Entries in Hacking (26)


Did Chinese Hackers Attack "The New York Times" Repeatedly?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- China is denying accusations by The New York Times that hackers in the country repeatedly infiltrated the newspaper's computer systems over the past four months.

The Times reported on Wednesday that Chinese hackers stole reporters' passwords and broke into the e-mail accounts of its Shanghai and South Asia bureau chiefs.

"The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings," the newspaper said.

The paper said it hired security experts, who found that the hackers used methods similar to ones that have been linked before to the Chinese military.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, "To rashly jump to conclusions based on investigation results, which have not been proved by evidence is totally irresponsible behavior."

"China is also a victim of cyber-attacks," he added.  "Chinese laws specifically stipulate that cyber-attacks are prohibited."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


US Government Accused of Hacking Into Sarkozy’s Computers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PARIS) – French news magazine L’Express has accused the U.S. government of hacking into the office of President Nicolas Sarkozy using a sophisticated malware called Flame.

According to L’Express, a cyber war agency had discovered the malware in the computers several months ago at the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French President.

The U.S. embassy in Paris has denied that the country had taken part in any hacking activities. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Napolitano did not confirm or deny the allegations, and said that the United States had an important alliance with France.

L’Express states that Flame had probably infiltrated the computers via Facebook. It was discovered not long after the second round of votes in the French presidential elections in May, and the process of eradicating the worm took three days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Top Israeli Official’s Facebook, Twitter Accounts Hacked

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A group of pro-Palestinian hackers apparently managed to hack the social networking accounts of Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom and has promised to release a trove of the top official’s private emails.

Though the Israeli government now appears to have regained control of the accounts, screenshots posted on various news outlets overnight show Shalom’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts plastered with pro-Palestinian messages.  An official at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed the hacking incident.

A group calling itself ZCompanyHackingCrew (ZHC) boasted about the hack on Twitter and claimed it had also accessed Shalom’s personal email account where they stole “his contacts, docs [documents], and some other interesting stuff.”  The group said it plans to release them online “very soon.”

ZHC specified that it is not part of the loose hacking collective Anonymous, which has declared its own cyber war against Israel.

Wednesday morning, ZHC taunted Shalom on Twitter, asking, “How was your day Mr. Vice Prime Minister?”

The messages purportedly posted by the hackers have been deleted from Shalom’s Facebook and Twitter and the deputy prime minister has apparently not made public statements with either account since the incident.

Shalom did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


English-Language Cyberwar Software Might Have Targeted Iran

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An act of "cyberwar" has been discovered by researchers who say that a malicious computer virus, written by English speakers and known as "Flame," has targeted Iran and the Middle East, and might have focused on oil and energy production, according to cybersecurity firm Symantec.

A cyber-attack launched against Iranian oil terminals and knocking them off line in April might have been caused by "Flame," a complicated software program that can steal all of the information on a computer and possibly work to erase its hard drive, according to Vikram Thakur, a manager at Symantec security systems.

Thakur told ABC News on Monday that early analysis of the software shows that it is the most complicated malware ever written and deployed, and that it is has been stealing information from targeted users for at least two years.

While it is unknown who designed or launched Flame, the software uses code words like "Jimmy" that lead researches to believe its makers are native English speakers.  Furthermore, the complexity of code and language are not something that "average hackers could come up with," Thakur said.

"We can't pinpoint who is actually behind it but we can narrow the list of potential actors," he said.  "It's a project that's been out for years, and flown under the radar.  It is extremely well funded."

The U.S. State Department had no comment on the matter when reached on Monday, but expected to address it at a news conference Tuesday morning.

Thakur said that because the malware has been around for years without notice or abandonment, it is likely that it successfully stole sensitive information from computers it infected.

"According to the data we have, all of the infections were very local to parts of the Middle East: Iran, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, and smaller countries as well, but we believe that the actual targets of this piece of malware was an even smaller set of countries, and possibly just Iran," Thakur said.

The cyber-attack is the second such malware targeted against Iran.  The Stuxnet computer virus attacked Iran's nuclear facilities and damaged centrifuges in 2010, delaying Iran's production of enriched uranium.  More than half of Stuxnet-infected computers were located in Iran, and it was widely believed that the United States or Israel was involved in the attack.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Secretary Hillary Clinton: We Hacked Yemen Al Qaeda Sites

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(TAMPA, Fla.) -- In a rare glimpse into cyber warfare tactics, a top U.S. official has explicitly acknowledged that the U.S. government hacked into websites run by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, changing advertisements that boasted about killing Americans into advertisements that underscored the deaths of Muslim civilians in al Qaeda terror attacks.

During her keynote speech at the Special Operations Command gala dinner in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that State Deptartment specialists attacked sites tied to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) that were trying to recruit new members by “bragging about killing Americans.”

