On the wake of similar operations carried on by Hacktivists against Law Enforcement Agencies all over the World, the Italian Cell of the infamous collective Anonymous has decided to cross the line targeting the Italian Police with a clamorous Cyber Attack under the label of #Antisec movement.
On October, the 23rd, the Hactkivists have leaked more than 3500 private documents, claiming to own an additional huge amount of sensitive information such as lawful interception schemes, private files and e-mail accounts.
The Italian Police has indirectly confirmed the attack, downplaying its effects with a scant statement (in Italian) that (easily predictable) has raised a furious reaction by the Hacktivists. According to the above mentioned statement, no server was compromised, but the leaked data were just the consequence of several “illegitimate accesses” to private emails belonging to police officers (as to say that several compromised accounts are less severe than a hacked server).
Strictly speaking, this latest attack is not a surprise since in the past months, mainly after the infamous 50 days of Lulz of the LulzSec collective, Governments and Law Enforcement Agencies all over the world have become the preferred targets for Hacktivists under the Antisec shield. From a broader perspective this trend was apparently decreasing during 2012 because of several factors: the discovery of the double identity of Sabu (an hacktivist during the day and an FBI informant during the night), the arrest of W0rmer and ItsKahuna (two members of the CabinCr3w collective who left behind them a long trail of cyber-attacks against law enforcement agencies, and, last but not least, the arrest of the members of the Team Poison Collective.
Unfortunately This cyber-attack changes the rules and brings the things back in time to Summer 2011. It looks similar to LulzSec’s Operation Chinga La Migra, targeting Arizona Border Patrol, and to another (nearly contemporary) cyber attack that allowed LulzSecBrasil (??) to leak 8 Gb of data from the Brazilian Police.
Hopefully this cyber-attack will change the rules in Italy, it has dramatically demonstrated the real risk for public institutions and the need for a greater level of security. As a consequence it cannot be absolutely underestimated.
I gave a contribution for the section concerning the Cyber Attacks in Italy. The following lines depict a summary of what you will be able to find in the full report (so far only in Italian).
During the period ranging from February 2011 to April 2012, I collected 127 cyber attacks, among which 112, corresponding to the 88% (that is almost the entire sample), driven by hacktivism. In only 15 cases different motivations were found, related to Cyber Crime (14 occurrences) and Cyber Espionage.
The collected sample shows that more than 43% of targets were government sites and political associations. Organizations related to education rank at number three even though most of the attacks were concentrated in a single event in July when as many as 18 universities were affected simultaneously.
Entertainment industry and Law Enforcement Agencies are far behind, but ahead all other categories, probably a consequence of the cyber attacks perpetrated in January and March 2012 during the waves of protests against SOPA and PIPA, (and the subsequent shutdown of MegaUpload). Please notice that not event the Holy See has been safe from hackers with a wave of DDoS attacks targeting several Vatican sites after some controversial declarations of a security vendor.
The trend analysis clearly reflects the influence of external factors on hacktivism in Italy: the first intervention in Libya, then the emotional impact of the collective LulzSec, and finally the protests against the proposed laws considered repressive to freedom of expression on the Internet.
As far as the attack distribution is concerned, Italy has just demonstrated to be a “Spaghetti DDOS” country. On the wake of hacktivism, our country has assisted, in the analyzed period, to a massive wave of Distributed Denial Of Service Attacks. SQL Injection and Defacement attacks are well behind (again remember that most of the SQLi attacks were concentrated on a single event occurring on July). In any case the distribution shows a tendency to perform those kinds of attacks (DDoS and Defacement) capable to gain the most attention from media.
Although the sample may provide an interesting snapshot, please keep in mind that it only includes those attacks that have been detected since the authors claimed them, or simply because the attacks themselves earned plenty of space on media. Given the times we are living in, I’m afraid these are just the tip of the iceberg.
If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 (regularly updated), and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.
P.S. I did not include in the sample the controversial attack to CNAIPIC (Italian Cyber Police) since the origin of that event is far from being certain.
As usual, here is the list of the main cyber attacks for April 2012. A first half of the month which has been characterized by hacktivism, although the time of the resounding attacks seems so far away. Also because, after the arrest of Sabu, the law enforcement agencies (which also were targeted during this month, most of all in UK), made two further arrests of alleged hackers affiliated to the Anonymous Collective: W0rmer, member of CabinCr3w, and two possible members of the infamous collective @TeaMp0isoN.
In any case, the most important breach of the first half of the month has nothing to deal with hacktivism, targeted the health sector and occurred to Utah Department of Health with potentially 750,000 users affected. According to the Last Ponemon Study related to the cost of a breach ($194 per record) applied to the minimum number of users affected (250,000), the monetary impact could be at least $ 55 million.
Another interesting event to mention in the observed period is also the alleged attack against a Chinese Military Contractor, and the takedown of the five most important al-Qaeda forums. On the hacktivist front, it worths to mention a new hijacked call from MI6 to FBI, but also the alleged phone bombing to the same Law Enforcement Agency. Both events were performed by TeamPoison, whose two alleged members were arrested the day after.
For the sample of attacks I tried to identify: the category of the targets, the category of the attacks, and the motivations behind them. Of course this attempt must be taken with caution since in many cases the attacks did not target a single objective. Taking into account the single objectives would have been nearly impossible and prone to errors (I am doing the timeline in my free time!), so the data reported on the charts refer to the single event (and not to all the target affected in the single event).
As usual the references are placed after the jump.
By the way, SQL Injection continues to rule (the question mark indicates attacks possibly performed by SQL Injection, where the term “possibly” indicates the lack of direct evidences…).
If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 (regularly updated), and follow @pausparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.
Last week, while browsing the 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline, I could not help but notice the huge amount of cyber attacks that the collective @CabinCr3w did between January and February 2012 in the name of the so-called #OpPiggyBank. You will probably remember that most of those Cyber Attacks, made in combination with @ItsKahuna, were targeting Law Enforcement Agencies in support of the occupy movements. The crew was not new to such similar actions (for instance they doxed the Citigroup CEO in October 2011), in any case I was impressed by their sudden peak and by the equally sudden disappearance in the second half of February.
Few clicks on Google were enough for me to came across an article on Threatpost that I had missed a couple of days before.
On March 20 federal authorities had arrested Higinio Ochoa, AKA @Anonw0rmer, a resident of Texas accused of working for the hacking group CabinCr3w. He had been taken into custody by FBI agents and charged with unauthorized access to a protected computer in a criminal complaint dated March 15 whose Offense Description indicates an “Unauthorized Access to a protected computer” made on February 2012 in the County of Travis, District of Texas.
The rich Resumé of the @CabinCr3w, part of which is listed on the Criminal Complaint, includes 10 cyber attacks made between January and February 2012, in particular one against the Texas Police Association, on February the 1st 2012, and one against the Texas Department of Public Safety, on February, the 8th 2012. The latter, at least according to an alleged self-written memorial that W0rmer Higinio Ochoa allegedly posted on pastebin on Mar 30 2012, is maybe the one for which he was charged.
The list of the facts contained in the Criminal Complaint and how the FBI combined them to identify Higinio Ochoa and to join his real identity with the virtual identity of W0rmer, is a brilliant example of Open Source Intelligence clearly summarized in this article by ArsTechnica. Incredible to believe for a hacker, who should be supposed to clean each trace he leaves on the cyber space, is the fact that the main security concern for a mobile device, the geo-tagging feature, was one of the elements which led Investigators to Higinio Ochoa. By mining EXIF data contained in a photo on the web page left after the defacement of the Texas Department of Public Safety (showing a woman in a bikini with the sign: “PwNd by w0rmer & cabincr3w”), the Feds were able to collect the GPS data in the image, and to consequently identify it was taken with an iPhone 4 at a location in South VIC, Australia. By browsing the (inevitable) Ochoa’s Facebook Profile, the agents also learned that a girlfriend of him, Kylie Gardner, had graduated from a high school in Australia, the same country in which the first photo was shot.
Inevitably, this event has (too) many points in common with the affaire of Sabu, the alleged leader of the infamous LulzSec Collective, arrested by the Feds approximately a month before.
Both crews, LulzSec and CabinCr3w, targeted Law Enforcement Agencies, both crews met the same destiny: hit in the heart (or better to say in the head) by those same Law Enforcements they mocked so deeply during their days of lulz.
But the points in common do not end here… Sabu was discovered to act as an informant of FBI, and the above quoted pastebin suggests that W0rmer did the same prior of his arrest.
Were you ever approached to be a confidential informant? Of course I was! Some body such as myself who not only participated in the occupy movement but knew many and knew the inner workings of the “infamous” cabin crew would not be just put away without wondering if he could be turned. I did how ever tell FBI that I would participate in the capture of my fellow crew mates
Even if it is not clear if his cooperation was really genuine. As a matter of fact in the following sentence, he refers to his role as an informant as a “play” which created confusion on FBI:
a play which undoubtfully both satisfied and confused the FBI
Maybe this is the reason why the Twitter account of the CabinCr3w on April 3, tweeted:
(Curiously it looks like at 00:04 (UTC +1) this tweet has just disappeared)
In any case the court documents indicate that Ochoa first appeared in federal court for the Southern District of Texas on March 21, subsequently released on bail and forbidden to use a computer or smart phone, hence it is possible that the post on pastebin, which is dated March 31st, has not been written directly from his hand.
Last but not least there is a strange coincidence: W0rmer had a twitter account with the nick @AnonW0rmer who ceased to tweet on March, the 20th (@ItsKahuna ceased to tweet on March, the 23rd while @CabinCr3w is the only still active). Guess what is the name associated with the @AnonW0rmer account? FBI HaZ A File on ME. A dark omen or a dissimulation?