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The Department of Homeland Security Would Like to Talk to Your Hacker Teens

The high school years!

It’s hard being the Department of Homeland Security. Foreign agents are constantly trying to slip inside the D.H.S.’s computer systems. But America’s  hotshot hackers either go for the private sector ($$$) or somewhere you can go on the offensive, like the N.S.A. (which, let’s face it, sounds super-badass).

So, according to the New York Times, the agency, desperate for recruits, is now making like a college football program and hunting for recruits at high school hacking competitions. Read More

Linkages

Booting Up: Is Google Building a Tower of Babble?

Pretty sure she's waving to the Street View team.

A report suggests Google is going to unite all its various chat products under the name “Babble.” We sincerely hope this is not part of another effort to make us all use Google+. [Geek.com]

“Sanders and Armstrong share something with the startup world as a whole: the arrogance of naivete. They see what they think is a problem. They think they’re the ones to solve it.” [Melville House]

Wait ’til the mayor sees this: There’s a couple of teens who review cigarettes on YouTube. Gross. [Daily Dot]

You can now climb every mountain with Google Street View. [L.A. Times]

Security researcher Brian Krebs tracked down the hacker who completely wrecked Mat Honan’s digital life. BRB, double-checking my two-factor authentication. [Ars Technica]

Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart

Amazon Homepage Down for Some Users, Hackers Claim Responsibility

(Screenshot: Amazon)

Amazon.com’s homepage appears to be temporarily down, showing a “service unavailable” message to users. Links within Amazon are still functional, but the homepage is inaccessible.

As TechCrunch notes, the site is serving a 503 error, indicating that “the server powering the site is down due to maintenance or overloading,” which can mean the server is being DDOS’d. Amazon Web Services’ dashboard says all hosting services appear to be operating normally. Read More

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Anonymous Hacker Claims to Have Released JSTOR Documents That ‘Aaron Swartz Died to Bring to the World’

(Screencap: Twitter)

An anonymous hacker going by the Twitter handle @TylerSec has published a post on PasteBin claiming to have released 33 GB of JSTOR documents via his own leak network, Tyler Leaks. If the documents are in PDF format and are around 50-75 pages each, that’s about 22,500 academic papers dumped. The leak comes in response to the death of hacker hero Aaron Swartz who was facing a federal sentence for “stealing” academic papers from JSTOR.

Gawker writer Adrian Chen notes that the leak could be of the same documents released by Wikimedia contributor Greg Maxwell in 2011. “There’s a good chance that this Anonymous leak of JSTOR documents is an old dump from last year,” he tweeted.
Read More

Law and Order

IBM Exec Husband of Aaron Swartz Prosecutor Takes to Twitter to Defend His Wife

Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 9.07.18 AM

In the wake of the suicide of hacker hero Aaron Swartz, his friends and family released a statement placing the onus for his death on “a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz was responsible for prosecuting Mr. Swartz, and has come under fire along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann for what many see as overreach in cases against hackers.

petition immediately began circulating asking for Ms. Ortiz’s resignation following Mr. Swartz’s death. The petition has already received over 25,000 signatures, guaranteeing it a response from the White House. Read More

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Hackers in The Vents: Cyber Intruders Could Access HVAC Systems Via Big Security Holes

This guy is everywhere now. (Image Devdsp on Flickr

Sometime last summer, hackers invaded a New Jersey company’s web-accessible heating and air-conditioning systems using a gaping security hole in the system’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software.

Ars Technica reports that an IT contractor who works with the business informed F.B.I. agents investigating the breach that controls for the HVAC system were “directly connected to the Internet” and there was no “interposing firewall.”

The backdoor into the controls is found in some versions of the Niagara AX Framework, software that controls similar systems at the Pentagon and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. An F.B.I. memo issued in July said any hacker who found their way into the nameless New Jersey company’s Niagara controls would have been able to learn the same information available to a systems administrator, such as “a floor plan layout of the office, with control fields and feedback for each office and shop area.” The web interface wasn’t even password-protected. Read More

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The Qassam Cyber Fighters Return, Warning of Phase 2 in ‘Operation Ababil’ [Updated]

Bank of America, one of the victims of Operation Ababil (Screengrab)

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters published a new message on their Pastebin profile late Monday, warning of a new round of cyber attacks against U.S. financial institutions, beginning this week.

In their lengthy post, titled “Phase 2 Operation Ababil,” the Qassam Cyber Fighters announced that they plan to attack websites owned by J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services and SunTrust Banks. Read More