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.

Risk

2/23/2010
02:38 PM
Connect Directly
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
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
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-2021-27905
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
The ReplicationHandler (normally registered at "/replication" under a Solr core) in Apache Solr has a "masterUrl" (also "leaderUrl" alias) parameter that is used to designate another ReplicationHandler on another Solr core to replicate index data into the local core. To...
CVE-2021-29262
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
When starting Apache Solr versions prior to 8.8.2, configured with the SaslZkACLProvider or VMParamsAllAndReadonlyDigestZkACLProvider and no existing security.json znode, if the optional read-only user is configured then Solr would not treat that node as a sensitive path and would allow it to be rea...
CVE-2021-29425
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
In Apache Commons IO before 2.7, When invoking the method FileNameUtils.normalize with an improper input string, like "//../foo", or "\\..\foo", the result would be the same value, thus possibly providing access to files in the parent directory, but not further above (thus "...
CVE-2021-29943
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
When using ConfigurableInternodeAuthHadoopPlugin for authentication, Apache Solr versions prior to 8.8.2 would forward/proxy distributed requests using server credentials instead of original client credentials. This would result in incorrect authorization resolution on the receiving hosts.
CVE-2021-28938
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
Siren Federate before 6.8.14-10.3.9, 6.9.x through 7.6.x before 7.6.2-20.2, 7.7.x through 7.9.x before 7.9.3-21.6, 7.10.x before 7.10.2-22.2, and 7.11.x before 7.11.2-23.0 can leak user information across thread contexts. This occurs in opportunistic circumstances when there is concurrent query exec...