Can you get into the mainframe?
Can you get into the mainframe?
The decision to hound Swartz on flimsy charges with the possibility of decades in prison was in part because of an anti-copyright manifesto written by Swartz in 2008, reports the Huffington Post:
A Justice Department representative told congressional staffers during a recent briefing on the computer fraud prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz that Swartz’s “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” played a role in the prosecution.
The manifesto said sharing information was a “moral imperative” and advocated for “civil disobedience” against copyright laws pushed by corporations “blinded by greed” that led to the “privatization of knowledge.”
“We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world,” Swartz wrote in the manifesto.
Swartz was 26 when he killed himself in January. He had been indicted and faced a prison sentence for downloading millions of academic articles from the online database JSTOR, though he maintained he had permission to access them.
Slate provides the first-person account of a CEO who received an e-mail with several business documents attached threatening to distribute them to competitors and business partners unless the CEO paid $150,000. “Experts I consulted told me that the hacking probably came from government monitors who wanted extra cash,” writes the CEO, who successfully ended the extortion with an e-mail from the law firm from the bank of his financial partner, refusing payment and adding that the authorities had been notified.
According to the article, IT providers routinely receive phone calls from their service providers if they detect any downtime on the monitors of network traffic installed by the Chinese government, similar to the alerts provided to telecom providers about VoIP fraud on their IP-PBX switches.
“Hundreds of millions of Chinese operate on the Internet without any real sense of privacy, fully aware that a massive eavesdropping apparatus tracks their every communication and move…” writes the CEO.
Did U.S. authorities hound Reddit co-founder and internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz to his death due to his role in the defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act, and his possible connections to WikiLeaks? Russia Today writes:
Aaron Swartz became a political target, and that is what led to his tragic death, believes web tycoon Kim Dotcom, the founder of the now-defunct file-storage site Megaupload. “There is no reasonable cause behind going after a young genius like him in the fashion they did,” says Dotcom.
Swartz’s death in suicide on January 11 has resonated in the media across the world. It became known that in 2011, US federal prosecutors charged Swartz with a series of counts under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, crimes that could have sent him away to prison for upwards of 35 years if convicted…
A worthy target of Anonymous’s ire, methinks. Via BetaBeat:
The Westboro Baptist Church, widely reviled for its homophobic beliefs and protests of veteran funerals, announced on Saturday that it would picket at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the tragic shooting there Friday that took the lives of 27 people. Members of Anonymous began an operation against the Church to discourage them from protesting at the school and compounding the misery already experienced by Newtown residents.
In a video uploaded by KY Anonymous, the hacker collective states:
We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred…
In short, to the U.S. government, anything anomalous is an Iranian conspiracy. Wired writes:
A slew of American officials have blamed Iran for attacks on the servers of Bank of America, Well Fargo, HSBC, and other western banks. But the hackers taking credit for the sophisticated distributed denial-of-service strikes say that’s all wrong; they claim they hit the financial institutions because they were pissed off about “The Innocence of Muslims,” the infamous viral video making fun of the Prophet Muhammad. Tehran didn’t have a thing to do with it.
“We are not dependent on any government. We merely wanted to protest against the insulting movie,” people claiming to be part of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters [said].
Some security researchers believed the attacks to be so sophisticated, they could’ve only been pulled off with government help. ”This isn’t consistent with what hacktivists are capable of,” Michael Smith, a security specialist at Akamai, said in September.
It’s reaching the point where we probably should give up even trying to have identities. Via the Toronto Star:
Greek police have arrested a man on suspicion of stealing the personal data of roughly two thirds of the country’s population, police officials in Athens said on Tuesday.
The 35-year old computer programmer was also suspected of attempting to sell the 9 million files containing identification card data, addresses, tax ID numbers and licence plate numbers. Greece’s population is 11 million.
Police were also looking into whether the man had obtained the data files by hacking into a government server and whether he had an accomplice, officials said. The files were discovered after police raided his home.
Curiosity about UFOs is what inspired McKinnon, who has Asperger’s syndrome, to engage in what American officials have called the “biggest military computer hack of all time.” The Guardian reports:
The home secretary, Theresa May, defied the American authorities on Tuesday by halting the extradition of British computer hacker Gary McKinnon, a decision criticised by the US state department but welcomed with delight by campaigners and politicians across parties in the UK.
McKinnon was first indicted by an American grand jury in November 2002 for hacking into US military computers, including the Pentagon and NASA, from his north London bedroom while he was looking for UFOs. He could have faced a prison sentence of up 70 years under US law.
May told Members of Parliament she had taken the quasi-judicial decision on human rights grounds because of medical reports warning that McKinnon, who has Asperger’s syndrome and suffers from depressive illness, could kill himself if sent to stand trial in the US.
Kelly Faircloth explains why inventor extraordinaire Nikola Tesla has become an icon for the new generation of hackers, for the New York Observer:
For all the modern-day desire to emulate Steve Jobs, the heroic nerd isn’t a new American trope. As long ago as the Gilded Age, scientist Nikola Tesla was a celebrity. He lived at the Waldorf Astoria and was close friends with Mark Twain.
But he was neither entertainer nor robber baron. Rather, as the inventor of an effective alternating current system of power generation, he’d helped usher in a new, electrified era. His ambitious visions of the future (and complete lack of a filter) made great copy, meaning newspaper reporters were always eager to put him in print.
In 1901, at the height of his fame, Tesla built a laboratory in the rural farmland of Shoreham, Long Island. Dubbed Wardenclyffe, the facility was designed by Stanford White and meant to be the site of his greatest achievement yet: Intercontinental transmission of wireless radio signals.
Scottish teenager Jake Davis, one of two Lulzsec-associates arrested over the hacking of websites including the CIA, Pentagon, News International, and Sony, may face decades in prison if he is extradited to the United States. Right now Davis is free on bail but forbidden to use the internet. Discussing the experience via the Guardian, he sounds like someone freed from shackles:
The last time I was allowed to access the internet was several moments before the police came through my door in the Shetland Isles, over a year ago. During the past 12 months I have pleaded guilty to computer misuse under the banners of “Internet Feds”, “Anonymous” and “LulzSec”.
I’m often asked: what is life like without the net? In a word, life is serene. I now find myself reading newspapers as though they weren’t ancient scrolls; entering real shops with real money in order to buy real products…Nothing needs to be captioned or made into an elaborate joke to impress a citizenry whose every emotion is represented by a sequence of keystrokes.