NSA notably uninvited to speak at Vegas hacker conferences this year

NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers [REUTERS]


NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers [REUTERS]

It's Las Vegas hacker convention season: Black Hat kicks off Aug. 2-7, and Def Con runs Aug. 7-10. This time around, National Security Agency leadership will be absent from the speaking rosters, in contrast with previous years.

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Video: computer hacking in 1980s movies

"80s Computer Hacking: A Supercut." List of movies below:

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US gov may block Chinese nationals from Defcon hacker event

A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su

The US government may use visa restrictions to ban hackers from China from participating in the 2014 Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas. The move is part of a larger effort by the US to combat Chinese internet espionage.

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US indictment of Chinese hackers is kinda awkward

A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su.


A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su.

The Justice Department this week indicted five hackers linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army. The hackers are accused of stealing data from six US companies, and represent a "cyberwar" escalation with China: what was a diplomatic discomfort is now a criminal matter. "But cybersecurity policy-watchers say that the arrival of the indictments in the wake of Snowden’s serial revelations could both lessen the charges’ impact and leave American officials open to parallel criminal allegations from Chinese authorities," writes Wired's Andy Greenberg.

Events for London hackers and designers who want a better world

Carla sez, "There are two upcoming ways for designers and coders to put a little good out into the world. First, you can land a job that lets you spend your time making positive social change. On February 6 join WebVisions at Essence in London for short presentations from Essence Digital, Buddy App, PaveGen, Streetbank, and Sidekick Studios. Learn different ways that you can turn your vocation into a force for good. Second, be a part of WebVisions' Hackathon for Social Good on February 8. Held at Fjord London, programmers and designers will spend the day working collaboratively to build programs and applications that benefit local nonprofits." Cory 1

Hackers vs the NSA in 1986

Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 Magazine sez, "It shouldn't be that surprising, but Volume Three of The Hacker Digest contains all kinds of news items and articles concerning the National Security Agency, its attempts to control encryption, and the threat of surveillance. This was the hacker world of 1986."

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Ugotarrested: Man charged with operating revenge porn site Ugotposted.com

California State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of a man said to have owned and operated a so-called revenge porn website. According to the arrest warrant (PDF), the site operated by Kevin Christopher Bollaert published over 10,000 sexually explicit photos. The young women who appeared in these images, some of whom were minors at the time they were taken, were charged up to $350 each to be removed from the site.

California Department of Justice agents arrested Bollaert, 27, in San Diego where he lived. He is in San Diego County jail on $50,000 bail, and has been charged with 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion. If he is convicted, penalties may include jail time and fines.

The arrest warrant is well worth a read. It includes the stories of a number of young women who ended up physically exposed and personally identified on the internet against their will. In some cases, private photos made their way online after their accounts were hacked or phones snatched. The women speak about how that violation damaged their lives and destroyed their sense of privacy.

During an in-person interview with two special agents, Bollaert bemoaned the burden of all those emails he was receiving from young women and teens, asking for images to be removed -- a service he charged hundreds of bucks for.

"At the beginning this was like fun and entertaining," he said to the agents, "But now it's ruining my life." At the end of the meeting, the agents served him with search warrants.

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Contest: create a new kind of science kit for kids

GilbertAtomicOpentrimmedRemember how much fun chemistry sets used to be before the chemicals were deemed too dangerous for household fun? The Society for Science & The Public, in collaboration with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, have launched a contest to collect ideas for a new kind of Science Play and Research Kit (SPARK) "that encourage imagination and interest in science, recapturing the spirit of the chemistry set." There are cash prizes too! From the SPARK Competition site:

To be clear, we’re interested in science beyond chemistry. We borrow this term to capture the spirit and magic of what the classic chemistry set spawned in the 1940s - 60s. We’re looking for ideas that can engage kids as young as 8 and inspire people who are 88. We’re looking for ideas that encourage kids to explore, create, build and question. We’re looking for ideas that honor kids’ curiosity about how things work.
SPARK Competition: Reimagining The Chemistry Set of the 21st Century (Thanks, Chris Mentzel!)

Where the Silk Road ends: Feds arrest 'Dread Pirate Roberts,' alleged founder of largest Bitcoin drug market


What users who attempt to connect to the Silk Road marketplace see now (HT: Adrian Chen)

Looks like the government shutdown didn't stop federal agents from shutting down the most popular "deep web" illegal drug market. In San Francisco, federal prosecutors have indicted Ross William Ulbricht, who is said to be the founder of Silk Road. The internet marketplace allowed users around the world to buy and sell drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth.

