back to article Stratfor email hackers were tricked into using Feds' server

WikiLeaks – and Julian Assange – could get caught up in the investigation into the LulzSec takedown saga because it published the internal emails of Stratfor, the private global intelligence firm that was attacked by Anonymous hackers, it has emerged. A warrant authorising the arrest of the prime suspect in the Stratfor raid …

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Anonymous Coward

I see a defense of..... We were coerced by the FBI, hence why we used the server they were supplied. Setup????

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Anonymous Coward

sounds like entrapment to me

not that that will stop them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sounds like entrapment to me

I tend to agree, but my bet is you'll see a demonizing of Anonymous in American media. The FBI needs to win this not to look like complete morons.

On the other hand, I have a feeling the government is only going to spawn a hydra in dealing with these groups as is. Either way it will be entertaining to see.

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I guess the riposte from the FBI would be that they didn't coerce or otherwise encourage anyone to steal any data - they just provided a place for the loot to be stored.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sounds like entrapment to me

It would only be entrapment if they suggested and facilitated the initial hack, just saying "you can put your data here" wouldn't be entrapment.

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Silver badge

If you compare it to a regular informant, say a group of bank robbers. An informant within the group may offer use of a premises to run and store the heist goods in, which allow the cops to monitor and observe everything. Would that be entrapment?

IANAL, but I think for it to be entrapment, the informant would need to suggest the job and provide the material assistance. If they simply provide assistance, then I don't think it is entrapment.

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Anonymous Coward

That might work, except that to the best of my knowledge...

the FBI have been in several cases where they were the agent provocateur.

As far as I was aware, committing a crime from their viewpoint is the deed, not because you did it as a result of tricking someone.

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WTF?

sounds like incompetence to me

Jeremy Hammond talked about prior arrests, talked about prior activities, used his home internet connection, stored illegal data on a stranger's server, admitted during chats to using stolen credit cards, and implicated his partners. And that's not even half of it.

This guy did everything but run around with a T-shirt that said "Arrest me". Google Jeremy Hammond and you'll why this guy should be featured on next week's episode of "World's Dumbest Criminals"

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Joke

Optional

Phishing for worms?

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No entrapment defense here

In the US, entrapment means that law enforcement coerces a person to do something illegal that they normally wouldn't do. Additionally if the government induces (persuades or mild coercion) a person to commit a crime, if the prosecution can show they have a verifiable predisposition to crime already entrapment defense wouldn't hold up either.

http://www.lectlaw.com/def/e024.htm

A person is 'entrapped' when he is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to commit; and the law as a matter of policy forbids conviction in such a case.

However, there is no entrapment where a person is ready and willing to break the law and the Government agents merely provide what appears to be a favorable opportunity for the person to commit the crime. For example, it is not entrapment for a Government agent to pretend to be someone else and to offer, either directly or through an informer or other decoy, to engage in an unlawful transaction with the person. So, a person would not be a victim of entrapment if the person was ready, willing and able to commit the crime charged in the indictment whenever opportunity was afforded, and that Government officers or their agents did no more than offer an opportunity.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/crm00645.htm

Even if inducement has been shown, a finding of predisposition is fatal to an entrapment defense. The predisposition inquiry focuses upon whether the defendant "was an unwary innocent or, instead, an unwary criminal who readily availed himself of the opportunity to perpetrate the crime.

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Anonymous Coward

Good luck with that line of crap

"We were coerced..." REALLY? Did someone hold a gun to your head? See how that argument works in a court of law.

The more hackers that go to prison, the better.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good luck with that line of crap

I think it will depend on a few things.

1) What role Sabu played in targeting strathor. I don't see a entrapment case though, as it should be easy to agrue they were willing an able.

2) How entrapment will work in regards to the FBI owned server. Certainly a crime was committed, but the real question is "Is getting a person to place information on a server considered entrapment?" I am not so sure about this one (not a lawyer) but I would imagine it would matter more if you can consider the strathor attack in relation to the server sting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good luck with that line of crap

Suggesting that a criminal use a specific device to commit a crime is not entrapment. Entrapment is when you coerce a person into committing a crime they had no intention of committing.

The device used to commit the crime is of no significance with regard to entrapment. Had Sabu gotten hackers to disclose crimes to an undercover agent who they thought was another hacker would not be entrapment either.

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Anonymous Coward

Now this makes more sense

I was wondering how the FBI could find out the identity of the other members with or without Monsegur 's help. Still kinda iffy that Hammond would use a handle that let the feds trace him given the info about his background.

I think however that FBI manipulation of the Stratfor data is unlikely. If Hammond stored it in multiple locations, any change on that one server would've been easy to detect.

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Anonymous Coward

It turned out Hammond frequently went online using the Tor anonymisation service

So what? So do I.

I'd like to guess he also connected to Google as well - just as relevant...i.e not.

TOR is not illegal. Or are you saying anybody who uses TOR must be up to no good (just like the governments want everyone to think). "He uses TOR you know...he must be a pedo or hacker or something bad....after all, nothing to hide and all that", "See her in the burkah....hides her face she does...must be a terrorist, after all..why else would you do that"..

Use of TOR should be promoted as much as possible - something that is not helped by shitty innuendo about its use in articles like this.

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Facepalm

Re: It turned out Hammond frequently went online using the Tor anonymisation service

"....TOR is not illegal...." No, it is not, but this article shows exactly why it will probably end up being made illegal to have anonymous access to the Internet. Anyway, TOR is almost certainly riddled with nodes maintained by any number of government agencies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It turned out Hammond frequently went online using the Tor anonymisation service

True, but my point is that the wording of the article is assisting in the move to make it illegal by making the link between TOR and implied guilt. I'm not saying he is innocent in anyway here, but do we really want to go down the route of accusing those who protect privacy as being automatically guilty of something. What next, using a VPN, using a proxy, not allowing cookies....

Governments are trying to get the general population to think that privacy is the same as secrecy - and secrecy implies hiding something illegal. The wording of the article (and the unqualified statement about TOR) is exactly what they want.

I expected better, that is all.

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"The extent of communication between WikiLeaks and Anonymous regarding the Stratfor leak remains unclear. Stratfor's own assertion that "some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies", meanwhile, certainly seems much more plausible, especially if Monsegur (under the control of his FBI minders) had any say in deciding what was released."

The writer here does not state the obvious point that the FBI would not have had sufficient time to alter a meaningful number of emails, much less do so in a manner that is undetectable.

The obvious point is that this is a play at disinformation... nice try FBI. But you did get the Register to bite...

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Anonymous Coward

Know thy enemy and know thyself

Going after a bunch of ex-spooks was guaranteed to prompt response from their still-officially-active chums. No surprise at all that someone's been cuffed already... he'll be singing like a canary if he wants to see any non-Cuban daylight over the next half century or so.

Idealism is a wonderful thing, but frankly the kind of people who can send you to Guantanamo aren't going to give a monkey's nuts about your rights... if you don't understand that, don't try going up against them. They may not always be fast, but they really don't forget, they really don't forgive, and their retribution is far more real-world...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Know thy enemy and know thyself

I agree. My father said two things to me, again and again...

The first was "You're a clever lad, but you can't predict the future."

The second was "Never get involved as a man on your own, against any country's foreign policy."

The fact these lads lost, means they never studied history. Hannibal may have charged over the Alps with elephants, but just go read up what happened to him (and Carthage too for that matter.)

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Headmaster

Re: Know thy enemy and know thyself

Win every battle in Italy but don't take sufficient siege weapons?

I don't particularly disagree with your actual point, but carthage ain't the example you want.

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Coat

Re: Know thy enemy and know thyself

Yeah, never start a landwar in Southeast Asia, either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Know thy enemy and know thyself

"The second was "Never get involved as a man on your own, against any country's foreign policy.""

Your father thought that was one of two things worth saying to you again and again? What made him think it was something you were otherwise likely to do?

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Anonymous Coward

Hackers ain't as smart as they think they are

As they join the prison population they'll learn they are dumber than they thought.

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Holmes

Interesting chain of custody issue

So Strafor's stuff was stored on a server controlled by the FBI and then passed on to Wikileaks?

So how do we know that any of the Stratfor stuff that appeared on Wikileaks is actually Stratfor stuff?

Maybe what appeared on Wikileaks is what someone in the government wants someone out there to think is true, rather than actually true.

Looking for clues at the scene of the crime, including a clue as to exactly where is which scene of which crime.

(with apologies to Joe Walsh)

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FAIL

Wow, I criticize hacking douchebags, I get censored. I'm so surprised. Pathetic.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

It was perhaps moderated for legal reasons.

C.

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Black Helicopters

Entrapment is almost impossible to establish in the US - best not to even try.

The preferred prosecution technique is plea bargaining, see for example the recent case of the UK businessman paraded in shackles with one hand free to use his walking stick - the idea is to convince the accused & their family that their only hope of ever getting home is to plead guilty in exchange for some concession, even if they're innocent. Its all about conviction rates and getting re-elected.

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Big Brother

This isn't entrapment.

There is no evidence of the FBI enticing the hackers to attack Stratfor.

That would be what is needed to defend the hackers by claiming entrapment.

Did the FBI change the data on the server after the fact?

Don't know. Doesn't matter. The key is that the FBI has to show that the crime was committed and that there was mens rea, or intent to commit the crime. I think based on what has been released to the public shows that.

The point is that the hackers committed the crime without FBI involvement until after the fact so they will go down.

How this ties back to Wikileaks remains to be seen. We will be the last to know.

Its yet another reason why Julian fears prosecution in the US.

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Anonymous Coward

If you're a hacker you are your own enemy

These people either have a death wish or like verical window bars.

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Flame

Absolutely

"If US authorities could obtain evidence to tie Julian Assange to some conspiracy involving the hacking attacks against Stratfor then this could pave the way for separate criminal charges against WikiLeak's founder."

Mr Assange is NOT a US citizen, so how can he be charged with espionage against the US, even without being on US soil ??? But then torture and assassination have been adopted by USG straight from Mr Dzerzhinsky's operating manual.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Dzerzhinsky

So that would be a minor thing in the big picture.

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Re: Absolutely

"Mr Assange is NOT a US citizen, so how can he be charged with espionage against the US, even without being on US soil ???"

Then it is war and the convict Julian Assange (whose convictions include a count of stealing passwords from US Air force 7th Command Group in the Pentagon) is a legitimate target, right?

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Devil

Re: Absolutely

My last post was rejected... so lets try it again with a slightly different tack.

1) You don't have to be a US citizen in this case to be convicted of espionage. This is not only true for the US but other nations as well. There are enough examples in the history books to show this to be true.

2) Please drop the torture rhetoric. Its not true and you know it. Assange will be handled with kid gloves. Assuming his is charged, and goes to trial and is convicted. Once he hits general population at a Federal Prison... that's a different matter. In general population in the eyes of the law, you're just another convict.

3) The tinfoil brigade will attempt to claim the FBI planned the whole thing. That's saying that they were willing to break the law and attempt to get away with it. I'm sorry, but the FBI isn't that arrogant or that capable. Applying Occam's Razor, the more reasonable and plausible answer is that this opportunity fell in to their laps and they were smart enough to take advantage of the situation. Again history is full of things like this happening... its called being in the right place at the right time...

4) My guess is that Assange will probably get sued for the publications of stolen emails. There's more to this... But I don't want to get censored by El Reg.

On a side note...

Do you think Assange rushed to publication with the Stratfor emails as a way to deflect from his EAW appeal hearings? Or is it that he saw something that stated that the US was out to get him and he rushed to share this with the world? I don't know. Just saying...

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Silver badge

Could the FBI have stopped this?

That's basically the question I most want to know the answer to right now. Did the FBI sacrifice Stratfor / their customers in their desire to get at either Wikileaks or Assange or Lulzsec.

