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Tim Walker: Stars trapped
March 15, 2013
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LOS ANGELES: Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé are among at least 17 high-profile victims whose personal financial details have been published online by hackers.

Sensitive information including social security numbers, credit card records and mortgage amounts were released on Monday in a so-called “doxxing” attack on a series of celebrities and political figures, including Donald Trump, Mel Gibson, the US Vice-President, Joe Biden, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The offending website’s address features the former Soviet Union’s now-defunct “.su” suffix, which is popular with internet pranksters.

As news of the hack spread across the web on Monday, more celebrity victims such as Britney Spears, Sarah Palin and Arnold Schwarzenegger were added to the site, which is headlined with a quote from the television serial-killer drama Dexter: “If you believe that God makes miracles, you have to wonder if Satan has a few up his sleeve.”

The celebrity gossip website TMZ was the first outlet to report the security breach, which has also caused embarrassment for two of the law-enforcement agencies assigned to investigate it: FBI Director Robert Mueller and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck were both targeted by the hackers, as was the US Attorney-General, Eric Holder.

Most of the details were accompanied by unflattering images of the VIPs, though the hackers said Mrs Obama should, “Blame your husband, we still love you, Michelle.”

The page devoted to Mr Beck includes the message, “#YouCantCorner TheDorner,” an apparent reference to the former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who allegedly shot dead four people in Southern California in February, before committing suicide in a stand-off with authorities.

In his notorious online “manifesto,” Dorner had praised the hacker group, Anonymous. Mr Beck said recently, “We’ll take steps to find out who did this, and if they’re within the boundaries of the United States, we’ll prosecute them. “The LAPD also promised to investigate on behalf of any local stars who had been targeted and wished to pursue an inquiry.

Among the LA-based victims was celebrity heiress Paris Hilton, who has been the subject of a series of similar attacks: hackers infiltrated her smartphone in 2005, and her Gmail account in 2009.

The actor Ashton Kutcher, whose financial details were posted on the website, is also a serial victim of internet pranksters. This week a 12-year-old boy admitted to making a prank 911 call in which he claimed to be a woman hiding from a gunman at Kutcher’s address.

The call saw armed police descend on the house, where they held workers at gunpoint before establishing that it had been a hoax.

The Independent

Susan Heavey: Issue under investigation

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that US authorities are investigating whether hackers unearthed and posted online financial information that belongs to first lady Michelle Obama and a variety of celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z.

“We should not be surprised that if we’ve got hackers that want to dig in and have a lot of resources, that they can access this information,” Obama told ABC News. “Again, not sure how accurate but ... you’ve got websites out there that tell people’s credit card info. That’s how sophisticated they are.”

The FBI and other US agencies said they were investigating a website that posted financial and personal information about Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, other government figures and celebrities.

Some of the information was fraudulently obtained via a commonly used website for consumer credit reports, according to credit monitoring firm Equifax Inc, which said it was launching its own internal investigation.

It was unclear how much of the data, which first appeared on the website on Monday, was accurate or who posted it.

The site listed Social Security numbers, telephone numbers, addresses and credit reports purportedly belonging to 18 prominent Americans. At least some of the telephone numbers were inaccurate.

The website, whose first page portrayed a mysterious-looking woman wearing heavy eye make-up with one finger over her lips, was still accessible on Tuesday although some links relating to individuals could not be opened.

Others listed on the page included FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Eric Holder, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, actors Ashton Kutcher and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and property mogul Donald Trump.

Asked about the posting on Michelle Obama, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said: “We are investigating the matter. Due to the ongoing investigation we can’t comment any further.” A Justice Department spokeswoman said the FBI was investigating.

Terril Yue Jones: Together they can

BEIJING: China offered to talk with the United States about cyber security amid an escalating war of words between the two sides on computer hacking, but suspicion is as deep in Beijing as it is in Washington about the accusations and counter-accusations. The world’s two leading economies have been squaring off for months over the issue of cyber attacks, each accusing the other of hacking into sensitive government and corporate websites.

A US computer security company said last month that a secretive Chinese military unit was likely behind a series of hacking attacks mostly targeting the United States.

On Monday, US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon called on China to acknowledge the scope of the problem and enter a dialogue with the United States on ways to establish acceptable behaviour.

China, in response, said it was happy to talk.

“China is willing, on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, to have constructive dialogue and cooperation on this issue with the international community including the United States to maintain the security, openness and peace of the Internet,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying said at a daily news briefing.

“Internet security is a global issue. In fact, China is a marginalised group in this regard, and one of the biggest victims of hacking attacks,” she added, echoing a common refrain from Chinese officials.

Two major Chinese military websites, including that of the Defence Ministry, were subject to more than 140,000 hacking attacks a month last year, almost two-thirds from the United States, the ministry said last month.

Senior People’s Liberation Army officers interviewed at the ongoing annual meeting of China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament repeated government denials of having anything to do with hacking.

“This talk from the US has no foundation whatsoever,” said Maj. Gen. Liu Lianhua from the Guangzhou Military District. “And what evidence is there? There isn’t any!”

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