Tag Archives: North Korea

Celebrity Cyber Report – Dennis Rodman, Drake and Kanye

Dennis Rodman and PotCoin.

Smoking weed has always been big business. And now it is also slowly becoming a very legitimate business. Anytime Microsoft comes looking for a piece of the pie you know its legit.

Dennis Rodman has stepped into the weed game endorsing a new virtual currency to pay for your weed. Rodman showed up in North Korea on a ticket paid for by PotCoin. A new digital currency that bills itself as “Banking for the Marijuana Industry.” Rodman Tweeted a thank you to PotCoin for “financing his mission.”

PotCoin issued a press release announcing the “mission.” According to PotCoin Rodman will tell us all about it when he returns to the states. But we would be remiss if we did not point out that smoking weed is perfectly legal in North Korea. Something I am certain those nice folks at PotCoin are well aware of.

Sporting a PotCoin-branded t-shirt and baseball cap, Rodman released a short video  touting his visit as “all about peace.” This is not the first time Rodman has promoted a company by visiting the most closed country on earth.  Previously Rodman’s visit to the North was sponsored by an Irish betting company. Of course with this visit PotCoin crypto-currency shot up in value.

See also: Snoop Dogg Launches MerryJane.com 

Drake and Kanye Under Hack Attack

 Hackers love celebrities. So why not Drake and Kanye? According to reports a group calling itself the “Music Mafia” hacked Drake’s Twitter account. The same group also released two of Kanye’s unreleased recordings on YouTube and are threatening to strike again. Music Mafia’s website is offering more un-released music for sale using the Bitcoin virtual currency. 

Music Mafia, after claiming responsibility for the leaks,  had been laying low until this week. The group hacked Drake’s Twitter account on June 2nd  and posted a link to their website. The Tweet was quickly deleted.

Then Music Mafia leaked Kanye’s new music. According to the hacker website they are in possession of  unreleased  “songs from artists recorded years ago” as well as new tracks and music videos. Music Mafia is also offering members of the public exclusive leaks. 

Music Mafia offered the unreleased tracks of Calvin Harris’ ‘Slide’, Future’s ‘Ransom’ and a few other songs. But are now threatening to release more music from Kanye, Maroon 5 and PartyNextDoor,  for payments in Bitcoin.

The hackers seem to be are offering the stolen cuts only after they collect an unknown number of Bitcoins. The thefts are being carried out by highly professional hackers who have done well covering their tracks.The Music Mafia website is registered in the Kingdom of Tonga. But that tiny country’s servers appear to be hosted in Iceland by a company specializing in secure and anonymous web hosting. The only way to get in touch with them is through the decentralized and encrypted Bitmessage communications platform.

WannaCry Ransomware – So Whats Happening?

WannaCry notice

A worldwide ransomware attack launched this past weekend hit computers in over 150 countries. The United States was less affected than other countries. Security experts estimated that the cyber attack crippled 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries. But that number could be low. Scarce reports have Russia and China as being especially hard hit by the malware.

The global attack was carried out by hackers who exploited a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system first discovered by the National Security Agency (NSA).  In April of this year the flaw and a hacked NSA cyber tool to exploit it became public when they were posted on the Internet by a hacker group known as Shadow Brokers.

In Great Britain the loss of computing systems prevented doctors from accessing patient files and caused emergency rooms to divert patients. According to Prime Minister Theresa May there is no evidence that patient data had been stolen. British officials stated 48 of Britain’s 248 public health trusts had come under attack. All but six are back to normal.

A spokesman for FedEx said:  “Like many other companies, FedEx is experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware. We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible.”

One reason the U.S. seems to have been spared from this global attack may have been the work of a British researcher.

The unknown attackers included a “kill switch” in the form of a URL in the malicious code. Experts believe it was a way to control the malware. The kill switch would shut down the attack when the virus sent an online request to a specific website. 

A 22-year-old British researcher whose Twitter handle is @MalwareTechBlog discovered the kill switch’s domain name had not been registered. Thinking quickly he purchased the domain name for about $11.00. According to security experts the researcher shut down the malware before the it could reach the U.S. The cyber hero probably stopped a catastrophic malware attack from taking place on U.S. soil. The researcher has confirmed his involvement in a blog post but has insisted on anonymity.

Matthieu Suiche founder of Comae Technologies a cyber security company located in the United Arab Emirates said, “That kill switch is why the U.S. has not been touched so far. But it’s only temporary. All the attackers would have to do is create a variant of the hack with a different domain name.” These variants have sense been discovered on the Internet.

The hackers who launched the attack asked for $300US or $600 in bitcoins to unlock computers but experts advise not paying the hackers. According to security experts victims are left waiting and hoping WannaCry’s hackers will remotely free the hostage computer. The process is done manually over the Internet. That means hackers may have the near impossible task of unlocking thousands of computers one at a time. But the real issues is the payment method, usually in bitcoins. The hackers have no way to know who paid the ransom.

Owners of the locked computer may become desperate and pay the ransom. “But don’t count on getting your files back,”said Matthew Hickey, director of security provider Hacker House.

