Russian YouTube Channel Hijackers Arrested

Russian YouTube Channel Hijackers Arrested

Russian authorities have broken up a gang of modern-day internet pirates who ambushed people’s computers to steal their YouTube accounts.

Police carried out a series of raids in Penza in western Russia, arresting six people—all between the ages of 17 and 20—on Aug. 18, according to a press release from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The cybercriminals allegedly used malware and other tricks to gain access to computers where they would then attempt to steal access codes for social media accounts. Then, they would take over those accounts, denying the original owner access.

 

In a statement to Zenger News, police mapped out how the plot unfolded. Starting in January, three of the attackers “agreed to create a malicious computer program designed to illegally obtain data from Internet users and neutralize information security tools.”

That original trio was later joined by three more accomplices. “They followed strict secrecy measures – they sought anonymity by spoofing IP addresses, using virtual mobile phone numbers and communicating via instant messengers.”

The program remained unnoticed by antivirus tools and allowed the suspects, without the knowledge of users, to illegally copy information about logins and passwords to access various Internet services, with the main priority being to seize YouTube accounts.

Russian police prepare to enter the apartment of the alleged hackers. (Newsflash)

 

Alleged YouTube hackers lie on a bed while detained by Russian police. (Newsflash)

“With this information, the participants in the criminal scheme got access to the users’ channels on the video hosting platform and created new logins and passwords, thereby depriving the owners of the opportunity to perform any actions with them,” the statement said.

“Then, through shadowy Internet sites, the suspects sold information to interested parties that would allow them to manage these channels…. Then, through shadowy Internet sites, the suspects sold information to interested parties that would allow them to manage these channels. For such operations, the attackers received an average of $300.”

Prices in the Russian cybercrime market are reportedly falling because so many are active in the black market, according to Bank Info Security.

But the potential payoff for those who took over the YouTube channels can be significant. Channels with large followings can earn thousands of dollars a month from advertising payments that occur every time someone watches a video on them.

Russian police search for physical evidence. (Newsflash)

 

Alleged YouTube hacker detained by Russian police. (Newsflash)

Irina Volk, of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, said in the course of nine searches in the recent raids, computers, laptops, cell phones and other information-carrying devices were seized. Those arrested have been released on their own recognizance.

“Measures are being taken to establish all the circumstances of their illegal activities. Preliminary investigations continue,” Volk said.

If found guilty, the hackers could face up to three years behind bars.

(Edited by Stephen Gugliociello and Matthew Hall.)



The post Russian YouTube Channel Hijackers Arrested appeared first on Zenger News.

Weightlifter Goes for Underwater World Record

Weightlifter Goes for Underwater World Record

Bro, do you even lift? Well, can you lift underwater?

Russian strongman Vitaly Vivchar does, and he has reportedly beat the Guinness world record for bench presses of 110-pounds (50-kilogram) underwater. The fitness instructor from the south-central Russian city of Tomsk accomplished the feat with 76 reps, breaking American weightlifter Greg Wittstock’s 62 in April 2019.

The video, which has been provided to Zenger News, shows the record-breaking attempt, and Vivchar says Guinness has all the necessary paperwork. However, they haven’t verified the new record.

After the final bench press, Vivchar returns the weights to the bar and returns to the surface to the cheers of the crowd of onlookers.

“I started doing underwater weight lifting in 2013, and I took part in numerous contests for the first two years,” Vivchar said. “(Guinness) should confirm the record soon and hopefully I’ll get a certificate in the next six months.”

Vivchar is a senior computer programmer who is also an avid free diver.

Vitaly Vivchar with his friend get the gym bench ready for breaking the Guinness record. (@vivcharvitaly/Real Press)

 

Vitaly Vivchar poses for a photo. (@vivcharvitaly/Real Press )

Vivchar has held numerous regional weightlifting titles and has also been the bench press champion of Russia and Eurasia. He also holds the Russian record for most bench presses with 121 pound (55-kilogram) weights with 1,006 in an hour.

He told Zenger News: “I did not plan to break this record, it was just a random idea. That is why I do not have any other specific goals to achieve right now. I just want to get this one confirmed and then we’ll see about any others.”

(Edited by Stephen Gugliociello and Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)



The post Weightlifter Goes for Underwater World Record appeared first on Zenger News.

Belarus Emigrees Put Squeeze on Alexander Lukashenko to Quit

Belarus Emigrees Put Squeeze on Alexander Lukashenko to Quit

It was a early on a hot Sunday morning in Warsaw and Veronica Laputska was up and ready.

The young Belarusian living in Poland was preparing to vote against Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet republic with an iron fist for 26 years. From early morning, voters waited in long lines at polling stations and Belarusian embassies across the world.

When Laputska reached her polling precinct about 120 miles from Warsaw—which she’d chosen to avoid crowds—she saw an endless throng already been waiting.

“They were allowing from 6 to 15 people an hour in all the diplomatic sites around the world,” she said. “In Poland, there were no more than 10 people allowed in all consulates and the embassy.”

She never got to vote.

Laputska’s effort to vote shows the determination of many Belarusians living abroad to oust Lukashenko. While protests have mounted by the tens of thousands in Minsk, the Belarus capital, residents of the country outside its borders are voting overseas and using the internet to stir up dissent back home. It’s estimated that there are between 2.5 and 3.5 million people of Belarusian descent living outside the Republic of Belarus. The population of Belarus is about 9.5 million.

Running again for his sixth term, Lukashenko met with unprecedented protests following the August elections despite nearly absolute state control of law enforcement agencies, courts and the media. Protesters voiced their support for the opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whose husband is a famous blogger and political prisoner. But it’s telling that she sought refuge in Lithuania, where about 36,000 Belarusians live. The ex-patriate community is a vital lifeline for dissenters back home.

Laputska, the woman living in Poland, is one of the many young Belarusians demanding change from overseas. She is the head of research at Digital Communication Network, a community of professionals from a variety of backgrounds in Eastern Europe, and she co-founded Eurasian States in Transition Center, or EAST Center, a think tank specializing in post-Soviet countries.

For Laputska, these elections highlight the use of tech by both the opposition and the state to promote their messages using social media apps like Telegram and Instagram.

Large protests are likely to continue, “despite the continuous repressions and intimidation of the people by the government,” said Andrei Yeliseyeu, research director at EAST Center.

Belarusians abroad picketed their countries’ embassies, as well as organized to carry out international protests. Belarusians inside the country, too, held marches of up to 100,000 people.

Overseas, the pressure mounted. The European Union issued a statement condemning the election. Ukraine recalled its ambassador. The U.S., which has sought a rapprochement with Minsk, appears to be backtracking.

“The protests in Belarus are not about the independence of the country itself, but safety and democracy in Europe in general,” says Natalia Kaliada, director of Creative Politics Hub and co-founder of Belarus Free Theatre. She, too, does not live in Belarus and has found a second home in the United Kingdom. The theater she co-created remains active in Belarus’ underground.

She connects the ongoing protests with Belarus’ shaky geopolitical position: Located between the European Union and Russia, the country joined the Russian-led Eurasian Union and is strongly dependent on Moscow and Vladimir Putin.

“Russia is using Belarus as a testing ground for its cyber media tools and instruments that are later applied to interfere in the U.K. or the U.S.,” Kaliada said. “The West needs to understand that it is necessary to get rid of the root of the problem.”

(Edited by Kathleen Huston and Matthew Cooper.)



The post Belarus Emigrees Put Squeeze on Alexander Lukashenko to Quit appeared first on Zenger News.

Belarus Residents Abroad Fuel Protests

Belarus Residents Abroad Fuel Protests

It was a early on a hot Sunday morning in Warsaw and Veronica Laputska was up and ready.

The young Belarusian living in Poland was preparing to vote against Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet republic with an iron fist for 26 years. From early morning, voters waited in long lines at polling stations and Belarusian embassies across the world.

When Laputska reached her polling precinct about 120 miles from Warsaw—which she’d chosen to avoid crowds—she saw an endless throng already been waiting.

“They were allowing from 6 to 15 people an hour in all the diplomatic sites around the world,” she said. “In Poland, there were no more than 10 people allowed in all consulates and the embassy.”

She never got to vote.

Laputska’s effort to vote shows the determination of many Belarusians living abroad to oust Lukashenko. While protests have mounted by the tens of thousands in Minsk, the Belarus capital, residents of the country outside its borders are voting overseas and using the internet to stir up dissent back home. It’s estimated that there are between 2.5 and 3.5 million people of Belarusian descent living outside the Republic of Belarus. The population of Belarus is about 9.5 million.

Running again for his sixth term, Lukashenko met with unprecedented protests following the August elections despite nearly absolute state control of law enforcement agencies, courts and the media. Protesters voiced their support for the opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whose husband is a famous blogger and political prisoner. But it’s telling that she sought refuge in Lithuania, where about 36,000 Belarusians live. The ex-patriate community is a vital lifeline for dissenters back home.

Laputska, the woman living in Poland, is one of the many young Belarusians demanding change from overseas. She is the head of research at Digital Communication Network, a community of professionals from a variety of backgrounds in Eastern Europe, and she co-founded Eurasian States in Transition Center, or EAST Center, a think tank specializing in post-Soviet countries.

For Laputska, these elections highlight the use of tech by both the opposition and the state to promote their messages using social media apps like Telegram and Instagram.

Large protests are likely to continue, “despite the continuous repressions and intimidation of the people by the government,” said Andrei Yeliseyeu, research director at EAST Center.

Belarusians abroad picketed their countries’ embassies, as well as organized to carry out international protests. Belarusians inside the country, too, held marches of up to 100,000 people.

Overseas, the pressure mounted. The European Union issued a statement condemning the election. Ukraine recalled its ambassador. The U.S., which has sought a rapprochement with Minsk, appears to be backtracking.

“The protests in Belarus are not about the independence of the country itself, but safety and democracy in Europe in general,” says Natalia Kaliada, director of Creative Politics Hub and co-founder of Belarus Free Theatre. She, too, does not live in Belarus and has found a second home in the United Kingdom. The theater she co-created remains active in Belarus’ underground.

She connects the ongoing protests with Belarus’ shaky geopolitical position: Located between the European Union and Russia, the country joined the Russian-led Eurasian Union and is strongly dependent on Moscow and Vladimir Putin.

“Russia is using Belarus as a testing ground for its cyber media tools and instruments that are later applied to interfere in the U.K. or the U.S.,” Kaliada said. “The West needs to understand that it is necessary to get rid of the root of the problem.”

(Edited by Kathleen Huston and Matthew Cooper.)



The post Belarus Residents Abroad Fuel Protests appeared first on Zenger News.

DOJ Witness Charges Malfeasance in Flynn Probe

DOJ Witness Charges Malfeasance in Flynn Probe

The looming indictment of Donald Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was improperly known outside law enforcement and top Obama administration officials in 2017, according to a recently published account.

The claim comes from a witness in a controversial federal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.

Steven Schrage, the person behind the claim, is a longtime Republican foreign affairs and trade official who interviewed a key figure in the so-called Russiagate scandal in January 2017.

Schrage is a witness in the investigation being run by John H. Durham, the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation that began in 2016.

Durham was asked to lead the probe by Attorney General William Barr who has been a vociferous critic of how the FBI and the Obama administration investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. Democrats have repeatedly charged that Barr has played politics with the issue, including his selective release of excerpts of the report by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Mueller criticized Barr’s characterization of the report as exonerating Trump.

According to Schrage, Stefan Halper, a British academic and key intermediary in the Russia story as well as his former thesis advisor, predicted that Flynn, then president-elect Donald Trump’s national security advisor, wouldn’t be “around long.”

Schrage interpreted that to mean that Halper had special access to the electronic monitoring of Flynn that led to the former Army General’s plea bargain. In December 2017, Flynn admitted to perjury and obstruction of justice charges but earlier this year he sought to withdraw his plea and the Department of Justice has reversed its stand and is now backing Flynn after prosecuting him. At least one career prosecutor resigned from the department to protest the startling turnaround. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. is considering the case.

Schrage claimed the minute-long recording is a snippet of his conversation with Halper, a former professor at the University of Cambridge in England and himself a veteran of Republican administrations,

In the recording, the man who is purportedly Halper predicts that Flynn would not be in the administration for long and cautions Schrage against working for him.

