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Kevin Poulsen

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Court clips DirecTV piracy suits

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday (15 June) that DirecTV cannot sue individuals for merely possessing technology useful for illegally intercepting the company's satellite signal, in the first significant legal victory for critics of DirecTV's aggressive anti-piracy campaign. A three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court …
Kevin Poulsen, 17 Jun 2004
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Backdoor program gets backdoored

The author of a free Trojan horse program favored by amateur computer intruders found himself with some explaining to do to the underground last month, after his users discovered he'd slipped a secret backdoor password into his popular malware, potentially allowing him to re-hack compromised hosts. The program in question is …
Kevin Poulsen, 13 Jun 2004
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Computer intrusion losses waning

Computer intrusions are on the decline for the third year in a row, at least among respondents to an annual survey conducted by the Computer Security Institute (CSI) and the FBI's computer crime squad. Nearly 500 computer security professionals in US corporations, government agencies, financial institutions, medical …
Kevin Poulsen, 11 Jun 2004
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US wardriver pleads guilty to Wi-Fi hacks

In a rare wireless hacking conviction, a Michigan man entered a guilty plea last Friday in federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina for his role in a scheme to steal credit card numbers from the Lowe's chain of home improvement stores by taking advantage of an unsecured Wi-Fi network at a store in suburban Detroit. Brian …
Kevin Poulsen, 7 Jun 2004
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DirecTV's anti-SLAPP slap to litigant

A Los Angeles court last week dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former enforcer in DirecTV's anti-piracy campaign who claimed he resigned rather than continue to prosecute the company's controversial war against buyers of hacker-friendly smart card equipment. John Fisher, a former police officer, alleged that he joined DirecTV as …
Kevin Poulsen, 3 Jun 2004
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Federal agency faulted for weak security

The federal agency that insures US bank deposits suffers from network security holes that make it vulnerable to cyber thieves and saboteurs, a report by congressional investigators concluded Friday (28 May). Though the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has made significant progress in shoring up cybersecurity in …
Kevin Poulsen, 31 May 2004
Space invader

Area 51 hackers dig up trouble

To the Area 51 buffs who journey to the Nevada desert in the hopes of catching a glimpse of unexplained lights in the sky or to bask in the mythic allure of the region, 58-year-old Chuck Clark is almost as much a part of the local color as the Black Mailbox. A resident of tiny Rachel, Nevada - 100 miles north of Las Vegas …
Kevin Poulsen, 25 May 2004
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Apple patches critical Mac OS X hole

Apple Computer on Friday (21 May) issued a patch for a security hole in Mac OS X that could have allowed hackers to take over vulnerable machines, but the company went out of its way to downplay the importance of the bug. The vulnerability in the operating system's Help View application allows attackers to craft a special URL …
Kevin Poulsen, 24 May 2004
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'Deceptive duo' hacker pleads guilty

A Florida man pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington D.C. on Wednesday to charges stemming from his role as one half of the high-profile hacking team "The Deceptive Duo", responsible for obtaining sensitive information from government systems, and defacing dozens of governmental and private websites with patriotically- …
Kevin Poulsen, 20 May 2004
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Sasser suspect fanclub launches appeal

The German teenager fingered as the author of the Sasser and NetSky worms may not be popular among IT professionals, but fans of the accused miscreant have already sprung to his defense and, apparently, opened their wallets. On Wednesday an anonymous post to the Full Disclosure security mailing list announced a new website …
Kevin Poulsen, 17 May 2004
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Prison time for cyber stock swindler

A young investor with more wiles than trading luck was sentenced to 13 months in prison Wednesday for using a Trojan horse program and someone else's online brokerage account to sell thousands of worthless stock options to an unwilling buyer. Van T. Dinh, 20, was the first to be charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission …
Kevin Poulsen, 6 May 2004
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'Deceptive Duo' hacker charged

A Florida man has been charged in federal court in Washington DC for his alleged role as one half of the high-profile hacking team "The Deceptive Duo" - responsible for defacing dozens of governmental and private websites with patriotically-themed messages exhorting the US to shore up cyber defenses. Benjamin Stark, 22, faces a …
Kevin Poulsen, 4 May 2004
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Mitnick busts bomb hoaxer

