Tech

Homecoming Queen (and Her Mom) Arrested for Alleged Vote Hacking


This week noticed new revelations of election interference, each large and small: On one finish of the spectrum, an alleged mother-daughter conspiracy to digitally rig a Florida highschool’s vote for homecoming queen. On the opposite, Russia’s affect operations designed to bolster Trump and sabotage Biden within the 2020 presidential election. News of this insidious scheme has raised questions in regards to the basic resilience of American democracy—and the factor with the Kremlin is fairly unhealthy too.

On Tuesday, a newly declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence make clear how Russian intelligence businesses sought to affect the 2020 presidential election and swing it in direction of Trump—although with out the identical form of disruptive hacking that plagued the 2016 election. In different Russia information, Apple caved to Moscow’s demands that it prompt users to preload Russian-made apps on its iPhone there, opening the door to related calls for from different nations.

In the UK, police and web service suppliers are testing a new surveillance system to log users’ online histories, following the nation’s passage in 2016 of a legislation that is come to be often called the “Snooper’s Charter.” And in higher information for the safety of the web, Facebook has built a so-called “Red Team X” of hackers who search out vulnerabilities in not solely Facebook’s personal software program, however all of the software program Facebook makes use of—and within the course of making that software program safer for everybody.

Toward the top of the week, a SpaceX engineer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. The SEC filed a criticism as effectively, marking the primary time the company has pursued costs associated to darkish internet exercise.

And there’s extra! Each week we spherical up all of the information we didn’t cowl in depth. Click on the headlines to learn the total tales. And keep secure on the market.

Last fall, election software program maker Election Runner contacted college directors at J. M. Tate High School to alert them to one thing fishy about their latest vote for homecoming queen. As the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would later write in charging paperwork, 117 votes had been forged from a single IP handle, all for a single 17-year-old woman, the daughter of the varsity’s vice principal, Laura Rose Carroll. But every of these votes had required coming into the voter’s distinctive scholar ID quantity and beginning date—a thriller that was quickly solved when police discovered from the varsity’s scholar council coordinator that the homecoming queen allegedly had been speaking about utilizing her mom’s community account to forged votes. Investigators say witnesses later informed them that the woman had bragged about casually abusing her mom’s credentials to entry different college students’ grades. And police additionally say they discovered that the mom was conscious of her daughter’s habits, seemingly sharing her new password when she up to date it each 45 days. Both mom and daughter had been arrested and charged with fraudulently accessing confidential scholar information—except for grades and scholar IDs, the community additionally contained extra delicate information like medical historical past and disciplinary information.

A single zero-day vulnerability within the arms of hackers normally units them other than the unskilled lots. Now Google’s Threat Analysis Group and Project Zero vulnerability analysis crew have found a single hacker group utilizing no fewer than 11 over the course of simply 9 months final 12 months—an arsenal that’s maybe unprecedented in cybersecurity historical past. Stranger nonetheless, Google had no particulars to supply about who the hackers is perhaps, their historical past, or their victims. The vulnerabilities they exploited had been present in generally used internet browsers and working techniques—comparable to Chrome on Windows 10 and Safari on iOS–permitting them to hold out extremely refined “watering hole” assaults that infect each customer to an contaminated web site that runs the weak software program. Though Google has now helped to reveal these flaws and get them patched, the thriller of an unknown, hyper-sophisticated and uniquely well-resourced hacker group stays disconcerting.

Last week the anarchist hacker Tillie Kottman made headlines with an unlimited safety breach, hacking 150,000 safety cameras bought by the agency Verkada that sit inside corporations, prisons, colleges, and different organizations world wide. This week Kottman, who makes use of the pronouns they/them, was indicted by the US Department of Justice for wire fraud, conspiracy, and identification theft. Kottman is accused of not solely final week’s safety digicam breach, but in addition acquiring and publicly sharing code repositories from greater than 100 companies—together with Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, Adobe, AMD, Nintendo, and plenty of extra—by means of an internet site they known as git.rip. In an interview with Bloomberg forward of the safety digicam hack revealed final week, Tillman described their motivations: “lots of curiosity, fighting for freedom of information and against intellectual property, a huge dose of anti-capitalism, a hint of anarchism—and it’s also just too much fun not to do it.”

It’s all the time ironic when exploiters of leaked private information eat their very own. But this specific case had maybe an anticipated final result given the title: Defunct hacked-password assortment service WeLeakInfo has leaked the information of 24,000 prospects of the service, in keeping with unbiased safety journalist Brian Krebs. Until it was seized a bit over a 12 months in the past by the FBI, WeLeakInfo was one in every of a number of companies that collected caches of hacked or leaked passwords and packaged them for sale. But now, after the FBI allowed one in every of WeLeakInfo’s domains to lapse, a hacker took over that area and used it to reset the service’s account login with fee service Stripe. That revealed the non-public information of the entire service’s prospects whose funds had been processed with Stripe, together with full names, addresses, cellphone numbers, IP addresses, and partial bank card numbers.

Motherboard reporter Joseph Cox has found a gaping vulnerability within the safety of textual content messaging. A hacker named Lucky225 demonstrated to him that Sakari, a service that enables companies to grant entry to its software program to ship SMS textual content messages from personal numbers, lets anybody to take over somebody’s quantity with solely a $16 month-to-month subscription and a “letter of authority” through which the hacker claims they’re licensed to ship and obtain messages from that quantity—all due to the extremely lax safety techniques of the telecommunications corporations. Cox did the truth is grant Lucky225 that permission, and Lucky225 confirmed in seconds that he couldn’t solely obtain Cox’s textual content messages however ship them from his quantity and reset and take over Cox’s accounts that use SMS as an authentication technique. A much less pleasant hacker with out permission may, after all, do the identical.

Military contractor Ulysses has provided in advertising and marketing supplies to trace tens of thousands and thousands of vehicles for prospects, in keeping with a doc obtained by Motherboard’s Joseph Cox, who in all probability deserves a number of investigative journalism awards by now. The firm bragged that it aggregates information from vehicles’ telematics techniques, although it isn’t clear precisely which sensors or which vehicles are sharing that information or how Ulysses obtained it. In one picture, it claims it has the power to “geo-locate one vehicle or 25,000,000, as shown here,” subsequent to a map coated with dots protecting a lot of Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Russia. An government for Ulysses responded to Motherboard’s questions by claiming the doc was “aspirational”—although the doc tells a distinct story–and that it has no authorities contracts associated to telematics.


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