Nov 18, 2019

Hacker offers $100,000 for leaks of corporate secrets

Phineas Fisher, a pseudonymous hacktivist famous for leaks from high-profile companies, is offering $100,000 for other hackers to steal and leak controversial corporate documents, Motherboard reports.

Why it matters: Hacktivism — hacking for some perceived public benefit — trailed off in recent years as more hackers chose to monetize their skill sets through thievery and ransom schemes. This offer could reincentivize civic-minded computer crime.

The backdrop: Fisher is well-known in the hacker community for leaking documents from two military surveillance contractors (Gamma, which sells Fisher's titular FinFisher spyware, and Hacking Team), Spanish police officers, Turkish politicians and an offshore bank (the Cayman National Bank and Trust).

  • Fisher claims to have money from "recent, undisclosed hacks" that will be used to pay up the bounties.
  • Fisher told Motherboard that examples of corporate leaks that might be awarded include South American livestock and mining companies, surveillance contractors and Halliburton.

What we're thinking: While adding a financial incentive for public interest hacking might inspire activists, it may also have an effect on traditional crime. Criminal hackers often negotiate ransoms not to damage corporate networks; Fisher's bounty could change negotiations, guaranteeing that if a corporation doesn't pay, hackers still can monetize hacking certain targets.

Go deeper: Hacktivism is down 95% since 2015

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House panel seeks investigation into $400 million border wall contract

Security forces near the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico on Sept. 18, 2019. Photo: Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

The House Homeland Security Committee requested on Wednesday that the Defense Department inspector general investigate a $400 million contract recently awarded to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. for constructing a portion of President Trump's border wall.

The big picture: Fisher was not on the Army Corps of Engineers' original list of qualified bidders to build 31 miles of border wall near Yuma, Arizona, per the Washington Post. But Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) cites another report from the Post that alleges Trump has repeatedly urged the Army Corp. to award the contract to Fisher, which is owned by a GOP donor who has made several appearances on Fox News to promote his company.

Go deeperArrowDec 4, 2019

Read the documents: China tried to get World Bank funds to spy on Uighurs

Below are more than 8,000 pages of documentation about efforts by Chinese schools to secure funding from the World Bank to support surveillance programs in the country's Xinjiang region.

Why it matters: A World Bank spokesperson told Axios the June 2017 procurement documents had not been translated into English, meaning only Chinese-speaking staff could read them.

Member of group that hacked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's account arrested

Photo: Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Motherboard reported Sunday that a former member of a hacker group notorious for taking over social media accounts was arrested earlier this month, citing law enforcement and members of the group.

Driving the news: According to Motherboard, authorities arrested a onetime member of "Chuckling Squad," a notorious group that, among other mischief, took over Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's Twitter account in August. That hacker, an unnamed minor, had previously been kicked out of the group

Go deeperArrowNov 24, 2019