei refused to comment on the criminal case but issued a statement saying Motorola’s complaint was “groundless and utterly without merit” and it would “vigorously defend itself against baseless allegations.”
Lemko said: “While Lemko takes all litigation seriously, the Motorola litigation naming the corporation and its employees is a venomous nuisance.
“We believe Motorola initiated this litigation against Lemko and its employees to financially weaken the company in attempt to either stall the development of its innovative software solutions or to abscond with them outright.”
Court documents indicate Motorola became aware of the alleged theft of trade secrets only after Ms Jin was stopped during a routine US customs check at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on February 28, 2007.
Ms Jin had bought a one-way ticket to Beijing a few days earlier and was about to board her flight when she was stopped for carrying $30,000 in cash after declaring she only had $10,000, according to her indictment.
The indictment claimed customs officers found she was carrying 1,300 electronic and paper documents belonging to Motorola, some of them marked confidential. Motorola said the research and development costs of the information in Ms Jin’s possession exceeded $600m and the company would lose substantial global revenues if it was made public.
She was also carrying Chinese military manuals, a European company’s catalogue of military products and documents containing Chinese military applications for telecom equipment drafted by “Company B”, according to the indictment.
The documents had names like “Data packet format protocol of artillery’s quick counter short messaging application system” and “Combat use requirements and major tactical technology specifications of military comprehensive mobile communication systems”.
Ms Jin faces six counts of trade theft and economic espionage. If convicted, each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Motorola has not claimed that Huawei had any direct connections with Ms Jin.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.
Govt tightens telecom rules on security concerns Published on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 22:22 | Updated at Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 22:31 | Source : Reuters
The government on Wednesday said telecom equipment vendors must allow inspection of their gear and made carriers solely responsible for the security of their networks, addressing security worries that had led to restrictions on Chinese manufacturers.
Earlier this year, India barred some local mobile phone operators from placing orders with China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp because of security concerns, Indian telecom industry officials have said.
The restrictions centred around India's suspicion that Chinese equipment may have spying technology embedded to intercept sensitive conversations and government documents.
Carriers in the world's fastest-growing cellular market must have their equipment certified by an approved international audit agency, the Department of Telecommunications said in a note posted on its website late on Wednesday.
If a breach is found, carriers face penalties of Rs 5000 crore (USD11 million) per order and 100% of the contract value, while a vendor could be barred from supplying Indian operators.
The vendors must allow the telecoms carrier, government or its designated agencies to "inspect the hardware, software, design, development, manufacturing facility and supply chain and subject all software to a security/threat check at the time of procurement of equipment," and subsequently, it said.
The government also said carriers must work to ensure that the operation and maintenance of networks is entirely by Indian engineers and dependence on foreign engineers should be "minimal and/or almost nil" within the next two years.
New Delhi has denied any country-specific ban, though it had made it mandatory for carriers to obtain security clearance from the telecoms ministry before placing equipment orders.
The dispute had at one point threatened to snowball into a diplomatic row between India and China, which have been trying to reduce mistrust and improve relations after they fought a war in 1962.
"We are glad to know about this resolution and our experts are studying the notification for overall industry implications," a Huawei spokesman said in a text message to Reuters when asked for the company's comments on the government move.
Shenzhen-based Huawei and ZTE have taken on global names like Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel Lucent in recent years, winning major contracts in both emerging and developed markets and are active in India.
India is the world's fastest-growing wireless market with operators signing up 16 million new users a month on average. Global mobile equipment makers are fighting to win lucrative contracts in Asia's third-largest economy.
Demand for equipment is set to increase as carriers roll out third-generation networks after a recent spectrum auction.
Govt allows Telecom firms to buy Chinese equipment HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 28, 2010 First Published: 22:23 IST(28/7/2010) Last Updated: 22:24 IST(28/7/2010)
In a major relief to Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers including Huawei and ZTE, the government on Wednesday amended licences issued to telecom service providers, enabling them to buy equipment from all firms. Under new licence conditions, telecom operators will have to keep all details regarding equipment design and password in an escrow account. This will allow security agencies to monitor networks whenever required.
Earlier, the government had made it mandatory for telecom service providers to get security clearances from the department of telecommunications (DoT) before buying any equipment.
However, in March, DoT issued a notification to all the operators saying: “…Security clearance is not granted for procurement of telecom equipment in respect of Chinese OEM firm namely Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Acelink Technologies and UT Starcom.”
This virtually banned operators from buying equipment from these companies.
ZTE and Huawei have emerged as leading equipment suppliers in the last two years with all the new operators.
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9 December 2010 Last updated at 14:10
Call of Duty cyber attack prompts arrest of boy, 17
A teenager has been arrested in connection with a cyber attack which put the online version of the computer game Call of Duty out of action.
The 17-year-old was arrested in the Beswick area of Manchester by the Metropolitan Police's central e-crime unit earlier.
It followed a "denial of service" attack, which saw large numbers of people unable to play the game online.
Games company Activision contacted police in September this year.
Denial of service attacks are aimed at making websites unusable.
The attack was facilitated via a malicious program called "Phenom Booter", which was also being offered for sale on a web forum which allowed those playing Call of Duty to score more points while stopping other people playing the game.
Detectives established that the server was hosted within the UK and further investigation traced the IP address more specifically to the Greater Manchester area.
The teenager, arrested on suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse Act, is currently in police custody.
Det Insp Paul Hoare said: "Online gaming is a major retail sector with millions of titles being sold in the run-up to Christmas worldwide.
"Programs marketed in order to disrupt the online infrastructure not only affect individual players but have commercial and reputational consequences for the companies concerned.
"These games attract both children and young people to the online environment and this type of crime can often be the precursor to further offending in more traditional areas of online crime."
Anonymous Wikileaks supporters explain web attacks
'Coldblood', a member of the group Anonymous, tells Jane Wakefield why he views its attacks on Visa and Mastercard as defence of Wikileaks.
A group of pro-Wikileaks activists who coordinated a series of web attacks have explained their actions.
The Anonymous group said they were not hackers but "average internet citizens" who felt motivated to act because of perceived injustices against Wikileaks.
The group said it had no interest in stealing credit card details or attacking critical infrastructure.
The details were posted online by one of the many factions claiming to carry out the attacks.
"Anonymous is not a group, but rather an internet gathering," it said in a statement published on 10 December.
It said the ongoing attacks were a "symbolic action" targeted at corporate website that had withdrawn services from Wikileaks.
"We do not want to steal your personal information or credit card numbers. We also do not seek to attack critical infrastructure of companies such as Mastercard, Visa, PayPal or Amazon," it read.
The statement comes as other documents have come to light suggesting the group may be changing its tactics.
The statement was published by one of the several Anonymous groups operating online.
"Anonymous has a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives," it said.
It also acknowledged that there was "perceived dissent between individuals" in the group, but said that it did not threaten its structure.
For example, members have distanced themselves from a member of the group, calling himself Coldblood, who spoke with several media outlets, including the BBC.
Several Twitter accounts have also appeared that claim to be coordinating Operation Payback, as the attacks are known.
Anonymous has been conducting the attacks using a tool called LOIC that allows people to bombard a site of their choosing with data.
The tool launches what is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which tries to knock a website offline by bombarding it with so much data that it cannot respond.
The LOIC tool has been downloaded more than 46,000 times.
However, the group has not always had the numbers needed to make its operations successful.
On 9 December, for example, the group abandoned an attack on the online retailer Amazon after some elements admitted it did not have enough people using the tool.
"While it is indeed possible that Anonymous may not have been able to take Amazon.com down in a DDoS attack, this is not the only reason the attack never occurred," read the document.
"After the attack was so advertised in the media, we felt that it would affect people such as consumers in a negative way and make them feel threatened by Anonymous. Simply put, attacking a major online retailer when people are buying presents for their loved ones would be in bad taste."
Instead, the attack was re-directed towards Paypal and its computer systems, which, according to a status page, have intermittently suffered "performance issues" ever since.
Early on 10 December, elements of the group also attacked money transfer site Moneybookers, knocking it offline briefly at 1100 GMT.
Defences against the attacks are being drawn up as security firms scrutinise the code behind LOIC to work out how attacks happen. Some suggest that well-written firewall rules would be able to filter out most of the harmful traffic.
Information is also starting to emerge about the other resources that supporters of Anonymous have been able to bring to bear. Research by security firm Panda suggests that some of the earlier attacks on payment firms were aided by hi-tech criminals.
Luis Corrons, technical director of Panda Labs, said during its investigation of Anonymous' attacks its analysts got talking to some of the activists via Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
One of those activists said he had a botnet of 30,000 machines under his control that he was planning to use on behalf of Wikileaks.
"The guy said he had this botnet which was nothing special and was not specifically designed to do these attacks but could be used to do them," said Mr Corrons.
A botnet is a network of hijacked home computers that have been compromised by their owners visiting a booby-trapped webpage that installs code to hand over control to a hi-tech criminal.
Mr Corrons said a botnet with 30,000 machines in it was "about average size". Most of the spam sent around the net is funnelled through machines that are in botnets.
It was becoming clear, he said, that some attacks were aided by the 30,000 machines under the cyber criminals control.
"We know for sure the botnet was used in at least one attack on Paypal," he said.
Panda itself has come under attack with its blog knocked offline for hours by an attack very similar to those Anonymous has been carrying out. Mr Corrons said that, so far, it did not why it was being attacked or who was attacking it.
There are also suggestions that the Anonymous group might be about to drop the web attacks in favour of another tactic.
A message posted on the 4chan image board, out of which Anonymous has grown, suggests dropping LOIC in favour of publicising information in the diplomatic cables that Wikileaks is releasing.
Searching for the less-well publicised cables and spreading the information they contain around the web could be more effective than simply knocking out sites deemed to be enemies of Wikileaks, it said.
The message also suggests using misleading tags on posts and YouTube videos to trick people into reading or viewing the information.
"They don't fear the LOIC, they fear exposure," read the message.
It is not yet clear if the call to change tactics has been taken up by the Anonymous group at large.
In related news, Wikileaks looks set to have a rival as former staffers of the whistle-blowing website prepare to launch. Set up by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Open Leaks is expected to launch in mid_December and will host and post information leaked to it.
The attacks, which have made the headlines in the last couple of days, have seemingly been in support of the controversial WikiLeaks whistle-blowing site and its high profile founder Julian Assange.
Details are very sketchy, but it is reported that the unnamed youth is in police custody and is being interrogated by detectives from the Dutch National High-Tech Crime Team. He is said to have confessed to the attacks, and is due to appear in court in Rotterdam on Friday.
Computers have also been seized, and it appears that the authorities are not ruling out further arrests. Last night, Dutch broadcasters reported that the police visited the offices of LeaseWeb and EvoSwitch - two firms, believed to be providing internet services to the Anonymous group who have co-ordinated the attacks.
Of course, it is highly unlikely that the attacks are coming from just one part of the world.
In opdracht van het Landelijk Parket heeft het Team High Tech Crime van de Nationale Recherche vannacht in Den Haag een 16-jarige jongen aangehouden, die vermoedelijk betrokken is bij de digitale aanvallen van sympathisanten van WikiLleaks op onder andere de websites van Mastercard en Paypal.
Sympathisanten van WikiLeaks zijn na de aanhouding van Juilian Assange in Engeland, overgegaan tot computeraanvallen op de websites van het Zweedse openbaar ministerie, de Zwitserse postbank, de creditcardmaatschappijen MasterCard en Visa en de betalingssite Paypal. Onmiddellijk nadat duidelijk werd dat deze cyberaanvallen vanuit Nederland werden gedaan is het Team High Tech Crime van de Nationale Recherche een onderzoek gestart.
De aanvallen zijn zogenoemde Distributed Denial of Service-attacks (DDoS). Daarbij zijn vermoedelijk enkele duizenden computers ingeschakeld om websites plat te leggen. Sympathisanten van WikiLeaks konden hun computer vrijwillig deel uit laten maken van deze aanvallen.
De cyberaanvallen leidden gisteren al snel tot identificatie van de verdachte. Bij de jongen is beslag gelegd op computers en digitale gegevensdragers. De jongen is in verzekering gesteld en vandaag verhoord door rechercheurs van het Team High Tech Crime. Hij heeft een bekentenis afgelegd over de aanvallen op MasterCard en Visa. De jongen maakt vermoedelijk deel uit van een grotere groep hackers, waarnaar het onderzoek wordt voortgezet. Hij wordt vrijdag voorgeleid aan de rechter-commissaris in Rotterdam.
De acties van de WikiLeaks-sympathisanten worden uitgevoerd onder de naam Operation Payback. WikiLeaks publiceerde de afgelopen tijd vertrouwelijke documenten van de Amerikaanse overheid.
Dutch police website attacked after arrest of suspected hacker
Just a day after Dutch police arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with Wikileaks-related denial-of-service attacks, websites belonging to the Netherlands computer crime cops and prosecutors have been struck with a similar assault.
Dennis Janus, a spokesman for the National Police Service confirmed that both the police website, and that of the National Prosector's Office had been offline for much of the day, with many theorising that the likely reason is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack similar to that which was launched against Mastercard, PayPal and other firms.
Inaccessible Dutch prosecution website
Janus didn't confirm that the downtime of the websites was definitely connected with the ongoing attacks by WikiLeaks supporters, but you would be a brave man to bet otherwise as sheer coincidence seems highly unlikely.
Members of the public, sympathetic with the actions of the controversial WikiLeaks whistle-blowing website, have been downloading a DDoS attack tool called LOIC, turning their home computers into an attack tool against websites in AnonOps' bad books.
Remember folks - if you assist in a denial-of-service attack you could be looking at a lengthy jail sentence.
The unnamed teenager, who is said to have confessed to playing a part in the attacks against the PayPal and Mastercard websites, is due to appear in a court in Rotterdam today.
Second Dutch teenager arrested for WikiLeaks-related DDoS attacks
Police in the Netherlands have arrested a second teenager in relation to the pro-WikiLeaks distributed denial-of-service attacks seen earlier this week.
The arrest of the 19-year-old man follows Friday's attacks on websites belonging to Dutch Police and national prosecutor's office, which were themselves widely seen as retaliation against the apprehension the day before of a 16-year-old Dutch boy alleged to have participated in "Anonymous" pro-WikiLeaks attacks against a number of websites, including MasterCard and PayPal.
Prosecutors claim that the 19-year-old, from Hoogezand-Sappemeer, in the north east of the Netherlands, flooded the prosecutor's website with internet traffic:
"From behind his computer, the man used hacker software to flood the website of the prosecutor’s office with as much digital traffic as possible. Investigations by the National Police Services Agency showed that the man, who was active under the internet nickname Awinee, urged other internet users to participate in the attack."
However, it is reported that the DDoS attack software being used did not hide the IP address of the computer involved, making it easy for high-tech crime cops to identify where the attack was coming from.
That's a pretty silly mistake to make if you're going to attack the website of your country's national prosecutor.
Who is "Awinee"? Well, a quick search on Google found a gaming website of a guy who lives in Hoogezand-Sappemeer, is 19 years old, and uses the online nickname "Awinee", going by the real name of Martijn Gonlag:
Of course, that may just be coincidence. Wikipedia says 34,000 people live in the Hoogezand-Sappemeer municipality, and maybe plenty of the 19-year-olds there use that online nickname.
Denial-of-service attacks are illegal in many countries, and in The Netherlands can result in a maximum sentence of six years in jail.
Prosecutors claim that the man also participated in a DDoS attack against the website Moneybookers.com, which took the website offline for a period of time on Friday. Moneybookers.com terminated its relationship with WikiLeaks in August.
The ongoing saga of WikiLeaks is, of course, a controversial one that is generating strong emotions on both sides. Even if you feel strongly that WikiLeaks is being persecuted or abandoned by online companies think very carefully before volunteering your PC and engaging in a DDoS attack.
After all, it could be that the police are knocking on your door next.
Dutch arrest man for attack on prosecutor's website
AMSTERDAM | Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:38pm EST
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch police arrested a 19-year-old man on Saturday on suspicion of joint responsibility for a cyber attack on the website of the public prosecution office.
