British hacker not giving up crypto keys, to appear in court next month at Suffolk County
Accused British hacker, wanted for crimes in US, won’t give up crypto keys
BBC: Lauri Love to appear in court next month to allow seized devices’ release.
by Cyrus Farivar – Feb 20, 2015
An alleged British hacker who has criminal charges pending in three American federal districts is preparing to petition a Suffolk County, United Kingdom court to compel the National Crime Agency (NCA) to return his encrypted seized computers and storage devices.
The BBC reported Friday that Lauri Love “will petition Bury St Edmunds magistrates for the return of his property,” adding that “the BBC understands that the NCA has been unable to decrypt some of the files and does not want to return the computers and media devices until Mr Love helps them to decrypt them.”
Love, who was arrested in the UK in October 2013 and was released on bail in July 2014, did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. The NCA is the rough British equivalent to the FBI.
UPDATE 3:50pm CT: Love contacted Ars and said that his petition was submitted to the court earlier this month, and that he will make an appearance before the court on March 12, 2015. He is representing himself in the case.
“I cannot speak to the contents,” he told Ars via online chat. “Except that they are mine. This is the only salient detail as far as I’m concerned. I am not on trial, nor is my data, and I am under no obligation to speak for it. But my property is being withheld from me, and that must be justified. The current justification is due to the inability of the NCA to understand certain data. It remains for them to establish why this is my problem and for the court to decide if this gives them authority to convert chattel.”
An NCA spokeswoman told Ars, “We are not aware of a court date” and declined to comment on whether the NCA was unable to decrypt Love’s seized files.
According to the BBC, Love said, “Should police, having obtained a reason to acquire information but lacking any overt evidence of criminality sufficient to bring prosecution, be allowed to withhold private data?”
“There is a very dire risk that this power will be used to disrupt protected journalistic and political activity,” he added.
The United States could, but apparently has not yet, formally request that Love be extradited. If that occurs, and even if UK authorities are able to access Love’s data, it could takes years for his extradition to ever be fully executed. Another British hacker, Gary McKinnon, who was accused of hacking American government facilities in 2001 and 2002 and was charged with crimes in the US,eventually had his extradition blocked by the UK government in 2012.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to Ars’ Friday afternoon request as to whether it had begun the extradition process.
A targeted attack
As Ars reported previously, Love and other alleged hackers are said to have breached networks belonging to the Army, the US Missile Defense Agency, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others, in most cases by exploiting vulnerabilities in SQL databases and the Adobe ColdFusion Web application. The objective of the year-long hacking spree was to disrupt the operations and infrastructure of the US government by stealing large amounts of military data and personally identifying information of government employees and military personnel, according to a 21-page indictment filed in federal court in New Jersey.
“You have no idea how much we can fuck with the US government if we wanted to,” Love told a hacking colleague in one exchange over Internet relay chat, prosecutors alleged. “This… stuff is really sensitive. It’s basically every piece of information you’d need to do full identity theft on any employee or contractor” for the hacked agency.
According to prosecutors, Love used automated scanners to identify vulnerabilities in large ranges of IP addresses. He would then exploit them to inject powerful SQL commands into a site’s backend database. He exploited similar types of vulnerabilities in sites that used ColdFusion, the Web application software whose full source code was recently found on a server operated by hackers.
The ColdFusion security flaw, which has since been corrected, allowed Love to gain administrator-level access to computer servers without proper login credentials, a separate criminal complaint filed in a Virginia federal court alleged. After breaching the websites, Love allegedly planted backdoor code on the servers that gave him persistent access to the networks so he could return at a later date and steal confidential data.
In New York, Love was charged with hacking and identity theft in relation to his hack against theFederal Reserve.
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