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Daphne Caruana Galizia's Murder and the Security of WhatsApp Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist whose anti-corruption investigations exposed powerful people. She was murdered in October by a car bomb. Galizia used WhatsApp to communicate securely with her sources. Now that she is dead, the Maltese police want to break into her phone or the app, and find out who those sources were. One journalist reports: Part of Daphne's destroyed smart phone was elevated from the scene. Investigators say that Caruana Galizia had not taken her laptop with her on that particular trip. If she had done so, the forensic experts would have found evidence on the ground. Her mobile phone is also being examined, as can be seen from her WhatsApp profile, which has registered activity since the murder. But it is understood that the data is safe. Sources close to the newsroom said that as part of the investigation her sim card has been cloned. This is done with the help of mobile service providers in similar cases. Asked if her WhatsApp messages or any other messages that were stored in her phone will be retrieved, the source said that since the messaging application is encrypted, the messages cannot be seen. Therefore it is unlikely that any data can be retrieved. I am less optimistic than that reporter. The FBI is providing "specific assistance." The article doesn't explain that, but I would not be surprised if they were helping crack the phone. It will be interesting to see if WhatsApp's security survives this. My guess is that it depends on how much of the phone was recovered from the bombed car. EDITED TO ADD (11/7): The court-appointed IT expert on the case has a criminal record in the UK for theft and forgery. via Bruce Schneier
Chicago police pay 2 BTC ransom to unencrypt their files
fed posted a topic in Stiri securitateA south suburban police department paid a $500 ransom to an unidentified hacker to regain access to data from a police computer the hacker managed to disable, records show. Midlothian in January was hit with a form of computer virus called Cryptoware, said Calvin Harden Jr., an IT vendor who works with the village. The hacker demanded payment through bitcoin, a digital currency often used by individuals engaging in sophisticated or sometimes illegal activities on the Internet. "It didn't encrypt everything in the police department. It was just that computer and specific files," not the entire system, Harden said. The hacker didn't access the information on the computer but merely shut it down and made it inaccessible, Harden said. The Federal Trade Commission and the FBI issued a public warning last year to consumers and businesses about the virus, saying it's "essentially extortion." Midlothian's police force isn't the first government agency to fall victim to the cybercrime. The city of Detroit and a Tennessee sheriff's office both encountered Cryptoware hackers who sought ransoms in the past year, according to published reports. Fred Hayes, Elwood's top cop and president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said this type of virus is becoming more common and that federal officials have been in touch about it. His advice to departments is to back up their data. "This is something that quite a few people recently, and when I say recently (I mean) over the last year or two, have been experiencing," Hayes said. At the Midlothian Police Department, someone opened an email that contained the virus, allowing the virus to lock down the computer, Harden said. A message popped up on the machine demanding money in exchange for a virtual code that would return access, Harden said. Midlothian Police Chief Harold Kaufman confirmed that the department had been hacked but otherwise declined to comment. Neither Kaufman, Midlothian's mayor, nor the village clerk returned further messages asking whether the village would pursue the hacker, but Harden said he believed officials would do so. An FBI spokeswoman wouldn't confirm whether the village made the FBI aware of the incident. Village officials released a copy of the town's invoice in response to an open records request by the Tribune. The invoice, "for MPD virus," shows the village sent a $606 money order to a bitcoin cafe in New York to transmit the money to the hacker. The payment included bank fees and surcharges. Officials tried to wire the money through Bank of America, Harden said, but couldn't. The village had to make a difficult decision whether to comply with the demand, Harden said, and chose to because a pursuit of the hacker might have been more trouble than it's worth. "Because the backups were also infected, the option was to pay the hacker and get the files unencrypted," Harden said, "which is what we decided to do." Harden said he believes the hacker's actions are criminal, which is why the hacker requested "pretty much untraceable" bitcoin as payment. The sheriff's office in Tennessee paid $572 to a hacker known as Nimrod Gruber to regain access to its files, according to reports. Detroit's mayor said in November that the database that was frozen there wasn't essential to government operations, and the city refused to pay a ransom of several hundred thousand dollars a hacker sought. Mike Alsup, co-chair of the Communications and Technology Committee for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said the issue of cyber security "weighs heavily" on police chiefs. "Chiefs across the entire nation are concerned with the growing trend of computer crime," Alsup said. "Hardly a day goes by that we don't see in both the print and audio media, we hear of instances of computer crime, computer hacking, large organized criminal groups internationally that are stealing through the use of computers." Harden, Midlothian's IT vendor, said he does work for a law firm that experienced a similar virus last year, and added that it's "happening to people every day." "When you tell someone this, it's sort of they're like, 'What?' It's sort of a crazy scenario," Harden said. "But it's happening." Midlothian cops pay bitcoin ransom to retrieve data from hacker - Chicago Tribune
Hackers target LAPD chief, Jay-Z, Beyonce, many others
sicilianul posted a topic in Stiri securitateHackers on Monday targeted Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and an assorted group of other notables, including Vice President Joe Biden and music mega-stars Jay-Z and Beyonce, posting detailed financial information on the Internet. The information, which included home addresses, Social Security numbers and credit reports, was published on a website that appeared to originate in Russia. “We’ll take steps to find out who did this, and if they’re within the boundaries of the United States, we’ll prosecute them,” Beck said. Beck speculated that he was included with the high-profile performers and politicians because of the recent Christopher Dorner saga. Dorner, a fired LAPD officer, killed two police officers and two others last month during a bloody campaign to seek revenge for his firing. Before he died in a standoff with authorities, Dorner in an on-line manifesto praised the network of hackers known as Anonymous. Many people claiming affiliation with the group have voiced support for Dorner on Twitter and in other Web forums. Others who were singled out included former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, singer Britney Spears, actors Mel Gibson and Ashton Kutcher, and U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder. The accuracy of information released on people other than Beck could not be independently verified by The Times. -- Joel Rubin Original source: Hackers target LAPD chief, Jay-Z, Beyonce, many others - latimes.com