The so-called "denial of service" attack on the prosecution website on Friday came a day after Dutch police arrested a 16-year-old youth in connection with cyber attacks by WikiLeaks supporters.
The 19-year-old, arrested in Hoogezand-Sappemeer in the north of the country, is suspected of using hacking software to launch attacks that slowed the prosecutor's website down for hours and briefly made it unavailable.
The prosecutor's office also said the man was suspected of urging other people to participate in the attack. Police seized a computer in the arrest and a replica of an Italian pistol.
Cyber activists around the globe have attacked organizations seen as foes of WikiLeaks in retaliation for the ending of services to the website after it published thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic reports.
Involvement in denial of service attacks carries a maximum prison sentence of six years in the Netherlands.
The man, who operated under the Internet alias Awinee, is also suspected of involvement in an attack on the website of online payment firm Moneybookers on Friday.
(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; editing by Andrew Roche)
WikiLeaks says funding has been blocked after government blacklisting
Founder Julian Assange hits out at decision by Moneybookers, which collects the whistleblowing website's donations
David Leigh and Rob Evans guardian.co.uk, Thursday 14 October 2010 17.55 BST
The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks claims that it has had its funding blocked and that it is the victim of financial warfare by the US government.
Moneybookers, a British-registered internet payment company that collects WikiLeaks donations, emailed the organisation to say it had closed down its account because it had been put on an official US watchlist and on an Australian government blacklist.
The apparent blacklisting came a few days after the Pentagon publicly expressed its anger at WikiLeaks and its founder, Australian citizen Julian Assange, for obtaining thousands of classified military documents about the war in Afghanistan, in one of the US army's biggest leaks of information. The documents caused a sensation when they were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and German magazine Der Spiegel, revealing hitherto unreported civilian casualties.
WikiLeaks defied Pentagon calls to return the war logs and destroy all copies. Instead, it has been reported that it intends to release an even larger cache of military documents, disclosing other abuses in Iraq.
Moneybookers moved against WikiLeaks on 13 August, according to the correspondence, less than a week after the Pentagon made public threats of reprisals against the organisation. Moneybookers wrote to Assange: "Following an audit of your account by our security department, we must advise that your account has been closed … to comply with money laundering or other investigations conducted by government authorities."
When Assange emailed to ask what the problem was, he says he was told in response by Daniel Stromberg, the Moneybookers e-commerce manager for the Nordic region: "When I did my regular overview of my customers, I noticed that something was wrong with your account and I emailed our risk and legal department to solve this issue.
"Below I have copied the answer I received from them: 'Hi Daniel, you can inform him that initially his account was suspended due to being accessed from a blacklisted IP address. However, following recent publicity and the subsequently addition of the WikiLeaks entity to blacklists in Australia and watchlists in the USA, we have terminated the business relationship.'"
Assange said: "This is likely to cause a huge backlash against Moneybookers. Craven behaviour in relation to the US government is unlikely to be seen sympathetically."
Moneybookers, which is registered in the UK but controlled by the Bahrain-based group Investcorp, would not make anyone available to explain the decision. Its public relations firm, 77PR, said: "We have never had any request, inquiry or correspondence from any authority regarding this former customer." Asked how this could be reconciled with the references in the correspondence to a blacklist, it said: "We stick with our original statement."
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'Prepare for all-out cyber war'
Government sites braced for attack by pro-WikiLeaks 'hacktivists'
By Cahal Milmo and Nigel Morris
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Whitehall is preparing for a crippling attack on government websites as evidence mounts that the backlash against the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is rapidly growing into a mass movement that aims to cause widespread disruption on the internet.
Extra security measures have been added to a host of government web services, in particular those used to claim benefits or provide tax information, after Sir Peter Ricketts, the national security adviser, warned permanent secretaries across all departments that "hacktivists" who last week targeted the sites of companies such as MasterCard and PayPal could switch their focus to Britain.
Downing Street officials confirmed they are preparing for a court appearance today by Mr Assange, who remains in custody following his arrest on sex allegations at the request of the Swedish authorities, to be used by hackers as an excuse to switch their focus to key cyber infrastructure such as the website of HM Revenue and Customs. Members of the online collective Anonymous have already signalled their willingness to attack UK targets if Mr Assange – who denies the claims and whose lawyers will today apply for bail – is extradited to Sweden.
* Tom Chatfield: The age of risk-free internet use may be coming to an end * Search the news archive for more stories
The ability of amorphous groups such as Anonymous to disrupt and paralyse websites was displayed again yesterday when hackers obtained the passwords of 1.3 million users of the gossip website Gawker and posted them online. The motivation for the attack, claimed by a group calling itself Gnosis, was unclear, but Gawker has previously published blogs criticising Mr Assange and 4chan, the messaging board that spawned Anonymous. In the wake of the attack, Gawker's Twitter accounts were hijacked to publish messages supporting WikiLeaks.
Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, insisted yesterday that the disappearance of its European websites for about 30 minutes on Sunday was due to a "hardware failure". The company is one of those which had been threatened as part of Operation Payback, the attempt by Anonymous to mount attacks against companies which withdrew services from WikiLeaks in the wake of its publication of US diplomatic cables.
The anger of Mr Assange's supporters is likely to be increased by a claim from his British lawyer yesterday that a grand jury has been secretly empanelled in Virginia to consider charges against the Australian over the diplomatic telegrams.
