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Tag Archives: crime

Russian hackers already targeted a Missouri senator up for reelection in 2018

A Democratic senator seeking reelection this fall appears to be the first identifiable target of Russian hacking in the 2018 midterm race. In a new story on the Daily Beast , Andrew Desiderio and Kevin Poulsen reported that Democratic Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was targeted in a campaign-related phishing attack. That clears up one unspecified target from last week’s statement by Microsoft’s Tom Burt that three midterm election candidates had been targeted by Russian phishing campaigns. The report cites its own forensic research in determining the attacker is likely Fancy Bear, a hacking group believed to be affiliated with Russian military intelligence. “We did discover that a fake Microsoft domain had been established as the landing page for phishing attacks, and we saw metadata that suggested those phishing attacks were being directed at three candidates who are all standing for elections in the midterm elections,” Burt said during the Aspen Security Forum forum. Microsoft removed the domain and noted that the attack was unsuccessful. Sen. McCaskill confirmed that she was targeted by the attack, which appears to have taken place in August 2017, in a press release : “Russia continues to engage in cyber warfare against our democracy. I will continue to speak out and press to hold them accountable. While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this. I will not be intimidated. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully.” TechCrunch has reached out to Sen. McCaskill’s office for additional details on the incident. McCaskill, a vocal Russia critic, will likely face Republican frontrunner and Trump pick Josh Hawley this fall.

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Irish Silk Road figure extradited to the US

The US is continuing its quest to try Silk Road's foreign leaders. Irish resident Gary Davis (aka "Libertas") has been extradited to the US to face charges over his alleged involvement in the dark web outfit as an administrator. He faces charges of...

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The FBI, FTC and SEC are joining the Justice Department’s inquiries into Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica disclosures

An alphabet soup of federal agencies are now poring over Facebook’s disclosures and the company’s statements about its response to the improper use of its user information by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission have joined the Justice Department in examining how the personal information of 71 million Americans was distributed by Facebook and used by Cambridge Analytica, according to a Washington Post report released Monday. According to the Post, the emphasis of the investigation has been on what Facebook disclosed about its information sharing with Cambridge Analytica and whether those disclosures correlate to the timeline that’s being established by government investigators. The fear, for Facebook, is that the government may decide that the company didn’t reveal enough to either investors or the public about the extent of the misallocation of user data. Another concern is whether the Cambridge Analytica decision violated the terms of an earlier settlement Facebook made with the Federal Trade Commission. The redoubled efforts of so many divisions could potentially ensnare Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who was brought before Congress with other Facebook officials to testify about the breaches. People familiar with the investigation told the Post that the officials’ testimony was being scrutinized. In a statement, Facebook noted it had received questions from different agencies and that it was cooperating. The Federal Trade Commission first confirmed that it was investigating Facebook in March. Acting director Tom Pahl said at the time: The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Foremost among these tools is enforcement action against companies that fail to honor their privacy promises, including to comply with Privacy Shield, or that engage in unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers in violation of the FTC Act.

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What we know about Maryland’s controversial facial recognition database

When police had difficulty identifying the man whom they believed opened fire on a newsroom in Maryland, killing five people, they turned to one of the most controversial yet potent tools in the state’s law enforcement arsenal. As  The New York Times reports , Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare’s department failed to ID its suspect through fingerprinting. The department then sent a picture of the suspect to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, which combed through one of the nation’s largest databases of mug shots and driver’s license photos in search of a match. That database is the source of some debate. Maryland has some of the most aggressive facial recognition policies in the nation, according to a national report from Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy & Technology, and that practice is powered by one central system: a pool of face data known as the Maryland Image Repository System (MIRS). For facial recognition searches, Maryland police have access to three million state mug shots, seven million state driver’s license photos and an additional 24.9 million mug shots from a national FBI database. The state’s practice of face recognition searches began in 2011, expanding in 2013 to incorporate the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s existing driver’s license database. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) describes MIRS “as a digitized mug shot book used by law enforcement agencies throughout Maryland in the furtherance of their law enforcement investigation duties.” According to the Georgetown report , “It’s unclear if the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ‘scrubs’ its mug shot database to eliminate people who were never charged, had charges dropped or dismissed, or who were found innocent.” In a letter to Maryland’s House Appropriations and Senate Budget and Taxation Committees in late 2017, DPSCS Secretary Stephen T. Moyer notes that the software “has drawn criticism over privacy concerns.” In that report, the state notes that images uploaded to MIRS are not stored in the database and that “the user’s search results are saved under their session and are not available to any other user.” DPSCS provides these details about the software: MIRS is an off-the-shelf software program developed by Dataworks Plus. Images are uploaded into the system from MVA, DPSCS inmate case records, and mugshot photos sent into the DPSCS Criminal Justice System-Central Repository (CJIS-CR) from law enforcement agencies throughout the State at the time of an offender’s arrest and booking. Members of law enforcement are able to upload an image to MIRS and that image is compared to the images within the system to determine the highest probability that the uploaded image may relate to an MVA and/or DPSCS image within MIRS. In the 2017 fiscal year, DPSCS paid DataWorks Plus $185,124.24 to maintain the database. The report declined to answer questions about how many users are authorized to access the MIRS system ( estimates in The Baltimore Sun put it at between 6,000 and 7,000 individuals) and how many user logins had occurred since 2015, stating that it did not track or collect this information.

