Archive for March, 2015

How hard is it to permanently delete data?

The controversy surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email has brought data destruction to the forefront of the national conversation. Clinton used a server housed at her New York residence for her personal and official emails and online communications while she was at Foggy Bottom Lawmakers investigating the 2012 death of an ambassador in Libya have been concerned that official government emails from Clinton that might assist in the investigation were deleted despite assurances from Clinton that she turned over all emails pertaining to government work to the State Department.

Now reports say Clinton “wiped the server,” deleting all emails. But how easy is it to permanently wipe data from servers or storage media? According to experts who were interviewed recently by the Washington Post, the congressional committee charged with investigating the U.S. ambassador’s death in Benghazi might still be able to obtain Clinton’s deleted emails – in the event they can access the server.

Provided Clinton simply hit the delete button on her emails, they probably still exist. Files are not permanently deleted when a user hits the delete button. “Instead, the pointer the computer uses to find the file is removed, and the computer treats the space on your hard drive as reusable,” explained the Post. Though, depending on the amount of activity one performs on a device, data that is randomly stored could replace deleted items as it needs the space. Typically, additional steps must be taken in order to permanently delete items from a server.

If experienced experts were able to access Clinton’s server with the intention of retrieving emails, they might create a “physical forensic image,” which “creates an ‘identical, bit-by-bit, zero-by-zero copy of the original hard drive,’” the Post reported. This step is used to view the emails as they would appear in a read-only format preventing alterations. Following the physical forensic image, experts might attempt to locate and extract databases that house emails and then conduct a forensic analysis of unallocated spaces within those databases.

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PANAMA CITY BEACH– Every year thousands of spring breakers come to Panama City Beach to party at the clubs and bars, and every year, thousands of fake IDs are taken away. In fact, Club La Vela confiscates more fake IDs than any other nightclub in Florida. Newschannel 7′s Kelly Baumgarten sat down with the La Vela security team earlier today and found out how to tell a real ID from a fake.

Fake IDs are not new. Teens across the country spend big bucks to get their hands on a phony drivers license, but during spring break in Panama City Beach, security crews for clubs seize hundreds every night.

“Every person that comes up the door if we take their ID from them they wanna argue about it and say it’s real and it’s them and then we end up having to get law enforcement involved,” said Paul Winterman, Director of Customer Service at Club La Vela.

These are just some of the fake IDs that Club La Vela has confiscated in the past few weeks. In fact, club employees estimate that in the month of March alone they’ve confiscated more than 2000 fake IDs.

“It’s a big club sometimes you’ve got 4000 people coming through the door and everybody tries to use a fake ID and drink in the club,” said Winterman

Paul Winterman has been working on La Vela’s security team for 16 years and he’s also a former detective. He says there are a lot of ways to spot a fake.

“You can tell by holograms anything that sells seal of authenticity or has a key on it its fake”

Members of La Vela’s security team say if you bend an id and it creases, it’s almost always a fake.

“They get the holograms right, but they don’t get the glue right. The font’s never correct, the color’s always wrong. Kids are paying for them online they’re buying $120 $130 for two of them and we tend to spot them in the first 30 seconds,” said Philip Trivett, head of security at Club La Vela.

But Winterman says identifying a phony id doesn’t come easy to everyone.

“A lot of people will want to work the door, but when it comes down to it there’s a knack to it. Some people got the knack to catch the IDs, some people don’t. So we go through a lot of people training and end up having to put them in other positions other than the door because they’re not capable of doing the job.”

La Vela employees say officers with the Division of Florida Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco are on site 60% of the time during spring break. If the club spots a fake ID, the ABT will fine the person because it’s spring break. Any other time, possession of a fake ID would be a felony,

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The Federal Trade Commission and 32 law enforcement partners today announced the results of Operation Ruse Control, a nationwide and cross-border crackdown to protect consumers when purchasing or leasing a car, encompassing 252 enforcement actions. The six new FTC cases include more than $2.6 million in monetary judgments.

There were 187 enforcement actions in the United States since the agency’s last sweep, and 65 actions in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada. Enforcement efforts by the FTC, United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Alabama and other partners at the federal, state and local level in the U.S. and Canada include both civil and criminal charges of deceptive advertising, automotive loan application fraud, odometer fraud, deceptive add-on fees, and deceptive marketing of car title loans.

“For most people, buying a car is one of the largest purchases they’ll make,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Car ads must be truthful, loan terms must be clear, and dealer practices must be honest. That’s why our partners are working together to crack down on deceptive marketing about car sales, leasing and financing.”

