#AxisOfEasy 200: Chat App Of Choice For Cyber-Criminals Turns Out To Be Run By FBI



Weekly Axis Of Easy #200

Last Week’s Quote was  “One of the greatest responsibilities for the people of our time is to accept everything that he hears in the pro-government media as a lie and to investigate the truth from independent sources personally!” By the Turkish author Mehmet Murat ildan, Lonny Simmons got there first (again), but he’s already won this year, so it goes to Sam Mbale.

This Week’s Quote: “All human rights may be distilled into one: choice”… by???

THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted to the blog – the place to post the answer is at the bottom of the post, in the comments section.

The Prize: First person to post the correct answer gets their next domain or hosting renewal is on us.


In this issue:

  • Google’s FLOC already being gamed by adtech companies
  • Bill C-10 hits rock bottom for Canadian democracy
  • Vaccine passports come to Manitoba, “no jab = no phone“ in Pakistan
  • Gaming company Electronic Arts hacked, source code stolen
  • Chat app of choice for cyber-criminals turns out to be run by FBI
  • Frontier Technologies sued by record industry for not stopping pirates
  • Interpol shuts down online pharmacies
  • Former ADT tech goes to prison for surveilling women, couples
  • Even Vanity Fair is pretending they didn’t dismiss lab leak as a conspiracy theory
Google’s FLOC already being gamed by adtech companies

We first reported on FLoC back in AoE 186. Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is Google’s plan to get rid of third-party cookies, which is floated as a consumer privacy move,  but as privacy advocates fear, this could really be a move to consolidate Google’s dominance over the user data.

Not to be outdone, the myriad adtech companies won’t let their hold over consumer data go easily, and according to this DigiDay report, they are already testing methods to combine Google’s FLoC ID’s with user profiles they’ve already compiled to give them possibly even more data and deeper insight into users’ browsing habits and spending behaviour.

Read: https://digiday.com/marketing/as-ad-tech-firms-test-ways-to-connect-googles-floc-to-other-data-privacy-watchers-see-fears-coming-true/

And: https://digiday.com/media/we-cant-un-floc-ourselves-googles-cookieless-ad-targeting-proposal-under-fire-from-ethics-researchers-lawmakers-for-discriminatory-potential/

Bill C-10 hits rock bottom for Canadian democracy

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, who has been doing an excellent job covering  Canada’s Bill C-10 called it “rock bottom.” It’s to the point where the Federal government teamed up with the Quebec separatist Bloc to implement a gag order, and ram through committee review of C-10.

As we’ve been covering for awhile now, Bill C-10 will give the CRTC regulatory powers over the Internet in Canada. It will make user generated content subject to regulations and licensing. As Geist and the Internet Society Canada Chapter has been showing: it will harm Canadian content creators more than it helps, it will have chilling effects on free speech and it will try to shoe horn a regulatory structure built for technology that was originally based on vacuum tubes, onto the Internet.

Read: https://www.michaelgeist.ca/2021/06/rock-bottom-bill-c-10-gag-order-and-no-notice-meetings-means-the-end-of-committee-review-is-near/

Vaccine passports come to Manitoba, “no jab = no phone“ in Pakistan

In Manitoba (that’s a Canadian province somewhere between North Dakota and Hudson Bay), the government is issuing a new “secure immunization card” that documents the possessor to have received both vaccination doses. The card will allow the carrier to be exempt from travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine requirements upon re-entry into the province.

According to Manitoba’s premier “Manitobans have told us that getting back to the things they love and miss is one of the biggest incentives to getting vaccinated.”

Read: https://globalnews.ca/news/7930807/manitoba-premier-discusses-covid-19-vaccine-measures/

In Pakistan, the Punjab province, facing issues with vaccine hesitancy is taking it one step further. Citizens not getting the jab will have their cellphone SIM cards deactivated by their mobile carrier.

Read: https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/pakistans-punjab-to-block-sim-cards-of-citizens-not-vaccinated-against-covid19-101623379436486.html

Gaming company Electronic Arts hacked, source code stolen

Electronic Arts, the gaming company behind numerous bestsellers has been hacked and their source code has been stolen, along with debugging tools and over 750 GB of data.

The company emphasized that the breach was not a ransomware attack and states they expect no impact on their business.

Initial access was apparently gained via Slack, when an employee was tricked into supplying the attackers with an authentication token.

Read: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/hackers-breach-gaming-giant-electronic-arts-steal-game-source-code/

Chat app of choice for cyber-criminals turns out to be run by FBI

Cybercriminals the world over who were using ANOM thinking it was an encrypted chat app they could use to secure their communications got the surprise of their lives when it turned out the entire deal was an FBI sting operation. The apps were designed to run on specialized hardware with no other email or voice applications, they could only communicate with other devices using the same app. After initially targeting several high level criminal targets, the ANOM handsets diffused throughout the underworld, and the FBI was intercepting everything traversing them.

