In Child Porn Bust, FBI May Have Used Malware on Innocent Users | Hacked: Hacking Finance
Hacked: Hacking Finance

Cybersecurity

In Child Porn Bust, FBI May Have Used Malware on Innocent Users

Posted on .

In Child Porn Bust, FBI May Have Used Malware on Innocent Users

Introduction

This article was posted on Tuesday, 22:33, UTC.

In 2013, the FBI confiscated Freedom Hosting, a service that hosted websites on the dark web, including several child pornography websites and private email service TorMail. When it happened, it was seen as a massive victory, but recently unsealed documents show the FBI may have used malware on innocent users.

// -- Discuss and ask questions in our community on Workplace. Don't have an account? Send Jonas Borchgrevink an email -- //

Three years ago, the FBI was given a warrant that allowed them to hack 300 TorMail users who were allegedly linked to child pornography. They went with a piece of malware known as a Network Investigative Technique (NIT), with the goal of acquiring users’ real IP addresses.

The agency did manage to arrest a lot of people for child pornography, but documents unsealed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) show the NIT was actually used on innocent users.

According to the documents, the FBI was allowed to “investigate any user who logs into any of the TARGET ACCOUNTS by entering a username and password”. Yet, the NIT was used on users even before the TorMail login page appeared. WIRED’s coverage at the time claims users were given a “Down for Maintenance” page that carried the malware, on al websites hosted by Freedom Hosting.

// -- Become a yearly Platinum Member and save 69 USD and get access to our secret group on Workplace. Click here to change your current membership -- //

Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the ACLU told told Motherboard:

While the warrant authorized hacking with a scalpel, the FBI delivered their malware to TorMail users with a grenade

The malware was quickly discovered by the community, and that forced the Feds to end their operation sooner than expected. Be that as it may, the FBI still arrested a large number of child pornographers.

Christopher Soghoian also noted that it remains unclear whether the court knew the FBI hacked innocent users it shouldn’t have, and whether the agents who did it were punished.

// -- Get exclusive consultation for as low as $249 per month on MoneyMakers.com -- //

How the Feds Caught the Pedophiles

Although the Feds allegedly hacked innocent users, they still got the job done, as their malware exploited a critical memory management vulnerability in Firefox, which later fixed the problem.

The NIT specifically targeted Tor’s Firefox version, through a hidden Windows executable named “Magneto”. All it did was look up the infected user’s MAC address – a unique hardware identifier – and the Windows hostname. Then it was all sent to a server in Virginia outside of Tor, exposing the user’s real IP address.

Magneto also sent a serial number that tied the victim to her visit to the hacked websites. Those who noticed the hidden iframe tag that loaded the JavaScript code, noticed a lot of work went into simply identifying users, so the Feds became a suspect.

Still, after identifying users’ real IP addresses, their anonymity was broken. Thus, child pornographers were taken down.

Image from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.



Feedback or Requests?

Francisco Memoria

Francisco Memoria

Cryptocurrency enthusiast, writing about financial freedom and the future of money

There are no comments.

View Comments (0) ...
Navigation
The team:
Dmitriy Lavrov
Analyst
Dmitriy Lavrov is a professional trader, technical analyst and money manager with 10 years of trading experience. He covers Forex, Commodities and Cryptocurrencies. He is among the top 10 most Read More
Jonas Borchgrevink
Founder
Jonas Borchgrevink is the founder of Hacked.com and CryptoCoinsNews.com. He is a serial entrepreneur, trader and investor. He shares his own personal journey on Hacked.com. // -- Discuss and ask Read More
P.H. Madore
ICO Analyst
P. H. Madore lives in Arkansas with his wife and children. He has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked’s sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as Read More
Mate Csar
Analyst
Trader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive Read More
Justin O’Connell
Journalist
Justin O’Connell is a cryptocurrency journalist who works have appeared in the U.S.’s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader & VICE. // -- Discuss and ask questions in our community Read More
Mati Greenspan
Analyst
Senior Market Analyst at Etoro.com. // -- Discuss and ask questions in our community on Workplace. Don't have an account? Send Jonas Borchgrevink an email -- // Important: Never invest Read More
Rakesh Upadhyay
Analyst
Rakesh Upadhyay is a Technical Analyst and Portfolio Consultant for The Summit Group. He has more than a decade of experience as a private trader. His philosophy is to use Read More
Pamela Meropiali
Account Manager
Pamela Meropiali is responsible for users on Hacked.com. // -- Discuss and ask questions in our community on Workplace. Don't have an account? Send Jonas Borchgrevink an email -- // Read More
Joseph Young
Journalist
Joseph Young is a finance and tech journalist & analyst based in Hong Kong. He has worked with leading media and news agencies in the technology and finance industries, offering Read More
Intel announced the first Intel drone designed specifically for light…