The government announced that it seized about 26,000 Bitcoins worth roughly USD$3.6 million, making this the largest Bitcoin bust in history. There were nearly 13,000 listings for controlled substances on the Silk Road site as of Sept. 23, 2013, according to the FBI, and the marketplace did roughly USD$1.2 billion in sales, yielding some $80 million in commissions.

According to the complaint, the service was also used to negotiate murder-for-hire: "not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k," the site's founder is alleged to have messaged an associate.

Ulbricht, 29, is also known as "Dread Pirate Roberts."

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Kim Dotcom sues New Zealand gov for USD $4.85 million over FBI-ordered raid

A lawsuit filed by technology entrepreneur and hacker Kim Dotcom against the government of New Zealand demands NZ $6 million (roughly USD $5 million) over an "excessively aggressive and invasive approach" by police who raided his mansion 18 months ago. The raid was ordered by the FBI, which sought to extradite him to the US on copyright violation charges.

Worth reading: NYT on jailed 'journalist-agitator' Barrett Brown, and silence surrounding his case

"Barrett Brown makes for a pretty complicated victim," writes David Carr in his recent profile of the Dallas-based journalist "obsessed with the government’s ties to private security firms." Brown, 32 has been in jail for a year. He faces charges that carry a combined penalty of more than 100 years in prison. Why does the gag order on his case matter to all of us? Carr explains.

FBI: Yes, we controlled Tor servers behind mass malware attack

"It wasn’t ever seriously in doubt," writes Kevin Poulsen at Wired, "but the FBI yesterday acknowledged that it secretly took control of Freedom Hosting last July, days before the servers of the largest provider of ultra-anonymous hosting were found to be serving custom malware designed to identify visitors." Freedom Hosting was a provider of so-called “Tor hidden service” sites. Their addresses end in .onion, their geographic locations are masked behind layers of routing, and they can be reached only over the Tor anonymity network. [Threat Level]

A code of conduct for young hackers

r00tz is the amazing kid-track of programming at DEFCON, the giant hacker conference held annually in Las Vegas. The organizers have created a "code of conduct" for young hackers that is good advice for anyone doing infosec work, or exploring computers and systems:

The Internet is a small place. Word gets around, fast. Follow these rules at all times:

- Only hack things you own
- Do not hack anything you rely on
- Respect the rights of others
- Know and respect the law
- Find a safe playground (One always exists. If you don’t have support from your parents, get their permission to find an adult who will support you.)

There's more, but it's short and sweet. Go read it. The final statement, "r00tz is about creating a better world. You have the power and responsibility to do so. Now go do it! We are here to help you" sums it up nicely.

r00tz Asylum | About

Limor "ladyada" Fried profiled by MIT

NewImage

MIT is rightfully proud of alumna Limor Fried, the superhero hardware hacker behind AdaFruit Industries, creators of fantastic DIY, open source electronics components and kits. We're proud of Limor too! From MIT News:

Apart from selling kits, original devices and providing hundreds of guides online, Adafruit works around the world with schools, teachers, libraries and hackerspaces — community technology labs — to promote STEM education, designing curricula in circuitry and electronics, among other initiatives.

The company has released an online children’s show called “A is for Ampere.” On a weekly Saturday night program, “Ask an Engineer,” anyone can ask Fried questions online or show off their original devices.

One of Fried’s favorite stories, from a young viewer of “Ask an Engineer,” illuminates what she sees as the growing diversity of engineering. “A parent emailed us after watching the show with his daughter,” she says. “I had another engineer on the show with me — my friend Amanda — and this parent’s daughter asked, ‘Dad, are there boy engineers too?’”

"Meet the maker"

Geohot says the darndest things

I found out yesterday that George Hotz, the hacker most known for unlocking the original iPhone and hacking the PS3, is now studying at my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University. CMU has a bash.org clone for saving ridiculous quotes in IRC and around the computer science campus, and geohot already has some great ones in there.

amwatson: George, you have to start working on the assignment! If you don't, you won't have time to run on the supercomputer!
geohot: Don't worry. I have my own supercomputer!
amwatson: ...You have your own 256-core machine?
geohot: Yeah! Well, I have a botnet...
<geohot> I'm permitted to own Sony products. I'm just not permitted to touch them inappropriately.
< Tony0> I like geohot's method of forcing himself to suck less with vim
< Tony0> apparently he rebound the arrow keys to backspace.
< gwillen> I,I vim is properly appreciated in the original Klingon

Oh, geohot! More great quotes at cmubash.org. Thanks, Dannel!