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FBI Cracks Florida Man’s TrueCrypt Password

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fbi-cracks-truecrypt-password-encryption-backdoorAccording to recent reporting by South Florida’s Sun Sentinel, the government has managed to crack a TrueCrypt password in the case of Christopher Glenn. Army counterintelligence expert Gerald Parsons noted that in his estimation, it would have taken “billions” of years to do so by traditional methods with current capabilities.

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The actual likelihood of the FBI, or anyone, cracking the 30-character password by using brute force or any other technique is incredibly low. More likely, the lengthy password was written somewhere and investigators discovered it, or a backup was left with another party, who disclosed it.

See also: How to Encrypt & Decrypt Any File On Your System (Video Tutorial)

In this case, TrueCrypt was being used to protect stolen e-mails and attachments from an Army official at a base in Soto Cano, Honduras. Glenn worked for Harris Corporation, a computer security contractor who does a lot of work for the government. This was central to the case since Glenn had previously been expelled from a government contracting job in Iraq because of misconduct. He had hacked US government systems to help Iraqi firms win contracts. Further, he and his wife were accused of giving benefits to Iraqis that were supposed to be exclusive to Americans. That particular case, from 2007-2009, did not receive much attention due to its limited scale. Glenn had only injured the government in the amount of around $17,000, investigators have said.

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Also read: Florida Bringing Hacking Felony Charges Against 13-Year-Old

In the case of his Honduras work, the motive is unclear for Glenn’s theft and subsequent holding of the contents of the base commander’s classified e-mail account. In January, Glenn did confess and plead guilty to the crime. While it has not been stated publicly, this could have been when Glenn himself disclosed the TrueCrypt password as part of a plea agreement. Yesterday he received 10 years in federal prison. At no point during the investigation has he answered the question on everyone’s mind: why he did it. Instead, prosecutors have focused on the fact that much of the classified information could have been very dangerous to the United States in the wrong hands.

Also read: How to Create a Secure Password

No one from the FBI has publicly claimed to have cracked TrueCrypt, but then again this is not the sort of information the agency would want widely spread. After all, TrueCrypt is still one of the top destinations for anyone looking to encrypt files, for whatever purpose. If criminals continue to rely on it while not knowing it has been broken (the software’s maintenance was discontinued in a long, drawn-out intellectual property dispute), the FBI could see a higher rate of conviction on evidence. The question of whether hacking by the government for the purpose of obtaining evidence violates the 4th amendment will always exist, but if TrueCrypt and other forms of strong encryption start unraveling, it will certainly be a question brought up more often.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. NemEu

    August 6, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    so what really happened? they brute forced the 30 character or discovered it ?

    • Mirco Romanato

      August 6, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      I bet they did a dictionary attack of some sort.
      Usually people use something they are able to memorize.

      • NemEu

        August 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm

        so anyway was bruteforce

        • Steve Bones

          August 18, 2015 at 11:59 pm

          Nope. The sun would go out before a random 30 character pw was brute forced.

      • Steve Bones

        August 18, 2015 at 11:57 pm

        30 character dictionary attack? Doubtful unless it’s “Dick and Dora went up the hill”, which would be cracked in minutes. More likely it was random text which he had to write down because he couldn’t remember it – or a keylogger or other exploit. The recent TC audit was very professional and came up relatively clean, no backdoors.

  2. MikeyTG

    August 7, 2015 at 11:33 am

    My guess is this is a little gubment FUD. They want to imply that truecrypt was cracked so people will stop using it.

    • englishvinal

      August 7, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      My opinion.. YOU are right on!

    • NemEu

      August 7, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      makes sense, due the latest truecrypt version on oficial website with that strange notice with NSA initials in CamelCase…you know …

    • P. H. Madore

      August 7, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      Or to try and scare people into whatever the new “it” tool is.

    • Robert Genito

      August 11, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Trucrypt files have a suspicious area of data that is undocumented and not much information can be found on this mysterious block of data. This combined with the fact that there’s simply just not enough peer review for Trucrypt is the *exact* reason why I do not use Trucrypt. It’s also likely the reason why a 30 character password was easily discovered. Let’s call it a back door 🙂

      • Steve Bones

        August 18, 2015 at 11:44 pm

        Let’s NOT call it a back door 🙂 None of the code in TC is documented. And even better than “peer review”, *all* of the source code has now been audited by NCC Group Inc. with only 2 areas (CryptAcquireContext may silently fail in unusual scenarios & AES Implementation susceptible to cache timing attacks) considered to be high risk – but also extremely high difficulty in attacking. I’m interested in this “suspicious area of data” you talk about because there is no mention of it in the NCC Group audit report. Or are you referring to the very minor issue that there is some “Unauthenticated ciphertext in volume headers” which was found by NCC Group to be very low risk and very high attack sophistication. Please tell us more about this “mysterious block of data”.

  3. englishvinal

    August 7, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    From the available facts, the govt. is full of shysa as usual… “never let a crisis/opportunity go to waste”…and the propaganda machine is spewing “we cracked an uncrackable code”.. ha ha ha.
    Makes people stop using the encryption because they don’t trust it anymore… makes life easier for the goons and mafia… fewer uncrackable codes to mess with.

    • P. H. Madore

      August 7, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      I recommend this as a TL;DR on my article. 😀

      • P. H. Madore

        August 7, 2015 at 7:34 pm

        Although, I would add that the fuzz most likley has their own new little freecrypt program.

        I will say that SourceForge had some weird data issues a few weeks back, still recovering IIRC. Dunno how that would even play into it, but what if they needed to doctor up a repo version history, or completely rewrite one, on a certain little crypto program that another thing was based on, and then when that thing went upstream, well, the bugs in the water, which fish will catch him first? It’ll be a little one, who will be little heard, except on little sites like this one. (I hope.)

        Anyway I think that would be the more likley motive: get people using whatever the top google result will be for “freecrypting.”

        Those who really understand cryptography on a basic level understand that all of it really begins with you. If your password was crackable at 30-characters, it had to be a phrase. IF.

  4. concerndcitizen

    August 7, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    These “publicly available” crypto solutions are NOT as secure as people think. Combine some reasonable guesses with known information and it narrows down the number of guesses you have to make. There are more shortcuts than people imagine. The key gen for many original BTC wallets used SSL and the time in seconds, not nanoseconds, you can noodle over that for a bit. This is no big surprise.

    • P. H. Madore

      August 7, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      I’m just surprised that someone who knows what BTC is actually buys, for a second, that the FBI, the jokers who can’t even secure the White House (IDC if it’s not their department…), had actually hacked TrueCrypt.

      • Steve Bones

        August 18, 2015 at 11:54 pm

        Yep, I’m with ya. Until quantum computing, it’s sloppy housekeeping (written passwords esp. for 30 character pw’s like this guy’s, caught with live and open notebook, notebook ram scraped for plaintext key, hardware keylogger placed inside the notebook, one of the state sanctioned software keyloggers, JS/activex/flash exploits, etc and etcetera).

    • wonky tonky

      August 8, 2015 at 7:14 am

      thats why i roll my private key with dice 🙂

  5. solid12345

    August 7, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Notice this comes weeks after James Comey was whining about encryption on the Senate floor.

    • P. H. Madore

      August 7, 2015 at 7:29 pm

      Let’s hope a Senator gets him to clarify what happened next time. “So, didn’t you crack one in Florida? Why do we need a new law and all this money if you can crack them? Man up and crack the passwords like a good little boy, now.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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