FBI Investigates Arizona Voter Data Theft | Epic Google iPhone Hack | Patriot Act Website Surveillance

In the middle of last week, a search warrant caught my eye. It was in Maricopa County, Arizona, and it detailed a raid on a man's home just two days after the 2020 election. Computers and hard drives were seized, as the feds were looking for evidence of a cyberattack on an unnamed office and voter data, possibly stolen. The resident's owner turned out to be a 56-year-old IT guy called Elliot Kerwin, who has recently been offering cyber forensics and surveillance services.

After I contacted Maricopa County Recorder, the closest electoral office to Kerwin's home that handled voter data, it soon confirmed that an unauthorized party had taken voter data from its website. A spokesperson said the FBI had been informed and was investigating. It's the first case of an FBI investigation into a hack on an electoral body around the 2020 election and in a county where the Republicans have been fighting tooth and nail to get the vote overturned.

My personal take? There's no indication that this attack would've had any impact on the election result. Voter data can simply be bought for a few hundred dollars in Arizona. If this is the worst cyberattack to have hit the election, you can still be certain the result stands and trust CISA that your vote really was secure.

If you have any tips on government surveillance or cybercrime, drop me an email on 
tbrewster@forbes.com.

Thomas Brewster

Thomas Brewster

Associate Editor, Cybersecurity

The Big Story

Exclusive: The FBI Is Investigating Voter Data Theft In This Key 2020 Election Battleground
 
 
 
Exclusive: The FBI Is Investigating Voter Data Theft In This Key 2020 Election Battleground

The FBI investigates an apparent cyberattack and voter data theft in Maricopa County, Arizona, one of the key battlegrounds in the 2020 election. A search warrant revealed the feds were taking the property of IT consultant Elliot Kerwin, who had previously been involved in an email scandal in Wisconsin back in 2011.

Read The Full Story →

Top 5 Stories You Have To Read Today

The FBI can use a part of the Patriot Act, Section 215, to collect logs showing who has visited a specific web page, according to government documents seen by the New York Times. The paper reports that the debate over Section 215 and what kinds of surveillance it really permits will be rekindled during the Biden presidency.

Kazakstan is intercepting encrypted traffic passing through its capital city, according to ZDNet. The government claims it's all part of some grand cybersecurity exercise, though it isn't clear when that will end.

Ian Beer, a cybersecurity researcher at Google, released details of a
wild attack he'd developed for Apple's iPhone. It allowed him to silently hack into any iPhone within 100 meters using a Raspberry Pi computer. Apple has, thankfully, patched the vulnerabilities.

The
DHS and IBM are warning about cyberattacks on the "cold chain," responsible for keeping Covid-19 vaccines at low enough temperatures to remain safe and stable. It's unclear if those attacks, or any others on the Covid-19 vaccine development community, have been successful.

A
surveillance tool that can find your location with just your telephone number has been put to use in at least 25 countries, according to research from Citizen Lab. The spy tech, created by an Israeli company called Circles, takes advantage of long-known but still not fixed flaws in telecommunications networks.

Winner Of The Week

Ian Beer, the Google researcher who found that astonishing attack on iPhones, allowing him to get into any device within 100 meters, possibly more. Not only did he produce what amounted to a (very geeky) novella going in-depth on the problems, he also offered to donate any bug bounty he received from Apple to charity.

Loser Of The Week

Venntel, which sells location data from mobile apps to the U.S. government and others, was a literal loser this past week, as Vice reported it lost its contract with the Drug Enforcement Administration. It's one of a handful of companies who've been involved in this business, one that's been worrying privacy-conscious techies and senators this last year.

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