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Career Hacker Fleeced by the FBI in Syracuse

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Last Thursday, veteran hacker Chris Roberts made a huge mistake. He was enjoying the in-flight WiFi on a United Airlines flight from his home base in Denver to Syracuse, New York when he noticed that certain things were visible to him. Here’s the tweet heard ’round the world:

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Warrantless Search and Seizure

When the plane landed in Syracuse, Roberts was hauled away by FBI agents who interrogated him for four hours about his activities while in-flight. Knowing his rights, Roberts declined to voluntarily surrender his encrypted digital devices. Thus, eventually the agents simply took them.

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This is precisely the sort of thing the fourth amendment was written to protect against. It reads, verbatim:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Also read: President Obama Rumored to Create Government Agency for Cyber-Attacks

The officers who have seized the property will now have to swear to tell the truth at some point — that they believed that Roberts’ devices contained evidence of criminal activity. Preservation of evidence is, no matter how one views it, protected by several higher court rulings throughout American history.

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Roberts Contracts with Governments

One of the many ironies in this story is that Roberts had recently made public that in-flight hacking was a very real possibility. Imagine if the #CyberCaliphate movement had existed around September 11th, 2001, for instance, and all things were the same except the security state which now seems so normal. Roberts told Fox News:

It is possible. […] It is definitely difficult. It takes a lot of research, and you have to typically be on a lot of flights to figure out the different architectures of the different planes. And I would argue that the FAA is not ready for it. […] Theoretically, you can also leave devices behind and remotely get in through the onboard wireless.

Roberts’ official biography profiles him as someone who has most likely helped the FBI on more than one occasion:

Regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on counter threat intelligence within the cyber security industry, Chris Roberts constructs and directs One World Labs’ comprehensive portfolio of cyber defense services designed to improve the physical and digital security posture of both its enterprise and government clients.

Though we have made contact with Mr. Roberts, we have yet to discuss this experience of his in detail. What is known at present is that he was released from custody several hours after being detained, minus his property (though he was allowed to keep his phone), and he has since tweeted:

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Although Roberts undoubtedly has the skills to do most anything he wants with most any network he is in range of, he has never expressed malicious intent. He is a “researcher” in the purest sense of the word.

The aviation industry has been ignoring his warnings about installing new creature comforts for as long as five years now, instead competing with each other to put lives in danger. Recent articles in Hacked and elsewhere have demonstrated that more and more disturbed people are meshing with highly skilled hackers, and something like disabling a navigation system or slightly routing a plane off course, is certainly not outside their means. This brings to mind the possibility that Roberts’ whole episode with United Airlines and the FBI was, in fact, a conscious move to bring attention to an issue close to his heart: security in commercial flight networking and its implied seriousness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqLAAw9HXBo

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. adrian Sopi

    June 19, 2015 at 11:28 am

    i hacked 30 fb 😉

  2. englishvinal

    June 28, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Moral?
    Don’t make deals with the devil, the devil always will betray you …. and win.

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Breaches

Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet

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Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.

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Massive Data Breach

According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.

The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.

At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.

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“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.

Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp

The Fall of Uber?

Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.

The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.

Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility

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Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)

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Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop

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It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.

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Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum

Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.

The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.

A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.

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Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.

Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market

The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.

Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.

Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)


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