DarkCyber for March 19, 2019, Now Available

March 19, 2019

DarkCyber for March 19,2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/324801049.

The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web, cyber crime, and lesser known Internet services.

This week’s story line up includes: Google search blockchain data; emojis puzzle lawyers; NATO soldiers fooled by social media come ons; big paydays for hackers; Dark Web search for marketers; and Iran’s hacker army

This week’s feature looks at the Beacon Dark Web search system. Developed by Echosec Systems in Canada, Beacon provides search and analytics for those interested in tracking brands, companies, and people in Dark Web content. The system’s developers enforce a code of behavior on licensees. If Echosec determines that a user violates its guidelines, access to Beacon will be cut off. Echosec offers a number of powerful features, including geofencing. With this function it is possible to locate images of military facilities and other locations.

The second feature in this week’s video focuses on Iran’s cyber warfare activities. One key individual—Behrooz Kamalian—has been maintaining a lower profile. Those whom he has trained have been suspected of participating in online gambling activities. Kamalian himself, despite his connections with the Iranian government, served a short stint in prison for this allegation. Iran has one of the large cyber warfare forces in the world, ranking fourth behind Russia, China, and the US.

The “Cybershots” for this week include:

  • Google has made available a search engine for blockchain data. Those skilled in blockchain and digital currency transactions may be able to deanonymize certain aspects of a transaction.
  • Emojis which carry meaning are creating issues for lawyers and eDiscovery systems. The colorful icons’ meaning are not easily understood.
  • A social media test for NATO soldiers’ resistance to online tricks was completed by central command. The result was that soldiers can be easily tricked into revealing secret information.
  • Organize hidden Web criminals are paying up to $1 million a year in salary and providing benefits to hackers.

A new blog Dark Cyber Annex is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress. Cyber crime, Dark Web, and company profiles are now appearing on a daily basis.\

Kenny Toth, March 19, 2019

DarkCyber for March 12, 2019, Now Available

March 12, 2019

DarkCyber for March 12, 2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/322579803 ,

The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web, cyber crime, and lesser known Internet services.

This week’s story line up includes: Cellebrite devices for sale on eBay; emojis can activate app functions; and sources selling bulk personal data.

The feature this week discusses speech analysis. Reports have surfaced which reveal that some US correctional facilities are building databases of inmates’ voice prints. The news appeared coincident with rumors that the US National Security Agency was curtailing its voice collection activities. Companies like Securus Technologies provide tools and services related to prison telephone and unauthorized mobile device use. The Securus Investigator Pro has been available and in use for almost a decade. Voice print technology which is analogous to a digital fingerprint system makes it possible to identify those on a call. Inclusion of behavioral tags promises to make voice print systems more useful. With a tag for the caller’s emotional state, investigators can perform cross correlation and other analytic functions to obtain useful information related to a person of interest.

Links are provided to explanations of Amazon’s policeware system which can be used to perform these types of analytic operations.
The final story provides a snapshot of a 100 page field manual about online deception. Published by the US Army, this document is a comprehensive review of systems and methods for military use of deception in an online environment. Checklists and procedural diagrams make clear why social media operations are successful in civilian and military contexts. The DarkCyber video includes a link so viewers can download this unclassified publication.

Kenny Toth, March 12, 2019

Facebook Tracking Amidst Privacy Assertions

March 7, 2019

Privacy International published “Guess What? Facebook Still Tracks You on Android Apps (Even If You Don’t Have a Facebook Account).”

I am not particularly surprised. The chatter about Facebook and its privacy initiative is one of those “pivot” plays. Talk is cheap, unlike online advertising.

The write up states:

seven apps, including Yelp, the language-learning app Duolingo and the job search app Indeed, as well as the King James Bible app and two Muslim prayer apps, Qibla Connect and Muslim Pro, still send your personal data to Facebook before you can decide whether you want to consent or not. Keep in mind: these are apps with millions of installs.

There are some recommendations in the write up. DarkCyber suggests you read these before spending much time on statements like this one from Facebook: “A Privacy Focused Vision for Social Networking.”

Stephen E Arnold, March 7, 2019

DarkCyber for March 5, 2019, Now Available

March 5, 2019

Cyber for March 5, 2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/321045698 .

The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web and lesser known Internet services.

This week’s story line-up includes: A new feature called Cybershots with information about authentic AI, Psy-Group, Microsoft malware, and VKontakte; our feature Facebook as a digital problem; and illegal video streaming.