“The culprits can only restore user’s systems by manually sending the decryption key to each affected computer, which will amount to a time-consuming process,” he said.

“You’re really at the mercy of the human operator. Someone at the other end of the connection,” Hickey said.

Was the malware attack the work of inexperienced cyber criminals or so called script kiddies? Evidence indicates that this could be the case. 

First of all the perpetrators included an obvious kill switch in the code but failed to register the domain name. Perhaps they were afraid it could lead back to them.

According to some reports the hackers did manage to rake in about $56,000 in bitcoin payments. But according to Hickey the inefficiency of the payment model may indicate the hackers were not after money at all. “If it was done for money, it wasn’t the smartest way to get it,” he said.

Hickey pointed out that because of the large number of computers infected the asking price could have been much lower and still brought in a nice pay off.

But these hackers do not appear to be experienced or ambitious cyber criminals. They demanded a large ransom and used, at best, a sloppy payment method leaving victims wondering if they were paying for nothing.

According to Hickey, “It removes the incentive to send any money to the attacker.”

But some experts see the fingerprints of North Korea on the malware attack. A New York Times report revealed that intelligence officials and private security experts have found digital evidence pointing to North Korean connected hackers.

The evidence is not definitive but security experts at Symantec believe they have found the same tools used in previous hacks of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Bangladesh central bank last year and Polish banks in February in the WannaCry malware attack.

Regardless of who carried out the attack make no mistake WannaCry did indeed work and encrypted any machine unlucky enough to encounter it. Security experts and cyber sleuths are working to rescue computers already infected.

 

Obama; Foreign Hackers Face Sanctions

Obama-cybersecurity-e1421228350182President Obama is weilding yet another sword in his fight against foreign hackers and cyber attacks. Using his presidential powers the president has issued an Executive Order authorizing the federal government to levy sanctions against suspected hackers.

The Executive Order authorizes the Secretary of Treasury to freeze assets of those who engage in “malicious cyber-enabled activity” anywhere in the world if that cyber activity endangers the national security, foreign policy or economic stability of America.

The Executive Order does not currently target anyone for cyber-related sanctions, but in a telephone conference administration officials said they felt it was important to have the framework in place.

President Obama acted after several high-profile cyber-attacks against Target, J.P. Morgan Chase and entertainment giant Sony. The Sony hack created worldwide headlines because it was believed to have been the work of North Korea. The nation was extremely angry after the movie studio released a comedic movie about the assassination of its leader.

The hacking of  Sony Entertainment led to the first U.S. government imposed sanctions related to a cyber attack. Prior to that event White House officials never had the authority to punish individuals based on the malicious cyber activity only the region or country responsible.

“What we’re trying to do is enable us to have a new way of both deterring [action] and imposing new costs against cyber actors wherever they may be,” said Michael Daniel, a special assistant to the President and cyber-security coordinator.

White House officials were clear to point out that the new sanctions are not meant to replace  existing weapons the Obama administration has in place to confront cyber threats. Instead this order is intended to “fill in the gaps.” The order authorizes government officials to target businesses that illegally use data, trade secrets or information stolen or obtained to gain an unfair edge, and individuals and companies that give or attempt to give serious hackers a financial boost.

But professional hackers are not yet convinced of President Obama’s and the government’s promise to protect security researchers. Known as  ‘White Hat’ hackers these professional hackers expressed their concern that “cyber” sanctions announced today by the US administration could punish those trying to protect the country. They’re also doubtful of the need to call it a “national emergency” as a result of digital attacks on the nation.

The White House simply has not gained the confidence of security professionals and human rights advocates. Security researchers are trying to expose vulnerabilities in the nation’s computer networks so they can be repaired or patched. These White Hat hackers could be punished as a result of the national emergency powers without due process.

To the contrary President Obama said the powers would not be used to “target the legitimate research community or professionals who help companies improve their cyber security. And unlike some other countries, we will never try to silence free expression online or curb Internet freedom.”

“This executive order is another salvo on President Obama’s war on hackers,” said Robert Graham of Errata Security. Graham has previously criticised the US government’s attempts to counter online crime. He claims the proposed cyber laws could be used against legitimate hackers attempting to secure the Internet.

“On one hand, it’s reasonable. Chinese hackers steal trade secrets, and this makes it easier to retaliate. The recent China attack against GitHub is an excellent example of something that deserves a response from the U.S. government,” he added.

“On the other hand, it allows the suspension of due process against hacking suspects. I write tools likemasscan’, which I know the Chinese use. This order enables the government to arbitrarily seize all my assets.

Graham labeled the Executive order as “broad and unneeded.” He went on to say, “The President already has the power to deal directly with the threat of Chinese hackers, and should do so.”

