Scorecard: FBI: 0 – CyberCrooks: 2

By Ron Benvenisti. [PHOTO] This past week has not been good for the FBI. In a double whammy the agency has said to have been victimized by a data breach affecting over 12 million Apple iPad and iPhone users privateinformation stored on the devices. A notebook, used by Supervisor Special Agent Christopher K. Stangl from the FBI Regional Cyber Action Team and the New York FBI Office Evidence Response Team was claimed to be breached by the infamous hacker group LulzSec using the AtomicReferenceArray [Java] vulnerability to retrieve the “NCFTA_iOS_devices_intel.csv” which is a list of 12,367,232 Apple iOS devices. The exploit uses the iOS “UDID” (the Unique Device ID which every iPad and iPhone has which is monitored mainly for “advertising” purposes. To monitor users on-line behavior in order to target them with specific offers and advertisements from sites for goods that the users show an interest in. LulzSec has published a small sample (editing out personally identifiable information) as proof that they have obtained the UDIDs along with the user’s personal information.

The question remains whether there was or is any relationship between Apple and the FBI that allowed Apple to share this private information with the FBI, violating the Constitutional rights of the device owners or does the FBI have its own means of accessing the personal information… and for what legitimate purpose. It is unlikely that a court order was issued to gather the information from such a large amount of devices. And even in the extremely unlikely case that a warrant was issued requiring this type of disclosure; Apple would not be legally obliged to do so.

The second black-eye for the FBI is that cyber-crooks have been making the rounds again with a scam where they pose as the FBI. You get a message on your computer with an official looking FBI warning that states your computer has been used for a variety of illegal activities, which pose a variety of serious jail-time and fines if you don’t comply with the request for a $100 to $200 fine to be paid. The FBI MoneyPak Virus freezes your computer, rendering it useless except for you to purchase an untraceable $100 to $200 MoneyPak online debit card and paying the fine with the card. Of course you have to fill that card with your bank and card information which the crooks may likely now possess (via a key logger). To add insult to injury the virus takes over your computer’s camera and puts your real-time image on the screen!

Most anti-virus software programs have been updated to remove the virus.

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  1. Apple is complicit in this. From Apple’s privacy policy: “We may also disclose information about you if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate.”

    There must be more reporting to get to the bottom of this. Last I heard, the FBI was denying any involvement. Does the government rule the people, or is it the other way around?

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