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Mercenary hacker group 'Hidden Lynx' emerges as world's most potent cyber threat

Overshadowing even the most infamous state-sponsored cyber armies, a group of hacker-mercenaries has emerged as the world’s new and most potent threat to information security.
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Participants work at their laptops at the annual Chaos Computer Club (CCC) computer hackers' congress, called 29C3, on December 28, 2012 in Hamburg, Germany. The 29th Chaos Communication Congress (29C3) attracts hundreds of participants worldwide annually to engage in workshops and lectures discussing the role of technology in society and its future. (Patrick Lux/Getty Images)

Overshadowing even the most infamous state-sponsored cyber armies, a group of hacker-mercenaries has emerged as the world’s new and most potent threat to information security, according to a report published by American information security corporation Symantec.

Symantec argues that the China-based group of hackers-for-hire, known as Hidden Lynx, eclipses even the cyber espionage arm of China’s People’s Liberation Army in both sophistication and ability. 

“The Hidden Lynx group is an advanced, persistent threat that has been in operation for at least four years and is breaking into some of the best-protected organizations in the world,” Satnam Narang, a researcher at Symantec, told GlobalPost.


OpNSA: Anonymous targets US lawmakers with close ties to intelligence community (VIDEO)

Anonymous is targeting US lawmakers with ties to intelligence contractors by highlighting campaign contributions and vote records.
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A screengrab of one of several OpNSA videos calling attention to campaign contributions made by the intelligence community and intelligence contractors to US lawmakers. (Screengrab/Screengrab)

Members of the Anonymous hacker collective, known as Anons, are targeting US lawmakers who have financial ties to intelligence contractors in their latest campaign.

Unlike other Anonymous operations, however, OpNSA does not involve hacking or illegality of any kind.

Instead, the operation aims to bring attention to what Anons have termed collusion between US senators and private contractors, whom Anons allege enabled privacy violations as part of National Security Agency surveillance programs.

The contractors include Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and others.

Specifically, Anons hope to highlight suspect campaign contributions to several prominent US lawmakers — including Diane Feinstein, Dutch Ruppersberger, Mike Rogers and Saxby Chambliss — by US defense and intelligence contractors.

Those involved with OpNSA say that these lawmakers have been given a pass by the American public in spite of playing a large role in enabling the government to violate the privacy of citizens via NSA programs. By raising awareness of those connections among the officials' constituents, Anons hope the senators will begin losing public support.

“There are those who say; 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.' However these are the same people who won't tell you any of their own personal information upon your request. Complacent cowards like these have made it easier for this enormous surveillance operation to come to fruition,” reads a statement released by OpNSA.


Syrian Electronic Army revealed: Anonymous hacks SEA website, dumps data

After claims that Syrian regime used chemical weapons on its own population, Anonymous struck, revealing personal information of key members within the Syrian Electronic Army.
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A screengrab of user names and password MD5 hashes taken from servers used by the Syrian Electronic Army. The data was stolen by members of Anonymous and dumped onto the deep web in August. (Screengrab/Screengrab)

As the United States and other world powers continue to debate a possible military intervention in Syria, the hacker collective Anonymous has gone ahead with its own intervention, taking on its Syrian counterpart — the Syrian Electronic Army.

It's a shadow war happening online between two amorphous, grassroots groups. And Anonymous dealt the first blow.

Last week, Anons began releasing data they stole in April after infiltrating a server used by the Syrian Electronic Army. Over the weekend, someone began dumping it all on the so-called "deep web," a portion of the internet that isn't accessible by traditional browsers or search engines. 

While the Syrian Electronic Army is mostly made up of supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and may receive some material support from the regime, the organization does not appear to have any official relationship the government, something that appears to be confirmed in the data leaked by Anonymous. The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed several high-profile security breaches recently, including hacks on the websites of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the US Marine Corps.

Anons said the data released identifies the Syrian Electronic Army's core leadership, their methods, personal emails, usernames and passwords used by its members.

“I imagine them as an Assad cronies’ notion of the Chinese Cyber Army, on a shoestring budget,” one Anonymous member, involved in the analysis of the data, told GlobalPost. 


Hacks continue as FBI claims to have dismantled Anonymous

The FBI is claiming to have dismantled the hacker organization Anonymous. But shortly after an official's statements were published in the press, Anons dumped large amounts of data that appears to have been stolen from FBI servers.
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A graffiti of Guy Fawkes mask, symbol of Anonymous, is pictured on April 6, 2013 in Florence. Designed by illustrator David Lloyd, it was used as a major plot element in V for Vendetta, published in 1982, and its 2006 film adaptation. After appearing in internet forums, the mask became the trademark symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)
The FBI is claiming to have dismantled the hacker organization Anonymous but shortly after their statements were published in the press, Anons dumped large amounts of data that appears to have been stolen from FBI servers.

