The U.S. Homeland Security Department's inspector general said on Friday he was investigating possible abuse of authority in a case that triggered a lawsuit against the department by Twitter Inc
Inspector General John Roth described the probe in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who had asked for an investigation due to concerns about free speech protections.
In a lawsuit on April 6, Twitter disclosed that it received a summons in March from the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, an agency within Homeland Security, demanding records about an account on the social media platform identified by the handle @ALT_uscis.
The account has featured posts critical of President Donald Trump's immigration policies, leading Twitter to complain in its lawsuit that the summons was an unlawful attempt to suppress dissent.
The agency dropped its demand of Twitter the day after the suit was filed.
Customs bureau spokesman Mike Friel said on Friday that the bureau requested the inspector general's review and will fully support it.
The people behind the Twitter account have not disclosed their identities, but the use of "ALT" with a government agency acronym has led many to assume government employees were behind the tweets critical of Trump.
The lawsuit said the account "claims to be" the work of at least one federal immigration employee. USCIS is the acronym of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component of Homeland Security.
Roth's office is charged with investigating waste, fraud and abuse within Homeland Security. He wrote in his letter that he was looking at whether the summons to Twitter "was improper in any way, including whether CBP abused its authority."
"DHS OIG is also reviewing potential broader misuse of summons authority at the department," he added.
Wyden's office posted the letter online. A representative for Roth could not immediately be reached for comment. A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment.
change your name tags instead =F|A= do for example -F|A- post on tracker if they can set your lvl make sure your ET jaymod and silent guid are added in your profile
you wont be kicked by server with the diffirent tags and will be setted by high admins if they see your tracker and your guids are added in your profile https://fearless-ass...ns.com/tracker/
if a admin kicks you explain him you are a admin and you could send the admin a private message on forum so he can see a pm with your admin profile
I just connected to nq1 it was a mistake i informed you are admin and the rest will be fine i guess
Scientists have a new solution for bringing clean water to remote areas.
A team has created a solar-powered device that can produce drinking water out of air -- even in desert climates, according to the researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.
"I'm most excited about being able to realize a functioning device in these remote areas and to be able to provide clean water to all the people who need it," Evelyn Wang,
associate mechanical engineering professor at MIT and co-author of the paper first published in the journal "Science," told CNNTech.
While similar methods like atmospheric water generators already exist, the new project works in drier climates and uses less energy.
The new device looks like a box. Inside the box is a layer of a custom metal-organic framework (also called a MOF), which is essentially a material that acts as a sponge to capture as much water as possible when the box is open.
Once the water is captured, the box is closed and exposed to the sun. The sun heats up the material so it releases water from its surface in the vapor phase. The vapor is then converted to the liquid phase with a condenser -- which can cool the vapor even in hot climates -- to create clean drinking water.
It's capable of collecting 2.8 liters of water per kilogram of metal-organic framework that is used. It can do this in areas where the humidity level is as low as 20%, compared to existing devices that work in 50% humidity.
MOFs are one-, two- or three-dimensional compounds invented about 20 years ago by Berkeley professor Omar Yaghi, one of the researchers behind the new device. They are an extremely porous material and water molecules can easily attach to the framework. The MOF used in the new device is called MOF-801, which was first reported a few years ago.
Right now, the new system is in the "proof of concept" phase to show it can work, Wang said. The key, she added, will be scaling up the prototype. The researchers have developed the materials in a lab environment and now will have to make them in larger quantities -- which Wang said will reduce costs. Companies like German manufacturer
BASF have produced large-scale quantities of MOFs previously, she noted.
The prototype is currently the size of a small tissue box, but the final product is expected to be about as big as a carry-on suitcase so it can produce enough water for a family of four.
It's designed for places that are extremely dry, but that still have a lot of sun, such as North Africa and India. "We can deploy [the] devices in those types of regions, where all they need is this device and sun," Wang said.
Two-thirds of the world's population is experiencing water shortages, according to the researchers.
Facebook's chief has paid his respects to the family of a man whose killing was filmed and posted onto its site.
"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr," said Mark Zuckerberg near the start of Facebook's annual F8 developers conference.His social network had been criticised over the amount of time it had taken to take the clip offline.About an hour before the event got underway, police had revealed that the murder suspect had killed himself.
