Cyber Threats: Week in Review with Colin Powell, EurekAlert, and the Stradishall Hacker

Media Division | September 30, 2016

Pour a cup of coffee or tea and cozy up for a look at another exciting week in the cyberverse: a stoic-faced four-star general gossiping about his political party, the world of science news coming to a screeching halt, and an escapee hacker on the verge of facing charges.  If you got a little distracted this week by the “breaking” news of the largest hack in history at Yahoo! (which actually took place two years ago), and missed these stories, don’t worry: we’ve got your back.

Colin Powell

Colin Powell is retired four-star general in the United States Army and the former Secretary of State under Republican George W. Bush.  Known as a model statesman, who has dined with presidents, walked with crowned princes and shaken hands with dictators, you might not think he would be the type to call his party’s presidential hopeful a “national disgrace” and an “international pariah.”  He doesn’t seem the type to call another former Secretary of State and current presidential hopeful “greedy.”

And he wouldn’t, at least not publicly.  However, when hackers made his private emails public this week, we got another look at Colin Powell.  One where he has more than a few labels and opinions for other major figures in Washington.

So why hack Colin Powell?  It could be political.  The website may have ties to the Russian governmentRussia has already been accused of meddling in the presidential election this year.  For what end, we may find out in November.  We may never know.


Never heard of EurekAlert?  What about the periodicals Science, Nature, or JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association)?

If you are old enough to remember looking through archives, pulling bound periodicals off the shelf or looking through Microfiche for science news, you are from the era before EurekAlert.  Now, the press in particular, gets science news, research paper access and more in one stop shopping, assembled by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

One controversial operating strategy: embargoed news.  If you’ve ever wondered why scientific news pops up all over the place, with the same theme showing up in everything from your Facebook feed to Yahoo! news, to The New York Times, it’s because of scientific news embargo. When stories are assembled they have release dates, giving time for other stories to accumulate and peer reviews to happen.

Is this the embargo the reason for the hack on EurekAlert?  No one knows for sure.  Like a deflated balloon, it seemed more exciting when it happened.  At this point, nothing newsworthy has been leaked.  The site was down, which slowed science reporting for a few days.  Users were advised to change passwords.  Life goes on.

For now.  If hackers had other purposes, we may yet discover them.

The Stradishall Hacker

You think you can hack the US government and get away with it?  Steal data from NASA, the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency from foreign soil and not face charges?  Well, quite possibly.  For Lauri Love, 31, of Stradishall in the English County of Suffolk, it has looked for years now like he would not face extradition for his electronic crimes.

However, in the news this week it appears that Mr. Love may get extradited to the United States to face criminal charges in multiple courts.  Protests and funding sources have sprung up in the cyberverse over the matter: both because of Love’s described mental state and because of his possible motives (protesting, not malicious intent).

We shall see.  Not many hackers become so publicly known.  When they do, it’s hard to escape the white hot heat of the press (and a force like the United States Government).

Stay tuned!

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