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article imageAustralia to prosecute Anonymous member for Heartbleed pentest

By Holly L. Walters     Mar 9, 2015 in Internet
Anonymous has made the news again, this time as media headlines tell how Australian prosecutors plan to build a cyber-crime case against Anonymous member and popular radio host, Adam Bennett, for his recent hacking incident.
Bennett, who also goes by the alias, LoraxLive, was arrested in May 2014 by the Australian Federal Police, and was charged with aiding an Anonymous hacking attack on the Australian Associated Press Telecommunications (AAPT) and Indonesian websites in 2012.
It is believed that Lorax may have been under investigation since 2010, and this precedes the recent AAPT and Indonesian hacking incidents that merited the warrant.
Australian Commonwealth prosecutors would be dropping some initial charges against Bennett, but would be adding new ones, ZDNet reports. One criminal charge they will be keeping against him regards a "proof-of-concept penetration test of the Heartbleed" vulnerability that he performed to check his employer's security.
The criminal charge against Lorax is officially known as the "Heartbleed Vulnerability Testing for Cancer Support W.A. 2014," and it was a Heartbleed vulnerability test created by him while he worked on the servers at his place of employment; Cancer Support W.A. being his employer. The test that checked for Heartbleed vulnerabilities placed the CRM that he helped build for the organization at high risk.
The Commonwealth prosecutors revealed that most likely the primary charge against Bennett of hacking AAPT and Indonesian government web servers by Anonymous would most likely be dropped.
Case Involves Massive Amounts of Online Data
There are massive amounts of information involved in the case, and back in a December 2014 court appearance, the prosecution indicated they needed more time because the labor needed to finish the report was massive. They indicated that they needed to go through an incredible amount of telephone intercepts and digital data that included 9,000 Facebook messages that would need to be analyzed by federal authorities.
The judge at that time had moved "Bennett's hearing date to March 4, 2014." He's currently out on bail under stipulation that he only use the Internet for purposes such as employment, banking or talking with his legal advisers.
AAPT Confirms Criminal Breach
In July 2012, an Australian sect of Anonymous made claims that it had intercepted 40GB of data from AAPT, a major Internet Service Provider (ISP). During the attack, the hacktivist group stated that breaching the system of the ISP was "not a one-man task" and there were several involved in the cyber-attack. AAPT confirmed the breach shortly after that.
After the breach, Anonymous stripped the personal identification from the data, and released the data in an attempt to raise awareness "around expectations of data security." Some of the released data was sensitive information related to the Australian government; that, and concerns over an organizational entity as large as AAPT being hacked, has prompted the introduction of a law that's poised to expand Australia's controversial security expansion laws.
The Push to Keep Australia's Online Data Secure
To demonstrate that it will be able to keep Australians' data safe and protect the nation, the Attorney-General's Department is proposing security expansion laws to the Parliament's joint houses Committee on Intelligence and National Security that require that Internet Service Providers store user activity online for two years. This also includes email and social networking communications. Intelligence agencies would also be given access to social media sites, as well.
The data retention scheme is currently expected to pass, and ZDNet reported that there is speculation that the incident is what inspired lawmakers to also add security requirements for Australian telcos. They now "provide notification in the event of a security breach of its data stores, which will be mandated to be encrypted."
Bennett's Popularity and Humanitarian Works
Although Lorax is being tried for cyber-crimes, his advocates are quick to point out that he is quite popular, with a wide social media following. He believes deeply in open information and focusing on "underrepresented voices from all walks of life." When he isn't working he is a volunteer as a Life-Saving Director for Scarboro Surf Lifesaving Club.
His popular weekly online radio show LoraxLive covered a great deal of topics including peaceful activism, human rights, hacking, surveillance and legal issues around the globe. The majority of LoraxLive shows are being held by Australian authorities. The show has been off the air since his arrest, and it is currently not placed in the public domain.
Advocates for Bennett's release have been taking to Twitter and expressing support and information using the #FreeLorax hashtag. For instance, these 2 recently were posted on the social media site:
FreedomFOA
Anonymous ‏@AnonyOps Mar 6
Hey Australia, there are much bigger fish to fry than one Anon radio host who wanted to make a difference #FreeLorax>
Liberty Bell 100
AnonFatCat ‏@AnonFatCat Mar 4
RT @AnonymousVideo: ►#FreeLorax ►22 May 2014 - Sad day! Lorax was arrested in Australia http://www.anonymousvideo.eu/lorax-live.html http://vimeo.com/96360677 #Anon…
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