DarkCyber’s feature reviews the UK government’s report which states that Facebook acted as a “digital gangster.” DarkCyber provides a link from which the document can be downloaded. Among the conclusions set forth in the report were re mediating actions which range from increased regulation of social media firms to fines for their behavior. The report included information that suggests that other countries will take enforcement and regulatory action directed at Facebook. Among the countries identified were Brazil and Singapore.

The second principal story focuses on illegal streaming video services. Google has blocked some of these services and legal actions are underway. Nevertheless, streaming video continues to thrive with thousands of first run movies and major US television programs available. Some of the services are operated from Russia or other Eastern European countries. These services make use of sophisticated content delivery services and rely on technology which allows the criminals to spin up a new service when authorities close one in operation. Services available from some illegal streaming services offer Netflix-like interfaces, sell advertising, and charge subscription fees. Legal hurdles and the cost of pursuing enforcement action in some countries increases the difficulty copyright holders face in closing these services.

This week, DarkCyber introduces a new feature called Cybershots. The items in this section of the video news program reveal that one of the companies associated with weaponized social media has gone out of business. Microsoft has unwittingly allowed malware to be distributed from its online store. A company providing policeware has found that one of its marketing phrases has been picked up by a Chinese company and used as the firm’s name. Plus, a customer of the Russian social media service VKontakte received an unusual Valentine greeting, a cyber attack from a disgruntled customer.

Kenny Toth, March 5, 2019

DARPA Looks Into Nano AI

February 26, 2019

The fields of nanotechnology and artificial intelligence have never been hotter. Just look at the recent call for ideas from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), that they are calling the “Micro-Brain Project.” No, this has nothing to do with the IQ level of politicians, it is actually a groundbreaking idea in defense, as we learned from a recent Newsweek story, “US Military is Building Smarter Robots and Thinks Insects Might Be The Key to New Artificial Intelligence.”

According to the story:

“The proposal…[looks for a plan] capable of mapping out the insect’s brain and its decision-making functions as part of the Artificial Intelligence Exploration program which…’constitutes a series of high-risk, high-payoff projects where researchers will work to establish the feasibility of new AI concepts within 18 months of award.’”

Obviously, the idea of mapping an insect’s brain and nervous system would pay dividends in the spy industry. Imagining microscopic drones has tongues wagging everywhere from the Pentagon to Langley. And they’re not alone. MI6 recently hailed this as the next frontier that they, too, are focusing on. We are on the cusp of a new arms race, where the weapons are getting smaller, not bigger. Any agency that could harness the AI capability and size of insects will, obviously, gain a major advantage over other nations.

Now imagine the mix of DARPA’s nano intelligence with the FLIR nano drone explained in this week’s DarkCyber. Interesting stuff.

Patrick Roland, February 26, 2019

DarkCyber for February 26, 2019, Now Available

February 26, 2019

DarkCyber for February 26,2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/77362226.

The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web and lesser known Internet services.

This week’s story line up includes: a nano drone for US Army operators; lonely heart cyber cons; a major denial of service takedown; and a snapshot of Cyberheist, a deep dive into financial cyber crime.

The first story explores FLIR’s Black Hornet nano drones. These devices are the size of one half sheet of paper and weigh as much as a single slice of bread. US Army operators will use the devices to see around corners and look over the next ridge. Each drone can transmit high definition video and still images and remain aloft for 30 minutes. The operator can fly the nearly invisible drones from a handheld mobile phone sized controller. The nano drones will be used by military forces in France as well as by US military personnel.

The second story explains how romance cons have become a growth business for cyber criminals. The method exploits online dating or “hook up” sites. Individuals seek females over the age of 50, build trust via online communications, and then use that relationship to obtain cash or financial information. Losses average, according to the UK authorities, about $10,000 per successful con. Victims are often reluctant to go to the authorities because they are embarrassed about their behavior.

The third story provides information about the recent takedown of individuals responsible for more than 200,000 denial of service attacks. One of the individuals arrested began his business based on making it easy to knock a Web site offline when he was 17. The method used flooded a Web site or service with a large number of requests. If the targeted service was not correctly configured, the DDOS attack would cause the Web site or service to become unresponsive.

The final story provides a summary of a free book called “Cyberheist.” The 260 document provides a wealth of information about the mechanisms used for stealing bank account information, credit card data, and other personal financial information. The volume reviews numerous types of online methods for deceiving an individual into providing information or for allowing the attacker to install malware on the target’s computing device. DarkCyber provides information about how to download this useful volume without charge.

Kenny Toth, February 26, 2019

DarkCyber for February 19, 2019, Now Available

February 19, 2019

DarkCyber for February 19,2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/317779445. The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web and lesser known Internet services.

