Romanian hacker Marcel Lehel Lazar, known by his hacker moniker “Guccifer” was sentenced today to 52 months in prison. Lazard is known for hacking many major politicians such as Hillary Clinton, the Bush political family as well as the email and social media accounts of over 100 Americans, which he leaked online.
The now 44-year-old Marcel Lehel Lazar had a day job as a cab driver while carrying out hacking sprees that targeted prominent Americans, all the way from Romania. It wasn’t long before he rose to prominence himself, stateside. It was Lazar, popularly or infamously known by his nickname “Guccifer”, who first exposed the very existence of the much-debated private email server used by Hillary Clinton, back when the Democratic Presidential candidate was the U.S. secretary of state.
Beyond Hillary Clinton, Lazar’s victims include other notable politicians such as Secretary of State Colin Powell, family members of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Celebrities such as Steve Martin and Leonardo di Caprio were also targets during his many hacking sprees.
Lehel was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2014 on charges of cyberstalking, unauthorized access to a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
The law has now caught up with him, with the DOJ releasing details of his sentencing and plea agreement where Lazar admitted to carrying out multiple hacking crimes between October 2012 and January 2014.
An excerpt from today’s DOJ release read:
In many instances, Lazar publically released his victims’ private email correspondence, medical and financial information and personal photographs, according to the statement of facts filed with his plea agreement.
Through a combination of basic computer skills, social engineering cunning and guess-work, Lazar was able to gain access to multiple private email accounts of his victims.
Prosecutors have previously argued that Lazar was a misfit who sought fame. He was also reportedly interested in the occult and actively targeted U.S. officials to try and establish links with the Illuminati.
The former taxi driver arguably became the world’s most-known hacker after hacking and taking control of the email account belonging to Sidney Blumenthal, the Clinton family’s confidant. Here, ‘Guccifer’ proceeded to copy several emails that contained correspondence with Hillary Clinton, emails which contained elaborate and sensitive details of international affairs and more. The ensuing storm surrounding Hillary’s use of a private email server continues to plague her campaign, even after the FBI’s director saw no reason for Hillary Clinton to face charges.
Images from YouTube/NBC News, Shutterstock.
The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency
For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.
The Pirates Are At It Again
The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”
Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.
Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.
CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.
“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.
The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.
Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally
The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.
Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.
Coders Safeguard Vulnerable Ethereum Wallets Following Security Breach
Ethereum suffered large-scale security breaches last week after anonymous hackers targeted vulnerable wallets in the network, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. However, it didn’t take long for a volunteer group of coders to “rescue” the funds in 500 at-risk wallets before the same attackers could get to them too.
White Hat Group Takes Charge
The so-called White Hat Group showed initiative by “rescuing” the funds using the same techniques the thieves employed to compromise $32 million USD worth of ether from three multi-signature wallets. As of Monday, the White Hat Group of ethical hackers was in possession of $86 million worth of ether and an additional $122 million in tokens.
Tokens are digital assets that are sold during an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) fundraising event. They have proven to be extremely popular.
Tens of millions of dollars worth of ether and tokens have already been returned to their owners. The White Hat Group says it will issue full refunds by the end of July.
Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also breached last week, resulting in the loss of more than $7 million worth of ether.
Security Breaches Nothing New in Crypto World
For all its benefits, cryptocurrency has been vulnerable to several high-profile security breaches. Last summer, Hong Kong-based Bitfinex was the target of a major attack that resulted in the theft of around $70 million worth of bitcoins. In response, the exchange announced a controversial plans to “socialize” its losses among all users. Each Bitfinex trader was docked 36% as a result.
Bitcoin prices declined sharply following the attack, stopping what had been a blistering summer of gains.
Ethereum Enterprise Alliance
For anyone doubting the potential of the ether, take a look at the list of companies participating in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). The EEA is a forum that connects Fortune 500 companies, startups and academics with ethereum subject matter experts. The EEA is made up of multinational banks and some of the world’s biggest technology companies.
The forum has made cyber security a top priority, according to a May 22 press release. In the release, companies like Infosys, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Synechron and others expressed their intent to contribute to the future of ethereum’s security.
Hackers Only Need Seconds to Figure Out Card Details
Experts from Newcastle University in England has found that hackers only need six seconds to figure out the card number, expiry date, and security code for a Visa debit or credit card by simple guesswork, according to a report from The Telegraph.
According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, in the U.K. the number of bank account fraud cases reported up to June 2016, from the beginning of the year, amounted to over 2.3 million.
The researchers found that all that a hacker needs is a computer and an Internet connection. It is believed that hackers simply utilize what is known as a Distributed Guessing Attack enabling them to get around security features that help prevent online fraud.
By using the Distributed Guessing Attack, the system was unable to detect multiple attempts made by hackers.
Process of Elimination
As such, within a matter of seconds hackers were able to determine the correct information on a person’s card by a process of elimination.
Only recently Tesco bank account customers were subjected to hacking after criminals were able to gain access to their accounts. It is believed that these hackers may have used the Distributed Guessing Attack to siphon money from peoples’ accounts.
Payment Cards Remain Vulnerable
Unfortunately, even though Visa debit and credit cards remain popular and convenient forms of payment, they remain vulnerable as well.
And hackers know this, which is why reports of online card fraud are becoming more prevalent in today’s technologically-advanced world.
Visa states though:
The research does not take into account the multiple layers of fraud prevention that exist within the payments system, each of which must be met in order to make a transaction possible in the real world.
However, while this may be the case, it seems something is amiss if cybercriminals can simply determine a person’s card details in six seconds through guesswork.
Bitcoin to the Rescue?
The digital currency bitcoin, however, may provide an answer to this problem.
As a type of digital currency that is held and created electronically with no central bank governing it, bitcoin is considered the cash of the Internet.
Due to its popularity more people are turning to it instead of fiat currency.
It was recently reported that Sweden is considering the issuance of its own digital currency, ekrona, in an effort to address the significant decline of the use of cash in the country.
Whereas India has announced that digital currency will become the new normal in the country as it attempts to reduce the amount of cash transactions with the banning of its biggest banknotes, the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
While these are just a few instances of how bitcoin is revolutionizing how we see money, many are quickly catching on to how safe and effective bitcoin is as a form of payment in a world where hackers are gaining easy access to a person’s Visa debit and credit cards.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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