FBI pretended to be Seattle newspaper in order to hack suspect’s computer
End the Lie
Oct 28, 2014
The editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Seattle Times newspaper says she’s “outraged” to learn only this week that the FBI made a mock-up of the publication’s website in 2007 in order to spread spyware onto the computer of a suspect.
When agents with the Seattle division of the FBI swarmed the home of a 15-year-old high school student that year and charged him with making bomb threats, media reports noted that the arrest was made possible with the use of a so-called “Computer & Internet Protocol Address Verifier” program, or CIPAV, that had been remotely installed on the individual’s machine to collect and then communicate to the authorities the user-specific information that eventually identified the suspect. The student later pleaded guilty to emailing repeated bomb threats to Timberline High School and was sentenced to 90 days in juvenile detention.
Until this week, how the FBI actually went about sneaking the CIPAV program onto the student’s computer was a matter that went unreported. After digging through a trove of emails previously obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, however, American Civil Liberties Union technologist Chris Soghoian stumbled upon details this week showing that authorities accomplished the installation by sending a malicious link disguised as a Seattle Times news article to a social media account used by their suspect.
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