Breaking It Down

Black people should be very proud of President Obama. Not only is he the first black president but he is also the first president to have to deal with the issue of cyber security as a national security issue. Every president has a legacy and cyber security is quickly shaping up to be a big part of his. The fact that we, as a nation, are in deep, dangerous and unchartered cyber waters means that our leader must take action and he has. President Obama has taken action again and again to fight this cyber war. And the fact that he has used his executive power is simply an indicator of two things. First we must address this urgent issue now! Cyber espionage, both economic and military is rampant. Strong action is needed. The threat to the economy is extreme and yes we are vulnerable. Second, we are stuck with a new Republican controlled “do nothing” Congress. They are dragging their feet confirming a new attorney general and seem wary and afraid of doing anything to make a black man look like he’s acting in the best interest of the nation.

Black Celebrities Get Caught Up In Sony Hack

It seems  that the biggest news besides cheap gas has been the hacking of Sony Pictures. To give you a little background Sony Studios computer systems were hacked on November 24th followed by an ominous warning that read;  “Hacked by #GOP. Warning: We’ve already warned you, and this is just the beginning. We have obtained all your internal data including secrets and top secrets.”  It is believed that the motivation for the hack was the planned release of the filmThe Interview.” The film is a fictional comedy about a plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea. The North Koreans have called the film an act of war. But it has not been proven they were involved in the sabotage and the North Koreans have denied any involvement.

A cascade of events followed the hacking including the release of un-released Sony movies and scripts, threats to Sony employees, terrorist threats to theaters and eventually the cancellation of the movie’s release.

According to recent report there is evidence that North Korea was responsible for the hack and the U.S. government is about to announce they have evidence of North Korean involvement.

As result of the hack many internal emails of Sony executives have become public. What these emails reveal is how nasty things are behind the scenes of a major Hollywood movie maker especially when it come to black celebrities.

Among the black celebrities caught up in the Sony hacking is none other than Kevin Hart. One of the emails released by the hackers is from Sony executive Clint Culpepper who refers to Hart as a “whore.”  Culpepper expressed his opinion of Hart when the comedic actor refused to promote his movie on social media without additional pay. Culpepper’s email read; “I’m not saying he’s a whore, but he’s a whore.” Culpeper wrote the email in an exchange with Sony co-chair Amy Pascal and CEO Michael Lynton.

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart

Hart responded via Instagram by writing “Knowing your self worth is extremely important people…I worked very hard to get where I am today,” I look at myself as a brand and because of that I will never allow myself to be taken advantage of. I OWN MY BRAND…I MAKE SMART DECISIONS FOR MY BRAND… which is why I’m able to brush ignorance off of my shoulder and continue to move forward. I refuse to be broken people…with that being said it’s now time for me to get back to building this empire that I’ve always dreamed of!!!”

Kevin Hart was not the only African-American disparaged by Sony executives. President Obama was also mentioned in emails between Sony execs.

Sony co-chairperson Amy Pascal, a donor and Obama supporter exchanged racist tinged emails with movie producer Scott Rudin ahead of a fundraiser. Pascal, referring to “…this stupid Jeffrey (Katzenberg) breakfast,” asked what she should ask the President ” Rudin replied “would he like to finance some movies.”

Pascal continued, “I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” Pascal responded, Rudin then retorted: “12 Years.” The exchange went on, “Or the butler, or think like a man?” To which Rudin wrote: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

Other leaked emails revealed that Matthew Knowles, the father of Beyoncé  approached Sony about a movie project. In the email Culpepper wrote to Pascal and other Sony executives, “Beyonce’s father wants to make the film of Destiny’s Child and came to me first.” He went on, “‘He’s going to Universal next. Do we think it would be a successful film? They’re on the Sony label. I’m just not sure that it’s not too soon.”

Rapper Kanye West’s name was also found among the leaked emails. The messages revealed a discussion of  a feature film starring the rapper.

Jaden and Willow Smith

Tom Rothman head of Sony sub-division Tri-Star Pictures, criticized Jaden and Willow Smith, son and daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, for a New York Times interview .

Rothman sent an email to Pascal with a link to the interview. In the interview the Smith siblings claim they can control time and discuss ‘Prana energy’. In the email, dated November 18th, 2014, Rothman wrote  “1. Read this. 2. they r home schooled: don’t let this family date your movies!!!”

Denzel Washington, one of America’s most beloved black actors, was also the target of a racist emails inside Sony Pictures. According to the leaked emails Washington’s color was seen as a liability with executives saying he should not get lead roles in international films because he is black.

Denzel washington

Denzel washington

The actual email was sent by a single unidentified producer emailing Sony chairman Michael Lynton. The email read in part “I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist – in general pictures with an African American lead don’t play well overseas,” the producer continued.

The anonymous producer who sent the e-mail said he or she hoped the incredible statement wasn’t “inappropriate or provocative.” But it is clear from the email that the producer is suggesting Sony should avoid casting black actors to appeal to an international market that the producer saw as “racist.”

Sony executives  Lynton, Pascal and Rudin and other’s email reveal the nasty side of the entertainment industry and spared few celebrities. In their exchanges the executives reffered to Angelina Jolie as a “spoiled brat,” and additional caustic comments were made about Tom Cruise, David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin, and Adam Sandler.