Computer Forensics

Super Secret Spy Lens
Image by Brian Hathcock via Flickr

A vast spy system is uncovered

Published: March 28, 2009

TORONTO — A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.The malware is remarkable both for its sweep — in computer jargon, it has not been merely “phishing” for random consumers’ information, but “whaling” for particular important targets — and for its Big Brother-style capacities. It can, for example, turn on the camera and audio-recording functions of an infected computer, enabling monitors to see and hear what goes on in a room. The investigators say they do not know if this facet has been employed.

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From the Department of Justice Cybercrime.gov site,  This press release

United States Department of Justice
United States Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

News Release Frank J. Magill,
United States Attorney

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009

Blaine man pleads guilty to sabotaging former employer’s computer system

A 21-year-old Blaine man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in connection with sabotaging his former employer’s computer system after being terminated.

David Ernest Everett Jr. pleaded guilty to one count of intentional damage to a protected computer. Everett, who was charged on Dec. 1, 2008, entered his plea Jan. 12 in Minneapolis before United States District Court Judge Joan Ericksen.

According to Everett’s plea agreement, he was employed from July 2007 through March 18, 2008, by the Wand Corp. as a help-desk employee. Wand Corp. provides Point of Sale servers for a number of retail companies, including several fast-food restaurants. The servers are used to conduct cash register transactions, and are located within the restaurants. However, each server can be remotely administered by Wand using an Internet-based program.

Everett’s employment with Wand was terminated on March 18 and he was upset by the
termination. On April 9, Everett admitted that he launched a malicious software attack on Wand client servers located in approximately 3,000 restaurants. Everett also admitted that he created three malicious files to perform the attack, which was designed to crash the client servers.

Everett launched the attack from his home computer, and was able to install the files on approximately 1,000 client servers.

In the early morning hours of April 10, the servers housed at Wand client facilities throughout the U.S. began to crash immediately after being turned on, and the systems stopped performing expected functions and stopped responding to commands. The server and its systems were completely non-operational.

Wand began an investigation, located the malicious files and was able to restore service to the client servers. The cost to Wand to investigate and rectify the damage caused by the installation of the malicious files was $48,770.

Everett faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Judge Ericksen will determine Everett’s sentence at a future date. This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Cybercrimes Task Force, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Rank.

David Anderson,Public Affairs Specialist
(612) 664-5684; cell: (612) 730-2251

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