Guilty Plea in Sony Pictures Hacking Case

Cody Kretsinger pleaded guilty yesterday, to the 2011 hack of Sony Pictures, admitting that he transmitted information to other members of the hacking group LulzSec.

Kretsinger, 23, was arrested in September 2011 by the F.B.I. He was charged with conspiracy and the unauthorized impairment of a protected computer.

He pled guilty to both charges, as part of a plea deal.

“I joined LulzSec, your honor, at which point we gained access to the Sony Pictures website,” Kretsinger, who went by the hacking alias “Recursion,” told the judge.

LulzSec is considered to be a spinoff of Anonymous, the hacker and activist group that operates online.

Earlier this month, the FBI arrested several members of LulzSec using intelligence gained by interrogating “Sabu”, the group’s nominal leader, but a group claiming to be LulzSec recently hacked the email database of CSS Corp.

In June, members of LulzSec allegedly hacked into and compromised the personal information of more than 1 million users. While the group did not copy the information of all 1 million people, it did gain access to thousands of records

Sony Pictures later notified 37,500 users that their personal information might be at risk.

Kretsinger was apparently not involved in a hack against the Sony PlayStation Network, which cost the company $171 million and took the service offline for 77 million PlayStation Network members for a total of six weeks. The Sony Pictures hack cost Sony Pictures $600,000 in damages.



LulzSec, Anonymous Betrayed by Founding Member

Five of the top members of the infamous computer hacking group LulzSec have been arrested and charged by the F.B.I.

According to reports the arrests came after the group’s “senior leader”, Hector Xavier Monsegur “Sabu”, 28, pled guilty to several charges of computer hacking conspiracy and began working with prosecutors, Monsegur is facing a maximum of 124 years behind bars.

The five alleged members arrested were identified as Ryan Ackroyd aka “Kayla” and Jake Davis aka “Topiary” from London, two residents of Ireland, Darren Martyn aka “pwnsauce” and Donncha O’Cearrbhail aka “palladium”, and Jeremy Hammond aka “Anarchaos” from Chicago. According to a FBI press release, all but Davis face charges of computer hacking conspiracy and varoious other charges. Each carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence.

Jeremy Hammond, is named in the report to have been the main person behind the hack on US security company Stratfor last year which resulted in the release of 1,000s of the companies internal e-mails.

According to court papers, Sabu was an “influential member of three hacking organizations Anonymous, Internet Feds and Lulz Security, that were responsible for multiple cyber attacks on various businesses and governments in the United States and the world over.” He allegedly acted as a “rooter,” a computer hacker who identified vulnerabilities in the computer systems of potential victims.

FBI officials involved with the investigation have been quoted as saying “this is devastating to the organization”, and that these arrests are “chopping off the head of LulzSec.”

Following the reports, Anonymous posted on its Twitter feed:

We are Legion. We do not have a leader nor will we ever. LulzSec was a group, but Anonymous is a movement. Groups come and go, ideas remain”


U.S. Citizens Being Arrested For Illegal Immigration

An Alarming number of U.S citizens have been detained for illegal immigration under Obama administration programs designed to detect illegal immigrants who are arrested by local police.

Acting on flawed information from Dept. of Homeland Security databases, local police have been instructed by federal immigration officers to hold citizens for investigation and possible deportation. Immigration agents do not have the authority to detain citizens, but those arrested by local police say they were held for days with no communication with federal agents to rectify the situation.

“I told every officer I was in front of that I’m an American citizen, and they didn’t believe me,” said Antonio Montejano, who was arrested on a shoplifting charge last month and held on an immigration order for two nights in a police station in Santa Monica, Calif., and two more nights in a Los Angeles county jail cell, on suspicion that he was an illegal immigrant. Mr. Montejano was born in Los Angeles.

Under the Obama Administration more than 1.1 million people have been deported, the highest numbers in six decades. Under the immigration agencies Secure Communities program, fingerprints of every person booked at local jails are checked against a Homeland Security immigration database. If the check results in a match, federal immigration agents can issue detainers, asking local law enforcement authorities to hold a suspect for up to 48 hours.

John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency gave “immediate and close attention” to anyone who claimed to be a citizen.

“We don’t have the power to detain citizens,” Mr. Morton said in an interview on Tuesday. “We obviously take any allegation that someone is a citizen very seriously.”

The exact numbers of Americans held by immigration authorities are hard to determine because they are not typically recorded. In one study, 82 people who were held for deportation from 2006 to 2008 at two immigration detention centers in Arizona, for periods as long as a year, were freed after immigration judges determined that they were American citizens.

“Because of the scale of enforcement, the numbers of people who are interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement are just enormous right now,” said Jacqueline Stevens, the study’s author and political science professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Ms. Stevens has concluded that “a low but persistent” percentage of the nearly 400,000 people held for deportation each year are citizens.

An American college student, Romy Campos, was held in a California jail last month for four days on an immigration detainer. After her Nov. 12 arrest in Torrance on a minor misdemeanor charge, Ms. Campos, 19, was denied bail and transferred to a Los Angeles County jail. A public defender assigned to her in state court said he was unable to lift the federal detainer.

“Can’t they see in my file or something that I’m a citizen?” Ms. Campos said she asked him. “He said: ‘I’m sorry, but this is state court. I can’t do anything about it.’ ”

After four days, Ms. Campos was released after Jennie Pasquarella, an A.C.L.U. lawyer, provided her Florida birth certificate to the immigration agency.

“I felt misused completely, I felt nonimportant, I just felt violated by my own country,” Ms. Campos said. A citizen of both the United States and Spain, she later learned that she had a Department of Homeland Security record because she had once entered the United States on her Spanish passport.

United States citizens can be tagged in a Secure Communities fingerprint check because of flukes in the department’s databases. Unlike the federal criminal databases administered by the F.B.I., Homeland Security records include all immigration transactions, not just violations. An immigrant who has always maintained legal status, including those naturalized to become American citizens, can still trigger a fingerprint match.

According to Margaret Stock, an immigration lawyer in Alaska, under the nation’s complex citizenship laws, many foreign-born people become Americans automatically, through American parents or adoption. Often their citizenship is not recorded in Homeland Security databases, Ms. Stock said.

Other cases of possibly illegal detentions of citizens have been recently reported in Allentown, Pa., Indianapolis and Chicago.

I.C.E. agents generally cancel detainers immediately when they determine that the suspect is a citizen. In no recent cases was an American placed in deportation.

F.B.I. to expand surveillance powers…

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is expanding its 14,000 agents ability to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams on people whom they deem persons of interest. The Bureau will soon release a new edition of its manual, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide. The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity.

Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, says that it is unwise to further ease restrictions on agents’ power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing.

“Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse,” Mr. German said. There have been complaints about the bureau’s surveillance of domestic political advocacy groups and mosques and an inspector general found in 2007 that the F.B.I. had frequently misused “national security letters,” which allow agents to obtain information like phone records without a court order.

Valerie E. Caproni, the F.B.I. general counsel, said the bureau fixed the problems with the national security letters. “Every one of these has been carefully looked at and considered against the backdrop of why do the employees need to be able to do it, what are the possible risks and what are the controls,” she said, portraying the modifications to the rules as “more like fine-tuning than major changes.”

Some of the changes apply to the lowest category of investigations, called an “assessment.” Assessments allow agents to look into people and organizations “proactively” and without evidence of criminal or terrorist activity. Restrictions on administering lie-detector tests and searching people’s trash will be relaxed and the new manual will also remove a limitation on the use of surveillance squads, which are trained to surreptitiously follow targets.