“Within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al Qaeda attacks have taken on the Yemeni people,” said Clinton. “We can tell our efforts are starting to have an impact because extremists are publicly venting their frustration and asking supporters not to believe everything they read on the Internet.”

It had been suspected that the U.S. government played some role in shutting down several jihadi Web forums earlier this year, but officials from the CIA and counterterrorism community had previously denied any involvement.

Highlighting the government’s use of “smart power” to fight extremists, Clinton said that military and civilian specialists around the world are focused on pre-empting, discrediting, and outmaneuvering extremist propaganda. Calling them “a digital outreach team,” Clinton said the specialists are fluent in Urdu, Arabic and Somali. The group is “already patrolling the Web and using social media and other tools to expose al Qaeda’s contradictions and abuses, including its continuing brutal attacks on Muslim civilians.”

Secretary Clinton also said that under her tenure the State Department has become more active in working with the Defense Department and the intelligence community to use diplomacy as a tool to fight terrorism of all forms and extremist propaganda.

The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, according to Clinton, was created to find ways for civilian diplomats and experts to better aid military operations in hot spots. Clinton said the bureau sent a team of experts ahead of the Special Operations mission in Central Africa to talk to village leaders and rebels who would be open to defecting or helping the U.S. find the warlord Joseph Kony.

Clinton said the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau is currently spearheading a diplomatic campaign around the world working with local governments and leaders to squeeze any funding venues for al Qaeda and its affiliates.  She said the State Department trains nearly 7,000 police, prosecutors and counterterrorism officials from more than 60 countries.

“We’re expanding our work with civil society organizations in specific terrorist recruiting hot spots -- particular villages, prisons, and schools -- to disrupt the process of radicalization by creating jobs, promoting religious tolerance, and amplifying the voices of victims of terrorism,” said Clinton.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Anonymous Attacks Kremlin Website After Putin's Inauguration

JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- The hacker group Anonymous has struck again, this time targeting the Kremlin's website just days after Vladimir Putin's inauguration.

The site was down for about an hour on Wednesday.  Anonymous claimed responsibility, saying it targeted Russian government websites in solidarity with the country's opposition movement.  The group had vowed to take down the sites last Friday.

The Russian news agency Interfax reported that a spokesman for the Kremlin’s Internet service confirmed that the site was under attack and that other government sites had been affected as well.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Russian Cyber Criminals Rake in Billions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- They say crime doesn’t pay, but for Russian-speaking cyber criminals it has paid very, very well.

According to a new report, they raked in over $4 billion in 2011 -- nearly a third of the $12.5 billion global cyber crime market.  About half of that took place in Russia itself, nearly double the previous year’s total.

The report, released Tuesday by the Russian cybercrime investigation company Group-IB, found that cybercrime in Russia and in neighboring countries is also getting more sophisticated as traditional mafia rings have begun operating in the digital world.

Previously, the company noted, the market was comprised of individual hackers, but they have now consolidated their efforts and traditional organized crime groups are clamoring for a piece of the action.

The most lucrative form of Russian cyber crime last year was online fraud, which brought in nearly a billion dollars, followed by spam, which topped $830 million.

The Group-IB report blamed lax Russian laws for the expansion of cyber crime.  While the Russian government has tried to tighten legislation aimed at preventing and punishing such activity, the company said more was needed.

“The cyber crime market originating from Russia costs the global economy billions of dollars every year,” Ilya Sachkov, Group-IB’s CEO, said in a statement on the company’s website.  “Although the Russian government has taken some very positive steps, we think it needs to go further by changing existing law enforcement practices, establishing proper international cooperation and ultimately improving the number of solved computer crimes.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Murdoch Hacking Scandal Comes to America

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The hacking scandal rocking media mogul Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids is coming to America.

High-profile British attorney Mark Lewis is planning for the first time to sue in the United States on behalf of alleged hacking victims, his office confirms. The legal action would be the first to strike at the heart of Murdoch's global media empire.

Lewis will sue on behalf of three people, none of whom have yet been identified. At least one is thought to be American.

"Some of them were in America at the time, either traveling or resident there," Lewis told the BBC.

It's still not clear when and where the legal action would be filed.

Jack Horner, a vice president of corporate communications at News Corp., said the company would not comment on the pending court action. News Corp. is the parent company of News International, the Murdoch family's British newspaper subsidiary. News Corp. also owns the Fox News Channel.

Mark Lewis has been a thorn in Rupert Murdoch's side since the hacking scandal emerged several years ago. He has filed suits on behalf of a number of hacking victims, including a 2007 lawsuit on behalf of a hacked soccer official. That case is thought to be the first legal action in the hacking scandal.

Lewis also represents the family of Milly Dowler, the abducted teen who was found murdered outside London in 2002. Dowler's voice mail was thought to have been hacked after she disappeared. The case sparked public outrage at the tabloid press and the furor eventually led to the closure of News of the World.

News International has paid out millions in compensation settlements in the wake of the hacking scandal, with some British media reporting that the company offered at least $3 million to the Dowler family.

