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Category Archives: Cybersecurity: Crime and Espionage

The Sony Hack: Will the United States Take Countermeasures Against North Korea?

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Friday, December 19, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Now that the United States has concluded that North Korea was responsible for the hack into Sony’s computers, it has begun to make noises about responding to that hack in some way. If the United States wants to make its response consistent with international law, how should it think about how to proceed? Mike Schmitt posted an . . .
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On the Sony Hack

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Friday, December 19, 2014 at 1:28 PM

I’ve written two essays on the Sony hack, one for the Wall Street Journal, and the other for Vice Motherboard. The former opens: Earlier this month, a mysterious group that calls itself Guardians of Peace hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer systems and began revealing many of the Hollywood studio’s best-kept secrets, from details about unreleased . . .
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Sony Counter Attacks

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11:32 AM

The reality of conflict (not war) in the cyber domain — Sony is now reported to be launching DDoS attacks against the hackers attempting to distribute its confidential documents: Sony has launched a counterattack against people trying to download leaked files stolen from its servers after a massive hack. Re/code is reporting that Sony is . . .
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Mysterious ’08 Turkey Pipeline Blast Opened New Cyberwar Era

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Bloomberg has the story.  For those who think that cyber conflict is a bit of a myth, this is a cautionary tale.  From the opening: The pipeline was outfitted with sensors and cameras to monitor every step of its 1,099 miles from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The blast that blew it out of . . .
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Lawfare Buys a Bitcoin — Introduction

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 8:04 AM

Lawfare has decided to buy a bitcoin. We do this not as an investment but as an experiment in journalism. Buying a bitcoin will let us explore the mechanics of how the market works and also give us a fun platform to look at some of the legal and policy issues surrounding crypto-currency. This introductory . . .
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NSA Hacking of Cell Phone Networks

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Monday, December 8, 2014 at 3:01 PM

The Intercept has published an article—based on the Snowden documents—about AURORAGOLD, an NSA surveillance operation against cell phone network operators and standards bodies worldwide. This is not a typical NSA surveillance operation where agents identify the bad guys and spy on them. This is an operation where the NSA spies on people designing and building . . .
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New CNAS Report on China’s Cybersecurity Strategy

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Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Over at the Center for a New American Security, researcher Amy Chang is out with a detailed report entitled, “Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity Strategy.” As the report points out: Devising an optimal strategy to address the challenges in the U.S.-China cyber relationship first requires an understanding of the motives, agendas, and stakeholders embedded in the . . .
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More on Pass Phrases and Fingerprints …. Gestures

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Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Yesterday I posted a short blog on an interesting VA decision regarding the application the Fifth Amendment privilege to the question of unlocking cell phones and other devices.  The short summary is that the court held that compelling disclosure of a pass phrase or code was protected and could not be compelled, but that the . . .
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The FBI Impersonates the Media: Some of the Rules Governing Cyber-Subterfuge

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Friday, November 7, 2014 at 2:54 PM

The developing story of the FBI’s impersonation of journalists is, in a way, really the story of Timberline high school in Washington State. In June of 2007 Timberline had received a series of bomb threats, prompting a week of evacuations. The FBI and local law enforcement traced the problem to an anonymous account on the . . .
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How Not to Do Remote Computer Searches

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Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Recently The Guardian reported on FBI demands new powers to hack into computers and carry out surveillance. The FBI is seeking to make several changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which governs how law enforcement can conduct court-approved searches.  Under the proposal, in investigating compromised machines (e.g., those in a botnet), law . . .
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Axiom — A Chinese APT

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 4:39 PM

And just to prove that we are equal-opportunity victims, I also saw, today, this report from Novetta on “Operation SMN” – a report on a Chinese APT dubbed Axiom.  Here’s a bit of the Executive Summary: Axiom is responsible for directing highly sophisticated cyber espionage operations against numerous Fortune 500 companies, journalists, environmental groups, pro-democracy . . .
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Russian APT28

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 11:58 AM

We tend to focus our attention on Chinese APT cyber threats for good reason — they tend to be more overt and focus on American business interests.  But we should not lose sight of the fact that Russian cyber skills are just as good (perhaps even better) than Chinese ones. And now, FireEye has reminded . . .
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So How Does Vladimir Putin Feel About Cyber, Anyway?

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Friday, October 3, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Two days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a significant cybersecurity speech to Russia’s Security Council. For all you Russian speakers, the original text and video can be found on the Kremlin’s website here.  For everyone else, I have translated the speech and posted it below. Though the speech is interesting for all sorts of . . .
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Why Indictments Won’t Stop China’s Cybersnooping

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 8:58 AM

The Chinese government and its proxies have recently ratcheted up harassment of U.S. IT firms doing business in China.  In the last week, China has deployed its antitrust laws against Qualcomm and Microsoft.  This comes on the heels of recent attacks in China on Apple and Cisco and IBM.  China has also increased its harassment of . . .
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New McAfee/CSIS Report on Cybercrime

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Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:56 AM

I participated today in a CSIS/McAfee roll-out of their latest report on the economic impact of cybercrime.  Their bottom line is that cybercrime has an annual effect of roughly $455 billion globally, with 200K jobs lost in the US alone as a result.  A nice summary of the report by the Washington Post is available here, . . .
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Germany’s Prosecutor Rolls Up His Sleeves On NSA Surveillance

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Friday, June 6, 2014 at 10:34 AM

A few weeks ago, Ben posted some comments about a Der Spiegel article that suggested the tensions between the United States and Germany were likely to die down. Not so fast, it appears. Germany’s top prosecutor has announced that he is opening an investigation into the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. A statement . . .
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The GameOver Zeus/CryptoLocker Indictment

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Following up on last weeks indictment of 5 Chinese PLA members for economic espionage, the Department of Justice continued yesterday its apparent prosecutorial offensive against cyber criminals.  The case, brought again in W.D. Pa. charges a Russian gang led by Evgeniy Bogachev with operating a huge botnet, known as GameOver Zeus.  Comprising perhaps as many as . . .
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Bits and Bytes

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Two interesting items today: Shane Harris has a look inside the FBI’s efforts to track the Chinese hackers.  Here’s the intro: “SolarWorld was fighting a losing battle. The U.S. subsidiary of the German solar panel manufacturer knew that its Chinese competitors, backed by generous government subsidies, were flooding the American market with steeply discounted solar . . .
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John Carlin’s Speech at Brookings on “Defending Our Nation by Prosecuting State-Sponsored Cyber Theft”

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Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Watch the event with Assistant Attorney General John Carlin here: And here are his remarks as prepared for delivery: Defending Our Nation by Prosecuting State-Sponsored Cyber Theft Thanks for that kind introduction. I’m grateful to be here at Brookings today discussing emerging national security threats. On Monday, the Department of Justice announced charges against five members of the . . .
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The U.S. Corporate Theft Principle

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 8:07 AM

David Sanger’s piece in this morning’s NYT explores the USG’s attempts to justify cracking down on cyber-theft of intellectual property of U.S. firms while at the same time continuing to spy on non-U.S. firms for different purposes.  We are familiar with the USG policy.  As DNI Clapper says in Sanger’s story, the USG does not . . .
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