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Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz finds unlikely ally in Nikki Fried as sex trafficking probe continues | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking | romancescams | #scams

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

_________________________ click to enlarge Photo via Flickr/Gage Skidmore Florida congressional representative Matt Gaetz had few friends in Washington before news broke that the Department […]

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Gaetz Probe Expands From Sex Trafficking To Cannabis And Corruption | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking | romancescams | #scams

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — When Rep. Matt Gaetz vacationed in the Bahamas in 2018, he was joined by a doctor who donated to his campaign and a former colleague in […]

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Matt Gaetz Is Planning To Run Anti-CNN TV Ads Amid Federal Sex Trafficking Probe | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking | romancescams | #scams

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Topline Rep. Matt Gaetz plans to spend six figures on television ads attacking CNN’s coverage of him, the embattled Florida Republican’s campaign said Wednesday, as Gaetz goes on the offensive […]

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Jamestown man charged in sex trafficking probe | News, Sports, Jobs | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking | romancescams | #scams

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

A 30-year-old Jamestown man accused of sex trafficking was charged by criminal complaint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Anthony Burris was arrested on charges of sex trafficking and enticing travel […]

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#hacking | Facebook reportedly derailed Europe terror probe by alerting users of phone hack

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Facebook in October reportedly derailed an investigation into an Islamic State terror suspect by European law enforcement and an Israeli intelligence firm by warning users that their phones had been hacked.

The company’s massively popular messaging platform, WhatsApp, notified some 1,400 users, including the suspect, that an “advanced cyber actor” had gained access to their devices. The suspect, who was believed to be planning a terror attack during the holiday season, disconnected shortly after.

The officials in the unnamed Western European country had hacked the suspect’s phone with software developed by Israel’s NSO group, which they secured with a government contract and the approval of a judge, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The WhatsApp warning message to users said: “An advanced cyber actor exploited our video calling to install malware on user devices. There’s a possibility this phone number was impacted.”

The company was reportedly unaware of the security investigations.

A Western intelligence official told Channel 12 that the notification had been sent to both Islamic State and Al Qaeda suspects, calling the intelligence breach “a disturbing and dangerous fact,” according to a Sunday report.

The alert foiled investigations into some 20 cases, including into suspected terrorists and pedophiles, the official said.

Investigators breached suspects’ phones “surgically” using a loophole in the app, had been monitoring the suspects for a long time, and following the alert had to start the investigations anew, he said.

The investigation into the Islamic State suspect planning a holiday season attack had relied on the suspect’s phone for information on his activities and communications, and had only had access to the device for a few days — not enough time to complete the probe.

One European intelligence official said that the NSO technology had given his team information on a violent bank-robbing outfit and weapons dealers, which led to arrests. He said that officials in other countries in Western Europe had told him that over 10 investigations may have been thwarted by the WhatsApp message to users.

On October 29, the same day as the alert, WhatsApp sued NSO Group, accusing it of using the platform to conduct cyber-espionage on journalists, human rights activists and others.

The suit, filed in a California federal court, contended that NSO Group tried to infect approximately 1,400 “target devices” with malicious software to steal valuable information from those using the messaging app.

WhatsApp said NSO Group’s hacking was illegal and that it was acting to protect its users.

NSO Group told The Wall Street Journal that its tools were “only licensed, as a lawful solution, to government intelligence and law-enforcement agencies for the sole purpose of preventing and investigating terror and serious crime.”

Most of its clients are Democracies in Europe that use its technology to fight crime and terror, NSO Group said.

NSO Group came to prominence in 2016 when researchers accused it of helping to spy on an activist in the United Arab Emirates.

Its best-known product is Pegasus, a highly invasive tool that can reportedly switch on a target’s phone camera and microphone, and access data on it.

The firm has been adamant that it only licenses its software to governments for “fighting crime and terror,” and that it investigates credible allegations of misuse, but activists say the technology has been instead used for human rights abuses.

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#hacking | Andrew Little says probe into foreign interference has arrived too late

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Sweeping law changes proposed by an official inquiry into last year’s election and foreign interference have taken too long to be of use for next year’s election, Justice Minister Andrew Little says.

Parliament’s Justice Select Committee on Tuesday released the findings of its long-delayed report into the 2017 election and 2016 local body elections.

Major recommendations in a lengthy list of 55 include handing control of local elections from councils to the Electoral Commission and giving the Commission powers to enforce and investigate minor breaches of electoral law (major breaches would stay with the police).

They also cover changes to foreign donations, a ban on foreign Government’s owning New Zealand media organisations, changes to advertising laws, stricter requirements on parties to properly check the source of donations and recommendations aimed at defending against misinformation and hacking during the next election.

But Justice Minister Andrew Little, who has already introduced a series of changes to electoral laws in this term in Government, says the report has come back too late to be of any use before voters head to the polls in 2020.

“The inquiry has been going for over 18 months … It’s unfortunate that the delay means that we pretty much won’t be able to take anything else out of the report to make changes,” Little told reporters.

“When you leave it to two weeks before Christmas before an election year to recommend changes to the Electoral Act it’s pretty hard to make changes.”

Little has already introduced legislation based on the Electoral Commission’s recommendations and says he couldn’t wait any longer.

Changes already put forward by the Government include a ban on most foreign donations announced last week, and allowing voting at supermarkets on election day, revealed earlier this year.

National MP Nick Smith as blamed the Government for taking too long to get the inquiry going in the first place. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Select Committee process has been fraught, having gone through six different chairs this year and prompted National MP Nick Smith to describe it as a farce.

The committee is split between National and Labour Party members.

It wasn’t started until September, 2018, – a year after the election – and later expanded to also cover foreign interference risks – although intelligence agencies said their security protocols for dealing with foreign and cyber-security threats weren’t necessary in 2017. Two National and two Labour members also left the during the process.

The committee’s first chair, Labour’s Raymond Huo, stood down in April this year after a debate over whether to let China expert and University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady be heard.

In its response to Tuesday’s report, National said the process had also been turned into a “sham” by Little introducing electoral laws before the recommendations were out, and without consensus with the Opposition.

“I don’t think the Government took the inquiry seriously,” Smith said.

“It’s very disappointing and dismissive of the Minister. There’s many recommendations in there that are important.”

Smith said the Government had taken too long to begin the process.

“It’s peculiar for the Minister to be criticising the delay,” he said.

“They didn’t even start the inquiry until 12 months after the election. The extension of the terms of reference did not occur until late last year and we didn’t even hear submissions on the foreign interference issue until April this year.”

But Labour’s Meka Whaitiri, the committee’s last chair, said while she shared Little’s regret at the delay, she dismissed Smith’s criticism and said “a lot of diplomacy” had been required to get the report over the line.

“If it was just a single, stand-alone inquiry, but it was complicated that it was really three substantive inquiries in one,” she said.

“Put it this way, the fact that it’s a split Select Committee you are going to get robust debate. And that’s exactly what we got.”

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#deepweb | The Justice Department’s review of the Russia probe is reportedly now a criminal inquiry

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Investigate the investigators” is one of President Donald Trump’s favorite attack lines against the Russia probe into 2016 election interference.

And now at least one internal Justice Department review of the Russia investigation has morphed into a criminal inquiry. The New York Times reported late Thursday that John Durham, the prosecutor tapped by Attorney General Bill Barr to assess the Russia investigation, is pursuing a criminal inquiry, which will allow him to subpoena witnesses and convene a grand jury if necessary. Though what, exactly, that criminal inquiry is looking into remains unclear. The Washington Post also backed up this reporting on Thursday.

NBC News reported over the weekend that Barr had expanded the review, and that Durham is now interested in interviewing “a number of current and former intelligence officials involved in examining Russia’s effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including former CIA director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper.”

Justice Department officials told NBC News that Durham had found something “significant,” but did not specify what.

Durham’s review has been closely overseen by Barr, who’s long expressed skepticism about the origins of the Russia investigation that was later overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller.

In recent weeks, Barr has been globetrotting in an apparent effort to find proof of a conspiracy theory, pushed by Trump and some of his Republican allies, that the entire Russia inquiry started because of a plot by the Obama administration and/or Hillary Clinton to thwart Trump’s presidential campaign.

The expansion of the Justice Department review raises concerns that Barr is injecting politics into this inquiry and using the full weight of law enforcement to pursue right-wing talking points and discredit the special counsel’s probe — just as Trump is facing the threat of impeachment for pressuring Ukraine, including over the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

Barr ordered this review of the Russia probe back in May, even though the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz was already pursuing a similar inquiry. The IG has a lot of powers, including to subpoena documents and witnesses, but he can’t charge people with crimes or even discipline individuals — though he can make recommendations to prosecutors.

The inspector general’s investigation has been ongoing since March 2018. According to the New York Times, Horowitz told Congress Thursday that they are wrapping up that investigation, but the public has been hearing that the IG is a few weeks from releasing his report since the spring.

It’s not clear whether Horowitz might have made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, but if and when the report is released, it might offer some clues as to what Barr and Durham are looking at.

Horowitz told Congress in September that he had shared information with Durham. “I have had communications with him, but it’s really — they’re a separate entity that he’s working on at the direction of the attorney general,” Horowitz said. “I’m obviously independent.”

All of which is to say Barr’s “investigation into the investigators” is still really opaque and somewhat alarming because the details are so fuzzy.

Special counsel Robert Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but it made clear that the Trump campaign welcomed the Kremlin’s efforts.

It also documented Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to benefit Trump, including its online propaganda campaign and its hacking of the Democrats, which led to multiple indictments. The findings have been backed up by the intelligence community and a GOP-led Senate panel.

Russia is at it again (along with China and Iran), so this latest news obviously raises concerns that it might muddle the central findings of the Russia investigation ahead of the 2020 elections.

