Tag Archives: fbi

FBI DIRECTOR ESTIMATES 900 ACTIVE INVESTIGATIONS OF ISIS OPERATIVES IN U.S.

image

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/10/23/fbi-director-estimates-900-active-investigations-isis-operatives-u-s/

by JOHN HAYWARD

Addressing intelligence officials on Friday, FBI Director James Comey delivered a stunning estimate of 900 investigations currently in progress against suspected ISIS operatives, recruits, and individuals “inspired” by the Islamic State, and the number of investigations is slowly growing.

USA Today notes it is rare for FBI officials to discuss the number of investigations in this way. Comey seems to have disclosed the number in order to buttress his case that the Bureau is finding it very difficult to keep up with the anti-ISIS caseload. Referring to a particularly intense period of counter-terror activity around the Fourth of July, Comey warned, “If that becomes the new normal… that would be hard to keep up.”

Comey noted the number of Americans defecting to ISIS has decreased recently, though admitted to not being certain why this is the case—perhaps the significant number of recruits, thwarted by the FBI in their efforts to make the journey to the Middle East, has made others more cautious about trying it, as such, arrests make big news headlines. It could also be growing more difficult for the Islamic State to secure passage for its recruits into Syria.

However, USA Today ominously notes it is “unclear” how the drop-off in ISIS recruits leaving the country “may be affecting the domestic threat.” If the number of ISIS investigations is growing, but the number of recruits leaving the country is declining, it is natural to worry that means more dangerous individuals loyal to the Islamic State and its murderous ideology are plotting violent acts on American soil.

Comey seemed inclined to view the reduction in ISIS recruits departing for the Middle East as good news in testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this week.

“We’re starting to notice that curve, which was going up like a hockey stick, has flattened a little bit,” the FBI Director said on Wednesday, as reported by The Hill. “We are seeing fewer people attempt to travel to join ISIL in Syria.” He characterized the rate as dropping from roughly nine departures per month, to only six over the past three and a half months.

He also allowed for the possibility that ISIS recruits are still making the trip to Syria but have developed means of doing so without getting caught.

Comey also addressed the danger of trained terrorist recruits returning to the United States after serving abroad in the ISIS military. He described it as an issue the FBI planned to watch “for the next five years plus,” because “inevitably, there will be a terrorist diaspora out of the so-called Caliphate.”

AP Exclusive: Clinton Email Server Setup Risked Intrusions

image

BY JACK GILLUM AND STEPHEN BRAUN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The private email server running in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s home basement when she was secretary of state was connected to the Internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers while using software that could have been exploited, according to data and documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Clinton’s server, which handled her personal and State Department correspondence, appeared to allow users to connect openly over the Internet to control it remotely, according to detailed records compiled in 2012. Experts said the Microsoft remote desktop service wasn’t intended for such use without additional protective measures, and was the subject of U.S. government and industry warnings at the time over attacks from even low-skilled intruders.

Records show that Clinton additionally operated two more devices on her home network in Chappaqua, New York, that also were directly accessible from the Internet. One contained similar remote-control software that also has suffered from security vulnerabilities, known as Virtual Network Computing, and the other appeared to be configured to run websites.

The new details provide the first clues about how Clinton’s computer, running Microsoft’s server software, was set up and protected when she used it exclusively over four years as secretary of state for all work messages. Clinton’s privately paid technology adviser, Bryan Pagliano, has declined to answer questions about his work from congressional investigators, citing the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

Some emails on Clinton’s server were later deemed top secret, and scores of others included confidential or sensitive information. Clinton has said that her server featured “numerous safeguards,” but she has yet to explain how well her system was secured and whether, or how frequently, security updates were applied.

Clinton has apologized for running her homebrew server, and President Barack Obama said during a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday that it was “a mistake.” Obama said national security wasn’t endangered, although the FBI still has yet to complete its review of Clinton’s server for evidence of hacking.

On Tuesday, however, the White House left room for results of the Justice Department’s investigation into her server. “The president certainly respects the independence and integrity of an independent investigation, including those that are conducted by the FBI,” press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said late Monday that “this report, like others before it, lacks any evidence of an actual breach, let alone one specifically targeting Hillary Clinton. The Justice Department is conducting a review of the security of the server, and we are cooperating in full.”

The AP exclusively reviewed numerous records from an Internet “census” by an anonymous hacker-researcher, who three years ago used unsecured devices to scan hundreds of millions of Internet Protocol addresses for accessible doors, called “ports.” Using a computer in Serbia, the hacker scanned Clinton’s basement server in Chappaqua at least twice, in August and December 2012. It was unclear whether the hacker was aware the server belonged to Clinton, although it identified itself as providing email services for clintonemail.com. The results are widely available online.

Remote-access software allows users to control another computer from afar. The programs are usually operated through an encrypted connection — called a virtual private network, or VPN. But Clinton’s system appeared to accept commands directly from the Internet without such protections.

“That’s total amateur hour,” said Marc Maiffret, who has founded two cybersecurity companies. He said permitting remote-access connections directly over the Internet would be the result of someone choosing convenience over security or failing to understand the risks. “Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this,” he said.

The government and security firms have published warnings about allowing this kind of remote access to Clinton’s server. The same software was targeted by an infectious Internet worm, known as Morta, which exploited weak passwords to break into servers. The software also was known to be vulnerable to brute-force attacks that tried password combinations until hackers broke in, and in some cases it could be tricked into revealing sensitive details about a server to help hackers formulate attacks.

“An attacker with a low skill-level would be able to exploit this vulnerability,” said the Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team in 2012, the same year Clinton’s server was scanned.

Also in 2012, the State Department had outlawed use of remote-access software for its technology officials to maintain unclassified servers without a waiver. It had banned all instances of remotely connecting to classified servers or servers located overseas.

The findings suggest Clinton’s server “violates the most basic network-perimeter security tenets: Don’t expose insecure services to the Internet,” said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity.

Clinton’s email server at one point also was operating software necessary to publish websites, although it was not believed to have been used for this purpose. Traditional security practices dictate shutting off all of a server’s unnecessary functions to prevent hackers from exploiting design flaws.

In Clinton’s case, Internet addresses the AP traced to her home in Chappaqua revealed open ports on three devices, including her email system. Each numbered port is commonly, but not always uniquely, associated with specific features or functions. The AP in March was first to discover Clinton’s use of a private email server and trace it to her home.

Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at F-Secure, a top global computer security firm, said it was unclear how Clinton’s server was configured, but an out-of-the-box installation of remote desktop would have been vulnerable. Those risks — such as giving hackers a chance to run malicious software on her machine — were “clearly serious” and could have allowed snoops to deploy so-called back doors.

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal government’s guiding agency on computer technology, warned in 2008 that exposed server ports were security risks. It said remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections.