Bunny Bytes: Hacktivism & the CFAA

What is Hacktivism?

Hacktivism is exactly what it sounds like: Activism via Computer Hacking. Hacktivists express their disdain for social or political issues in a number of ways, some more harmful than others. One of the most well known hacktivist groups of the twenty-first century is Anonymous; a self-identified legion of faceless hackers who band together through online networks to launch various cyber attacks, with no specific centralized political or social goal. Another popular hacktivist of the moment is Alexandra Elbakyan, a graduate student and scientific researcher from Kazakhstan. Alexandra has made more than 50 million stolen scientific research articles available on her website, Sci-Hub. Despite reoccurring injunctions against the website, Alexandra has found ways to keep the project going. Her hacktivist goal is “to remove all barriers in the way of science” by “provid[ing] mass & public access to research papers.” Alexandra’s efforts sound hauntingly familiar to another hacktivist whose name is frequently associated with the CFAA: Aaron Swartz.

Who is was Aaron Swartz?

Aaron Swartz was a gifted computer programmer who made several contributions to the

modern Internet experience, including his work to help create RSS and the popular website Reddit. Aaron was also an outspoken activist, openly rallying against political issues such as the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and was passionate about open access to all scholarship. Unfortunately, Aaron committed suicide on January 11, 2013, at the age of 26. Although no suicide note was found, his death occurred amidst felony charges from the U.S. Attorney after Swartz had downloaded 4.8 million articles from JSTOR, the academic online journal database, utilizing the MIT network.
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New Developments: “Pennsylvania Man Is Charged in Celebrity Hack, Reaches Plea Deal”


Image © NBC NEWS 2014.

Andrew Blankstein writes on NBC NEWS:

“A Pennsylvania man has been charged in the hacking of Apple and Google accounts belonging to more than 100 people, many of them celebrities, officials said on Tuesday.

Between Nov. 2012 and Sept. 2014, Ryan Collins, 36, sent fake emails that purported to be from Apple or Google, and got victims to unknowingly hand over their usernames and passwords, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California said.

He then used that information to get into their email accounts, swiping nude photos in some instances, and sometimes downloading full backups from Apple’s iCloud, prosecutors said in a charging document filed Tuesday.

Police began probing an apparent iCloud hack that resulted in leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities, mostly women, in September of 2014.

Collins, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was charged in Los Angeles with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and has agreed to plead guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, prosecutors said.

The charge carries a maximum of five years in prison, but prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 18 months, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.” Read more…

Image above © NBC NEWS 2014.

New Developments: Kosovar Hacker Charged With Supplying U.S. Military Personnel Info to ISIS

Malaysia arrests hacker who allegedly stole U.S. military personnel records for ISIS

Kevin Collier writes on THE DAILY DOT:

“Malaysian police have arrested an alleged hacker and accused him of helping the terrorist group Islamic State.

The FBI has accused Ardit Ferizi, known online as Th3Dir3ctorY, of leading the hacking group Kosova Hacker’s Security—which calls itself “Albania’s largest hacking group”— and helping ISIS publish the names and personal information of U.S. military personnel in September. Distributing that information online, along with instructions to attack those personnel, is a common ISIS tactic.” Read more…