Steve Stephens had been the subject of a national manhunt.He was believed to have uploaded a video to Facebook showing his killing of 74-year-old Mr Godwin in Cleveland on Sunday and then boasting on subsequent Facebook Live streams that he had killed others.Facebook subsequently acknowledged it had taken it more than two hours to remove the clips after the first video was posted, despite it having received complaints in the interim.
"We have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening," added Mr Zuckerberg.
Microsoft says it had already fixed software flaws linked to an alleged breach of the global banking system before they were exposed last week.
On Friday, a group called the Shadow Brokers published details of several hacking tools, indicating they had been used by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on money transfers.
Reports suggested Microsoft's Windows operating system remained vulnerable.
But the firm revealed it had in fact addressed the problem in March.
"Customers have expressed concerns around the risk [Shadow Brokers'] disclosure potentially creates," it said in a security update.
"Our engineers have investigated the disclosed exploits, and most of the exploits are already patched."
The company has not, however, revealed how it became aware of the flaws.
Microsoft normally acknowledges third parties who tip it off to problems, but has not done so in this case.
The Reuters news agency reported that the company had told it that neither the NSA nor any other part of the US government had informed it of the hacking tools' existence.
That calls into question how Microsoft learned of the issue - tech blog Ars Technica commented it was "highly unlikely" that the patch and leak would both have occurred so close together by coincidence.
Whisteblower Edward Snowden had previously leaked documents in 2013 that alleged the NSA had carried surveillance of the Brussels-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) for several years, but did not specify how.
Swift allows the world's banks to send payment orders and other messages about large financial transactions in a "secure and reliable" manner.
It is used by about 11,000 financial institutions. The allegation is that third parties - known as Swift Service Bureaus - that provide access to Swift's network were targeted by the NSA, rather than Swift itself.
"If Shadow Brokers' claims are indeed verified, it seems that the NSA sought to totally capture the backbone of [the] international financial system to have a God's eye [view] into a Swift Service Bureau - and potentially the entire Swift network," blogged security researcher Matt Suiche after the latest leak.
"If the US had a specific target in the region's financial system, NSA penetration offers [an alternative to] merely relying upon good faith compliance procedures, standard diplomatic requests, or collaborating with Swift."
Swift has not confirmed it was compromised.
"We have no evidence to suggest that there has ever been any unauthorised access to our network or messaging services," it said in a statement on Friday.
The BBC has not been able to verify the authenticity of the Shadow Brokers' claims, and the NSA has not provided comment.
A hacking group has dumped a collection of spy tools allegedly used by the National Security Agency online. Experts say they are damaging.
The exploits, published by the Shadow Brokers on Friday, contain vulnerabilities in Windows computers and servers. They may have been used to target a global banking system. One collection of 15 exploits contains at least four Windows hacks that researches have already been able to replicate.
Late Friday, Microsoft said the exploits had been patched in previous updates, or are not able to be replicated on supported platforms. Windows users should make sure their software is up to date and upgrade to Windows 7 or a newer version.
"This is quite possibly the most damaging thing I've seen in the last several years," said Matthew Hickey, founder of security firm Hacker House. "This puts a powerful nation state-level attack tool in the hands of anyone who wants to download it to start targeting servers."
The exploits target a variety of Windows servers and Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows 8. Hickey was able to test out exploits in his UK firm's lab and confirmed they "work just as they are described."
The Shadow Brokers is a group of anonymous hackers that published hacking tools used by the NSA last year. Last Saturday, the group returned and published a batch of NSA exploits it had previously tried, and failed, to sell. This Friday's release contains more serious exploits. The releases are published with strange and misspelled blog posts, and recent posts have been critical of the Trump administration. The group complained about the lack of media coverage of its release last Saturday.
Hickey said the Windows exploits leaked on Friday could be used to conduct espionage and target critical data in Windows-based environments. Consumers using Windows PCs could be at risk, though experts say these kinds of tools are more commonly used to target businesses.
"The individual consumer is a little less at risk, as these kinds of tools are targeted at enterprise and business environments," Hickey said.
An email to the NSA's press office was not returned.