It was called Operation Ironside involved collaboration among police forces across 20 countries since 2019 and culminated in the arrest of over 800 people last week in connection with various criminal conspiracies including murder plots, drug and weapons trafficking.

If this all sounds familiar, recall that almost exactly a year ago the cybercrime underworld was in panic because it turned out that French police had penetrated the Encrochat network, another encrypted chat network crooks were using to plan their activities.

Read: https://www.businessinsider.com/fbi-anom-chat-app-leads-800-suspected-organized-crime-arrests-2021-6

Frontier Technologies sued by record industry for not stopping pirates

The US-based Frontier Communications, an ISP with over 3 million subscribers is being sued by a coalition of record labels for facilitating music piracy. Warner, Sony and Universal are alleging that not only did Frontier not take action against illegal music downloaders, they even encouraged piracy with advertisements, such as one extolling the ability to “download 10 songs in 3.5 seconds.”

The labels are seeking damages of $300,000 USD per infringement, which pencils out to Frontier (who just emerged from bankruptcy protection), being on the hook for over $850 million.

Read: https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/10/22528633/frontier-isp-lawsuit-record-labels-piracy-disconnection

Former ADT tech goes to prison for surveilling women, couples

A Dallas area former ADR employee has been sentenced to 52 months in prison for illegally surveilling attractive women, and couples engaged in intimate acts in their own homes.

The man simply added his own email address to the victim’s “ADT Pulse” accounts, either telling them he needed to test the system, or just doing so without their knowledge. This gave him access to the home security systems and cameras, which he would then monitor and watch for his own sexual gratification.

Read: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/pr/adt-technician-pleads-guilty-hacking-home-security-footage

Interpol shuts down online pharmacies

Interpol’s Operation Pangea XIV, which was a joint effort with law enforcement agencies in 92 countries saw over 113,000 “web links including websites and online marketplaces” taken down. In the UK alone that translated out to 43 websites being taken down during the week of May 18 to 25th.

The websites were selling things ranging from fake COVID-19 testing kits and various counterfeit medicines ranging from so called anti-cancer medications, anabolic steroids and painkillers, among others.

The operation also resulted in 277 arrests worldwide and the seizure of more than $27 million in contraband pharmaceuticals.

Read: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/interpol-shuts-down-thousands-of-fake-online-pharmacies/
After a brief spat with the FDA back in 2014, we modified our policy to require that all online pharmacies be accredited by one of Legitscript, PharmacyChecker, or the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA).

Even Vanity Fair is pretending they didn’t dismiss lab leak as a conspiracy theory

The back-pedalling by the mainstream media continues, who are now all dutifully attempting to retrofit a semblance of serious journalism onto a story erstwhile shovelled through a lens of unadulterated media bias:

Vanity Fair, ran a piece in April 2020 called “Trump’s Coronavirus Conspiracy is Infiltrating Intelligence Agencies,” which hysterically ruminated that “The Trump administration is reportedly pressuring U.S. spy agencies to find evidence that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese biolab, a theory being fanned by Republicans and conservative hosts.”

Now they’ve honed their journalistic acumen in on “The lab-leak theory: Inside the fight to uncover COVID-19’s Origins.”

The complaint now is that “Throughout 2020, the notion that the novel coronavirus leaked from a lab was off-limits. Those who dared to push for transparency say toxic politics and hidden agendas kept us in the dark.”

To be fair, the article appears to be well researched and goes in-depth around the Lancet story – a declaration in the prestigious medical journal that provided the foundational canon for the “lab-leak as debunked conspiracy theory” narrative. It turns out that the document and the declaration was riddled with conflicts of interest and was more faith-based than scientifically concluded. One also gets the sense that it pains Vanity Fair somewhat to have to concede that Donald Trump may have actually been in the ballpark on anything and the TDS is still in there in spades, but as it turns out….

“A months long Vanity Fair investigation, interviews with more than 40 people, and a review of hundreds of pages of U.S. government documents, including internal memos, meeting minutes, and email correspondence, found that conflicts of interest, stemming in part from large government grants supporting controversial virology research, hampered the U.S. investigation into COVID-19’s origin at every step. In one State Department meeting, officials seeking to demand transparency from the Chinese government say they were explicitly told by colleagues not to explore the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s gain-of-function research, because it would bring unwelcome attention to U.S. government funding of it.”

Speaking again to the meta story on how the narrative around all this has been manipulated and skewed by Big Tech is this editorial by University of Navarra’s David Thunder

Read: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/06/the-lab-leak-theory-inside-the-fight-to-uncover-covid-19s-origins

And: https://gript.ie/social-media-giants-need-to-be-cut-down-to-size/

One thought on “#AxisOfEasy 200: Chat App Of Choice For Cyber-Criminals Turns Out To Be Run By FBI

  1. “All human rights may be distilled into one: choice”… by???
    Answer is the organization: Planned Parenthood

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *