The FBI and your computer

Computer security

From Instapundit (not just the link, but his comments):

CREEPY UNCLE SAM: FBI can turn on your Web cam, and you’d never know it. As I’ve said before, hardware on-off switches for cameras and microphones may come back into style. Plus this: “The FBI can also burrow into a suspect’s computer and download files, photographs and stored e-mails.” If they can do that, of course, they can also plant evidence without a trace. . . .

Yesterday, I blamed Obama for causing a problem; today, I echo Pamela Geller’s complaint that federal agencies are useless

My head is spinning.   I just wrote a post for Mr. Conservative based upon the most current news stories saying that an arrest had been made.  From the time of those stories to the time I published the post, it was about 10 minutes.  Within one minute after the post went up, all of the major news sites were recanting the story, saying a suspect had been identified, but not arrested.  (See here for an example of the swift turnaround in news reports.)  Breitbart has given up on specific headlines and just says “Chaos in Boston,” which is about as accurate as anything I’ve seen today.  CNN still has its stand-by fallback position, which is that it’s the Tea Party’s fault, while Fox reminds everyone that pressure cooker bombers are commonly used in such Islamic war places as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

That last point — about the differing CNN and Fox News stories — highlights one of the two truths we know with certainty amidst this swirl of rumors.  The first is that Obama lied through his teeth when he promised in 2008 that his election would heal divisions within America and that his presidency would further smooth the rift, once again creating a truly United States of America.  Instead, using his bully pulpit to demonize half of America (something no president has ever done before), Obama has deepened the rift between Blue and Red America to a point probably not seen since 1860.  Obama, therefore, is easy to blame for the bombing, because a truly united America would not be a good target for this type of attack, no matter who launched it.

The other thing we know with certainty is something that Pamela Geller highlights — we’re not getting any bang for the buck from the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies we taxpayers support.  After commenting derisively on reports that law enforcement describes the terrorism attack investigation as “wide open,” and is begging media outlets to help, Geller points out how embarrassing this is:

This is where the status of the investigation is.  In Europe, and in Israel, whenever there is a terrorist attack, they have someone or some group in their sights or in custody every time.  Take 3/11 in Madrid, 7/7 in London, the Glasgow jihad plot — every jihad attack and jihad plot in Europe, European authorities are right on it, identifying and apprehending the perpetrators.  They know exactly who the bad guys are.  They know exactly where to go.  This is a historical first: that America is not dramatically ahead of the curve, but dramatically behind the curve.  So American citizens are now considered expendable, just the way our soldiers are in Afghanistan.

It should bother every American that Europe and Israel are so far ahead of us in intel that we’re begging CNN and Fox for clues — and apparently detaining people who have nothing to do with the bombing, raiding their homes, taking bagfuls of evidence out, and then saying, “Never mind.”

Really?  The billions that Americans spend for the CIA, FBI, DHS, NSA, JTTF, and all the other various counterterrorism agencies, and they don’t have a clue?  All they have for us is 1-800-CALL-FBI?  This is unconscionable.  If that’s where we are, disband these incompetent, inane agencies that call jihad “workplace violence” and name Atlas Shrugs as a “domestic hate group,” when in fact Atlas Shrugs is battling violence and mass murder across the world.  How did this happen eleven years after 9/11?

In 1995 (Oklahoma City) and 1998 (Atlanta), we didn’t have a multi-armed federal law enforcement infrastructure that, in return for tax dollars and vast, often unconstitutional powers, promised to keep us safe.  Just as Obama broke his promise to heal the rifts in American society, the federal alphabet soup has broken its promise to keep us safe and/or to bring wrongdoers quickly before the law.  Indeed, I seem to remember that it’s been more than half a year since the FBI jetted out to investigate what happened in Benghazi.  So far . . . nothing (although with Hillary screaming “what difference does it make,” investigators may have lost their momentum).

I guess we should all resign ourselves that for at least the next three years, the best we can hope for from our administration is “What difference does it make?”  Unless, of course, the difference is about emasculating our once robust Constitution.  But that’s another story for another post….

According to the AP, in July the FBI will stop protecting people from a malevolent computer virus *UPDATED*

I don’t quite know what to make of this story about the FBI’s decision to stop protecting people from a computer virus.  It doesn’t come through as an email rumor; it comes through as an actual AP article.  Although AP is always suspect in my mind when it comes to politically charged issues, I have to assume that, as to this story, it has credibility:

For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.

Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.

The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, www.dcwg.org, that will inform them whether they’re infected and explain how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.

You can read the rest of the story here.

UPDATE:  Indigo Red’s comment is very informative:

It’s not all that ominous. A group of criminal geeks hacked servers in Estonia causing users queries to end up at sites that paid advertisers and routed the pay-per-clicks to themselves. The geeks got $14 million from the scam. They were busted and the servers were going to be confiscated, but that would have left thousands of valid customers without Internet service. The FBI called in a legit computer geek who subbed clean servers for the dirty and the FBI has been running the replacements for 8 months costing US taxpayers $87,000 – US had highest number of victims at about 85K. The substitute servers are to shutdown in July so anyone who thinks their computer may be infected has a final opportunity to scan their machines and fix the problem. I am doing so as I write this using Microsoft Safety Scanner because a few months back I saw unusual activity from Estonia, Russia, and Ukraine. I cleared the problem then, but I just want to be sure.