A nameless member of the hacker activist group “Anonymous” took credit on Wednesday for releasing a trove of information pertaining to members of the Westboro Baptist Church and claimed his group is planning to permanently wipe the hate group off the Internet.
“We’re starting out with their websites,” the person told progressive talk show host David Pakman. “As far as we know, the Jester — he’s an internationally known hacker himself — has taken down 18 of the 19 Westboro Baptist Church websites permanently. The only one we know of right now is GofHatesFags.com.”
Despite the claim, there appear to be 10 Westboro Baptist Church domains currently in operation, including AmericaIsDoomed.com, JewsKilledJesus.com and GodHatesIslam.com, among others. Raw Story (http://s.tt/1xrsG)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands have signed two separate petitions that would classify Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group and strip it of its tax exempt status. The petitions were started after members of Westboro announced plans to protest a Sunday vigil in Newtown, Conn.
After Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Shirey Phelps-Roper tweeted plans to protest the vigil, “to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgement,” the hacktivist group known as “Anonymous” threatened the church via video. In it, an automated voice says, “We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred. We will not allow you to inspire aggression to the social faction which you deem inferior. We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.”
In addition to the video, Anonymous hacked Westboro’s website and released personal information about church members including names, street addresses, phone numbers and email addresses according to CNET.
Anonymous didn’t stop there. Using its Twitter account, Anonymous asked its followers to sign a petition that would investigate the IRS tax-exempt status of the church. As stated on the White House website, the petition claims: “The Westboro Baptist Church is better-known for homophobic displays, suing people and picketing funerals than for providing Christian care to a community. Due to their harassment and politicking, their IRS tax-exempt status should be immediately investigated.”
A total of 16,062 signatures are needed before the White House will review the petition. As of noon on Monday, nearly 10,000 people had signed it.
A newly revealed Al Qaeda video calls on followers to launch cyberattacks on Western targets, a message called “alarming” by U.S. lawmakers in light of the increase in such attacks last year.
Sens. Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman, who top the Senate Homeland Security Committee, say they first learned of the Al Qaeda video a week ago in a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“This tape is really alarming,” Collins, R-Maine, told Fox News. “It’s essentially instructing anybody who’s sympathetic with Al Qaeda’s ideology to engage in cyberattacks, and the tape is telling them how easy it is to do so.”
The six-minute video instructs Al Qaeda followers that the U.S. is vulnerable to cyberattacks in the same way airline security was vulnerable in 2001 before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The video calls on Muslims “with expertise in this domain to target the websites and information systems of big companies and government agencies.”
Lieberman, I-Conn., said it’s hardly surprising that Al Qaeda would turn to such attacks.
“Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are focused on cyber warfare because it can be carried out, if you have somebody smart enough, at very little expense,” Lieberman said.
The senators said the Homeland Security Department responded to 100,000 cyber incidents in 2011, and there was a five-fold increase in the number of attacks aimed at industrial control systems. They are the central nervous system of critical infrastructure, including power plants and dams.
“There has been a huge increase in the number of cyberattacks against our country in the last two years,” Collins said. “It would be naive for us to think that Al Qaeda is not responsible for at least some of those attacks.”
Without getting into classified information, Lieberman confirmed that there has been a spike in cyber intrusions — believed to originate with Iran.
“There is real evidence that the Al Qaeda groups want to pursue and are beginning to pursue the capacity to launch a cyberattack against America,” he emphasized. “I mean, that is the real and present danger and that Iran will share that cyberattack capacity with terrorist groups.”
Fox News has learned this so-called electronic jihad was part of a two-hour Al Qaeda online video that was the basis for the FBI and Homeland Security intelligence bulletin last summer about possible lone wolf attacks. Asked why it took so long to flag the specific threat to the Senate committee, neither federal agency gave an immediate response.
The Senate is scheduled to take up its version of legislation tackling cyber security next month.
FBI quietly forms secretive Net-surveillance unit –CNET has learned that the FBI has formed a Domestic Communications Assistance Center, which is tasked with developing new electronic surveillance technologies, including intercepting Internet, wireless, and VoIP communications. 22 May 2012 The FBI has recently formed a secretive surveillance unit with an ambitious goal: to invent technology that will let police more readily eavesdrop on Internet and wireless communications. The establishment of the Quantico, Va.-based unit, which is also staffed by agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency, is a response to technological developments that FBI officials believe outpace law enforcement’s ability to listen in on private communications.
New York Legislation Would Ban Anonymous Online Speech 22 May 2012 Did you hear the one about the New York state [GOP] lawmakers who forgot about the First Amendment in the name of combating cyberbullying and “baseless political attacks?” Proposed legislation in both chambers would require New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.” No votes on the measures have been taken.
Anonymous attacks Justice Dept., nabbing 1.7GB of data –In a new hack into the U.S. Department of Justice’s Web site, Anonymous claims to have grabbed “lots of shiny things such as internal emails, and the entire database dump.” 22 May 2012 In a hack it dubbed “Monday Mail Mayhem,” Anonymous claims to have collected and released 1.7GB of data from the U.S. Department of Justice yesterday. “Within the booty you may find lots of shiny things such as internal emails, and the entire database dump,” the hacker group wrote on the AnonNews Web site. “We Lulzed as they took the website down after being owned, clearly showing they were scared of what inevitably happened.”
Summary: Temporary blackouts leave China’s Internet users unable to access many Chinese Web sites as well as other unblocked foreign sites. Chinese Telecoms deny any network issues.
At approximately 11am local time yesterday, Internet users around China reported significant Internet blackouts. Not only were they unable to access some Chinese sites, but also many foreign Web sites that had not previously been blocked.
The issue was not isolated to China. Web users in Hong Kong and Japan also reported issues with accessing Chinese sites. A number of explanations immediately came to light, with the most viable cause being the 8.7 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia on Wednesday, that might have damaged undersea cables.
However, reports from China’s major telecommunication companies — China Telecom and Unicom — suggest that this was not the case. China Telecom confirmed that the earthquake had not interfered with the underwater cables in any way.
Both companies also shot down theories that the outage could have been caused by some sort of blip in the system, with Telecom insisting that there was no issue with their network. As all Chinese Internet traffic passes through the two networks’ infrastructure to get overseas, this had seemed like a likely culprit.
With the mystery of what happened becoming murkier, many have been speculating as to what could have caused the blackout.
It was arguably far too quick to be a response to Anonymous’ war rally against China’s Great Firewall, which even they admitted will take time to crack.
Others have suggested that the temporary outage might have been a test run of an emergency ‘kill switch’, in case extreme measures need to be taken in the ongoing crackdown of the Chinese Internet.
According to Tech in Asia, VPNs that had previously allowed Internet users to get around the Great Firewall were down, but that smaller VPN providers seemed to be unscathed. This could suggest a deliberate targeting of such services, but at the moment, we can only speculate.
Admittedly, it does seem as though such a ‘kill switch’ would be extreme and far-fetched. However, the absence of clearer explanations lends the theory some credibility. China’s Ministy of Industry and Information Technology has been silent over the blackout, and so have much of the state-run media.
China Daily, People’s Daily and Xinhua, some of China’s major news publications are continuing to cover the growing ‘rumours’ issue, but not the blackout.
It could be relatively insignificant, but as Wall Street Journal’s Josh Chin points out, “the episode did illustrate just how jumpy China watchers and China Internet users have become in recent days.”
For months, The Real Sabu, as he called himself on Twitter, boasted, cursed and egged on his followers to take part in computer attacks against private companies and government agencies worldwide.
“Don’t give in to these people,” he wrote on Monday, ridiculing “cowards” in the federal government. “Fight back. Stay strong.”
It turns out that Sabu had become an informant for federal law enforcement authorities. On Tuesday, in what could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the government crackdown on a loose, large confederation of politically inspired “hacktivists,” he was unmasked and revealed to have helped the authorities catch several fellow hackers in Europe and the United States.
Four men in Britain and Ireland were charged Tuesday with computer crimes; a fifth man was arrested Monday in Chicago.
Court papers identified Sabu as Hector Xavier Monsegur, 28, of New York. He pleaded guilty last August to a dozen counts of conspiracy to attack computers. He had operated since then as usual — as The Real Sabu, instigating attacks and quoting revolutionaries online.
The prosecutions are part of a wave of coordinated efforts to rein in a leaderless, multinational movement called Anonymous, which has drawn attention for its protests against the Church of Scientology and in support of the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks. It has spawned spinoffs with different names and insignias, among them LulzSec, which claimed to attack computer security companies for laughs, or lulz, and of which Sabu was a prominent, outspoken member.
Just last week, Interpol announced the arrests of 25 people suspected of being Anonymous members in Europe. Sabu reacted to that news on Twitter by urging others to attack Interpol’s Web site.
Mr. Monsegur’s base of operations seems to have been his late grandmother’s sixth-floor apartment in a public-housing project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He was apparently self-trained, and he appears to have been equally skilled at hacking and deceiving his fellow hackers. His downfall, if nothing else, will sow even more distrust and dissension in the ranks of Anonymous.
“It is going to be very difficult for Anonymous to recover from such a breach of trust,” said Mikko Hypponen, a security researcher at F-Secure Labs in Helsinki. “You can see the Anonymous people now looking left and right and realizing, if they couldn’t trust Sabu, who can they trust?”
Whether this will temper the larger hacker cause remains to be seen. Anonymous is a decentralized movement that is, broadly speaking, opposed to state institutions and the companies that work with them, and its members have embraced an ever-shifting variety of causes, including animal rights and democracy in the Middle East.
The ranks are steadily replenished with people of varying skills. The targets have included Fox News, Sony, the government contractor HBGary and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Favored tactics are either to start brute-force attacks aimed at slowing or shutting down sites, or to break into computer systems and expose embarrassing communications.
Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who studies the Anonymous movement and teaches at McGill University in Montreal, said she expected the latest prosecutions would most likely have “a chilling effect” on their hacking tactics.
“These are moments of massive reflection — who are we, what do we want to be?” she said of Anonymous.