"We've investigated and confirmed that the exploits disclosed by the Shadow Brokers have already been addressed by previous updates to our supported products," a Microsoft spokesperson told CNNTech. "Customers with up-to-date software are already protected."
Microsoft told CNNTech no one from the government had contacted it about the exploits listed in the dump. Since the Shadow Brokers previously said they had obtained NSA exploits, the agency was likely aware of the potential for these hacks to be exposed to the public.
"At this time, other than reporters, no individual or organization has contacted us in relation to the materials released by Shadow Brokers," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email on Friday.
The Windows hacking tools may have been used to target the SWIFT financial security system, specifically an anti-money laundering financial institution called EastNets. The leaked documents contain notes about passwords, configuration data and networks.
The U.S. government has long been able to access financial data through SWIFT as part of an anti-terrorism effort. However, according to security researcher Nicholas Weaver of the International Computer Science Institute, the methods in the documents show the NSA was going beyond its "official access."
"Whenever the NSA is caught going in the backdoor when they already had front-door access (such as the backdoor monitoring of Google and Yahoo's internal communication revealed in the Snowden documents), it not only closes the backdoor but also results in legal pushback that may limit the front-door access," Weaver told CNNTech in an email.
SWIFT told reporters it has not seen unauthorized access on its networks, and EastNets said the same.
A huge range of security weaknesses, said to be worth over $2m if sold on the black market, have been leaked online.
The tools are said to have been created by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and accompanying documents appear to indicate a possible breach of the Swift global banking system.
Such a hack could have enabled the US to covertly monitor financial transactions, researchers said.
The files were released by Shadow Brokers, a hacking group that has previously leaked malware.
If genuine, it represents perhaps the most significant exposure of NSA files since the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013.
On Twitter, Mr Snowden described it as the "Mother Of All Exploits" - a reference to a bomb recently used by the US military in Afghanistan.
Multiple experts have said this latest "data dump" is credible - though the institutions implicated have dismissed the claims, or refused to comment.
Swift, which is headquartered in Belgium, said: "We have no evidence to suggest that there has ever been any unauthorised access to our network or messaging services."
The BBC is not able to verify the authenticity of the files - and the NSA has not commented on the leak.
Swift was successfully targeted by hackers last year when criminals stole $81m from the Bangladeshi central bank.
Watching the Middle East
Swift is a network that allows global banks to move money around the world.
In the Swift network, smaller banks often make use of service bureaus to handle transactions on their behalf. Documents included in the leak suggest at least one major bureau, EastNets, may have been compromised.
"If you hack the service bureau, it means that you also have access to all of their clients, all of the banks," said Matt Suiche, founder of the United Arab Emirates-based
cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, speaking to Reuters.
Headquartered in Dubai, EastNets has clients in Kuwait, Dubai, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen and Qatar. Spreadsheets published by Shadow Brokers appeared to list banks that had been breached with "implants" - secret data-gathering software.
Cris Thomas, a security researcher with Tenable, said analysis of the leaked files suggested the US government had the capability "to monitor, if not disrupt, financial transactions to terrorists groups".
In a statement on Friday, EastNets strongly denied the claims.
"The reports of an alleged hacker-compromised EastNets Service Bureau network is totally false and unfounded," a spokesperson said.
"The EastNets Network Internal Security Unit has run a complete check of its servers and found no hacker compromise or any vulnerabilities.
"The photos shown on Twitter, claiming compromised information, is about pages that are outdated and obsolete, generated on a low-level internal server that is retired since 2013."
The files contained several "zero day" exploits - vulnerabilities that were previously unknown to the companies that create the software, or the security community at large.
The zero-days targeted Windows machines, though researchers said none in the cache would be effective against the latest version, Windows 10.
That said, multiple experts said the sheer number of zero days released at the same time was unprecedented. One researcher, speaking to Vice, said the exploits would have been worth more than $2m if sold privately.
In January, a Twitter account believed to be run by the group announced an auction of the exploits, but it appears the group did not find any buyers. The NSA is now facing criticism for not sharing details of the exploits with Microsoft once it became clear the tools were in the hands of a hacking group.
Microsoft said in a statement to the BBC that it was "reviewing the report and will take the necessary actions to protect our customers".