The article says that the stolen data was also stored elsewhere and it doesn't say whether or not the FBI knew about the attack before it actually happened... But they plainly knew that it had taken place before the data went public. Did they know the other places that it was stored or who had it? Could they have stopped the leak? The answer to that would be very interesting to me, both as a Stratfor customer and as someone who would just like to know how much the US authorities are willing to sacrifice to get at those that they feel humiliated by.

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Happy

Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

.....how much the US authorities are willing to sacrifice to get at those that have committed crimes.

There, fixed that for you. Now, if only we could get you to see past those chips on your shoulders, the blinkers, and years of fashionable faux intellectualism.

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Facepalm

Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

Don't know where the mini-rant about "faux intellectualism" came from. I'm a customer of Stratfor. I have a personal interest in knowing whether the FBI knowingly allowed Sabu et al. to commit a crime / propagate the emails. Don't see why you'd object to that or start complaining about "chips on shoulders" or "blinkers". And if they did allow these people to carry on with these activities (when they're job is supposed to be stopping them), then I want to know why and if it is because they hope to snare Wikileaks or Julian Assange. I wrote "humiliated them" rather than "committed crimes" which you 'Fixed' it to, deliberately - because the issue is whether the FBI allowed criminal activity to continue for the sake of targetting causes of public humiliation. Do I really have to point out that US criminal law does *not* cover the rest of the World and that Julian Assange is not necessarily a criminal?

You are way too quick to start ranting about "fashionable faux intellectualism". But then after typing this reply, I suddenly noticed who the poster is: Matt Bryant. The man with more preconceptions than the SWP.

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FAIL

@h4rm0ny Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

"I'm a customer of Stratfor. I have a personal interest in knowing whether the FBI knowingly allowed Sabu et al. to commit a crime / propagate the emails. "

Somehow I doubt that.

Also if you were a customer of Stratfor, then you would best be directing your questions to Stratfor on how such a security company could be so open to being hacked.

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FAIL

Re: Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

Oh puh-lease, h4m0ny, you're little line about the US only targetting Dickileaks and Lulzsec because they felt "humiliated" gives away your real POV. The FBI were following a gang of hackers that openly bragged about committing criminal acts. Stupid crims will get caught, and tried, regardless of who you think they may have humiliated.

If proven in court that they did what the FBI says, the Lulzsec has committed crimes (and that's ignoring their own foolish admittance through bragging online). Manning is currently on trial to settle exactly which crimes he has commited. In either case, if Wikileaks are linked to those crimes, then the members and leaders of Wikileaks are liable to trial in the US, if they are stupid enough to let themselves get arrested in the US. If they are already on trial in a country with an extradition treaty (such as A$$nut will be in Sweden), then there is a good chance an extradition request will be made, IF the FBI manage to provide enough evidence to gain a warrant as a result of evidence from the Manning trial or the Lulzsec-related trials. Please note the if, as it is not clear yet how deeply Lulzsec and Wikileaks are linked. Nothing to do with humiliation, just criminal investigations.

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Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

"You are way too quick to start ranting about "fashionable faux intellectualism". But then after typing this reply, I suddenly noticed who the poster is: Matt Bryant. The man with more preconceptions than the SWP."

You have just confirmed his point, by means of applying the argumentum ad hominem, which is piss poor epistemology, even by the weakest of standards.

As I have pointed out, Assange is a convicted criminal, his larks including being convicted in or around 1991 for 25 counts for among others 1) stealing passwords from US Air force 7th Command Group in the Pentagon; 2) for hacking computers at two universities; 3) hacking computers at two telecommunications companies; 4) hacking computers to monitor the Australian Federal Police investigation into *his* criminal activities.

There is nothing to suppose that he has deviated from this precedent setting career move, and if you want to argue that he is not a criminal you have your work cut out; to put it another way, Assange and breaking and entering computerised systems go a long way back.

As to your claim that you are a customer of Stratfor there is much to do if you want to convince people like me, otherwise it's all merely hot typographical air.

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Thumb Up

Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

"Nothing to do with humiliation, just criminal investigations."