This week’s story line up includes: image analysis applied to hotel rooms used for human trafficking; compromising an iPhone via a text message or email; a new report about digital currency crime; and shipping arms the old fashioned way, via the mail.

Facial recognition systems continue to be criticized for inaccuracy and potential human rights violations. A group of researchers have applied artificial intelligence and image analysis to locate hotels allegedly used for human trafficking and the commission of child sex crimes. Plus the team compiled a database of more than 50,000 hotel rooms. The system matches a known hotel room against a photograph obtained from a human trafficker’s advertisement. By pinpointing the location, law enforcement can direct its resources at that venue. Anyone can contribute by uploading hotel room and short term property rentals to a public website.

The second story focuses on a new way to compromise iPhones produced in the period from 2016 to mid 2017. The technique was allegedly used by former US government personnel working for organizations based in the United Arab Emirates. The Project Raven team used a technique which required only a single email or text message. The payload was sent directly to a target’s iPhone. Once the iPhone received the message, that device was accessible to the Project Raven personnel and allowed text messages, images, and other data to be accessed without the iPhone user’s knowledge. Apple closed the security hole, but the technique was interesting because no clicks, downloads, or other actions on the part of the target were necessary.

The third story describes the free “Crypto Crime Report” available from Chainalysis. This company is one of the leaders in the deanonymization of digital currency transactions, including Bitcoin. With the Dark Web losing traction, Chainalysis reports bad actors have turned to encrypted message apps like Telegram and WhatsApp to conduct advertise and sell their products and services. Customers have shifted from Dark Web ecommerce sites to these distributed, anonymous messaging services. The report includes details of investigative methods used to steal digital currency. The majority of thefts were the work of two gangs. Investigators are engaged in an increasingly fierce game of Whack a Mole.

The final story recounts how a spy stole a secret US missile and shipped the device to Russia in the mid 1960s. Today the same method is used by arms dealers in Europe. Postal services and commercial shipping companies have to identify weapons which are disassembled. The components are then placed in cartons which contain parts for common products like vacuum cleaners and kitchen equipment. The old methods remain valid despite today’s modern technology and knowledge of the methods used by bad actors.

Kenny Toth, February 19, 2019

Cyber Saturday for February 16, 2018

February 16, 2019

Sifting through the information flowing into DarkCyber was less than thrilling. We did spot several items which may presage more cyber excitement in the new world of the Internet.

Security Lapse of the Week

The British newspaper Guardian (paywall) reported that a former US intelligence operative joined Team Iran. The flip exposed information and operatives. The high profile government contractor Booz Allen employed this individual for five months in 2008. Insider threats are a major threat to the security of organizations and individuals engaged in intelligence work. The fancy and expensive software available from numerous vendors may prevent some embarrassing and dangerous activities. Booz Allen was the employer of Edward Snowden, and that company may be a prospect for vendors of next generation insider threat identification systems.

Be Afraid

Deep Fakes is a phrase which is used to described spoofed videos. DarkCyber learned that researchers are allegedly afraid of their own advances in what is called “deep fakes for text.” The Generative Pre Trained Transformer 2 or GPT 2 can punch out content that

comes so close to mimicking human writing that it could potentially be used for “deep fake” content.

You can learn more about DFT and the GPT from Ars Technica.

Plus There Is a Scary Future Arriving

In our weekly DarkCyber video news programs we report about image recognition. In the January 19, 2019, program we explain how making sense of images can be used to pinpoint certain human trafficking hot spots. The Guardian (registration required for some users) explains that pop star Taylor Swift “showed us the scary future of facial recognition.” The focal point of the story is a vendor doing business at ISM. More information about the company is at this link.

Also There Creepy Face Generating AI

Many bad actors attach their images to some social media posts. Some Facebook users have some pride in their law breaking achievements. What happens when the bad actor creates a Facebook account and then posts images with faces automatically generated by smart software? Good question. You can check out the service at this url for “This Person Does Not Exist.”

A Content Treasure Trove for Investigators

That delete button may not work the way you think. Whether you are reselling your old Macbook or deleting Twitter messages, those data may still be around and available for certain types of investigations. Twitter has allegedly retained messages sent to and from deactivated or suspended accounts. Security problem for some; big plus for others. For the Verge’s take, navigate to “Twitter Has Been Storing Your Deleted DMs for Years.”

Online Auction Fraud Group

The US Secret Service took down a gang running an online auction scam. The angle was that ads said:

“I’m in the military and being deployed overseas and have to sell fast.”

