I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!
Living on a sunny Caribbean Island, there is really not much work for an FBI person to do. We haven’t had a bank robbery in 15 years and the last kidnapping I can recall was probably a hoax.
If you are a sailing minded FBI agent, then it’s a vacation to be assigned to the islands – nothing to do all week and sailing on weekends, If you are career minded, it’s the assignment from hell as their are no chance for gold stars which move you up the ranks.
So about 3-4 years ago a couple of career minded genius went around to all the local computer shops and said the techies should check the content of hard drives for suspicious content and report it to the friendly local FBI office.
Remember, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!
Now a patriotic veteran with one too many combat bumps got a computer he didn’t know shit about. So naturally he had a friend show him. The friend was a little weird but had lots of money – Poor Chuck (Charles Stephano) didn’t have either a credit or debit card. He started surfing all the sites that a weirdo would suggest probably on his friend’s accounts. By April 19, a month after he purchased it, the computer was so overloaded with unknown malware, viruses, etc. that it shut down. Another friend could salvage it only by formatting the hard drive and restoring the operating system and program. I believe it was Windows XP home addition, with internet Explorer 5 and maybe sp1.
He surfed from April 19 until about May 1 when the machine shut down again. Since he was down so much and deriving pleasure from his “Night Nurse” he took it to the professional tech firm to be repaired.
After a couple of days in the shop where many people had access to the machine, a techie plugged in a loose video card and checked it out. Then he used it to start surfing the web. When he did he found all kinds of sites bookmarked and possibly the browser home page was porn. Since it was fairly nasty shit, he called the FBI. They came and inspected the catch memory and history on May 5, 2004 and on May 6, 2004 started surfing the net with Chuck’s computer. What they found was appalling. Now remember, Chuck was not the only one with access, his friend used the machine, as did all the practical jokers at the repair shop along with the FBI and Chuck is functionally illiterate.
Based on the rather weak chain of evidence linking the computer to Chuck, the FBI obtained a warrant after the machine was returned to Chuck and then used the warrant to search the machine at his house. The also found some nasty indefensible pictures but remember Chucks friend had access to all as he was helping Chuck out.
Despite the lack of a credible chain of evidence of the suspect computer the FBI then used EnCase to make a mirror which they of course refused to give a copy to the defense for examination. For those who don’t know a mirror is not what is on your machine but everything that was ever on it including all the nasty shit that was deleted in order to get the machine to run again. The only access to the mirror image has been at the FBI building for a few hours over a couple of days. The defense expert had to provide the hardware to plug the mirror into. Meanwhile, the FBI has had all of their experts scour the mirror over the past two years. There were 144,000 sites visited in about 6 weeks total, with over 44,000 images, 358 possible child pornography pictures and apparently someone printed out 10 fairly nasty pictures over the final two week period after the computer was formatted.
Yeah, I too think kiddie porn sucks, but I feel that a total invasion of privacy is even worse. This case is being tried before an illiterate jury with light weight experts compared to the experience of the FBI.
Since they have attempted to eliminate people with knowledge of file sharing and maleware from the jury pool, they got me thinking. This is a dial up connection on a machine that never even had virus protection connected through an ISP that offers no screening to either email or downloading. Most days his dial up was operating at 28 K and file sizes ranged in 30 to 300 K range – remember high quality porn graphics.
That got me thinking – are there any combination of keystroke monitors, file sharing software, dial in programs etc. that take command of an idle computer and turn this into a file sharing mule? What do I look for on the mirror to prove it. The whole thing sucks – the government sucks and the defendant is a functionally illiterate veteran with either poor friends or bad taste that does little to help his own case.
Oh well life sucks and then you die but when wise men abdicate the fools will rule.
Please spread this post around, I need all the tech help I can get.
Remember, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!