“Growing fraud and other deceptive practices in auto sales and financing are important issues affecting consumers when they are buying a vehicle,” said Joyce White Vance, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. “My office has worked closely with the FTC on this issue, and has prosecuted criminal cases at a Birmingham dealership. The Mortgage, Loan Fraud and Discrimination Working Group of the Attorney General’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force also is working with other law enforcement agencies to determine what we can do now to prevent fraud during the auto lending process.”

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Android Apps Vulnerable to Hijacking

Almost half of Android smartphones are vulnerable to being hacked through third-party apps downloaded from stores outside the official outlet.

Discovered over a year ago, a Time-of-Check to Time-of-Use (TOCTTOU) vulnerability was uncovered. what is being called “Android Installer Hijacking” allows an attacker to hijack the usual Android APK installation process. It does not work on the Google Play store because a Play Store app cannot be accessed by other installed apps.

“On affected platforms, we discovered that the PackageInstaller has a “Time of Check” to “Time of Use” vulnerability. In layman’s terms, that simply means that the APK file can be modified or replaced during installation without the user’s knowledge. The Installer Hijacking vulnerability affects APK files downloaded to unprotected local storage only because the protected space of Play Store app cannot be accessed by other installed apps,” according to the blog post at Palo Alto Networks.

The PackageInstaller installs a different app than grants permissions to attackers. Legitimate apps could be replaced with malware apps.

Android version 4.4 and later versions have fixed the vulnerability. Android 4.3 and before may have the vulnerability.

A vulnerability scanner app is available in the Google Play store. For security researchers, the open source version of the app has been made available on Github.

Investigators advise users to only install apps from the Google play store on infected devices. To use Android 4.3 or later, though some 4.3 are vulnerable. Don’t give apps permission to use logcat. And don’t use a rooted device.

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An analysis of nearly 1,700 in-car videos of teen drivers shows that distraction is a much more prevalent contributor to serious crashes than originally thought, a traffic safety foundation reported Wednesday.

But a teen driving expert cautioned against drawing broad conclusions from the work.

Distractions — including chatting with a passenger, texting and grooming — were factors in nearly 60 percent of moderate-to-severe teen crashes reviewed in a study funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and conducted by the University of Iowa. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had estimated that distraction played a role in 14 percent of crashes involving teen drivers.

Foundation President Peter Kissinger said in a statement that the “in-depth analysis” provided “indisputable evidence” of distraction being a much greater risk for young drivers. “Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” he added.

Researchers at the University of Iowa reviewed six seconds of in-car videos prior to 1,691 teen-driving crashes. Most of the drivers resided in the Midwest, the foundation reported, and the crashes occurred from August 2007 to July 2013.

“The teens did know that they were being filmed,” AAA Chicago spokeswoman Beth Mosher said Wednesday, “which is scary because distraction was still so common.”

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Apple’s current Find My Friends feature could one day expand into more of a Track My Friends feature.

Granted to Apple on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent called “Sharing location information among devices” describes a procss that would let you view a visual representation of the path taken by another person using a mobile device as a way of following that person’s entire journey.

For example, someone is going for a hike or a trip and wants you to stay informed of his or her whereabouts. That person would enable a feature on a mobile device to allow you to see and track in real time the path being taken on your own mobile device or computer. On the flip side, you could also share your route so the two of you can stay abreast of each other’s ongoing location.

Apple already offers a feature called Find My Friends, which lets you find the specific location of another person via his or her iPhone or iPad. But Find My Friends is geared more toward pointing you to a specific spot, whereas Apple’s patented invention allows for path tracking, or following several points along a specific route.

As described in the patent, your respective devices could also share mapping directions so that you and your friend would be able to easily find each other via your mobile devices. Even further, your devices could tap into a “mirroring” mode that would replicate the view seen on each other’s respective devices.

The system would rely on GPS for navigation purposes but could enable communication between the devices via a cellular network, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Assuming both you and your friend had a sufficient signal, cellular would obviously be the most efficient technology as it would allow for the greatest distance between the two of you.

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Police are looking for a man who tried to lure two girls with candy Thursday afternoon in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side.

A 9-year-old girl and her 6-year-old sister were walking out of Hay Elementary Community Academy, at 1018 N. Laramie Ave., around 4:45 p.m. after finishing their after-school program when they saw a black man standing next to a white van, according to an alert from the Chicago Police Department.

The man said: “Hi girls, do you want some candy?”