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Floyd Mayweather-backed Centra Tech ICO founders indicted for fraud

The founders of Centra Tech , a company that raised a $32 million ICO, have been indicted for wire fraud and securities fraud, charges that could lead to a minimum of five years in jail. The founders, Raymond Trapani, Sohrab Sharma, and Robert Farkas, were found guilty of trying to defraud investors with their ICO. The primary fraudulent statement concerned Centra Tech’s fake partnerships with Visa and MasterCard to help sell tokens. The team, wrote Robert Khuzami , Attorney for the United States in the Southern District of New York, “purported to offer cryptocurrency-related financial products, with conspiring to commit, and the commission of, securities and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to induce victims to invest millions of dollars’ worth of digital funds for the purchase of unregistered securities, in the form of digital currency tokens issued by Centra Tech, through material misrepresentations and omissions.” Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled posted support for Centra Tech on Instagram during the run-up to the token sale, writing that they were excited to use Centra Tech’s card to pay for things using Bitcoin, Ethereum, and “other coins.” Mayweather’s post appeared here but is now gone. What the three partners allegedly did was especially egregious which is why the SEC was able to attack so forcefully. Khuzami alleges that the team made up a fake CEO to look more credible as well as a laundry list of other claims. After SHARMA and TRAPANI worked together at a luxury car rental company in Florida called “Miami Exotics,” they and FARKAS co-founded a startup company called Centra Tech that claimed to offer cryptocurrency-related financial productions, including a purported debit card, the “Centra Card,” that supposedly allowed users to spend various types of cryptocurrency to make purchases at any establishment that accepts Visa or Mastercard payment cards. In approximately July 2017, SHARMA, TRAPANI, and FARKAS began soliciting investors to purchase unregistered securities, in the form of digital tokens issued by Centra Tech, through a so-called “initial coin offering” or “ICO.” As part of this effort, SHARMA, TRAPANI, and FARKAS, in oral and written offering materials that were disseminated via the internet, represented: (a) that Centra Tech had an experienced executive team with impressive credentials, including a purported CEO named “Michael Edwards” with more than 20 years of banking industry experience and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University; (b) that Centra Tech had formed partnerships with Bancorp, Visa, and Mastercard to issue Centra Cards licensed by Visa or Mastercard; and (c) that Centra Tech had money transmitter and other licenses in 38 states, among other claims. Based in part on these claims, victims provided millions of dollars’ worth of digital funds in investments for the purchase of Centra Tech tokens. In or about October 2017, at the end of Centra Tech’s ICO, those digital funds raised from victims were worth more than $25 million. Due to appreciation in the value of those digital funds raised from victims, those digital funds are presently worth more than $60 million. The FBI seized 91,000 Ether worth $90 million from the team

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As tech-fueled demand raises Seattle house prices, activists wage a data-driven campaign to change zoning to allow more density in single-family…

Paul Roberts / Politico : As tech-fueled demand raises Seattle house prices, activists wage a data-driven campaign to change zoning to allow more density in single-family neighborhoods   —  In Seattle's red-hot housing market, a group of millennial techies is using data skills to alter the look, and affordability, of their adopted city.

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