More than 4,000 people have been identified by police as possible victims of phone hacking, according to the BBC.

Scotland Yard is currently conducting three investigations relating to the scandal and a judge-led inquiry has been examining relations between the press, politicians and police.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Anonymous Lashes Out at Chinese Government

JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The loose hacking collective Anonymous claimed Thursday it was behind a mass attack on Chinese websites in which the front pages of some of the websites were replaced with a threatening message to the Chinese government and instructions to the Chinese people on how to beat the government's censorship.

Through their Anonymous China twitter feed, the hacking group announced the attack and claimed it hit a total of nearly 500 sites -- including a handful of sites that appeared to be government domains.

"Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall," the Anonymous message on the sites reads both in English and Chinese.

The message also claimed Anonymous stood with the Chinese people and provided instructions on how to use free anti-censorship programs. "We must all fight for your freedom," it said.

As of this report, several of the government sites were still down but others had apparently been restored.

"China and all World we are just getting started," Anonymous China said on Twitter.

Anonymous, a loosely affiliated group of so-called hackivists, has drawn the ire from governments around the world for their anti-establishment tactics, which have included defacing websites including, attacking major financial institutions like Mastercard and Paypal and even listening in on an FBI-Scotland Yard conference call about anti-Anonymous operations.

The group was dealt a blow by law enforcement last month when it was revealed that a high-profile member of the Anonymous sub-group LulzSec, Hector Monsegur known online as "Sabu," had been working with authorities for months, resulting in the arrest of five of his cyber comrades, believed by law enforcement to be some of the most sophisticated hackers in the world.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Ambassador to Russia Suggests His Emails Hacked, Phone Tapped

Anton Belitsky/Epsilon/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, suggested his emails were being hacked and his phone tapped after he was confronted by a Russian TV news crew as he arrived at a meeting that he had not publicized.

McFaul quickly took to Twitter and wondered publicly how the Russians are finding out about his private schedule.

“I respect the right of the press to go anywhere & ask any question. But do they have a right to read my email and listen to my phone?” he tweeted Thursday afternoon.

According to Interfax, when McFaul arrived for a meeting with the group For Human Rights Thursday, reporters from state-owned NTV began peppering him with questions that kept him on the freezing street without a coat.

“Everywhere I go NTV is there. Wonder who gives them my calendar? They wouldn’t tell me. Wonder what the laws are here for such things?” McFaul tweeted.

The head of the group McFaul met with, Lev Ponomaryov, got in touch with the Russian news service Interfax, and suggested perhaps McFaul’s phones were being tapped.

“Michael asked them very bluntly: ‘How did you know that I would come to this office today?’” Ponomaryov said, noting that the meeting hadn’t been publicized and was agreed to over the phone.

“There is nothing surprising here,” said NTV in a response to Interfax. “NTV’s omnipresence can be explained by an extensive network of informers,” the network said.

NTV aired portions of the exchange on its website. In one part McFaul, speaking in Russian, asks the journalists, “Aren’t you ashamed of doing this? This insults your country, do you understand this?”

“It looks like I am in a barbarian country. This is abnormal. It never happens in my country, in England, Germany, or China. It happens only here and only with you,” he told them, according to Interfax.

When the camera crew asked why he was meeting with the human rights activists, McFaul replied, “This is normal. This is called diplomatic work.”

McFaul later said on Twitter that he confronted them about how they knew where he was.

“When I asked these 'reporters' how they knew my schedule, I got no answer,” he tweeted.

NTV has recently come under fire in Russia after it aired a documentary suggesting that recent protesters against President-elect Vladimir Putin were paid to attend rallies, suggesting the United States was spurring them on.

Part of the exchange between McFaul and the persistent questioners was caught on cellphone video by a journalist for the Guardian newspaper who happened to be passing by and uploaded the video to Twitter.

McFaul has had a rough welcome to Moscow. State-run TV immediately accused him of trying to foment a revolution and other outlets accused him of stirring up the anti-Putin protests.

Neither Ambassador McFaul nor his spokesman replied to requests for comment. In Washington the State Department sought to downplay McFaul’s statements.

“I think it was simply a rhetorical question he was asking,” deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

McFaul also tweeted that Thursday’s confrontation was part of a pattern. He said he had a similar encounter as he went to meet Anatoly Chubais, an influential former politican and businessman in Moscow.

On McFaul’s second day on the job in Moscow an NTV camera crew confronted a group of civil society leaders who had gathered at the U.S. Embassy to meet with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, in town for other meetings. Ambassador McFaul also sat in on the discussion, officials said. Television broadcasts later claimed the meeting was held so that McFaul could give out instructions to opponents of the Russian government.

In exchanges with his Twitter followers later in the day, McFaul defended his comments, noting that the State Department does not publish his schedule and that his meeting at For Human Rights was not scheduled through the Russians.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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