In an online posting yesterday, one Anonymous hacker confirmed plans to attack Amazon (although others have said attacking the site when users are trying to buy Christmas presents would be counter-productive) and said the organisation was ready to attack governments: "It is definitely an information war. The core principle behind it is: information is free, governments keep information to themselves, WikiLeaks releases it to the general public and the war occurs."
Internet activists have already targeted the website of the Swedish judicial authorities bringing the rape allegations against Mr Assange and it is understood Whitehall officials have been warned an attack is likely to take the form of an attempt to hack into databases or a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), where thousands of "zombie" computers are used to bombard a web service with requests and thus bring it to a halt.
IT experts have warned that Whitehall is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks because many computers still run on an outdated version of Internet Explorer which is known to be at particular risk to hackers. The Coalition has ruled out an upgrade on the grounds of cost.
Downing Street said last night that the focus of preparations for a WikiLeaks-linked attack was on protecting information held about private citizens on sites such as those operated by the Department of Work and Pensions. A spokesman for David Cameron said: "The priority would be websites where we are dealing with information that belongs to members of the public."
The alert at Whitehall is just the latest sign that the world wide web, which marks its 20th birthday this month, is coming of age as a target for dissent as well as a potent means of expressing it. Thousands of people have downloaded the tool, known as LOIC or Low Orbit Ion Cannon, offered by Operation Payback to aid attacks on the websites of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal. Experts said the arrival of LOIC represented a disturbing evolution which makes DDoS attacks, hitherto the domain of cyber criminals seeking to extort money from companies, a tool of mass protest.
Rik Ferguson, a security researcher with Trend Micro, said: "These types of attack are still very difficult to defend against and now we are seeing an exponential increase in those prepared to hand over their computers for such a use. Electronic attacks are no different to attacks on physical infrastructure. They are designed to inconvenience and to disrupt, to have a financial impact to the victim and to anyone relying on that victim's services."
IS ANYWHERE SAFE ONLINE?
* The attacks on Visa, MasterCard and Amazon prompted by the WikiLeaks affair have grabbed the headlines – but the hackers who have tried to bring those sites down have merely inconvenienced users. The latest attack on Gawker is part of a more frightening phenomenon where users registered with certain websites find that their personal information is vulnerable to determined experts with malicious intent.
There are many other examples besides Gawker, some of them based on technical vulnerabilities, others on users' carelessness. The online social world Second Life has had customer accounts hacked, revealing personal information. Scammers have successfully drained PayPal accounts through iTunes by hoaxing people into giving up passwords. And any email account is at risk if a hacker decides to target you and you either have an obvious password or an easily bypassed password reset system – if, for instance, your password can be obtained via a secondary email account that you have allowed to expire and that a hacker can re-register.
Those risks are made greater when companies do not deploy adequate security. But experts say that many apparently secure sites can be ripped open by sufficiently sophisticated hackers. To minimise the risks, it makes sense to only give sensitive personal information to websites you trust.
It’s all getting a bit confusing in the world of Wikileaks!
As if trying to remember names like Anonymous, 4chan, Operation: Payback, Julian Assange, Openleaks and Daniel Domscheit-Berg weren’t enough, here’s a new one to add to the list.
Operation Fightback are a group of American nationalists who have taken it upon themselves to counter-attack the defenders of Wikileaks. Their Twitter account @AnonymousDown claims they fight “For the continued defence of our nation’s people & businesses” while their website link leads to a Youtube.com video of God Bless the USA.
17 hours ago they claimed Anonymous’s website anonops.eu, Tweeting “entire anonops.eu network is down? Guess payback really is a bitch. It''s not just you! http://anonops.eu looks down from here” and calling themselves “The Good Guys”. They have also described Anonymous as “the most disambiguous group of unorganized individuals ever to support an organization” and apparently took out the 4chan website, boasting “hit’em where they sleep (4chan.org) NITE!”
Just how long these attacks will continue is unsure, and the motive seems pretty ironic but with the Governments failing to stop Anonymous and its affiliates, maybe its time to fight fire with fire.
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3 June 2011 Last updated at 14:47
Sony investigating another hack
Sony is investigating another hacking attack on one of its websites.
A group called Lulz Security claims to have broken into Sonypictures.com and accessed details of a million users.
Passwords, home addresses and other personal information relating to several thousand of the accounts was released online.
It is the third major hack to hit Sony since April when the PlayStation Network was targeted and the details of 77 million users compromised.
Details of the latest attack were made available on the recently created Lulz Security website
A LulSec press release said: "SonyPictures.com was owned by a very simple SQL injection, one of the most primitive and common vulnerabilities, as we should all know by now.
"From a single injection, we accessed EVERYTHING. Why do you put such faith in a company that allows itself to become open to these simple attacks?"
SQL attacks are generally regarded as one of the more straightforward ways of gaining unauthorised access to a website.
Typically, an attacker will attempt to bypass the username and password system by sending code or characters that confuse the site's programming.
The release also claims that user information on Sonypictures.com was stored in unencrypted, plain text format.
LulSec explained that it was unable to make the entire user database available, however it released a portion of it, totalling roughly 50,000 users.
Sony has yet to respond to the claims, but said in a tweet: "We are looking into the claims about reports of attacks on Sony Pictures websites. Please follow us for latest updates."
Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at security firm F-Secure, said that another Sony breach had been almost inevitable.
"I'm not surprised by anything about Sony anymore," he told BBC News.
"It will be hard for a company of that size to make sure they are secure if someone wants to go and find holes."
Mr Hypponen said that Sony had become a preferred target of hackers because of the company's long history of vigorously defending its intellectual property. Lulz Security website The Lulz website contains a few basic images along with details of its hacks
Most recently, it took legal action against a US hacker, George Hotz, who claimed to have cracked elements of the PlayStation's security.
"That was the turning point. But it is easy to hate Sony, starting with the CD rootkit in 2005," said Mr Hypponen, referring to an earlier scandal that erupted when it was discovered that some Sony music CDs had secretly installed copy protection software on users' computers. Mystery hackers
Little is known about the LulSec group, although they have claimed responsibility for recent attacks on several websites in the USA - Fox, PBS and XFactor.
It is understood to be a separate organisation from Anonymous, the "hacker collective" which has been linked to a number of high profile web attacks including several on Sony sites.
The latest attack has, once again, raised questions about the strength of security employed by Sony and other companies holding sensitive user data.
Much of the information taken in the Sony hacks was unencrypted and easily readable.
Mike Smart from cryptography specialists Safenet said that many companies were only applying their highest security protocols to data such as credit card numbers.
He explained that other "social" information was often given minimal protection.
"People can get through the front door. Now we have got to the stage that we need to lock the inside doors and put our documents in a safe.
British intelligence used cupcake recipes to ruin al-Qaida website
GCHQ officers sabotaged online jihadist magazine in English as part of cyber war against terrorists
Richard Norton-Taylor, security editor guardian.co.uk, Thursday 2 June 2011 19.40 BST
Whitehall sources have revealed that British intelligence officers successfully sabotaged the launch of the first English language website set up by an al-Qaida affiliate.
The officers, understood to be based at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, attacked an online jihadist magazine in English called Inspire, devised by supporters of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
A pdf file containing fairy cake recipes was inserted into Inspire to garble most of the 67 pages of the online magazine, including instructions on how to "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom".
Though the authenticity of claims made about Inspire have been questioned, British security and intelligence sources say they believe the magazine, and the bomb-making instructions, were genuine.
The sabotage took place a year ago, following a dispute between agencies in the US about who should take on the role of attacking the Inspire website.
Publicising the achievement amounted to little more than a propaganda exercise – "just to let them know", as one British official put it on Thursday.
The head of the US Cyber Command, General Keith Alexander, said blocking the magazine was a legitimate counter-terrorism target and would help protect American troops overseas, according to the Washington Post.
The CIA argued that such an attack would expose sources and intelligence methods and that it amounted to covert action rather than a traditional military one and was therefore its responsibility.
The CIA won the argument and declined to go ahead with the attack on Inspire, the newspaper said.
British security and intelligence agencies, including MI5 (which was not responsible for the attack on Inspire), have made it clear they are deeply concerned about the influence of extreme Islamist and jihadist websites.
But such "website wars" are just the surface of a much bigger threat, British officials say. A much more serious worry surrounds cyber-attacks on government agencies and officials in sensitive jobs.
As US government agencies argue about who should take command – and the Pentagon is fighting back against the CIA – British officials say the UK government is grappling with how to cope with the growing threat.
GCHQ, staffed by encoders and eavesdroppers, has the expertise to defend British agencies and attack hostile ones.
The Ministry of Defence, supported by a new Cyber Operations Group, has a clear interest. So does the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills because private industry must be intimately involved in the battle against cyber-attacks despite potential disputes about competition and intellectual property rights, officials say.
British officials said different government agencies and departments would conduct their cyber operations separately and would be co-ordinated by the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance in the Cabinet Office in the heart of Whitehall.
Lieutenant General Rhett Hernandez, head of the US army's cyber command, told a land warfare conference in London on Thursday, organised by the Royal United Services Institute, that a "world-class cyber warrior force" was being built up.
US state department co-ordinator for cyber issues, Christopher Painter, said on Wednesday that America faced potential threats in cyberspace from freelance hackers, militants and potentially rival states.
Diplomacy and policy were only just beginning to catch up with technology, he said. "Cyber-security is now a policy imperative," he told Reuters news agency.
Earlier this week, his employer, the US department of defence, announced it was rewriting its military rule book to make cyber-attacks a possible act of war.
A US official was quoted as saying: "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks."
British and US defence and security officials made plain on Thursday that the central problem was how to identify cyber-attackers.
US Pentagon to treat cyber-attacks as 'acts of war'
Woman types on keyboard US retaliation for cyber-attacks could take many forms
The US is set to publish plans that will categorise cyber-attacks as acts of war, the Pentagon says.
In future, a US president could consider economic sanctions, cyber-retaliation or a military strike if key US computer systems were attacked, officials have said recently.
The planning was given added urgency by a cyber-attack last month on the defence contractor, Lockheed Martin.
A new report from the Pentagon is due out in a matter of weeks.
"A response to a cyber-incident or attack on the US would not necessarily be a cyber-response. All appropriate options would be on the table," Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan told reporters on Tuesday.
Col Lapan confirmed the Pentagon was drawing up a cyber defence strategy, which would be ready in two to three weeks.
Cyber-attacks from foreign nations that threaten widespread US civilian casualties, like cutting off power supplies or shutting down emergency-responder networks, could be treated as an act of aggression under the new policy.
But the plan does not mention how the US may respond to cyber-attackers, such as terrorists, who are not acting for a nation state. 'All necessary means'
The Pentagon's planning follows an international strategy statement on cyber-security, issued by the White House on 16 May.
The US would "respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country", stated the White House in plain terms.
"We reserve the right to use all necessary means - diplomatic, informational, military, and economic - as appropriate and consistent with applicable international law, in order to defend our nation, our allies, our partners and our interests."
The Wall Street Journal quoted a military official as saying: "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks."
White House officials said consideration of a military response to a cyber-attack would constitute a "last resort", after other efforts to deter an attack had failed, the New York Times newspaper reported.
Sophistication of hackers
One of the difficulties strategists are grappling with is how to track down reliably the cyber-attackers who deliberately obscure the origin of their incursions.
The sophistication of hackers and frequency of the attacks came back into focus after an attack on arms-maker Lockheed Martin on 21 May.
Lockheed said the "tenacious" cyber-attack on its network was part of a pattern of attacks on it from around the world.
The worst cyber-attack against the US military occurred in 2008, when malicious software on a flash drive commandeered computers at US Central Command.
The US defence department estimates that more than 100 foreign intelligence organizations have attempted to break into American networks.
The US is also accused of using cyber warfare against other nations. In 2010 Iran accused the US of helping to develop Stuxnet, a software worm aimed at controlling systems in Iranian nuclear plants.
Analysis Adam Brookes BBC News, Washington
American strategists are wrestling with the big, new questions of cyber war. What constitutes cyber attack? What laws, definitions and principles should governments use to formulate their response?
How do you tell the difference between a virtual annoyance perpetrated by criminals and hackers and an act of war perpetrated by a nation state? This question is perhaps the biggest difficulty facing those who are charged with writing the doctrine of cyber war.
It's often referred to as the "attribution problem". When an American entity - a government department, the military or a corporation - becomes aware they are under cyber-attack when their networks start malfunctioning, how do they know who is doing the attacking?
Savvy Computer Network Defence (CND) specialists may be able to track the attack to a specific country, even to a specific internet address. But who is operating the computer terminal? An operative of a rival state acting under orders? Or a hacker acting on her own initiative? Or something in between?
"Whose fingers are on the keyboard?" ask the CND specialists. When you don't know who your attacker is, finding a legal and ethical response becomes very difficult.
Will detainees arrested as part of a 'cyber-war' be treated as 'Prisoners of War'?
Have the authorities already mapped out a 'cyber-terrorist career path'?
The paper, part of a Whitehall-wide effort to combat home-grown terrorism, identifies the key grievances driving Muslims’ militancy as anger at Tony Blair’s decision to wage war in Iraq and resentment at the deprivation suffered by Muslim communities.
The research claims Al-Qaeda has “actively recruited” young Muslims in schools, universities and prisons. It reveals that the authorities have built up a clear picture of the “terrorist career path”, which may be behind last week’s attacks.
Combating the recruitment of young British Muslims by terrorist organisations
1. Undertake research to extensively map the "Terrorist Career Path", including changes in opinions held, changes in associates or membership of organisations, and specific actions taken by individuals on the path from law-abiding citizen to terrorist .
2. On the basis of this research, develop a comprehensive Interventions Strategy, to enable us to intervene at key trigger points to prevent young Muslims from becoming drawn into extremist and terrorist activity and action.
3. Our work in this area will be focussed on finding local community based interventions, with support for faith, voluntary and community organisations from [N]GOs, local authorities and central government as appropriate.
The leaked papers show that MI5 is now drawing up a detailed description of the terrorist career path. The aim is to identify the “specific actions taken by individuals on the path from law-abiding citizen to terrorist”. On the basis of this, the blueprint says that ministers need a plan to “intervene at key trigger points to prevent young Muslims from becoming drawn into extremist and terrorist activity and action. We need to understand the evolution of the terrorist career path . . . to enable us to turn people from the path”.
The papers outline the need for detailed planning across key departments in Whitehall to reduce the alienation and disaffection that is leading young Muslims to join Al-Qaeda. Dozens of officials are now working across Whitehall on plans to improve relations with the Muslim community. Their strategic aim is to win “the hearts and minds” of those who might otherwise be diverted by Al-Qaeda recruiters on to a terrorist career path. “We need to focus specifically on influencing opinion around young Muslims,” the paper says. Spiritual leaders are a target, as the security service has advised the government that many extremists are drawn into terrorism through their respect for “key individuals”.
MI5 conducts secret inquiry into 8,000 al-Qa'ida 'sympathisers'
By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent
Monday, 3 July 2006
Up to 8,000 suspected al-Qa'ida sympathisers are being investigated by MI5 and the police in an operation to identify future terrorists, The Independent has learned.
The huge covert inquiry, known as project Rich Picture, is aimed at finding people who are being groomed for terrorism, and at identifying the Islamist extremists carrying out the recruitment.
The nationwide investigation follows intelligence suggesting there is a very small, but significant number of British-born and Britain-based Muslims, who are prepared to carry out bombings and other terrorist attacks in this country.
Undercover officers are gathering information from all over the country, including at colleges, mosques and internet websites where extremists may try to "groom" or radicalise those sympathetic to the aims of al-Qa'ida. Of the estimated 1.6 million Muslims living in Britain, counter-terrorist sources have disclosed that they believe up to 0.5 per cent - about 8,000 - support al-Qa'ida's aims, and have links to Islamist extremists. These are the people being investigated.
Despite assurances by police and intelligence chiefs that they are not spying on the Muslim community, the huge scale of project Rich Picture is certain to provoke anger among some Muslims who believe they are being unfairly stigmatised and targeted. Relations with some sections of the Muslim community have already been damaged following the shooting of a suspect in Forest Gate, east London, who was later released with his brother without charge.
Project Rich Picture was set up shortly after the suicide bombings in London in July last year after it became clear that British-born citizens were becoming radicalised.
Following the London attacks, in which 56 people died Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, director general of MI5, told the Intelligence and Security Committee that the main lesson learned from the attacks was the need to get into "the unknown" - to "find ways of broadening coverage to pick up currently unknown terrorist activities or plots".
The committee, which oversees the running of the intelligence services, said of the police and agencies: "Their goal is to become more proactive at identifying those who may be being groomed for terrorism and those doing the grooming, and so to spot where terrorism may next occur."
The resulting operation is aimed at up to 8,000 potential terror supporters.
A security source said: "What we have been doing up to now is fire-fighting. There has been a huge volume of plots to investigate.
"Rather than just firefighting we are finding out the causes, why it's happening, why are people radicalised, and how they are radicalised, and then deal with some of these issues."
Until recently, the intelligence services have been concentrating on uncovering and disrupting active terrorist plots in the UK. By July 2005, the number of "primary investigative targets'' known to security services had risen from about 250 in 2001 to 800.
But a big expansion of MI5 and police counter-terrorism resources has allowed the agencies to start looking at the recruitment and grooming of future bombers. MI5 has grown from just under 2,000 staff in 2001 to about 2,500 today, rising to 3,500 in 2008.
A security source said: "It is trying to drill down and identify those who may be coming into contact with radical sources. It is finding out these people at an early stage. You only have to look at the background of the 7 July London terrorists to see the speed to which radicalisation can take place.
"Some of those who blew themselves up were spotted, recruited and radicalised within a year."
The security service and police chiefs believe that Islamist extremists are targeting people in Britain who are sympathetic towards the aims of al-Qa'ida and who believe the London suicide bombings were justified. They point to surveys in the past year, by Populus, YouGov, and ICM, which found between five and seven per cent of British Muslims believe the London bombings were justified.
Much of the work of Project Rich Picture is being done by MI5 officers based at new regional stations with the help of GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham. Four centres: Scotland, the north-west, north-east and midlands are up and running. A further four, in the south-west, Wales, the east and the south-east will be operational by year's end. A security source said: "The whole Rich Picture business is an investigation to get information on the ground which we would not have looked at before. It is not an attempt by agencies to spy on the Muslim population. It's looking at those people directly attached or linked to terrorist activities."
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UK police arrest teen over website attacks
By Simon Mundy in London
Published: June 21 2011 16:09 | Last updated: June 21 2011 16:09
UK police have arrested a suspected computer hacker in connection with a slew of online security breaches, including attacks on the websites of the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and the CIA.
The 19-year-old man was arrested in Wickford, 55km north-east of London, on Monday night, as part of a joint operation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Scotland Yard said.
“The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions and distributed denial of service [DDoS] attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group,” it said.
The arrest followed a DDoS attack that forced Soca to take down its website on Monday. Such attacks cripple websites by overloading them with traffic, and have been compared by hackers to peaceful “sit-in” protests.
Responsibility for the breach was claimed by LulzSec, a hacker group that called DDoS its “least powerful and most abundant ammunition” that was formed after a split in the group Anonymous. Other recent attacks linked to one or both of the groups include those on the CIA public website and Sony servers.
All three attacks are being investigated as part of the operation that led to the arrest in Essex in southeast England, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.
News reports identified the suspect as Ryan Cleary, a hacker whose details were published last month by Anonymous. Anonymous accused Mr Cleary of organising a “coup d’etat” against it, in protest against its “leaderless command structure”.
LulzSec is understood to be a breakaway from Anonymous, which attacked organisations that cooperated with a US crackdown on Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website, last year. LulzSec said this week that the two organisations had joined forces for a new campaign, Antisec, which would steal and leak information from governments, banks, and “other high-ranking establishments”.
On Tuesday, LulzSec mocked the idea that Mr Cleary was the organisation’s “mastermind”.
“Seems the glorious leader of LulzSec got arrested, it’s all over now... wait... we’re all still here!” it wrote on Twitter.
Graham Cluley, a technology consultant at the computer security company Sophos, said that LulzSec had been “playing a dangerous game”. “Their Twitter account, which has more than 220,000 followers, has become increasingly vocal – embarrassing computer crime authorities and large organisations throughout the world with their attacks,” he said.
“There has been much speculation recently regarding who might be behind LulzSec – if the group has now been cracked, then it will send a strong message to others thinking about engaging in their own hacks or denial-of-service attacks,” he added.
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There's been rather a lot of high-profile hacks of late, most of which seem to be have been spawned and ramped up after the ThikiLeaks PR job, and it's getting more difficult not to think that the unspoken agenda here is to acclimatise everyone to the fact that there's no such thing as data privacy or security any more.
Not that there was much of that to start with because all software has exploitable bugs with which it's only a matter of time before someone finds. Any privacy/security that there was pretty much ended with Facebook whereby default everyone 'chooses' that "We Live In Public" (a documentary which, interestingly, featured a naked Nico Haupt aka Ewing2001 submitting to CIA-style interrogation and humiliation techniques long before he became the progenitor of the 9/11 No-Planes Theory).
"Nothing is safe, nothing is secure" is the message that wends its way through all of these seemingly endless hacking stories.
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