Guilty plea in Kinko's keystroke caper

Raked in 450 online banking passwords


If you used a computer at a Kinko's in New York City last year, or the year before, there's a good chance that JuJu Jiang was watching.

The 25-year-old Queens resident pleaded guilty in federal court in New York last week to two counts of computer fraud and one charge of unauthorized possession of access codes for a scheme in which he planted a copy of the commercial keyboard sniffing program Invisible KeyLogger Stealth on computers at thirteen Kinko's stores sprinkled around Manhattan.

For nearly two years ending last December, Jiang's makeshift surveillance net raked in over 450 online banking passwords and user names from hapless Kinko's customers, according to the plea. He would use victims' financial information to open new accounts under their names, and then siphon money from their legitimate accounts into the new, fraudulent ones.

According to court records, the caper began unraveling last October, when Jiang had the bad luck to use a stolen GoToMyPC account to remotely control a victim's home computer while the victim was sitting in front of it. The victim, unnamed in court filings, watched as the PC's cursor began moving of its own accord, riffling through files, opening a browser window, and then establishing an account with online money transfer site Neteller.com under the victim's name. The victim had logged into the machine through GoToMyPC from a Kinko's on Seventh Avenue a few days earlier.

GoToMyPC's access logs captured Jiang's IP address, and after a brief investigation, the U.S. Secret Service raided the apartment Jiang shared with his mother in Queens. They seized books on hacking, a laptop computer and four desktop machines from Jiang's bedroom. Under questioning, Jiang, admitted sniffing passwords and usernames from Kinko's machines and selling them over the Internet, according to a Secret Service affidavit filed in the case.

Two months later, while free on bail, Jiang got caught planting another keyboard sniffer at a Kinko's on West 40th Street in New York.

The plea is silent on how much Jiang made from the scam, and prosecutor Joseph DeMarco said he couldn't answer questions about the case. The only financial losses that Jiang admitted to last week were $5,000 in "damage" caused to Kinko's computers by his installation of the surveillance software -- a stipulation that satisfies the minimum statutory requirement for a computer fraud conviction. Jiang also pleaded guilty to two criminal copyright violations for auctioning Microsoft software that was not meant for resale.

Jiang's attorney, Louis Freeman, told a judge that his client was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, and that Freeman plans to use the results to ask for a reduced sentence. Reached by telephone, the lawyer declined to elaborate.

A Kinko's spokesperson said the company tries to make customers aware of the risks of entering personal information and data on publicly accessible machines, but would not discuss what security measures they take, or comment on whether the company made any changes as a result of the Jiang case. At least some Kinko's stores have warning placards next to every public workstation.

Last year, Kinko's security measures became an issue in the pre-trial arguments in the Zacarias Moussaoui terrorism prosecution. Defense attorneys sought information on Moussaoui's 2001 use of a public access PC at a Minnesota Kinko's store, but were foiled by what the FBI said was Kinko's national policy of completely reimaging public access machines on a weekly basis. It's not clear how that policy squares with Jiang's success; one possible explanation is that Jiang visited the 13 Kinko's frequently enough to retrieve the stored keystrokes before they were wiped out, and then re-installed his loggers afterwards.

Sold by San Francisco-based Amecisco for about $100 a copy, Invisible KeyLogger Stealth is a kernel mode keyboard sniffer that hooks Windows system calls to prevent users from seeing the program. Some anti-spyware products -- like Spydex's Advanced Anti- Keylogger -- can detect IKS through its growing keystroke logfile.

In an e-mailed statement, Amecisco's director Leon Yan said the company strongly condemns illegal use of its surveillance software. "Our intended audiences are authorized system administrators and parents," Yan wrote. "And I can give you examples after examples of parents [who] wisely used this tool to help with their children."

Jiang is in custody at New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center pending sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.

© SecurityFocus logo

Related stories

Keylogging student charged with massive ID fraud
Mafia boss jailed in FBI keyboard bugging case
FBI chief Mueller lied to Senate about key-logging


Other stories you might like

  • FTC urged to protect data privacy of women visiting abortion clinics
    As Supreme Court set to overturn Roe v Wade, safeguards on location info now more vital than ever

    Democrat senators have urged America's Federal Trade Commission to do something to protect the privacy of women after it emerged details of visits to abortion clinics were being sold by data brokers.

    Women's healthcare is an especially thorny issue right now after the Supreme Court voted in a leaked draft majority opinion to overturn Roe v Wade, a landmark ruling that declared women's rights to have an abortion are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.

    If the nation's top judges indeed vote to strike down that 1973 decision, individual states, at least, can set their own laws governing women's reproductive rights. Thirteen states already have so-called "trigger laws" in place prohibiting abortions – mostly with exceptions in certain conditions, such as if the pregnancy or childbirth endangers the mother's life – that will go into effect if Roe v Wade is torn up. People living in those states would, in theory, have to travel to another state where abortion is legal to carry out the procedure lawfully, although laws are also planned to ban that.

    Continue reading
  • Zuckerberg sued for alleged role in Cambridge Analytica data-slurp scandal
    I can prove CEO was 'personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect privacy', DC AG insists

    Cambridge Analytica is back to haunt Mark Zuckerberg: Washington DC's Attorney General filed a lawsuit today directly accusing the Meta CEO of personal involvement in the abuses that led to the data-slurping scandal. 

    DC AG Karl Racine filed [PDF] the civil suit on Monday morning, saying his office's investigations found ample evidence Zuck could be held responsible for that 2018 cluster-fsck. For those who've put it out of mind, UK-based Cambridge Analytica harvested tens of millions of people's info via a third-party Facebook app, revealing a – at best – somewhat slipshod handling of netizens' privacy by the US tech giant.

    That year, Racine sued Facebook, claiming the social network was well aware of the analytics firm's antics yet failed to do anything meaningful until the data harvesting was covered by mainstream media. Facebook repeatedly stymied document production attempts, Racine claimed, and the paperwork it eventually handed over painted a trail he said led directly to Zuck. 

    Continue reading
  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading
  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022