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CBI Writes to Cambridge Analytica, Facebook And GSR Regarding Data Breach Cases

The CBI got the reference from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, in July, to investigate the role of Cambride Analytica

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Case Against NDTV Founders
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Wikimedia

The CBI has written to UK-based Cambridge Analytica and Global Science Research (GSR) and US-based Facebook, seeking information in connection with its probe into allegedly illegally obtaining social networking site data of Indians, sources said on Monday.

According to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sources, the agency has written to the Cambridge Analytica’s New York City office, GSR office in UK and Facebook’s US office.

The agency’s moves comes in the wake of a “Preliminary Enquiry (PE)” it registered against the firms after receiving a reference from the Centre to start a probe into the matter on August 8.

The CBI got the reference from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, in July, to investigate the role of Cambride Analytica.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on July 26 had also told Parliament that the government has ordered the CBI to probe and find out if the British company had violated Indian laws.

Cambridge Analytica — a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer — declared bankruptcy this year following allegations that it used personal information harvested from 87 million Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election.

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The firm is accused of mining personal information without authorisation in early 2014, to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements. (IANS)

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Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has blamed Apple’s operating system for the hacking of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, saying WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is unhackable.

Investigators believe that Bezos’s iPhone was compromised after he received a 4.4MB video file containing malware via WhatsApp – in the same way when phones of 1,400 select journalists and human rights activists were broken into by Pegasus software from Israel-based NSO Group last year.

In an interview to the BBC last week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg, said it wasn’t WhatsApp’s fault because end-to-end encryption is unhackable and blamed Apple’s operating system for Bezos’ episode.

“It sounds like something on the, you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything on the, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp,” Clegg told the show host.

Clegg compared the hack to opening a malicious email, saying that “it only comes to life when you open it”.

According to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone, after that the video file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data, including his intimate messages with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

According to Clegg, “something” must have affected the phone’s operating system.

“As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple was yet to comment on Facebook’s statement.

The NSO Group has denied it was part of Bezos’ hacking.

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WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages. But the piece of NSO Group software exploited WhatsApp’s video calling system by installing the spyware via missed calls to snoop on the selected users.

According to leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy, end-to-end encrypted apps (E2EE) do provide security, and messages or calls cannot be intercepted and decrypted en route without enormous computing resources.

“But once anyone can get to your handset, whether a human or a piece of software, the encryption doesn’t matter anymore. Because on your handset, it’s all decrypted,” Roy told IANS recently. (IANS)