Federal prosecutors accused a group of hackers based in China and Malaysia with cyberattacks targeting more than 100 companies, government agencies, and nonprofits worldwide in charges unsealed Wednesday.
It’s one of the largest hacking campaigns to be prosecuted in the US to date, prosecutors said.
The hackers are accused of being a part of a China-based hacking operation called APT41, also known as Barium.
Two Malaysian businessmen were arrested Monday in connection with the cyberattacks, according to prosecutors. Five more defendants are believed to still be in China and have not been arrested.
Federal prosecutors did not specify which organizations were targets of the cyberattacks, but said that Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google, and Verizon assisted the government in its investigation.
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US prosecutors have accused seven men of participating in a sophisticated hacking scheme that targeted more than 100 companies, government agencies, and nonprofits across the globe, according to federal charges unsealed Wednesday.
It’s one of the largest hacking campaigns to be prosecuted in the US to date, and the defendants’ alleged methods laid out in the complaint reveal the prominence of so-called supply chain attacks that target software providers in order to hack their customers.
The defendants are accused of being a part of APT41, also known as Barium, a longstanding hacking group based in China that has been the subject of several other cases brought by the Department of Justice in recent years. Prosecutors say the group worked to steal intellectual property while simultaneously running ransomware attacks for profit.
Two Malaysian businessmen, Wong Ong Hua and Ling Yang Ching, were arrested in Malaysia on Monday in connection with the hacks, a rare occurrence in the prosecution of international cybercriminals.
The other five defendants — Zhang Haoran, Tan Dailin, Jiang Lizhi, Qian Chuan, and Fu Qiang — are believed to remain in China and are unlikely to be extradited, but the US filed charges nonetheless in order to publicly identify them.
“The Department of Justice has used every tool available to disrupt the illegal computer intrusions and cyberattacks by these Chinese citizens,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement. “Regrettably, the Chinese Communist Party has chosen a different path of making China safe for cybercriminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China.”
Prosecutors said that between 2014 and 2020, the defendants allegedly targeted social media companies, video game companies, nonprofits, universities, think tanks, and foreign governments, as well as pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, but didn’t name the firms or agencies that were targeted. However, the DOJ said that intelligence teams at Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Verizon assisted with their investigation.
In addition to targeting those entities’ networks, the defendants are accused of creating software called SonarX that served as a searchable database of personal data and social media information. The repository specifically focused on people critical of the Chinese government and Hong Kong residents who opposed the state’s new security law that eliminates special freedoms of expression previously afforded to Hong Kong by the Chinese government.
The charges stop short of accusing the defendants of working for the Chinese government, but noted that one of the defendants allegedly boasted of having ties to the Chinese Ministry of State Security.
“The scope and sophistication of the crimes in these unsealed indictments is unprecedented,” US attorney Michael R. Sherwin said in a statement. “As set forth in the charging documents, some of these criminal actors believed their association with the PRC provided them free license to hack and steal across the globe.”
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Air Force Begins Live-Fire Testing on New Helicopter, Jolly Green II
The Air Force’s new HH-60W combat rescue helicopter, known as the “Jolly Green II,” has begun live-fire ground testing, the service said this week.
Airmen with the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, recently fired the aircraft’s three primary weapons: the GAU-2, a 7.62mm gatling gun with a 3,000 rounds per minute fire rate; the GAU-18, a .50 caliber machine gun with a 650 to 800 round fire rate; and the GAU-21, a newly designed .50 caliber machine gun with a 950 to 1,100 round fire rate, according to a service release.
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All of the ground testing was done using the unit’s first “Whiskey 1” model, made by Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky. Each of the weapons is interchangeable via the helicopter’s adaptable gun mount system, according to AirMed&Rescue Magazine.
The Whiskey 1 “contains specialized test instrumentation that allows Sikorsky to monitor hundreds of parameters during the flights and envelope expansion testing,” according to the release. “That specialized instrumentation allowed the testers to record the stress and strains in the aircraft caused by firing the weapons.”
The three tests — which spanned a three-week period on Eglin’s expansive test ranges — follow other programmatic milestones such as aerial refueling and radar, weather and defensive system testing, officials said.
“It was great to see all the team’s planning and hard work finally pay off to get us to execution and gather this initial live-fire data,” Maj. Christopher Hull, 413th FLTS chief test engineer, said in the release.
Jolly Green II crews were part of the testing to see how the gunfire affected their ability to conduct a prospective mission — specifically, whether the blasts have the potential to harm operators or inflict traumatic brain injury symptoms, the release states.
The Air Force’s Non-Nuclear Munitions Safety Board will evaluate the findings from the ground tests in coming weeks before deciding whether to clear the helicopter for in-flight ammunition tests, which are expected sometime before the end of the year.
Last year, the service began the first tests on the HH-60W, which is based on the UH-60M Black Hawk and is meant to replace its HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet.
In February, the Air Force unveiled the helicopter’s official name during the opening ceremony of the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
“Reviving the Jolly Green name honors our combat search-and-rescue [CSAR] crews past and present,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said while standing alongside CSAR pilots from past and current conflicts. “In the hands of our airmen, the HH-60W ensures the rescue community can perform their duties better than ever.”
