Risk
2/23/2010
02:38 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

FBI Investigating Web Spycam

As a federal investigation begins, a security researcher has uncovered evidence related to the case and provided a way to identify the surveillance software.

The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI said on Monday that both agencies are pursuing an inquiry about allegations that Pennsylvania's Lower Merion School District activated Web cams on notebook computers issued to students at Harriton High School.

The federal agencies noted they typically do not confirm involvement in an investigation unless doing so is warranted by the high profile nature of a case or the need to reassure the community.

The allegations were made earlier this month when a Pennsylvania family filed a lawsuit claiming that the school district invaded their privacy and stole private information by covertly monitoring their minor child using a school-issued laptop.

"We intend to work as a team with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, the Montgomery County Detectives, and the Lower Merion Police Department to determine if any crimes were committed," said United States Attorney Michael L. Levy in a statement. "The issues raised by these allegations are wide-ranging and involve the meeting of the new world of cyberspace with that of physical space. Our focus will only be on whether anyone committed any crimes."

Levy said that the investigation is just beginning and that no further comment will be provided until the investigation is complete.

On the Internet, an unofficial investigation has already unearthed surprising information.

Mike Walker, a principal consultant for the Intrepidus Group, a security firm, who blogs under the name Stryde Hax, has identified the school district IT administrator whom he believes oversaw the surveillance of students, the software used to spy, online posts and videos that document the surveillance program and students' reactions to being watched.

In a blog post on Monday, Walker provides instructions on how to identify the "LANRev Trojan" that he claims was used to spy on students at Harriton High.

Walker, incidentally, was the security researcher who claimed to have found evidence that Chinese gymnast He Kexin, the gold medal winner on the uneven bars in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was only 14 years old -- too young to compete in the Olympics.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on Walker's findings.

Walker, however, has urged the family suing the school district and investigators to take immediate steps to preserve digital evidence. "The greatest threat to this investigation now is the possibility that the highly trained technical staff at LMSD could issue a LANRev script to wipe digital forensic evidence off all the laptops," he said in a blog post. "This is why it is imperative for affected parents to have the hard drive removed from their children's laptops and digitally imaged before the laptop is connected to a network."

According to a report published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, a court order issued on Monday forbids the school district from altering the software on the laptops and requires that all digital evidence be preserved. It also reportedly forbids the school district from speaking publicly about the case without prior notification to the plaintiff's counsel.

The school district previously acknowledged that the Web cams had been activated 42 times. A spokesperson for the school district did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Given the extent of the digital footprints that he has been able to uncover in this case and in the course of his Olympic investigation, Walker suggests that people need to recognize that we now live in a world of "compulsory transparency."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0972
Published: 2014-08-01
The kgsl graphics driver for the Linux kernel 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, does not properly prevent write access to IOMMU context registers, which allows local users to select a custom page table, and consequently write ...

CVE-2014-2627
Published: 2014-08-01
Unspecified vulnerability in HP NonStop NetBatch G06.14 through G06.32.01, H06 through H06.28, and J06 through J06.17.01 allows remote authenticated users to gain privileges for NetBatch job execution via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3009
Published: 2014-08-01
The GDS component in IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management - Collaborative Edition 10.0 through 11.0 and InfoSphere Master Data Management Server for Product Information Management 9.0 and 9.1 does not properly handle FRAME elements, which makes it easier for remote authenticated users to conduct ph...

CVE-2014-3302
Published: 2014-08-01
user.php in Cisco WebEx Meetings Server 1.5(.1.131) and earlier does not properly implement the token timer for authenticated encryption, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information via a crafted URL, aka Bug ID CSCuj81708.

CVE-2014-3534
Published: 2014-08-01
arch/s390/kernel/ptrace.c in the Linux kernel before 3.15.8 on the s390 platform does not properly restrict address-space control operations in PTRACE_POKEUSR_AREA requests, which allows local users to obtain read and write access to kernel memory locations, and consequently gain privileges, via a c...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio