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Hacker breaches US FBI website, leakes personal account information to a Public site: Report

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Hacking (representative image), Pixabay

Moscow, Jan 5, 2017: A hacker has claimed to have breached the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website and leaked personal account information to a public site, media reported.

The hacker, known as CyberZeist, exploited a zero-day vulnerability in the highly-secure Plone Content Management System (CMS) of the FBI’s website and leaked some of the information to Pastebin, an open source site that is often used by hackers to post stolen information and bits of code, RT.com reported on Thursday.

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A zero-day fault is a vulnerability in the code that has not been detected, listed, or patched yet. Therefore, the FBI had zero days to respond to the attack.

This is not the first time the hacker claimed breaching the FBI site. In 2011, CyberZeist is believed to have hacked the FBI site as a member of a group known as Anonymous.

Authorities in the US have not yet responded to the recent hacking incident that was claimed to have occurred last month.

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“fbi.gov CMS Exploited, files in view – PasswordResetTool.py, product permissions, setup file. More coming soon #FBI #PWNED,” the hacker had tweeted on December 22.

“Don’t blame the #hacker, blame the faulty #code!,” CyberZeist had said in another tweet on December 27.

CyberZeist warned other agencies that are currently using the Plone CMS that they too are vulnerable to a similar attack. “Amnesty acknowledges to patch the Plone #vulnerability in their CMS, just in time!,” CyberZeist said in a recent tweet. (IANS)

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US Cyber Spies Unmasks Identities of Citizens who in Contact with Foreign Intelligence Targets

Alex Joel, a DNI official, said it was likely that the higher number of U.S. persons unmasked last year was inflated by names of victims of malicious cyber activity

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cyber spies, identities
FILE - A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration, Feb. 28, 2013. VOA

U.S. cyber spies last year unmasked the identities of nearly 17,000 U.S. citizens or residents who were in contact with foreign intelligence targets, a sharp increase from previous years attributed partly to hacking and other malicious cyber activity, according to a U.S. government report released on Tuesday.

The unmasking of American citizens’ identities swept up in U.S. electronic espionage became a sensitive issue after U.S. government spying on communications traffic expanded sharply following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and started sweeping up Americans’ data.

The report by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) said that in 2018 cyber spies at the National Security Agency (NSA) unmasked the identities of 16,721 “U.S. persons,” compared to 9,529 unmaskings in 2017 and 9,217 between September 2015 and August 2016.

cyber spies, identities
U.S. person used by spy agencies includes actual individuals, email addresses and internet protocol (IP) addresses. Pixabay

According to U.S. intelligence rules, when the NSA intercepts messages in which one or more participants are U.S. citizens or residents, the agency is supposed to black out American names. But the names can be unmasked upon request of intelligence officers and higher-ranking government officials, including presidential appointees.

Alex Joel, a DNI official, said it was likely that the higher number of U.S. persons unmasked last year was inflated by names of victims of malicious cyber activity. Another official said the definition of U.S. person used by spy agencies includes actual individuals, email addresses and internet protocol (IP) addresses.

The expanded collection of data that affected Americans was exposed by whistleblowers like former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, prompting politicians and the public to demand greater accountability.

cyber spies, identities
The report says that the number of “non-US persons” targeted by the U.S. for foreign intelligence surveillance rose to 164,770 in calendar year 2018 compared to 129,080 the year before. Pixabay

Annual reports on the extent of NSA and other government electronic surveillance were one notable reform. NSA’s operations historically were so secretive that agency employees joked its initials stood for “No Such Agency.”

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Not long after President Donald Trump took office, Devin Nunes, the Republican who then chaired the House Intelligence Committee, touched off a political flap by claiming intercepted messages involving members of Trump’s transition team had been unmasked at the direction of top Obama administration officials.

The report says that the number of “non-US persons” targeted by the U.S. for foreign intelligence surveillance rose to 164,770 in calendar year 2018 compared to 129,080 the year before. The report adds that not a single FBI investigation was opened on U.S. persons based on NSA surveillance in either 2017 or 2018. (VOA)