The rescue community’s motto is, “These things we do that others may live.”
The name Jolly Green — which the CSAR community has adopted as its trademark alongside signature green feet stamped on the aircraft — dates back to the Vietnam War, when American pilots flew the HH-3E helicopter.
While today’s pilots will stamp the sides of the helicopter with green feet to commemorate their own missions, the symbol’s origin is a nod to the HH-3E, also known as the Jolly Green Giant, which left fat imprints when landing in Vietnam’s rice patties and grass fields, according to the service.
Unlike the new HH-60W, which will officially be known as “Jolly Green II,” the HH-3E, used mainly for recovering downed pilots, carried the moniker only as a nickname.
Current 1980s-era HH-60G models are capable of low-altitude operations and have a retractable in-flight refueling probe and internal auxiliary fuel tanks that allow for better range and loiter time during rescue missions.
The HH-60W doubles the internal fuel capacity of the HH-60G model without using auxiliary fuel tanks and increases the flight hours. The aircraft also has improved avionics, navigation and communications and an enhanced software network, plus better defensive measures and armored plating, according to Sikorsky.
The new helicopter’s missions include “civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space flight support and CSAR command and control,” per the Air Force.
Through its fiscal 2019 and 2020 budgets, Congress gave the Air Force the authority to procure 22 of the Jolly Green II. The first two units to field the aircraft will be the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and the 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
The service plans to purchase up to 113 of the rotary-wing aircraft.
— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.
Related: In Vietnam-Era Throwback, New Air Force Rescue Helo Is the ‘Jolly Green II’
NYPD should stop making traffic stops, attorney general says
NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s attorney general on Friday recommended the New York Police Department get out of the business of routine traffic enforcement, a radical change she said would prevent encounters like one last year in the Bronx that escalated quickly and ended with an officer fatally shooting a motorist.
Attorney General Letitia James, who acts as a special prosecutor appointed to investigate certain police killings, argued that traffic stops for minor infractions often end in violence and that Allan Feliz’s death last October after he was pulled over for a seat belt violation “further underscores the need for this change.”
James’ office concluded that the NYPD’s use of deadly force was justified but that the sequence of events leading to Feliz’s death would never have happened if police hadn’t stopped him in the first place. Police further heightened tensions by attempting to arrest Feliz on outstanding warrants for low-level offenses such as spitting, littering and disorderly conduct, James’ office said.
The NYPD declined to comment.
Feliz initially complied when an officer asked him to get out of his car, but then jumped back in and tried to flee, James’ office said in a report on his death that included the recommendation about police yielding traffic stop duties.
Sgt. Jonathan Rivera then fired a stun gun at Feliz and climbed into the car, warning, “Yo, boss, I am going to (expletive) shoot you,” as Feliz shifted the vehicle into gear and began moving. Rivera shot Feliz once in the chest, killing him.
James’ office concluded Rivera was justified in shooting Feliz in part because he feared the vehicle’s movement was endangering another officer standing nearby, the report said.
“The officer’s alleged justification is a fairy tale,” said Robert Vilensky, a lawyer for the Feliz family, which is suing the NYPD. “The car which they say was moving was at best moving 2 mph. That wouldn’t knock over a fly.
“The justification is a made-up story to rationalize killing an unmarked civilian,” he said.
The NYPD has a separate unit of personnel who are not officers but direct traffic and hand out parking tickets — but who also have limited interaction with the public. James’ recommendation is aimed at officers who stop people for things like speeding, seat belt infractions and other issues.
If police officers are to remain involved in traffic enforcement, James’ office said, the police department should drop a policy that encourages officers to arrest any motorist who is found to have an open warrant.
Instead, the report said, drivers with open warrants should be arrested only with a supervisor’s approval if an officer had reasonable cause to believe they were a danger to the community.
“It is highly unlikely that the incident involving Mr. Feliz … would have escalated in the manner it did in the absence of this automatic arrest policy,” James’ office wrote.
Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak
“Every story” about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor has “at its core” been “a lie”
Fox News host Tucker Carlson Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
In the latest in a series of ongoing race-baiting screeds, Fox News host Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson claimed to his viewers Thursday evening that “every story” about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake had “at its core” been a lie.”
“It’s hard to think clearly when things are on fire,” Carlson began.
“If you wanted to keep the public from thinking clearly about what you plan to do with their country, you might riot and no one would notice that you’re lying,” he added. “They definitely have been lying. Every story we’ve been told for the past three months has been, at its core, a lie. All of them — from the first day.”
Earlier that day, a Trump-appointed federal judge in New York issued a verdict absolving Carlson of wrongdoing in a defamation case after Fox News admitted that its star host is not always accurate when he discusses the news on TV.
The “general tenor of [Carlson’s] show should then inform a viewer that he is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary,'” Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil wrote. “Whether the court frames Mr. Carlson’s statements as ‘exaggeration,’ ‘non-literal commentary’ or simply bloviating for his audience, the conclusion remains the same — the statements are not actionable.'”