Ex-hacker Kevin Mitnick is a hero to the small town of River Rouge, Michigan, after using his tech skills to help officials nab the culprit behind a harrowing series of bomb threats. The trouble began a few months ago, when staff members at River Rouge High School began receiving threatening phone calls at home from an …
Kevin Poulsen, 3 May 2004
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US defends cybercrime treaty

Critics took aim this week at a controversial international treaty intended to facilitate cross-boarder computer crime probes, arguing that it would oblige the US and other signatories to cooperate with repressive regimes - a charge that the Justice Department denied. The US is one of 38 nations that have signed onto the …
Kevin Poulsen, 24 Apr 2004
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Tower Records settles charges over hack attacks

Music retailer Tower Records on Wednesday settled charges with federal investigators arising from a security gaffe on the company's ecommerce site, which for a time made the buying habits of online customers accessible to outsiders. The settlement requires Tower to establish and maintain a comprehensive information security …
Kevin Poulsen, 22 Apr 2004
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Former anti-piracy 'bag man' turns on DirecTV

A one-time enforcer in DirecTV's anti-piracy campaign is suing his ex-employer for wrongful discharge, after he allegedly resigned rather than continue to prosecute the company's controversial war against buyers of hacker-friendly smart card equipment. John Fisher, a former police officer, alleges in a complaint filed in Los …
Kevin Poulsen, 18 Apr 2004
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Webtapping battle lines drawn

The public comment period on a Justice Department proposal to make the Internet easier to wiretap ended on Monday with most of the filed comments tracing a clean line between two opposing camps. On the government's side, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who perform wiretaps, allied with companies who sell …
Kevin Poulsen, 15 Apr 2004
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NY Times hacker sentencing delayed

Adrian Lamo's sentencing hearing for his 2002 intrusion into the New York Times internal network was postponed this week. The 22-year-old hacker appeared with his attorney in federal court in New York Thursday for what was originally scheduled to be his sentencing. Instead, federal judge Naomi Buchwald agreed to put off the …
Kevin Poulsen, 10 Apr 2004
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Tracking the Blackout bug

A number of factors and failings came together to make the August 14th northeastern blackout the worst outage in North American history. One of them was buried in a massive piece of software compiled from four million lines of C code and running on an energy management computer in Ohio. To nobody's surprise, the final report on …
Kevin Poulsen, 8 Apr 2004
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Interview with the keystroke caperist

A former claims adjuster for a US insurance company is the first to be charged under federal wiretap law for the covert use of a hardware keystroke logger, after he was caught using the device while secretly helping consumer attorneys gather information to use against his own company. Larry Ropp, 46, was indicted Tuesday by a …
Kevin Poulsen, 25 Mar 2004
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Phishing attacks ‘on the rise’

Despite a handful of successful criminal prosecutions and an increase in public awareness, February saw a marked increase in the number of new variations of the spam-borne swindle called "phishing". The Anti-Phishing Working Group charted 282 unique attacks last month, a 60 per cent increase above the 176 attacks spotting in …
Kevin Poulsen, 21 Mar 2004
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Anti-piracy vigilantes stalk file sharers

A pair of coders nurturing a deep antipathy for software pirates set off a controversy last Thursday when they went public with a months-old experiment to trick file sharers into running a Trojan horse program that chastises users and reports back to a central server. As of Thursday, the crime-busting duo's server had logged …
Kevin Poulsen, 19 Mar 2004
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US hosting company reveals hacks, citing disclosure law

Citing California's security breach disclosure law, Texas-based Allegiance Telecom notified 4,000 Web hosting customers this week of a recent computer intrusion that exposed their usernames and passwords, in a case that experts say illustrates the security sunshine law's national influence. The law, called SB 1386, took effect …
Kevin Poulsen, 13 Mar 2004
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Feds: email subpoena ruling hurts law enforcement

A federal appeals court has declined to reverse last year's decision that the issuance of an egregiously overbroad subpoena for email can qualify as a computer intrusion in violation of anti-hacking laws. This is despite an argument by the Justice Department that a side-effect of the ruling has already made it harder for law …
Kevin Poulsen, 6 Mar 2004
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Wags hijack TV channel's on-screen ticker

A cable news channel in Raleigh, North Carolina shut down a Web application designed to allow local schools and businesses to report weather-related closures last week, after a handful of puckish university students discovered they could use it to add textual graffiti to the station's newscast. Before the system was pulled, …
Kevin Poulsen, 5 Mar 2004

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