To find marks (suckers), the operation unfolded in this way:

Alleged conspirators in Romania posted fake ads on popular online auction and sales websites, including Craigslist and eBay, for high-cost goods (typically vehicles) that ran on air because they were figments of the imagination. They’d con people in the US with, among other lies, stories of how they were in the military and needed to sell their car before being deployed.

Then, according to the Naked Security story:

After their targets fell for it and sent payment, the conspirators allegedly laundered the money by converting it to crypto currency and transferring it to their foreign-based buddies. According to the indictment, the alleged foreign-based money launderers include Vlad-C?lin Nistor, who owns Coinflux Services SRL, and Rossen Iossifov, who owns R G Coins.

And That Fish You Ate Last Night?

An interesting scam has been quantified in Canada by the CBC. Those in the seafood supply chain mislabel their products. Seafood fraud is selling an undesirable species of fish for a more desirable one. How widespread is the practice? I learned:

Oceana Canada, a Toronto-based conservation organization, said it found there was mislabeling with 44 per cent of the seafood samples it tested this year and last in five Canadian cities  — and in 75 per cent of cases, cheaper fish were mislabeled as something more expensive.

And, Of Course, Stolen User Data

DarkCyber noted that another 127 million user records have been offered for sale. The vendor previously posted the availability of 620 million records. More about this now routine event at ZDNet.

Stephen E Arnold, February 16, 2019

Weapons via the Hidden Web

February 15, 2019

Gun control continues to be a major issue for Americans. However, if ever there was to be a tightening of gun ownership laws in this country, it’s interesting to wonder what the result might look like. Chances are, it would be a lot like Europe—even the problems that come with it, as we discovered in a recent Gunpowder Magazine article, “European Gun Ownership is Surging, Concerned Citizens Resort to Dark Web.”

According to the story:

“High threats of terror attacks and surging crime have left Europeans increasingly uneasy about their personal safety. And because gun control laws are so strict in Europe, citizens are resorting to illicit means to obtain firearms, to the point that, The Wall Street Journal reports, “unregistered weapons outnumbered legal ones” in 2017.”

It’s not just guns that are posing a threat on the dark web. Recently, a hacker posted over 600 million people’s information up for sale there. This is the reason why intelligence agencies are paying closer attention to the dark web, working on ways to crack its mysterious codes. The issue becomes staying in step or even a step ahead of the dark web, which isn’t as easy as it may sound.

Patrick Roland, February 15, 2019

DarkCyber for February 12, Now Available

February 12, 2019

DarkCyber for February 12, 2019, is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress and on Vimeo at https://www.vimeo.com/316376994. The program is a production of Stephen E Arnold. It is the only weekly video news shows focusing on the Dark Web and lesser known Internet services.

This week’s story line up includes: Italy’s facial recognition system under fire; Marriott trains 500,000 employees to spot human traffickers; a new Dark Web search system from Portugal; and the most popular digital currencies on the hidden Web.

The first story explores the political criticism of Italy’s facial recognition system for law enforcement. The database of reference images contains about one third of Italy’s population. The system integrates with other biometric systems including the fingerprint recognition modules which is operating at several of Italy’s busiest airports. Despite the criticism, government authorities have no practical way to examine images for a match to a person of interest. DarkCyber believes image recognition is going to become more important and more widely used as its accuracy improves and costs come down.

The second story discusses Marriott Corporation’s two year training program. The hotel chain created information to help employees identify cues and signals of human trafficking. The instructional program also provides those attending with guidelines for taking appropriate action. Marriott has made the materials available to other groups. But bad actors have shifted their mode of operation to include short term rentals from Airbnb type vendors. Stephen E Arnold, producer of DarkCyber and author of “CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access, said: ”The anonymity of these types of temporary housing makes it easier for human traffickers to avoid detection. Prepaid credit cards, burner phones, and moving victims from property to property create an additional set of challenges for law enforcement”

The third story provides information about a new hidden Web indexing service. The vendor is Dogdaedis. The system uses “artificial intelligence” to index automatically the hidden services its crawler identifies. A number of companies are indexing and analyzing the Dark Web. Furthermore the number of Dark Web and hidden Web sites is decreasing due to increased pressure from law enforcement. Bad actors have adapted, shifting from traditional single point hidden Web sites to encrypted chat services.

The final story extracts from a Recorded Future report the most popular digital currencies on the Dark Web. Bitcoin is losing ground to Litecoin and Monero.

A new blog Dark Cyber Annex is now available at www.arnoldit.com/wordpress. Cyber crime, Dark Web, and company profiles are now appearing on a daily basis.

Kenny Toth, February 12, 2019

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