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.
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.
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." Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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!) Read the rest
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." Read the rest
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.
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."Meet the maker" Read the rest
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?’”
Adrian Chen at Gawker has a must-read profile on Weev: so-called "iPad hacker," founder of the anti-blogging Internet-trolling organization "Gay Nigger Association of America," and born-again Mormon troll. Snip:
For Auernheimer, the AT&T breach was one of his finest works as a troll. He personally didn't hack anything—the program used to collect the email addresses was written by Spitler—except the media. He was the hype man for Goatse, and he claims blew the breach up far beyond its actual significance. "The bug that I'm indicted over isn't a big deal," he says. "What made it big is the way I presented it." He boils down his success at promoting the AT&T job to three bullet points: "Rhetoric, persuasion, and meme reference."
But was collecting the email addresses actually a crime? "If somebody mistakenly puts information out there on the web and somebody mistakenly gets that information, that's not illegal," says Jennifer Granick, a lawyer and the director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford. This is why Auernheimer decided to fight his charges instead of take a plea deal, as Spitler did last year.
"I contend there is no crime in telling the truth or using AT&T's, or anybody's, publicly accessible data, to cite it to talk about how they made people's data public," he told CNET.
Auernhemier's jury disagreed.