from the information-wants-to-be-free? dept.
Federal prosecutors have charged former NSA contractor Harold T. Martin III under the Espionage Act:
Harold T. Martin III is expected to appear at a federal courthouse in Baltimore on Friday for a hearing to consider whether he should remain in U.S. custody, as prosecutors announced in a court filing that they plan to file Espionage Act charges against him.
The FBI is investigating whether Martin may have transferred six bankers boxes' worth of paper documents and 50,000 gigabytes of electronic materials to anyone else, according to documents filed Thursday. So far, investigators said they have not found any connection to a foreign power. Martin's public defenders, James Wyda and Deborah Boardman, have said that he presents no flight risk and that "there's no evidence he intended to betray his country."
Martin, a former Navy reservist, has been in federal custody since late August. That's when FBI agents executed search warrants at his suburban Maryland home, uncovering what they describe as "overwhelming" proof he mishandled classified information. Among the materials they found: the personal information of government employees and a top-secret document "regarding specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States and its allies," according to the court filing.
The trove of information reportedly includes hacking tools that were recently offered for sale by a group that calls itself The Shadow Brokers.
12-page court filing: United States of America v. Harold T. Martin, III
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
The tools, which enable hackers to exploit software flaws in computer and communications systems from vendors such as Cisco Systems and Fortinet Inc, were dumped onto public websites last month by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers.
The public release of the tools coincided with U.S. officials saying they had concluded that Russia or its proxies were responsible for hacking political party organizations in the run-up to the Nov. 8 presidential election. On Thursday, lawmakers accused Russia of being responsible.
Various explanations have been floated by officials in Washington as to how the tools were stolen. Some feared it was the work of a leaker similar to former agency contractor Edward Snowden, while others suspected the Russians might have hacked into NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
But officials heading the FBI-led investigation now discount both of those scenarios, the people said in separate interviews.
NSA officials have told investigators that an employee or contractor made the mistake about three years ago during an operation that used the tools, the people said.
That person acknowledged the error shortly afterward, they said. But the NSA did not inform the companies of the danger when it first discovered the exposure of the tools, the sources said. Since the public release of the tools, the companies involved have issued patches in the systems to protect them.
Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the former NSA person, who has since departed the agency for other reasons, left the tools exposed deliberately. Another possibility, two of the sources said, is that more than one person at the headquarters or a remote location made similar mistakes or compounded each other's missteps.
Representatives of the NSA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the office of the Director of National Intelligence all declined to comment.
A federal contractor was arrested in August for unlawful retention of classified documents:
A federal contractor suspected of leaking powerful National Security Agency hacking tools has been arrested and charged with stealing classified information from the U.S. government, according to court records and a law enforcement official familiar with the case. Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, was charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, authorities said. He was arrested in August after investigators searched his home in Glen Burnie, Md., and found documents and digital information stored on various devices that contained highly classified information, authorities said. The breadth of the damage Martin is alleged to have caused was not immediately clear, though officials alleged some of the documents he took home "could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States." Investigators are probing whether Martin was responsible for an apparent leak that led to a cache of NSA hacking tools appearing online in August, according to an official familiar with the case.
From the US DoJ release:
A criminal complaint has been filed charging Harold Thomas Martin III, age 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials by a government employee or contractor. According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Martin was a contractor with the federal government and had a top secret national security clearance. Martin was arrested late on August 27, 2016. The complaint was filed on August 29, 2016, and unsealed today.
NSA-created cyber tool spawns global ransomware attacks
Leaked alleged NSA hacking tools appear to be behind a massive cyberattack disrupting hospitals and companies across Europe, Asia and the U.S., with Russia among the hardest-hit countries.
The unique malware causing the attacks - which has spread to tens of thousands of companies in 99 countries, according to the cyber firm Avast - have forced some hospitals to stop admitting new patients with serious medical conditions and driven other companies to shut down their networks, leaving valuable files unavailable.
The source of the world-wide digital assault seems to be a version of an apparent NSA-created hacking tool that was dumped online in April by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers. The tool, a type of ransomware, locks up a company's networks and holds files and data hostage until a fee is paid. Researchers said the malware is exploiting a Microsoft software flaw.