The group’s latest highly publicized breach was of the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor. Its system was first penetrated last December, and the hackers exposed its customers’ names and e-mail addresses. Then, starting last week, its internal communications were released on the Internet by a new partner, WikiLeaks.
On Monday night, the F.B.I. arrested Jeremy Hammond, 27, of Chicago, in connection with the Stratfor breach. Mr. Hammond is charged with stealing credit card information and using some of it to rack up more than $700,000 in charges.
Mr. Hammond’s neighbors on Tuesday described him as a friendly man who dressed eccentrically, sometimes wearing mismatched shoes and, other times, suspenders. He sat on the front porch of the red brick house where he rented a first-floor apartment, and sometimes played the banjo and made up songs about the goings-on on the street.
Mr. Hammond’s eccentricities apparently involved previous run-ins with the F.B.I. In 2006, he was convicted of having hacked into a political group’s computer server and stolen credit card numbers. He was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
Also charged in a separate indictment were two Britons, Ryan Ackroyd, 23, and Jake Davis, 29. Mr. Davis, who was known by his nickname Topiary and was as loquacious on Twitter as Mr. Monsegur, was arrested last July in the Shetland Islands.
Also charged in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York were Darren Martyn, 25, whose nicknames included Pwnsauce, and Donncha O’Cearrbhail, 19, who was known as Palladium.
All four men are accused of hacking into the computer systems of, among others, Fox Broadcasting, Sony Pictures Entertainment and PBS over the last year. (Fox News first reported the prosecutions on Tuesday.)
Mr. O’Cearrbhail is separately charged with breaching the personal e-mail account of an Irish law enforcement official and using it to covertly record a conference call in January in which authorities from several countries, including F.B.I. agents, were discussing investigations of Anonymous and other hacktivist groups.
Mr. Monsegur, for his part, was described as a smart, politically motivated hacker who had steered clear of trouble with the law — unlike his father, a Bronx resident who was convicted of selling heroin and spent seven years in prison.
A family member who did not want to be identified said that Mr. Monsegur was tall and heavy, and known for being into computers, video games and cars. He had been close to his grandmother, whose apartment in the Jacob Riis Houses became his home and his workshop. He has been living there with his girlfriend’s two children, a person in law enforcement said.
Online, Mr. Monsegur was generating international mayhem, according to the complaint, participating in an attack on PayPal, defacing the Web site of the prime minister of Tunisia and breaking into the government of Yemen’s computers. His role, court documents say, was to act as a “rooter,” identifying vulnerabilities in the target’s systems.
Some residents of the housing complex were shocked to hear of the charges. “I don’t believe it,” said Jaime Reyes, who said he had known Mr. Monsegur for many years, adding: “He was a good kid.” Mr. Reyes said Mr. Monsegur seemed to be off at work a lot, and when he was home he was busy taking care of the children. “The way I see him, if somebody was a hacker, they would be home all day,” he said.
As is common in cases involving informants, a federal judge will eventually decide whether Mr. Monsegur will be sentenced to jail or to what extent his punishment will be reduced in exchange for his cooperation.
In the days just before his guilty plea was announced, Mr. Monsegur — or Sabu on Twitter — was his usual bombastic self. “You think arresting my people will stop our idea? Our love and solidarity will not cease but will be empowered. We are stronger than the gov,” he wrote last week.
His last post, on Monday afternoon, was adapted from a quote from the Marxist activist Rosa Luxemburg, in German. “The revolution says I am, I was, I will be,” it said.
Out of the frying pan, into the fire: Global intelligence firm Stratfor may have secured its perimeters after its servers were infiltrated late last year, but a mammoth email dump just hit the grid courtesy Wikileaks.
In December 2011, members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous suggested they’d breached Texas-based intelligence and threat analysis firm Stratfor, goading the company by tweeting “Thanks for storing your customers’ CC/CCV #s in cleartext, w/corresponding addresses. Y u no bother encrypting?” At the time, a security firm laid hands on the stolen data, deducing that 9,000 active credit cards, 27,000 phone numbers and 20,000 “easily cracked” passwords had been dumped into the online wilds. Anonymous members also claimed at the time that they had emails from over 100 company employees and would eventually release them.
U.S. Official Signals Growing Concern Over Anonymous Group’s Capabilities
If you see this man, will you call the FBI? (Note to self... Chuck my V mask.)
The director of the National Security Agency has warned that the hacking group Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack.
Gen. Keith Alexander, the director, provided his assessment in meetings at the White House and in other private sessions, according to people familiar with the gatherings. While he hasn’t publicly expressed his concerns about the potential for Anonymous to disrupt power supplies, he has warned publicly about an emerging ability by cyberattackers to disable or even damage computer networks.
Gen. Keith Alexander, the director, provided his assessment in meetings at the White House and in other private sessions, according to people familiar with the gatherings. Possible scenarios discussed, the former official said, included one in which a foreign government developed the attack capability and outsourced it to a group like Anonymous, or if a U.S. adversary like al Qaeda hired hackers to mount a cyberattack.