Just another variant of the argumentum ad hominem. There seems to be an air of desperation amongst the followers and acolytes, to the point of minimising credit card theft as a non event, as well as the minimisers and those giving general support in spite of evidence produced in various contexts. For example when I made the point that Assange is a criminal, a convict, this elicited a rant from a twit who has still not apologised; Assange is indeed a convicted criminal. Thus it would seem most obvious that the people who support Assange do so on a foundation of limited moral insight/knowledge, and are prepared to overlook other crimes in the general area of Wikileaks, supporters, anon, lulzec etcetera.

It may just be that these are trolls, but their misguided support and that of Geoffrey Robinson and many others (admittedly falling off a tad in flesh space as the matter becomes clearer) has a ring of investment to it that I don't associate with trolling. I've seen thousands of trolls, I've even perpetrated a few myself, with the aim of flushing kooks and trolls into hyperactivity; for fun IOW. I think that I can tell the difference between setting things alight and not being the brightest light in the harbour, which these people appear to be, given the impoverished nature of their arguments and substantial lack of coherence.

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WTF?

Re: @h4rm0ny Could the FBI have stopped this?

Why you doubt a customer of Stratfor would be on the Register I have no idea. The fact that you call them "a security company" suggests that you don't even know what they do because they're not. They're an intelligence agency and strategic forecasting. I have a paid subscription to their analyses and reports and site. I doubt someone with evident paranoia would be convinced, but their reports for today include "The Geopolitics of Shifting Defense Expenditures" and yesterday had two reports on Lituhania , an update on the US Naval Map.and an assessment on whether the increasing public tension between North and South Koreas had any serious risk of active conflct. Do you feel silly, yet? Or am I (for reasons unknown outside your head) still continuing to be someone who impersonates Strator customers on the Internet.

As to where I direct, my questions, wherever I like, thanks. Stratfor aren't going to publically comment on an active FBI enquiry any time soon, so why shouldn't I ask elsewhere? Better to ask questions like I'm doing, than to tell others they shouldn't like you are.

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Facepalm

Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

An ad hominem is where instead of making an argument, you attack the arguer. I've never used an attack as a substitute for argument. You'll notice that the first couple of paragraphs of my post. The last line is just a mild observation that I should have realized before I started replying who it was I was replying to - because Matt Bryant posts many angry attacks on what people write here. He's known for it. That's not me substituting attack for an argument.

I don't think you actually understand what I'm saying at all. Elsewhere you accuse me of minimizing credit card theft. You do understand that I'm actually complaining about the FBI *not* doing something about this hacker sooner, and accusing them of *not* doing their duty in arresting him sooner? You do understand that I'm suggesting they went easy on a criminal in the hopes that they might make political capital out of trying to trap a highly public figure or organization that has demonstrably caused the US government a great deal of public embarrassment.

I'm not going to have a silly argument with someone when they are clearly arguing against things I haven't said. Please re-read what I actually wrote, rather than ranting about "piss poor epistemology" against someone who you appear to be angrily agreeing with.

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FAIL

Re: Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

".....because Matt Bryant posts many angry attacks on what people write here...." Lol, I think you are missing the bit where I'm laughing at you whilst I type!

And that schpiel was so convincing, up until you started insisting that the authorities had been embarrassed. The only people that are embarrassed are the families of these losers. The rest of us are just mildly annoyed by the losers' antics.

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Boffin

@h4m0ny. Re: Could the FBI have stopped this?

For someone who claimed to be a customer of Stratfor, you are not the sharpest tool in the shed...

Think about it for a second from the FBI's point of view. The hack already took place. You can't stop something that already occurred. So the best thing you can do is try to catch all involved. They did that.

You have to consider that those involved in the hack already have copies stashed away, so if you chase after them, you catch a few, if lucky, and then the emails still get out.

By creating a server that they own, the FBI could do more to catch more of those involved.

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Anonymous Coward

Hacking is a crime

In the civilized world hacking is a crime. You don't need to be in the U.S. when you commit the crime for U.S. law to apply if the hacked entity is U.S. based. Even if the entity is outside the U.S. you can and likely will be prosecuted.

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