One or more anti-virus companies may have been hacked prior to WannaCrypt infecting 75000 Microsoft Windows computers in 99 countries. First, anti-virus software like Avast fails to make HTTP connections. Second, five million of ransomware emails are rapidly sent. Although many centralized email servers were able to stem the onslaught, many instances of anti-virus software had outdated virus definitions and were defenseless against the attack. Indeed, successful attacks were above 1%. Of these, more than 1% have already paid the ransom. Although various governments have rules (or laws) against paying ransom, it is possible that ransoms have been paid to regain access to some systems.
Also, file scrambling ransomware has similarities to REAMDE by Neal Stephenson. Although the book is extremely badly written, its scenarios (offline and online) seem to come true with forceful regularity.
Telefónica reportedly affected. NHS failed to patch computers which affected US hospitals in 2016. 16 divisions of the UK's NHS taken offline with aid of NSA Fuzzbunch exploit. The fun of a public blockchain is that ransom payments of £415,000 have been confirmed. Cancellation of heart surgery confirmed. Doctors unable to check allergies or prescribe medication. Patient access to emergency treatment denied in part due to hospital telephone exchange being offline.
It also appears that one of the affected parties refused to answer a Freedom of Information request in Nov 2016 about cyber-security due to impact on crime detection. Similar parties provided responses to the same request.
"TheShadowBrokers is having special trick or treat for Amerikanskis tonight," said the Monday morning post, which was signed by the same encryption key used in the August posts. "Many missions into your networks is/was coming from these ip addresses." Monday's leak came as former NSA contractor Harold Thomas Martin III remains in federal custody on charges that he hoarded an astounding 50 terabytes of data in his suburban Maryland home. Much of the data included highly classified information such as the names of US intelligence officers and highly sensitive methods behind intelligence operations. Martin came to the attention of investigators looking into the Shadow Brokers' August leak. Anonymous people with knowledge of the investigation say they don't know what connection, if any, Martin has to the group or the leaks.
[...] According to analyses from researchers here and here, Monday's dump contains 352 distinct IP addresses and 306 domain names that purportedly have been hacked by the NSA. The timestamps included in the leak indicate that the servers were targeted between August 22, 2000 and August 18, 2010. The addresses include 32 .edu domains and nine .gov domains. In all, the targets were located in 49 countries, with the top 10 being China, Japan, Korea, Spain, Germany, India, Taiwan, Mexico, Italy, and Russia. Vitali Kremez, a senior intelligence analyst at security firm Flashpoint, also provides useful analysis here. [...] Other purported NSA tools discussed in Monday's dump have names including DEWDROP, INCISION, JACKLADDER, ORANGUTAN, PATCHICILLIN, RETICULUM, SIDETRACK, AND STOCSURGEON. Little is immediately known about the tools, but the specter that they may be implants or exploits belonging to the NSA is understandably generating intrigue in both security and intelligence circles.
"The Shadow Brokers" Claim to Have Hacked NSA
NSA 'Shadow Brokers' Hack Shows SpyWar With Kremlin is Turning Hot
Cisco Begins Patching an NSA Exploit Released by the Shadow Brokers
Probe of Leaked U.S. NSA Hacking Tools Examines Operative's 'Mistake'
NSA Contractor Harold Martin III Arrested
NSA Contractor Accused of "Stealing" Terabytes of Information, Charged Under Espionage Act
A federal grand jury has indicted a former National Security Agency contractor on 20 counts of willful retention of national defense information.
According to prosecutors, Harold "Hal" Martin took a slew of highly classified documents out of secure facilities and kept them at his home and in his car. Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that among those materials, Martin is alleged to have taken 75 percent of the hacking tools that were part of the Tailored Access Operations, an elite hacking unit within NSA.
The indictment outlines 20 specific documents that he is accused of having taken, including "a March 2014 NSA leadership briefing outlining the development and future plans for a specific NSA organization."
Previously: NSA Contractor Harold Martin III Arrested
NSA Contractor Accused of "Stealing" Terabytes of Information, Charged Under Espionage Act
The Shadow Brokers Identify Hundreds of Targets Allegedly Hacked by the NSA