“I don’t think Flynn’s going to be around long. I mean, that’s just my guess,” Halper said.

“He’s really fucked. I mean, I don’t where he goes from there,” Halper said, according to Schrage.

Halper and others, Schrage alleges, did “a miraculous job in pushing fake Trump-Russia conspiracy stories that undermined America’s democratically-elected government and sparked investigations still ripping us apart today.”

That position is at odds with the voluminous report by Mueller and several congressional probes.

On Tuesday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released information that Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort was being used by a Russian intelligence operative.

The conversation, which Schrage said Halper knew was recorded, allegedly occurred Jan. 10, 2017, days after an Oval Office meeting where top Obama officials discussed Flynn’s intercepted calls with the Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak where the two discussed recently imposed American sanctions on Moscow over interference in the U.S. elections.

Then-Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn speaks at the Defense Intelligence Agency change of directorship at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, July 24, 2012. Army Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess Jr. turned over directorship of DIA to LtGen Flynn after serving in the position since 2009. (Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/DOD)

A few weeks after his inauguration, Trump fired Flynn, later explaining he did so because Flynn “lied” to Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI about his conversations with Kislyak, denying that sanctions had been discussed.

“Halper would not have independently known Flynn, Trump’s most trusted security advisor, was about to go down,” Schrage wrote.

It’s possible, though, that Halper was referring to something else that might end Flynn”s tenure including what was then his much condemned and recently detailed work for the Turkish government and its efforts to deport a cleric who opposed the regime of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

A federal appeals court is considering Flynn’s efforts to take back his plea and his admission of guilt. The original judge in the case rejected his claim and chided the Justice Department for its reversal.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote about Flynn’s calls on Jan. 12, 2017 citing a “senior U.S. government official.” The column was published two days after Schrage’s recorded conversation with Halper.

“This led to Flynn’s downfall and reignited the Trump-Russia investigations still tearing our nation apart. 48 hours before the leak was published, my former supervisor Halper eerily laid out what was about to happen to Flynn, something he had no independent reason to know,” Schrage wrote.

Schrage suggested but provides no evidence that Halper was Ignatius’ source.

“With both Flynn’s hearing and the election approaching, whatever the consequences, everyone impacted deserves to know the truth,” Schrage wrote.

Schrage made his claims in a post published by journalist Matt Taibbi, a longtime critic of the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Moscow.

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on March 14, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Schrage teased that he would have more information to release in the coming weeks.

(Edited by Matt Cooper and Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)



The post DOJ Witness Charges Malfeasance in Flynn Probe appeared first on Zenger News.

Bad ad: Pilot killed during crash for commercial

Bad ad: Pilot killed during crash for commercial

A pilot died after smashing his Corvus Fusion sport aircraft nose-first into the ground as it was being filmed in hopes of selling it.

The accident occurred mid-afternoon on Aug. 9 at the Kudinovo airfield in Maloyaroslavetsky, about 80 miles (128 kilometers) southwest of Moscow.

The pilot had taken the single-prop plane into a steep climb to perform a barrel maneuver to show off the craft’s capabilities, when the plane suddenly nose-dived and crashed. The 53-year-old Moscow man died at the scene, while his horrified friend videotaped the event. The pilot was alone in the two-seat, low-wing airplane, and no one else on the ground was injured.

“Investigators and forensic experts … will interview workers of the airfield and eyewitnesses of the incident,” the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kaluga Region said in a statement. “Further verification activities and a procedural decision will be carried out by the investigators of the Moscow Interregional Investigation Department for Transport of the Investigative Committee of Russia.”

The crashed aircraft. (Russian Investigative Committee/Real Press)

 

The light aircraft falls down. (Russian Investigative Committee/Real Press).

 

Investigators at the scene of the accident. (Russian Investigative Committee/Real Press )

The crashes of smaller, private aircraft like those involving the Corvus Fusion are more numerous that those of larger, commercial ones. According to the Flight Safety Foundation, data from the federal National Transportation Safety Board show that 97 percent of all aviation fatalities in the U.S. are in general aviation accidents, not commercial.

(Edited by Stephen Thomas Gugliociello and Matthew Hall.)



The post Bad ad: Pilot killed during crash for commercial appeared first on Zenger News.