The two girls then came back inside the school and notified school personnel about the incident, according to the alert.

The man had left by the time school officials had gone outside.

The suspect is a black man wearing a black hat, black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and sunglasses. The man was described as tall and his age was unknown, the alert said.

Anyone with information about the suspect or the incident should call Area North detectives at (312) 744-8266.

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Practical jokers have delighted for years at tormenting celebrities at home by calling in bogus reports of violence and provoking huge police responses.

Now they have found a way to turn their pranks into an instant public spectacle by setting their sights on a new set of victims: video gamers who play live on the Internet, often in front of huge online audiences.

Last month, several hundred people were watching Joshua Peters as he played the game RuneScape from his parents’ home in St. Cloud, Minn. A video of Mr. Peters shows him suddenly leaving his computer when police officers appear at the house and order him and his family at gunpoint to lie face down on the ground.

Los Angeles police officers responding to a hoax call last year at a house owned by Ashton Kutcher.Hollywood ‘Swatting’ Hoax Strains Both Police and StarsAPRIL 10, 2013
Someone had called 911 claiming Mr. Peters had just shot his roommate. Shortly after defusing the situation, Mr. Peters returned to his live stream and tearfully rebuked the culprit, whom he assumed was among his audience. Mr. Peters, 27, said 20 to 30 people on the Internet immediately claimed responsibility for the hoax, but he has no idea why they picked on him.

“I don’t really have any beefs with anyone out there online,” said Mr. Peters, a United States Air Force veteran.

But Mr. Peters did have a camera trained on him. He is one of thousands of gamers who use hugely popular live online video services to entertain others and make money. And those cameras have made them irresistible targets for swatting, as the prank is called, allowing mischief makers to indulge their voyeurism by watching the tense and confusing moments of a police raid.

That has created an unexpected occupational hazard for gamers. Build a following by streaming — and make yourself a potential target.

“With the live-streaming platforms, it amplifies the entire situation,” said James Clayton Eubanks, 22, who says he has been swatted about a half-dozen times while he streamed his Call of Duty sessions. “Not only do they get to do this and cause this misery, they get to watch it unfold in front of thousands of people.”

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China Reveals Its Cyberwar Secrets

In an extraordinary official document, Beijing admits it has special units to wage cyberwar—and a lot of them. Is anybody safe?

A high-level Chinese military organization has for the first time formally acknowledged that the country’s military and its intelligence community have specialized units for waging war on computer networks.

China’s hacking exploits, particularly those aimed at stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies, have been well known for years, and a source of constant tension between Washington and Beijing. But Chinese officials have routinely dismissed allegations that they spy on American corporations or have the ability to damage critical infrastructure, such as electrical power grids and gas pipelines, via cyber attacks.

Now it appears that China has dropped the charade. “This is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber-warfare forces from the Chinese side,” says Joe McReynolds, who researches the country’s network warfare strategy, doctrine, and capabilities at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis.

McReynolds told The Daily Beast the acknowledgement of China’s cyber operations is contained in the latest edition of an influential publication, The Science of Military Strategy, which is put out by the top research institute of the People’s Liberation Army and is closely read by Western analysts and the U.S. intelligence community. The document is produced “once in a generation,” McReynolds said, and is widely seen as one of the best windows into Chinese strategy. The Pentagon cited the previous edition (PDF), published in 1999, for its authoritative description of China’s “comprehensive view of warfare,” which includes operations in cyberspace.

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As the latest health insurer to be breached, Premera Blue Cross has revealed that it discovered a sophisticated cyber attack that tried to gain unauthorized access to their IT systems on January 29, 2015. The initial attack occurred on May 5, 2014. The company notified the FBI and is working with the cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate and repair the damage done by the attack.

Attackers may have gained unauthorized access to applicants and members’ information, which could include member name, date of birth, email address, address, telephone number, Social Security number, member identification numbers, bank account information, and claims information, including clinical information, Premera said.

“About 6 million of the people whose accounts were accessed are residents of Washington state, where customers include employees of Inc, Microsoft Corp and Starbucks Corp, according to Premera. The rest are scattered across every U.S. state,” Reuters reports.

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As explained by KrebsOnSecurity, “Mandiant specializes in tracking and blocking attacks from state-sponsored hacking groups, particularly those based in China.”

It goes on, “There are indications that this may be the work of the Chinese espionage group tied to the breach disclosed earlier this year at Anthem, an intrusion that affected some 78 million Americans.”

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