But just because the review now appears to be a criminal inquiry doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything criminal to be found — or even if there is, that it will confirm the GOP’s talking points about the investigation. Still, Trump has long wanted to diminish the credibility of the Russia “witch hunt.” The question is whether the Justice Department is helping him do that.

What does this criminal investigation mean?

Barr tapped Durham in May to lead this other review of the Russia investigation. Though Barr picked Durham for the job, Barr has made it clear that he himself is also deeply involved — and deeply concerned about the origins of the Russia investigation and the actions the FBI took during the 2016 campaign.

“Government power was used to spy on American citizens,” Barr told the Wall Street Journal in May. “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.”

Barr’s “spying” reference is tangled up in a web of Republican conspiracy theories about the investigation and its origins in the summer of 2016. The first has to do with the so-called Steele dossier, a lengthy report compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Steele’s dossier contained explosive allegations which the Mueller investigation didn’t bear out, so Republicans have been arguing that US intelligence inappropriately relied on this “phony” dossier.

That includes using the dossier in the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA) warrant for Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide with Russia contacts. Republicans believe that the FBI inappropriately relied on this information to surveil Page.

And finally, GOPers have cried foul about the use of confidential informants to talk to former Trump aide George Papadopoulos to find out what he knew about Russia’s efforts to hurt Hillary Clinton, after he spilled to an Australian diplomat that the Russians had political “dirt” on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. The Australian diplomat tipped off US officials, which prompted the investigation in July 2016. (Yes, these are very complicated conspiracy theories, so if you need a more detailed refresher, read here and here.)

Horowitz, the inspector general, was already looking into these origins of the Russia investigation, which is why Barr’s decision to pursue his own probe was so unusual. And by all accounts, the attorney general has been personally involved, jet-setting to Italy (regarding a professor who met with Papadopoulos) and the UK (Christoper Steele) to get more information. They’ve also been talking to Australia. Oh, and Ukraine, because of a baseless conspiracy theory that Kyiv framed Russia for the hacking of the Democrats in 2016. (For more on the conspiracy world tour, read here.)

Foreign governments have rebuffed the US’s overtures so far. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte dismissed the idea Italy had any involvement in the opening of the Russia investigation. Australia defended its diplomat and dismissed allegations that he had acted inappropriately. And Ukraine, well, that’s now its own separate mess.

NBC News and the New York Times also report that Durham wants to speak to current and former intelligence officials, though he has not interviewed high-level folks in the Obama administration, such as former CIA director John Brennan or director of national intelligence James R. Clapper. But, according to the Times, in Durham’s interviews with other officials, he asked whether the CIA officials “might have somehow tricked the FBI into opening the Russia investigation.”

New York Times also reported over the weekend that Durham was looking into former FBI officials involved in the case, interviewing nearly two dozen current and former officials. Durham, however, has not interviewed some key players, including former FBI director James Comey and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, both frequent targets of Trump.

Durham is also reportedly looking into FBI agent Peter Strzok, who opened the investigation after getting a tip from the Australian diplomat. Strzok, of course, was removed from the case after anti-Trump text messages between him and Department of Justice lawyer Lisa Page emerged in the investigation.

All of this information is coming in bits and pieces, which means there are a lot of unknowns about what Barr and Durham are looking into with this review. The big question here is whether Barr and Durham are going into this clear-eyed or are specifically looking for information to fit the narrative that’s been pushed by the president about rogue Trump-haters at the FBI and CIA who conspired to cook up an investigation into a presidential candidate.

The Russia investigation was a sprawling inquiry, and it was also unprecedented. It is possible that intelligence or law enforcement officials made missteps or acted inappropriately along the way. That’s what the inspector general, the independent watchdog, was supposed to investigate.

But the deep involvement of Barr — who’s made it clear from the start that he’s fine protecting the president — rightfully raises concerns about whether politics are at play here. Trump is enduring an impeachment battle that grows more damning by the day — but it would be quite a win if the Russia investigation was diminished, too.


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Facebook and Twitter play bigger role in Congressional election-hacking probe

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

As Congressional investigations into Russia’s role in manipulating the election for U.S. president deepens, tech companies are assuming a more central role in the inquiries. Both Twitter and Facebook are stepping up their efforts to cooperate with Congressional investigations into Russian interference with last year’s presidential election. For Twitter, that…

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Prison inmate, his mother are part of state illegal computer probe

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

Troopers raided the Kettering home of an Ohio prison inmate’s mother as part of an investigation into prisoners who used hidden computers to commit identity fraud. Inmate Adam C. Johnston, 35, formerly of Kettering, is serving up to life in …

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Twitter sues U.S. Homeland Security to block probe into Trump critic’s identity

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

The social media company said that allowing the department access to the person behind the @ALT_USCIS account would produce a “grave chilling effect.” Twitter filed a lawsuit Thursday against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, asking the court to prevent …

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