Greenwald v. the UK: Anonymous strikes back

Following the nine-hour-long detention by British authorities of Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, Anonymous posts personal information of US government officials and their families as 'vital anti-terror surveillance information.'
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A screengrab of the message posted by Anonymous to hacked websites and (Screengrab/Screengrab)
Anonymous hackers behind the @OpLastResort twitter account have hacked UK and Chinese government websites in response to the nine-hour detention of Brazilian national David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Web-wide fear follows Tor browser exploit

Malware targeting the Dark Net, hidden websites residing on the Tor network, has left the internet wary of an imminent law enforcement crackdown. Is the Tor network still safe?
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The US government is planning to declassify documents on NSA surveillance programs. Protesters rally outside the US Capitol against the NSA's programs June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Hackers, researchers and security experts are desperately trying to determine the source of a piece of malware that, using vulnerability in the Firefox browser, identified users of the private Tor network.

The Tor network is comprised of a number of proxy nodes through which a user’s connection is routed, creating randomly generated private network pathways that change every ten minutes.

This particular piece of malware, delivered through javascript injection, appeared on several websites belonging to the Dark Net — hidden sites only accessible through the Tor network. The malware collects identifying information from the user, like the computer’s MAC (media access control) address and hostname, and sends it over a connection that is not anonymous.


A far cry from Call of Duty, Kerbal Space Program is inspiring players to learn physics (VIDEO)

Developing a game in which players need to learn basic physics isn't easy, and it's even more difficult to make it fun. But Kerbal Space Program isn’t just helping adults feel like kids again — it’s helping kids learn real science.
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(Courtesy of Squad/Courtesy)

In spite of the incredibly advanced technologies available to video game developers of the current era, most games remain linear in structure and in narrative – beat the boss of level X, continue to next level, repeat until no more levels.

Similarly, the thrills fit a narrow formula. Online gaming is dominated by violent first-person shooter games, often misogynistic and homophobic, played by gleeful 13-year-olds and their adult counterparts.

Perhaps once a decade a masterpiece of gaming breaks those traditional barriers — and that is what makes Kerbal Space Program (KSP) so special. Not only is the space-flight simulator pioneering in game structure, it is getting players excited about space exploration again in a global economy forcing most nations to stay grounded. 

“If I were to judge this simply from the number of people asking me about studying 'rocket science' at college then I'd say the game is having a direct effect on young people,” Scott Manley, who has become a niche celebrity in the Kerbal Space Program community for his YouTube channel's tutorial videos, told GlobalPost.

“Some just come to my channel to thank me for inspiring them to continue into scientific education, but I think that a large part of that is directly attributed to the game.”


How to beat the UK porn ban, protect your privacy and maintain streaming speeds

The popular Tor network proxy is reliable and secure, but it's also slow — making it a poor tool to surf porn on the sly. Here's a more satisfying method for beating the UK's ISP porn block that may be a boon to your privacy, too.
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PC Kris Seward shows the Prime Minister David Cameron the mobile device as he visits community police in Hertfordshire on July 17, 2013 in Cheshunt, England. The Prime Minister observed the new community police crime prevention initiatives including targeted CCTV and a new PC based mobile device. (Paul Rogers/AFP/Getty Images)

UK netizens are preparing for the end of what many consider an online birthright: unfettered access to porn.

While Britons scrambled to catch their first glimpse of newborn Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge this week, the Cameron government set the stage for a country-wide ban on pornography that will be enacted at the end of the year. Internet service providers will then block pornographic material by default for all connections associated with British IP addresses. 

The porn ban has drawn criticism even from left-leaning figures who denounce pornography as abusive to women, but do not support censorship efforts carried out by the Cameron government. 


FEMA hacked: Anonymous hacks US server in defense of Snowden and government transparency

Refocused and reorganized, Anonymous has apparently breached an emergency management server, stealing valuable user information including that of US government and military personnel.
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A demonstrator holds up a picture of the former technical contractor of the US Central Intelligence Agency Edward Snowden during a demonstration in support of Snowden at the Place du Trocadero in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris on July 7, 2013. Around forty people, mostly activists from organizations defending rights and freedom on the internet, gathered in support of Snowden, who leaked information on data spying programs of the USA and Great Britain in June 2013 and has sought asylum in 21 countries, according to WikiLeaks. (Kenzo Tribouillard /AFP/Getty Images)

Hackers from within the Anonymous collective claim to have broken into a server used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and say they will release the stolen data in what would be one of the highest-profile security breaches since the release of secret NSA documents by Edward Snowden.


DEA undertakes first ever seizure of bitcoins by US law enforcement officials

In connection with an alleged violation of the controlled substances act, the DEA has become the first-ever US law enforcement agency to seize bitcoins. Does that make them legit?
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A screenshot of Silk Road's website. (zer0cool3/Screengrab)

In what appears to be the first ever seizure of virtual currency by US law enforcement officials, the Drug Enforcement Administration has confiscated 11.02 bitcoins from Eric Daniel Hughes, aka Casey Jones, for violating the Controlled Substances Act.

The information was posted in an official DEA notification of forfeitures. No other details were provided. 

Charleston SC paper The Post and Courier speculated that Hughes’ arrest and the seizure of his bitcoins could be connected with his use of the Silk Road, an anonymous online marketplace for illicit substances. 

To avoid the easily-tracked trail left by credit cards, customers must make purchases using Bitcoin — a digital currency championed as a way of maintaining online privacy. Bitcoin is not completely anonymous on its own, but it can be customized to obscure a user's identity.