FBI warns OS X Mac Users about Ransomware Purporting to be from FBI

A new version of ransomware is targeting OS X Mac users can claiming that it is coming from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It is not malware and it appears as a webpage that uses JavaScript to load numerous windows. It requires that each frame be closed, but for that to happen a fee is requested thus the name ransomware has stuck.

A similar ransomware scam took place in May of 2012 also using the name of the FBI to lure in victims. The latest inception of ransomware uses “FBI.gov” within the URL in attempt to make the warning appear legitimate.

The scam is complicated. The warning that appears accuses victims of violating various U.S. laws, then locks up the victims computer. It claims that to unlock the computer and avoid legal issues, a fee of $300 needs to be paid via a prepaid Visa card. But the scam doesn’t end there. If a victim realizes that there is a scam taking place and attempts to close the windows, more windows (iframes) pop up with the warning.

The actual FBI website reports the simplest way to remove the ransomware’s iframes is to “click n the Safari menu, choose the “Reset Safari” option, making sure all check boxes are selected.” It also suggests holding down the Shift key while relaunching Safari to prevent reopening windows and tabs from the previous session.

“Ransomware messages are an attempt to extort money. If you have received a ransomware message, do not follow payment instructions. Be sure to file a complaint at www.IC3.gov,” says the FBI’s warning report.

All email and internet users should be warned of ransomware scams although the current version is only targeting OS X Mac users. The FBI encourages anyone who has been a victim of ransomware, e-scams, and phishing to contact the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov.

 

N.S.A. Discussed on House Floor, Won’t be Stopped

A divided House had its first Congressional showdown over the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities on Wednesday, July 24. The 205-to-2017 vote defeated legislation that would have blocked the N.S.A. from collecting vast amounts of phone records.

The classified intelligence program has never been discussed openly on the House floor. Debates ensued and some unusual coalitions took shape. Conservative Republicans teamed up with liberal Democrats to oppose the practices of the N.S.A. and push for legislation that would rein in the intrusive intelligence programs. On the flip side, the Obama administration, not normally friends of the House Republican leadership, joined with them in order to block the legislation.

Representatives Justin Amash, a liberatarian Republican, and John Conyers Jr., a liberal Democrat, can be held responsible for pitting Democrat against Democrat and Republican against Republican on the House floor by writing the legislation that would have limited the N.S.A.’s access of phone records to specific targets of law enforcement investigations. Not the broad dragnets couched as “metadata” collection currently being practiced by the N.S.A.

Although the legislation pitted normal allies against each other, it did create a bipartisan vote on the House floor. Advocates for the legislation have claimed that this is just the first proposal against the N.S.A.’s practices and that many more will follow. Defenders of the N.S.A.’s practices claim that putting the brakes on the agency will cause the nation to be a risk.

Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI), one of the principal authors of the Patriot Act which  has given the N.S.A. its power to collect phone records and other data on American citizens, says that the Patriot Act was never meant to create a program that demands the phone records of every American. “The time has come to stop it,” he said.

An open letter in support of the recently disclosed N.S.A. Programs was circulated to undecided members of the House. It attempted the use of scare tactics to urge lawmakers to allow the program to continue.

It read: “Denying the NSA such access to data will leave the Nation at risk. If the relevance standard of section 215 [Patriot Act] does not permit the government to acquire large data collections where necessary to preserve the data and to be able to conduct focused queries based on reasonable suspicion, our counter terrorism capabilities will be severely constrained.”

There is no telling if the open letter had an effect on the undecided members of the House. As it stands right now, the N.S.A. can continue with its dragnet programs.

What do you think?  How secure do you feel as your data is collected under the guise of “national security?”

EFF Files New Lawsuit Against NSA

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of First Unitarian Church and multiple other organizations against the National Security Agency (NSA) opposing the illegal mass surveillance programs of the NSA. EFF represents will be representing the coalition of American organizations including political associations, churches, and regular people.

First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA is a lawsuit that will address whether the NSA violated the First Amendment right of association by illegally collecting call records. EFF has had years of experience fighting illegal government surveillance in court, but this will be a pivotal case for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“The First Amendment protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group, but the NSA’s mass, untargeted collection of Americans’ phone records violates that right by giving the government a dramatically detailed picture into our associational ties,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Who we call, how often we call them, and how long we speak shows the government what groups we belong to or associate with, which political issues concern us, and our religious affiliation. Exposing this information –especially in a massive, untargeted way over a long period of time– violates the Constitution and the basic First Amendment tests that have been in place for over 50 years.”

The bulk telephone records collection program was Continue reading EFF Files New Lawsuit Against NSA

The Fifth Estate Reveals Quest to Expose Deceptions and Corruptions of Power

the fifth estateBeing a watchdog and exposing the privileged and powerful was the idea behind WikiLeaks. The website which allowed whistle blowers to anonymously leak covert data shined a light on government secrets and corporate crimes. DreamWorks Pictures’ The Fifth Estate is a dramatic thriller based upon WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s quest to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful.

The Fifth Estate highlights one of the most fiercely debated organizations –WikiLeaks– and focuses on the story of Assange and Berg gaining access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history. The Fifth Estate asks “what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society –and what are the costs of exposing them?”

The WikiLeaks platform rocked the media and journalism community. It began reporting and breaking more hard news than the world’s most legendary media organizations combined. The website exposed over 76,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan, a set of almost 400,000 documents called the “Iraq War Logs,” mapped over 109,000 deaths in significant attacks by insurgents in Iraq, and published files related to the prisoners detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. And that was just the start.

The film “The Fifth Estate” presented by DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment is based on Continue reading The Fifth Estate Reveals Quest to Expose Deceptions and Corruptions of Power

Combating Harmful Debt Collection Practices: Debt Collectors Respond

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has put debt collection companies on notice against harmful debt collection practices. CFPB has also released new tools to help consumers communicate with debt collectors and resolve collection complaints.

CFPB explains that most collection firms treat consumers fairly, but the ones that don’t “can cause financial harm to consumers and undermine the financial marketplace.” The bureau is in the business of protecting consumers. It warns debt collectors that “any entity that is subject to the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 is legally required to refrain from committing unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices that would violate the Act.”

The “Action Letters” Continue reading Combating Harmful Debt Collection Practices: Debt Collectors Respond