Department of Justice and the FBI—has announced a major coordinated law enforcement effort to disrupt international business e-mail compromise (BEC) schemes that are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals.
US District Judge Richard Leon ruled entirely in AT&T’s favor. The Department of Justice had sued AT&T to block the merger, but the judge’s ruling, pending a possible appeal, would let AT&T complete the purchase without spinning off any subsidiaries.
The government failed to prove that the merger would substantially lessen competition or that AT&T would use its ownership of premium content to harm rival TV providers.
AT&T said it intends to close the merger by June 20. It’s not yet known whether the government will appeal the case. AT&T has been the nation’s largest pay-TV company since it acquired DirecTV in 2015, and it is one of the largest providers of home and mobile broadband service. Time Warner owns HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner Broadcasting System. As the owner of Time Warner, AT&T would be able to set the price that other cable or satellite companies must pay for a large quantity of TV programming.
The DOJ argued that buying Time Warner and its stable of popular TV programming would give AT&T too much control over programming and distribution.
Will we see higher bills and fewer choices of programming?
A Canadian man has pleaded guilty to hacking charges related to a 2014 spear-phishing operation of Yahoo employees. The hack ultimately compromised 500 million Yahoo accounts.
The operative, Karim Baratov, appeared in a San Francisco federal court on Tuesday afternoon. He also admitted that his role was to “hack webmail accounts of individuals of interest to the FSB,” the Russian internal security service. Baratov then sent those passwords to his alleged co-conspirator, Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev.
Baratov was indicted in late February 2017 along with three other men who remain in Russia.
The prosecutors said Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, and Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43—both officers of the Russian Federal Security Service—worked with two other men—Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, 29, and Karim Baratov, 22—who were also indicted. The men gained initial access to Yahoo in early 2014 and began their reconnaissance, the indictment alleged. By November or December, Belan used the file transfer protocol to download part or all of a Yahoo database that contained user names, recovery e-mail accounts, and phone numbers. The user database (UDB) also contained the cryptographic nonces needed to generate the account-authentication browser cookies for more than 500 million accounts.
Belan also downloaded an account management tool (AMT) that Yahoo used to make and track changes to user accounts. Together, the pilfered UDB and AMT allowed Belan, Dokuchaev and Sushchin to locate Yahoo e-mail accounts of interest and to mint authentication cookies needed to access 6,500 accounts without authorization. The accounts belonged to Russian journalists, Russian and US government officials, employees of a prominent Russian security company, and employees of other Internet companies the indicted men wanted to target. Belan and Baratov also used their access to commit additional crimes, including by manipulating Yahoo search results to promote a scam involving erectile dysfunction drugs, stealing electronic gift cards, and sending spam messages to Yahoo users’ contacts.
The American Civil Liberties Union wants Amazon to stop offering their new facial recognition system” to governments and law enforcement.
The service, called “Rekognition,” uses artificial intelligence to identify, track and analyze faces in real time. According to Amazon, the service can “analyze billions of images and videos daily, and requires no machine learning expertise to use.”
The ACLU said in a blog post about the program: “People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government. By automating mass surveillance, facial recognition systems like Rekognition threaten this freedom, posing a particular threat to communities already unjustly targeted in the current political climate. Once powerful surveillance systems like these are built and deployed, the harm will be extremely difficult to undo.”
Rekognition was released in late 2016, with the sheriff’s office in Washington County, Oregon, as its first customers, according to the Associated Press. The department uses the service about 20 times per day.
Deputy Jeff Talbot, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office told the AP. “We want our local community to be aware of what we’re doing, how we’re using it to solve crimes – what it is and, just as importantly, what it is not.”
The Orlando Police Department began a pilot program last year with the Rekognition technology in what police chief John Mina called a “first-of-its-kind public-private partnership.”
In a presentation from a developer conference in Seoul, South Korea, Amazon’s Ranju Das said, “It’s about recognizing people, it’s about tracking people, and then it’s about doing this in real time, so that the law enforcement officers … can be then alerted in real time to events that are happening.”
In an email to the AP, the Orlando Police Department said they are “not using the technology in an investigative capacity or in any public spaces at this time.”
“The purpose of a pilot program such as this, is to address any concerns that arise as the new technology is tested,” the statement said. “Any use of the system will be in accordance with current and applicable law. We are always looking for new solutions to further our ability to keep the residents and visitors of Orlando safe.
South Korea’s new law is for those who hack online games in order to cheat at them, which went into effect last June, has hackers in hot water. Earlier this year, 13 Overwatch offenders were arrested, and now two have received their sentences.
According to a post from Blizzard Korea—which worked with the Seoul National Police Agency Cyber Security Department as part of a year-long investigation that began in January 2017—one of the 13 has received two years of probation from the South Korean government, and if he violates it, he’ll see jail time. The other has been fined 10 million won, or around $10,000.
No competitive game is free of cheating, but in 2016 and 2017, Overwatch had an especially nasty hacker problem in South Korea, where the proliferation of PC-focused cafes called “PC bangs” meant that cheaters could cycle between freebie accounts when they got banned. Early in 2017, Blizzard changed the rules around PC bang accounts to crack down on that practice, but there was still a bigger problem: those who created the hacks.
South Korea’s June 2017 law targets those creators—not rando players who decide it might be fun to see through walls for an afternoon. The law specifically mentions the creation of “game hacks” as well as the creation and distribution of private servers. It’s come under fire for perhaps being too broad, . Anyone found guilty can face a maximum fine of nearly $50,000 and a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Hagens Berman, a law firm with a long track record of class-action advocacy, believes that Samsung, Hynix, and Micron have colluded to limit the supply of certain DRAM products, which has driven an increase in prices. The firm is filing a class-action on behalf of US consumers of smartphones and computing devices, saying that anyone who purchased a smartphone or computer between July 1, 2016 and Feb. 1, 2018 may have overpaid and could be due restitution.
The Justice Department says that it will put $2 million towards research on AI, which it believes could be used to fight human trafficking, illegal border crossings, drug trafficking, and child pornography.
“Crimes such as gang violence, migrant smuggling, and human and opioid trafficking generate volumes of data resulting from the use of various communications and social media technologies by gang members, traffickers, smugglers; and financial transactions related to illicit activities,”
NIJ also wants to fund research on detecting encrypted child pornography files without breaking encryption, according to its call for proposals.
Privacy advocates have warned that AI could be abused by law enforcement agencies—it’s difficult to keep bias from creeping into algorithms, as ProPublica recently documented in software designed to predict recidivism.