Cybercrime and Charging Comey

Grind for September 2nd
“The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it.”

– Voltaire

Into The Fire

The Headline

Governments and businesses are losing the fight against cybercrime

The Grind

Ransomware: a malicious software that encrypts user data and demands a payment to restore that data.

Ransomware was first used on individuals to obtain small amounts of money for the return of information. As hackers got smarter, they started using ransomware to steal millions of dollars from states, corporations, hospitals, and government agencies.

There have been hundreds of attacks this year, including an attack on Baltimore that crippled government computer systems and a coordinated attack on 12 Texas communities that cost the state $12 million.

This summer, several communities in Florida were hit with ransomware after city officials clicked on email attachments. One neighborhood of 3,000 residents paid $600,000 to get its information back.

In July, Capital One suffered a data breach that exposed the personal data of more than 100 million people.

While most cybercriminals are never found, the Capital One hacker was tracked down and identified as a software engineer and former Amazon employee. She was indicted on wire fraud and data theft charges August 28th.

The Details

Cybercrime incidents have more than doubled this year.

According to a recent report by Juniper Research, American businesses will lose $5 trillion to cybercrime by 2024 (with a chunk of this money coming from fines for data breaches as regulations tighten).

The report also expects cybercriminals to start using AI to evade security systems.

“Cybersecurity if far from a simple issue,” explains Matthew Whittaker, former US Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa who served briefly as Acting AG following the resignation of Jeff Sessions.

“It will take a larger emphasis on user training, implementing best practice backups, increasing password hygiene, and more to win this war. The war we’re fighting is against an adversary that is well-funded, well-educated, and skilled at their craft. This will take action from public and private organizations of all sizes.”

For the average consumer, this means keeping operating systems up to date, maintaining offline backups of important data, and changing your password often.

For companies, this includes training, caution when using cloud infrastructure, and encryption.

“Encryption is something that is a proven science in trying to protect information,” continues Kennedy. “The fact that we have unencrypted data sitting in cloud infrastructures for long periods of time – that’s an alarming trend and that needs to change. Banks, everybody needs to do a better job at protecting that type of information.”

What Did You Expect?!

The Headline

Inspector General says James Comey violated FBI policies, but does not press charges

The Grind

President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 after he ended the Clinton email probe without pressing charges.

In an outcome equally as shocking, Inspector General Michael Horowitz has decided not to charge Comey even while confirming that his decision to share his memos with the press represents a violation of FBI policies (but not a violation of US law).

The Details

After Comey was fired, he shared memos about his personal meetings with Donald Trump with his lawyer Dan Richman and authorized Richman to share that information with a New York Times journalist.

One day later, the DOJ launched its Russia collusion investigation.

“Were current or former FBI employees to follow the former Director’s example and disclose information in service of their own strongly held personal convictions, the FBI would be unable to dispatch its law enforcement duties properly,” wrote Horowitz in a report, adding that Comey shared the memos in hopes that doing so would lead to an independent investigation into President Trump.

“Comey had several other lawful options available to him,” continues the report. “What was not permitted was the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive investigative information, obtained during the course of FBI employment, in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.”

The Takeaway

The report contradict’s Comey’s claim that his memos were his personal documents (not official FBI records) and “found no evidence that Comey or his attorneys released any of the classified information contained in any of the memos to members of the press” even though the FBI itself said the memos contained CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET information.

Comey shared the above quote on Twitter and said: “I don’t need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a ‘sorry we lied about you,’ would be nice…And to all those who’ve spent two years talking about me ‘going to jail’ or being a ‘liar and a leaker’ – ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president.”

Later that day, Trump tweeted:

“Perhaps never in the history of our Country has someone been more thoroughly disgraced and excoriated than James Comey in the just-released Inspector General’s Report. He should be ashamed of himself!”

Did you know… Originally, Nintendo was a playing card manufacturer.