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.
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?
Hacktivists and Information Security Professionals could not believe their eyes while reading the breaking news published by Fox News according to which the infamous Sabu, the alleged leader of the LulzSec collective, has been secretly working for the government for months and played a crucial role for the raids which today led to the arrests of three members of the infamous hacking collective with two more charged for conspiracy.
You will probably remember that the hacking collective which, in its “50 days of Lulz” become the nightmare for System Administrators and Law Enforcement Agencies all over the Globe, suddenly decided to give up, on June the 25th, in a completely unexpected way, leaving their supporters and followers completely surprised, but also leaving the heritage of a name which has become a synonym for hacktivism (also because of their pact with the Anonymous, with whom they are often associated, in the name of the #Antisec movement).
Even after the group left the scene, Sabu has continued to constantly tweet and comment the events through his “official” Twitter account @anonymouSabu, probably a fake or a diversionary tactic, since it looks like that Sabu had already been arrested by the FBI since June, the 7th, more than a couple of weeks before the breakdown of the group,
At that time, the hacking group was hunted by Law Enforcement Agencies and several Grayhats as well (among all @th3j35ter, the A-Team and Web Ninjas whose blog, lulzsecexposed.blogspot.com, unfortunately is no longer available).
Curiously, it looks like that Sabu had already been “doxed” since then. At that time many claimed to have revealed the identity of the members: there was no day without a new pastebin promising to expose new information. But if you have a look at them, they all have only one thing in common, and it is just the identity of Xavier Monsegur (or Montsegur), also known as Sabu. The truth was very close and before everybody eyes: on pastebin.
June, 28th 2011: http://pastebin.com/qmP7R49Y
The real identity of the other members is not still completely known, but for sure it is not a coincidence that no one of the pastebins was able to guess anyone else except Sabu, who hence was the first to be arrested, well before the rest of the group.
There are really few doubts, this is the most (in)famous hacking collective. There is no new day without a new resounding action. They are Anonymous. They are Legion. They do not forgive. They do not forget. Expect Them.
B like Barrett Brown
Considered one of the early members, Barrett Brown is the alleged spokesperson of Anonymous.
C like Chanology (AKA Project Chanology, AKA Operation Chanology)
A protest movement against the practices of the Church of Scientology by Anonymous. The project (or Operation) was started in response to the Church of Scientology’s attempts to remove material from a highly publicized interview with Scientologist Tom Cruise from the Internet in January 2008 and was followed by DDoS attacks and other actions such as black faxes and prunk calls.
D like DDoS
Distributed Denial of Service (abbreviated DDoS) is the preferred weapon by Hackitivsts, since it does not need particular hacking skills and may also be centrally controlled (with a hive mind who define the target). The preferred tool for perpetrating DDoS attacks is LOIC, although next-gen tools are under development.
E like Encyclopædia Dramatica
A satirical open wiki, launched on December 10, 2004 and defunct on April 14 2011. It is considered one of the sources of inspiration for The Anonymous.
F like Fawkes Guy AKA Fawkes Guido
Guy Fawkes (13 April 1570 – 31 January 1606), also known as Guido Fawkes, belonged to a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot, a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England. His stylised mask designed by illustrator David Lloyd and used as a major plot element in the “V for Vendetta“ Comic Book, is the symbol for the Anonymous. The failure of the Gunpowder plot has been commemorated in England since 5 November 1605.
After the initial surprise more details are being divulged about the CNAIPIC Hack disclosed this morning. CNAIPIC stands for Centro Nazionale Anticrimine Informatico per la Protezione delle Infrastrutture Critiche) and in practice corresponds to Italian Cyber Police. The event was so resounding to deserve ample space on foreign press as well, starting from BBC, which shows that it has not a mere technical meaning.
Several quick considerations:
- As already stated, CNAIPIC played a primary role during the Campaign of July in which 15 alleged Anonymous members were arrested in 32 raids carried on in Italy and Switzerland. At first glance, this hack seems a clamorous retaliation… But this is too much simple and in my opinion there’s more… During the above mentioned raids, the Italian Police (a statement not reported by local press) reported that: Out of all of the current hacker groups, Anonymous is the largest, but is also populated by the least technical people. Some of its members carry out attacks using software downloaded from the Internet and do not carry out the most basic attempts to secure their IP address. A clear reference to the fact that, until then, the activities of the Anonymous/LulzSec cells in Italy were mainly focused on disruptive DDoS against several sites related to Government, Finance, Telcos and utilities probably made with LOIC without precautions. This attack has shown a much greater level of complexity and this can be easily intended as a kind of “revenge inside the revenge”: Anonymous is not (only) LOIC made DDoS.
- BBC reported that the Anonymous hacker group received the files from a “source”, implicitly suggesting an internal origin for the leak (also suggested by Gizmodo). Honestly speaking I do not agree with this interpretation. As a matter of fact the first tweet announcing the leak on the @AnonymousIRC account was a mere forward from an original tweet by @anonesc (who admitted not to have further details since only forwarded the info). Guess who gave the first tweet? Yes, it was Sabu (thanks to Punto 1 for reporting the info), an old acquaintance, the alleged leader of the LulzSec Group. I have already indicated that this hack resembled the one perpetrated against HBGary Federal which was already performed by Sabu, which could be involved in this hack as well the fact that he was the first to report the CNAIPIC leak cannot be considered a coincidence. Moreover, so far no details concerning the leak were given, not even from the Italian Anonymous and LulzSec.
- The statement was first written in English, of course with the purpose to reach a wider audience. Gizmodo suggests that “the broken English indicates a foreign agent—maybe Italian—and might hint at the possibility of this being an inside job” (considered the average level of English knowledge in Italy the fact that the first statement was written in English should exclude an internal origin but this is a personal consideration :-)). Anyway, the first statement lacks the irony (and the grammar) of the Lulz pastebins (but it looks like the Lulz Boat had a dedicated member, Topiary, for “public relations”). Curiously, the same statement in Italian was released several hours later and, honestly speaking, is a broken Italian, suggesting a quick translation from the original statement, perhaps with Google Translator or a similar tool, without further deep revisions. In any case, to me, it sounds more likely that the hack was performed with a foreign hand: if I were in an Italian attacker’s shoes I would have reserved more attention to my own language.
In any case, internal or external origin, the action is destined to raise many controversies in Italy, making even more bloody the fight against Anonymous.
- Italian Cyber Police Hacked? (paulsparrows.wordpress.com)