Carlson went on to falsely deconstruct the deaths of Floyd and Taylor at the hands of police, as well as the shooting of Blake.
“‘George Floyd was executed by racist cops on the street.’ That’s what they told us. That’s what everyone believed. Yet, when the autopsy became public, it showed that George Floyd had lethal levels of fentanyl in his system among other drugs,” Carlson said. “Floyd said he couldn’t breathe long before police landed on him as he was, in fact, sitting untouched in the back of a patrol car. But the mob wasn’t interested in hearing those details. They torched Minneapolis.”
Two autopsy reports ruled Floyd’s death a “homicide” — an independent report listed his cause of death as asphyxiation; an official coroner report listed his cause of death as cardiac arrest. Minnesota authorities have charged the police officer who was captured on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes with second-degree murder. Three other officers who were on the scene face charges of accessory to murder.
“In Kenosha,” Carlson continued, “Democrats told us that bloodthirsty cops just walked up and shot Jacob Blake as he was trying to break up a fight between two women.” (Carlson did not state which “Democrats” had made the alleged claim.)
“It was horrifying, but that’s not what happened,” the Fox News host added. “Police arrived there after a woman called 911 to say Blake was at her home in violation of a restraining order. That woman had previously accused Blake of sexual assault. Blake fought with the responding officers. At first, cops tried non-lethal force to subdue him. They tased Blake, and that didn’t work. When they saw him reach for a knife, they shot him.”
Carlson elides the portion of the narrative where officers followed Blake to his car after tasing him. As Blake opened the door and leaned inside, he was shot in the back by police at point blank range in front of three of his children, according to bystander video and statements from his family.
“What else were they supposed to do exactly? But Kamala Harris wasn’t interested in knowing what actually happened,” Carlson said. “She declared that she was proud of Jacob Blake, and then her voters burned Kenosha.” (Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, met with Blake’s family in Wisconsin.)
Two protesters were shot and killed in Kenosha, Wis., in the aftermath of Blake’s death. Authorities subsequently charged a 17-year-old Trump supporter and law enforcement advocate with first-degree murder. President Donald Trump and a number of his right-wing backers justified the shootings as self-defense. Carlson was among those who defended the teen vigilante:
So are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would? Everyone could see what was happening in Kenosha. It was getting crazier by the hour.
After those remarks, members of the public and the media called on Fox News to fire Carlson, with one journalist calling the screed “the closest thing I think I’ve ever seen to pure, unfiltered fascism in American public life. Going out to the largest cable news audience ever. Fox News hosts are able to do this because the Murdochs want them to.”
On Thursday, Carlson next turned to Taylor, who was killed by police serving a warrant for her ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover at her home. Nationwide protests erupted this week after no charges were filed against any of the three officers who fired their weapons.
“Tonight, the mob is in Louisville to protest the death of Breonna Taylor,” Carlson said. “News organizations told us that Taylor was in bed when police shot her, but she wasn’t. She was in her hallway.”
Taylor had, in fact, been in her bed with her boyfriend when police pounded on her door. She later left the room and entered a hallway, where she was shot.
“They told us that Taylor had nothing to do with her drug dealing ex-boyfriend, who police were investigating,” Carlson said. “That’s why they were there. In fact, intercepted jailhouse communications suggest that Taylor was warehousing that man’s drug money.”
Glover, the ex-boyfriend, was arrested on Aug. 27 in possession of drugs. Glover told The Courier Journal that Taylor, an EMT and emergency room technician, was not involved in selling drugs.
“The police are trying to make it out to be my fault . . . making it look like I brought this to Breonna’s door,” he said.
Carlson went on:
They told us that police shot first, and that’s not true. Taylor’s boyfriend shot a cop first. Then they told us over and over again that police surprised Taylor in the middle of the night. They barged into her apartment in a so-called no-knock raid. Then, yesterday, the attorney general of Kentucky exposed that as yet another lie. The police did, in fact, knock on Taylor’s door. They identified themselves as police. There’s a witness to it, but it didn’t matter. They kept lying to us.
Kamala Harris issued a statement attacking “no-knock” raids. Amazingly, so did Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, a Republican. Tim Scott should know better.
In response to the shooting, Louisville banned the use of “no-knock” warrants.
The department’s original “no-knock” warrant was changed just before the raid to “knock and announce,” meaning police had to identify themselves at the door. The Louisville officers have claimed that they announced themselves, but Walker has claimed that he did not hear them.
“I don’t know what’s happening,” he said on a recorded 911 call. “Someone kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”
“A grand jury did know better,” Carlson continued. “The jurors considered all of the available evidence in the Breonna Taylor case, and yesterday, they declined to charge the officers with murder. There wasn’t any evidence that a murder took place. That is how our system is supposed to work. We don’t indict the innocents.”
The error-riddled police incident report listed Taylor’s injuries as “none,” even though she died of multiple gunshot wounds.
You can watch the video below via Media Matters:
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