The new Rule 41 dictate is going to be law and it's a doozy, both mind-boggling (for its stupidity) and stomach-churning (for its stupidity) at the same time. Effectively, what the law does is allow any judge, anywhere (including Podunk, Texas), to grant a warrant for electronic surveillance of any US citizen. If you thought the NSA spying fiasco was bad – you ain't seen nothing yet.
If a recent DOJ proposal to amend Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure passes, granting the FBI the legal right to crack your Tor or VPN connection, you might have to be even more cautious – to the point of keeping up with file checksum/hashes to determine if you’ve been compromised, routinely wiping your machine, or running your OS off of a read-only medium.
I’ve written about Mr. Brown several times before. Barrett Brown is the guy that the government tagged as the “voice of Anonymous”, the young man that suffered a tragedy of injustice from charges that most feel were laughable at best and fragrantly unjust and illegal at worst. Lest we forget (and history repeat itself), let's review the saga.
The UK government has said it wants to hand out life sentences to anyone found guilty of a cyberattack that results in loss of life, serious illness, serious injury, or serious damage to national security (or a “significant risk thereof”. The plan, which frighteningly, is broadly written, is proposed as an update to Britain’s Computer Misuse Act 1990 and would also hand out harsher sentences to any hacker carrying out industrial (commercial) espionage. Even minor hacking crimes can result in sentences up to 14 years.
Spy? Traitor? How about "National Hero". The United States wants to label Edward Snowden a “spy” and “traitor” for revealing NSA practices to the American public. The leaks from Edward Snowden regarding the unscrupulous data collection practices of the National Security Agency prompted a US scramble to plug the leak and stem the tide of information that the Guardian was making publicly available. As a result of Snowden’s bold disclosures (and the Guardian who bravely published them), the White House announced a series of proposed reforms meant to increase the transparency of, and the constraints on, the NSA.
Word has hit the streets that the FBI has arrested Eric Eoin Marquesm the alleged owner of Freedom Hosting, the largest Deep Web hosting platform on the planet. The arrest was made in Ireland with the takedown reportedly disrupting the entire Tor network which is, sadly, the home of the majority of all illegal online activity. It is also believed that in the process, the United States may have planted some sort of “virus” on many Onion websites. On the positive side, it is believed that by removing this single host from the Tor network, they have effectively removed “the majority of all child pornography online”.
The Chinese call them “nail houses”, a home whose resident has refused to leave in order to make way for new construction. Rather than cease development, builders simply build around the home, often using innovative, but visually unpleasant, means to continue construction unabated. The term nail house is a pun coined by construction workers and alludes to nails that are stuck in wood and cannot be pounded down with a hammer. The nail houses that are left behind often create a very unusual sight, either an eyesore or in some cases, a modern work of art.
In a decision that could reshape how e-books (and wishfully, digital music) are sold on the Internet, a federal judge in Manhattan has ruled that Apple Inc conspired to raise the retail prices of e-books in violation of antitrust law, and has called for a trial on damages. Apple had been accused of colluding with five publishers to boost e-book prices beginning in late 2009, as the Silicon Valley giant was preparing to launch its popular iPad tablet. The U.S. Department of Justice said this conspiracy was designed to undercut online retailer Amazon.com Inc's dominance of the fast-growing e-books market. Only Apple went to trial, while the publishers - Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, News Corp's (surprise, surprise) HarperCollins, Penguin Group and CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster - settled with the U.S. government and the states. The federal judge noted that the conspiracy resulted in prices for some e-books rising to $12.99 or $14.99, when Amazon had sold the same books for $9.99.
We knew for sure that foreign companies collect zero-day vulnerabilities, often paying a pretty-penny for the exploit, and were fairly certain that the NSA did the same. What we did not know however, was that tech companies freely *give* or sell their zero-day exploit vulnerability details to the United States government. Bloomberg dropped the bombshell last night.
When you've got tons of money derived from a limited resource that will one day run out, what do you do with it? Spend it like there’s no tomorrow! Dubai has equipped their police force with $400,000 Italian-made Lamborghini Aventador sports cars retrofitted with Dubai police insignias and colorful lights. Lamborghini, an affiliate of the Volkswagen Group, notes that their cars reach 60MPH in under six seconds and reach a maximum speed of 217MPH (349kph). According to recent figures, 15% of traffic fines issued in Dubai are for driving at speeds in excess of 130 mph (209 kph) so maybe that raw power is indeed needed.
The House Intelligence committee is currently working to amend the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) whose stated aim is to "help the U.S government investigate cyber threats and ensure the security of networks against cyberattack". Yes, the government that has already proven they cannot protect its citizens from cybersecurity threats now wants to be the sole solution provider for those services all while proposing 19th-century style legislation to a 21st century problem. Well, “something is better than nothing”. Really?
Steve Jobs' brand new yacht, that he never lived to see completed, has been impounded for non-payment of the bill. The dispute revolves around differing valuations of the yacht – the builder believes it is valued at $198 million while the Jobs family believes it is valued at only $139 million. The designer believes he is owed 6% of the valuation or $3.96 million as commission for his work. The 256-foot all-aluminum “Venus”, which was completed last October (2012) was designed by French product designer Philippe Starck. After non-payment of his commission due, Starck hired a debt-collection agency and obtained a legal order to keep the boat from leaving the dock. The Port of Amsterdam confirmed that the boat is chained up and won’t leave the port until the dispute is resolved.
Even though we've warned about the dangers of running a TOR exit node, this is a bit alarming. William Weber, a 20-year-old IT administrator in Graz, Austria, has been charged with distribution of child pornography for kiddie porn that was transmitted through a TOR exit node he was running. During the raid, police confiscated around 20 computers, external hard drives, USB flashdrives, tablets (2 iPads), his phones (Samsung Galaxy Note and a HTC PDA), legal firearms (huh?), cable TV receiver, Xbox 360, a pocket knife, and his stash of drugs.
This weekend, the U.N. plans to seize a bigger role in Internet governance, one that would pass control of citizen’s Internet access to the nations’ governments, including oppressive governments such as Russia, China, and North Korea. Strongly backed by China and Russia, the meeting and its proposals are being withheld from public view while the group is rumored to be preparing a public-relations strategy intended to stifle the sort of backlash that ultimately defeated SOPA, PIPA and CISPA. Some proposals in the final draft would allow for Internet access to be cut off more easily, threaten privacy, legitimize monitoring and blocking online traffic, impose new fees for accessing content, and allow for the controlled slow-down of Internet connection speeds.
Jeremy Hammond, better known in the hacker world as "Anarchaos," "sup_g," "burn," "yohoho," "POW," "tylerknowsthis," and "crediblethreat," has been held without bail since his arrest in March on charges connected with the 2011 hacking of Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor), an Austin, Texas-based international intelligence broker. Hammond and other LulzSec hackers face indictments charging them with conspiracy to commit computer hacking, computer hacking, and conspiracy to commit access device fraud. Last week, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska told Hammond that he could face 30 years to life if he is convicted on all counts.