Hacked Ex-CBS Journalist Says Obama DOJ Swapped Her Hard Drive While Inspecting Computer

Former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has accused the Obama DOJ of swapping out her hard drive while it was in their possession in a Thursday tweet.

"What would you think if I told you the hard drive of one of my personal computers was secretly switched out w/another while in custody of the Justice Dept. Inspector General-- before they gave it back to me?" Attkisson tweeted, adding "Tick-tock" at the end, suggesting there's more to the story. 

Attkisson says that Inspector General Michael Horowitz was the Inspector General which she gave her computer(s) to, and who she she claims has her hard drive.  

When one commentor on Twitter said "it would be reckless to make such a claim withou evidence, Attkisson replied "It would be." 

Attkisson's computer was famously hacked in 2012 while she was reporting on the Benghazi scandal for CBS - which the journalist captured on video given to Politico in 2014. A cybersecurity firm hired by the network "determined through forensic analysis" that "Attkisson's computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions in late 2012." 

Attkisson alleges that government agencies were behind the attack, and also claims that her TVs and phone were tampered with. Someone she knows finds a “stray cable” attached to her FiOS box, which can be used to download data. -Politico

"Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson's accounts," said CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair at the time. "While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data. This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion." 

Attkisson wrote in her memoir that a source linked to a government agency implicated a "sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that's proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency" in the hack. 

Attkisson wrote last August on her blog:

The IG investigators found and described to me significant suspicious anomalies in that system much like the CBS laptop, unearthing similar efforts by someone to erase data and evidence. However, when the IG computer experts finished their review, the findings went to higher ups and the resulting report was inexplicably withheld from me in its entirety.


I was shut out.

Many months later, under pressure from Congress, the IG eventually released a very different-sounding summary of its forensics report to the press. It recast or excluded much of what the investigators had told me they’d found. I attempted to obtain the full report and original notes, some of which I reviewed while the investigation was underway, describing the suspicious activity found on my personal computer. However, the IG has stonewalled my Freedom of Information (FOI) requests for these documents for several years. If the Department of Justice won’t comply with FOI law, then what recourse does a citizen have?

Vault 7

Last June, WikiLeaks released a trove of over 8,000 documents as part of their "Vault 7" series of leaks on the CIA, which detail sophisticated tools the government can use to infiltrate, control, and manipulate computer systems - even making it look like another country did it with digital "fingerprints." 

From our reporting on last year's release: 

The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized "zero days", air gap jumping viruses such as "Hammer Drill" which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( "Brutal Kangaroo") and to keep its malware infestations going.

It is unclear whether any of these tools were used on Attkisson, whose video shows that she was running an Apple operating system at the time of her hack. The vault 7 release also describes ultra-stealthy techniques used to spy on Apple products through the computer's EFI firmware.

“The EFI is what orchestrates the entire boot sequence. If you change something before that, you’re controlling everything,” says Karsten Nohl, the founder of Security Research Labs and a well-known firmware hacker. “It becomes part of your computer. There’s no way of knowing that it’s there, and also hardly any way to get rid of it.”

One manual explains how to modify the firmware of a standard Apple Thunderbolt-to-ethernet adapter, turning it into an spyware-planting tool the CIA calls "Sonic Screwdriver." When plugged in, the altered adapter can trick a Mac into thinking it's booting its operating system from a spoofed network source that the adapter impersonates, allowing tweaks to its firmware even in the rare cases when the user has set a password for any changes to that deep-seated code. -Wired

 

The former CBS News Journo is suing the Department of Justice for $35 million, accusing the Obama administration of breaching her computers. 

 

 

We look forward to the "BOOM" to Attkisson's "tick tock."