Friday, January 28, 2011

FBI and Scotland Yard Execute Warrants in Ongoing Cyber Investigation

Search Warrants Executed in the United States and the U.K. as Part of an Ongoing Cyber Investigation

The FBI and Scotland Yard have been investigating cyber-attacks on companies and organizations who were targeted by "hacktivists" backing Julian Assange after his Wikileaks published classified U.S. State Department documents.The Guardian (1-28-11) reports on the January 27 arrests of five young British "hacktivists" who were arrested on suspicion of belonging to the pro-Wikileaks organization called Anonymous.

On January 20, Michael Riley, a journalist at Bloomberg News (1-20-11), reported that Wikileaks' Julian Assange, who is being guarded by the Norfolk Constabulary in the U.K., may have exploited music and photo-sharing networks to grab classified data. [See here.] Wikileaks claims to be a media organization, but the media does not have the right to steal data from other people's computers.

The FBI (1-27-11) reports:

FBI agents today executed more than 40 search warrants throughout the United States as part of an ongoing investigation into recent coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations. Also today, the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service [Scotland Yard--see press release below] executed additional search warrants and arrested five people for their alleged role in the attacks.

These distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) are facilitated by software tools designed to damage a computer network’s ability to function by flooding it with useless commands and information, thus denying service to legitimate users. A group calling itself “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies’ and organizations’ actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries.

The FBI also is reminding the public that facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability.

The FBI is working closely with its international law enforcement partners and others to mitigate these threats. Authorities in the Netherlands, Germany, and France have also taken their own investigative and enforcement actions. The National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) also is providing assistance. The NCFTA is a public-private partnership that works to identify, mitigate, and neutralize cyber crime. The NCFTA has advised that software from any untrustworthy source represents a potential threat and should be removed. Major Internet security (anti-virus) software providers have instituted updates so they will detect the so-called “Low Orbit Ion Canon” tools used in these attacks.

The U.K.'s Metropolitan Police Service (1-27-11) reports:

Five arrested under Computer Misuse Act
Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Service's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) have arrested five people in connection with offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

The five males aged, 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26, are being held after a series of coordinated arrests at residential addresses in the West Midlands, Northants, Herts, Surrey and London at 07:00hrs today (27 January).

The arrests are in relation to recent and ongoing 'distributed denial of service' attacks (DDoS) by an online group calling themselves 'Anonymous'.

They are part of an ongoing MPS investigation in to Anonymous which began last year following criminal allegations of DDoS attacks by the group against several companies.

This investigation is being carried out in conjunction with international law enforcement agencies in Europe and the US.

All five have been taken to local police stations where they remain in custody.


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