Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

10/3/2013
10:45 AM
50%
50%

Stratfor Hacker: FBI Entrapment Shaped My Case

Hacker Jeremy Hammond asks for leniency before sentencing, citing the role of FBI informant Sabu in his case. How far can the FBI go with suspected computer criminals?

It's clear that Monsegur, who was quietly arrested by the FBI in June 2011 and immediately turned informant -- before later pleading guilty to a number of charges -- was being run by the FBI. Furthermore, prosecutors have said that he's monitored around the clock, and restricted to using an FBI-provided computer that records everything he does.

That means that Sabu, and thus the FBI, knew about the Stratfor hack before it happened. Notably, Hammond, using the handle "Sup_g," told Sabu on Dec. 6, 2011, that he planned to hack Stratfor, then did so a week later. Sabu, meanwhile, directed Hammond to upload the stolen data to a server that was really controlled by the FBI. But on Dec. 24, after Sabu reportedly attempted to sell the Stratfor data to Julian Assange at WikiLeaks -- he declined the offer -- Hammond publicly released the data. Two days later, Sabu tied Sup_g to another alias, "Anarchaos," that the bureau knew belonged to Hammond. But several months followed before the FBI arrested Hammond.

Could Stratfor's customer database have been protected -- and $2.5 million in damages and cleanup costs avoided? "Jeremy is about to get sentenced for the Stratfor part based on their assessed damages," alternative media expert Nigel Parry, who's been following Hammond's case, told me via email. "And a lot of those damages -- after we get beyond the early part of the hack that netted the credit card numbers (i.e. Stratfor's email losses, its data deletion) -- seem to me to be the direct result of the FBI's blatant hands-off approach and Stratfor's inept sysadmins, who didn't have a single backup of their data?!"

[ Was entrapment involved in the Silk Road arrest? Read Silk Road Founder Arrested. ]

The FBI appears to stand on solid legal ground here. "Unfortunately, there are numerous cases holding that the government has no obligation to mitigate damages, or intervene in a criminal investigation to mitigate the fallout or consequences," attorney Jeff Ifrah said. "There have been cases that have held in different contexts that the government may have been a contributing factor or intervening factor in the loss, but that type of logic ... has not been applied in a loss calculation scenario at a federal criminal sentencing proceeding," he said.

In other words, there's no precedent for getting a sentence -- or restitution -- reduced, owing to FBI entrapment. "In a sentencing context, the only relevant determination is foreseeable loss, or in some circumstances, actual loss," Ifrah said. "But courts default to the former and thus that becomes a crutch to ignore what role the FBI -- in this case -- did or did not play," he said.

The moral of the story: the FBI can entrap hackers, and businesses that have been owned by said hackers may get used as bait. So, would-be hackers, beware the FBI. And businesses -- especially ones that bill themselves as being private intelligence contractors, yet which store credit card data in plaintext format and see a crucial database get owned by a simple SQL injection attack -- make sure your information security defenses are strong enough to prevent you becoming hackbait.

Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
majenkins
50%
50%
majenkins,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 5:47:56 PM
re: Stratfor Hacker: FBI Entrapment Shaped My Case
Whether there was entrapment or not this time, these were not his first hacking crimes. Of course even if it was entrapment the fact that evidence doesn't exist to prosecute him for the other crimes of course doesn't make it right to falsely convict him in this case but it does seem to achieve a little justice.
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 6:15:41 PM
re: Stratfor Hacker: FBI Entrapment Shaped My Case
Like John McAfee's recent exploits, Sabu's story still sounds like an unbelievable novel.
GAProgrammer
50%
50%
GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Guru
10/7/2013 | 5:34:12 PM
re: Stratfor Hacker: FBI Entrapment Shaped My Case
Based on his supporter's arguments, if you rob a bank to give money to the less fortunate, you should not be charged. Ludicrous.
OtherJimDonahue
50%
50%
OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/8/2013 | 12:54:40 PM
re: Stratfor Hacker: FBI Entrapment Shaped My Case
While I agree with you ... yeesh, I really wish the government didn't align itself with people like Sabu.
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-32606
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
In the Linux kernel 5.11 through 5.12.2, isotp_setsockopt in net/can/isotp.c allows privilege escalation to root by leveraging a use-after-free. (This does not affect earlier versions that lack CAN ISOTP SF_BROADCAST support.)
CVE-2021-3504
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in the hivex library in versions before 1.3.20. It is caused due to a lack of bounds check within the hivex_open function. An attacker could input a specially crafted Windows Registry (hive) file which would cause hivex to read memory beyond its normal bounds or cause the program to...
CVE-2021-20309
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in versions before 7.0.11 and before 6.9.12, where a division by zero in WaveImage() of MagickCore/visual-effects.c may trigger undefined behavior via a crafted image file submitted to an application using ImageMagick. The highest threat from this vulnerability is to ...
CVE-2021-20310
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in versions before 7.0.11, where a division by zero ConvertXYZToJzazbz() of MagickCore/colorspace.c may trigger undefined behavior via a crafted image file that is submitted by an attacker and processed by an application using ImageMagick. The highest threat from this...
CVE-2021-20311
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in versions before 7.0.11, where a division by zero in sRGBTransformImage() in the MagickCore/colorspace.c may trigger undefined behavior via a crafted image file that is submitted by an attacker processed by an application using ImageMagick. The highest threat from t...