Thursday, December 27, 2018

Why The United States Must Stay In Syria

Gary Anderson, a retired Marine Corps colonel who was a U.N. observer in the Middle East and a Department of State governance adviser in Iraq and Afghanistan, offers a piece in the Washington Times on why we should stay in Syria.

Defense Secretary James Mattis was right to resign. President Trump is hard to help. When your enemies tell you that you are screwing up, chances are that at least some of what you are doing is right. When your friends tell you are screwing up, it may be a good time to at least re-evaluate your plan. But when everyone tells you that you’re screwing up, you are probably really screwing up. Mr. Trump is in danger of thoroughly screwing up in withdrawing our troops from northeastern Syria. He should re-evaluate his decision.

Mr. Trump’s Democratic Party enemies in Congress jumped on his announcement immediately as did The Washington Post, but so did many of his erstwhile Republican allies. He is also going against the recommendations of his secretary of Defense, James Mattis, and his senior military advisers as well as the majority of Middle East experts in the national security community.

The irony here is that — in cutting and running from Syria — the president is doing in Syria the same thing that he successfully criticized President Obama for doing in Iraq. The Democrats will have a field day with it in 2020. There is absolutely nothing to be gained politically by the Syrian withdrawal. This is a self-inflicted wound.

… The only people applauding the Syrian withdrawal are the Syrian government, the Iranians and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. At a time when he is being investigated for colluding with Moscow, the last thing Mr. Trump needs is to hand the Russians a foreign policy victory with no corresponding quid pro quo for us.

The American presence in the remote backwater of northeastern Syria has served three very important purposes. First, it prevents the 2,000 or so survivors of ISIS who once ruled the area from regrouping in the political vacuum that allowed them to gain power in the first place.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Look Back At The Beaton Marionette's 'The Nativity' And 'Twas The Night Berfore Christmas'

I had a conversation the other day with my granddaughter about old Christmas traditions and I told her that her grandparents and millions of others used to watch the Beaton Marionettes on TV every year as they performed The Nativety and Twas the Night Before Christmas. 

Marionettes pouncing from strings must seem very low-tech to a preteen and teenager today, but when we were children in the 1950's and 1960's we loved these shows.

The two programs were narrated by the late, great actor Alexander Scourby. Scourby also portrayed C. Clement Moore, the author of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

The TV programs brings back fond memories of Christmas as a child. My parents did not have a lot of money, but they always provided a grand Christmas holiday for our family.

You can watch the two short programs via the below links:

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Sunday, December 23, 2018

My Washington Times Review Of 'In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius Of George Washington And The Victory At Yorktown'

The Washington Times published my review of Nathaniel Philbrick’s In The Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown.

When most people think of the American Revolution, they generally envision the historic land battles of Bunker Hill, Lexington and Yorktown. If one thinks of the war’s naval conflicts, it is perhaps only the sea battles of John Paul Jones that come immediately to mind.

But in historian Nathaniel Philbrick’s outstanding book, “In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory of Yorktown,” he describes vividly the Battle of the Chesapeake, a sea battle devised by Gen. Washington but fought entirely by the French, that occurred prior to the definitive win at Yorktown.

Mr. Philbrick explains that when France entered the war in 1778, Washington hoped that his new ally would break the British navy’s hold on the Atlantic seaboard. But for two-and-a-half years, the French failed to contain the British navy.

In December 1780, Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander, sent Benedict Arnold, his newest brigadier general, to Virginia. Washington ordered the Marquis de Lafayette to pursue the despised American traitor. Nine months later, after several battles between the Americans and the British, British Gen. Charles Cornwallis was trapped at Yorktown by the French fleet that had arrived from the Caribbean.

Up to the summer of 1781, Washington found that coordinating his army’s movement with a French fleet 2,000 miles away was impossible, but then, as Mr. Philbrick states, the impossible happened.

“The Battle of Chesapeake has been called the most important naval engagement in the history of the world,” Mr. Philbrick writes. “Fought outside the entrance of the bay between the French admiral Comte de Grasse’s twenty-four ships of the line and a slightly smaller British fleet commanded by Rear Admiral Thomas Graves, the battle inflicted severe enough damage on the Empire’s ships that Graves returned to New York for repairs. By preventing the rescue of seven thousand British and German soldiers under the command of General Cornwallis, de Grasse’s victory on Sept. 5, 1781, made Washington’s subsequent triumph at Yorktown a fait accompli. Peace would not be officially declared for another two years, but that does not change the fact that a naval battle fought between the French and the British was largely responsible for the independence of the United States.”

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Saturday, December 22, 2018

My Crime Fiction: 'The Cop Who Busted Santa'

Some years back I wrote a short story called A Christmas Crime Story, which was about a mean, anti-Christmas cop who was later redeemed. 

You can read the story via the link at the bottom of the page.

The below short story, which appeared originally in American Crime Magazine, is a prequel to A Christmas Crime Story   

The Cop Who Busted Santa

By Paul Davis

I truly love the Christmas season. I love holiday lights, Christmas music, colorful church services, and gatherings of family and friends. I also love walking through shopping districts and watching people buying presents and celebrating the joyous holiday, despite the cold weather.

While walking along East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia this Christmas season, I came across John Snyder, a retired Philadelphia police officer. His large, pan-shaped head was now nearly bald, and his stocky frame held a few more pounds since I last saw him some years ago. He still displayed his gruff demeanor, but there was also a shy smile on his face. 

John Snyder was not known for his smile.

Back in the 1990s I was a reporter and crime columnist for a local newspaper in Philadelphia and I had written several stories about Sergeant Snyder. Most of them were unflattering, but he never complained, and he still greeted me, albeit reluctantly, when I saw him at the 3rd police district in South Philly or at cop bars.

About that time Sergeant John Snyder became famous as “The Cop Who Busted Santa.” 

On Christmas Eve of that year, while patrolling the 3rd district in South Philadelphia, Snyder pulled over a driver who had performed what is known locally as “the South Philly Roll,” which is a deliberate failure to fully stop at a stop sign or traffic light. 

Walking up to the driver’s car window, Snyder was not amused by the driver, who was dressed as Santa Claus with a huge false white beard. He greeted Snyder with a hearty, but somewhat slurred, “Ho, Ho, Ho. Merry Christmas.”

“You ran that stop sign back there,” Snyder said in his low, gruff voice that more than one cop called his “bark.” 

George Jankowski, the man dressed as Santa, laughed loudly and his huge belly, which was his own and not costume stuffing, shook in the front car seat. 

“Oh, really,” Jankowski replied. “Sorry about that officer, but I’m on my way to an orphanage, here in my modern-day sleigh, to deliver toys for the poor, little orphans.”

“It’s sergeant, not officer, and there’s no excuse for running a stop sign,” Snyder declared. “Have you been drinking? Get out of the car.”

Janlowski cursed and struggled to get out of the car. 

“I’ve had a few, yeah, you know, it’s Christmas Eve.”

Snyder grabbed Jankowski and twirled him around and placed the man’s white gloves on the patrol car. He kicked his legs apart.

As a good number of people were out on the street that night, coming in and out of stores, bars and restaurants, a crowd gathered quickly and watched Snyder manhandle and search the man dressed as Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.

The crowd was aghast. One bystander full of holiday spirit – both faith-based and liquid – called out to Snyder, “Hey Officer Grinch! Leave Santa alone.”

Others began to complain as well and several children began to cry. One man walked out into the street towards Snyder to reason with him.

“Back off!” Snyder commanded. “Or I’ll place you under arrest too. I’ll arrest all of you people,” he barked to the crowd.

Snyder handcuffed Jankowski and squeezed the big man into the backseat of his patrol car. As Snyder drove off, he heard one bystander say sarcastically, "And a Merry, Merry Christmas to you as well." 

If this event had happened these days, several people would have recorded the arrest on their cell phone and uploaded the video to the Internet. And the video would have gone viral, as they say, with millions of people viewing it.

As it were, several outraged people contacted the police and complained and more than one witness contacted the press. The 6 o’clock TV news stations all ran the story with on-air interviews with the angry witnesses to the arrest. 

The daily newspaper followed up with the story on the front page and the story of the arrest of Santa on Christmas Eve appeared in newspapers and on TV and radio across the country on Christmas Day. The national press mocked Philadelphia and they all brought up an earlier story of Philadelphia sports fans who pelted Santa Claus with snowballs at a ball field. 

“So much for Philadelphia being the “City of Brotherly Love,” one national TV newscaster commented dryly. 

The TV 6 o’clock news reports on the arrests prompted a series of phone calls from the mayor, the police commissioner, a deputy police commissioner, a chief inspector, an inspector, and finally the 3rd district’s captain. 

The captain drove to the station from his home and released Jankowski, who was being held over for arraignment. The captain, along with the lieutenant, chewed out Snyder, but the sergeant held his ground and defended his actions. 

The captain reminded Snyder of his actions on the previous Christmas Eve. 

“You locked up a bunch of kids for just being merry, remember? And you locked up those newlywed tourists who only wanted you to take their picture,” the captain said. “What are you, a one-man Christmas joy-killer?”      

Later that evening, Jankowski went on TV and told his story. He complained of police abuse and false arrest and said he was going to sue the city. He also said that while in police custody, he had to call his son and tell him to go and pick up the car, which had been towed on Snyder's orders, as the car had the presents for the orphaned children. 

Jankowski, dressed again as Santa, delivered the toys to the Catholic Orphanage on Christmas Day. He was accompanied by reporters and the story was carried widely across the nation as a positive story on Christmas.        

The day after Christmas Jack Ferrari, a 3rd district cop that I had gone out on a ride-along with and wrote about in my column, called and invited me to meet him at the Penrose, a South Philly diner.

He was on his lunch break with his partner in a booth and I slid in and joined them.    

Ferrari slipped me a piece of paper that had Jankowski’s name and phone number on it. The note also had Snyder’s phone number on it. I placed the note in my jacket pocket. 

Ferrari’s partner, an officer named Bill Hanson, said Snyder was a son of a bitch. But don't use my name, he added.  

“He’s a cheap and miserable bastard,” Hanson continued. “No wonder his wife kicked him out and even his kids won’t speak to him. And he wears boxing gloves at the bar.”


“He wears boxing gloves just so he can’t reach into his pocket and take out money to buy a guy a drink,” Hanson said. “OK, not really, but I’ve never seen him buy anyone a drink.  

Ferrari noted, to be fair, that Snyder also never took a drink when other people were buying. He simply stood alone at the bar and nursed a beer or two.  

“Snyder is a tough sergeant, but when there is a shooting or altercation involving his officers, Snyder dives right in,” Ferrari said. “He also makes sure that higher-ups never mess with his guys. He took the heat for us many times,” Ferrari said.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Hanson agreed. 

I left the diner and called Jankowski. He was still full of rage and he bent my ear over the phone for an hour. I also called Snyder to get his side, but he refused to talk about the incident.  

“No comment,” he barked over the phone. 

I felt bad for Snyder, as he was one of those sad people who only felt sorrow and bitterness on Christmas. I hoped that he would someday discover true happiness, especially at Christmas.     

I published my “The Cop Who Busted Santa” column in the local paper later that week.

This incident was unfortunate, but it led to some positive actions. The Catholic orphanage received a lot of publicity and donations poured in. Jankowski sued the City of Philadelphia and received a substantial settlement, which he used to establish a Christmas charity fund.  

The incident also united a good number of people in their critical response to the well-publicized arrest of Santa. And, lo and behold, they also began to speak to each other and to their children of the true meaning of Christmas; joy, love, charity, and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. 

And yes, I got a column out of it.

© Paul Davis 2018. 

You can read A Christmas Crime Story via the below link:

Former Navy SEAL And Congressman-Elect Dan Crenshaw Calls On Trump To Stay In Syria: 'We Go There So They Don't Come Here'

Gabriella Munoz at the Washington Times reports on former Navy SEAL and Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw’s Washington Post op-ed that calls on President Trump to stay the course in Syria.    

Rep-elect. Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy Seal, cautioned President Trump against following through on his plan to pull troops out of Syria.

In a Washington Post op-ed published Friday, the Texas Republican argued there is one key reason troops should remain in Syria.

“We go there so they don’t come here,” he wrote. “There is a common misconception that if we just let them fight their own wars they will leave us alone.”

Mr. Crenshaw argued that terrorist organizations will always target the U.S., but preventing attacks does nothing to stem the “cascade effect of instability and chaos” created by a power vacuum if Americans leave.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Thursday, December 20, 2018

FBI Director Christopher Wray’s Remarks Regarding Indictment Of Chinese Hackers

The FBI released FBI Director Christopher Wray’s prepared remarks regarding the indictment of Chinese hackers:

Thank you, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

As evidenced by this investigation, the threats we face have never been more pervasive or more potentially damaging to our national security. And no country poses a broader, more severe, and long-term threat to our nation’s economy and cyber infrastructure than China.
China’s goal, simply put, is to replace the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower—and they’re breaking the law to get there. They’re using an expanding set of non-traditional and illegal methods. And Chinese state-sponsored actors are the most active perpetrators of economic espionage against us.
In short, they seek to strengthen themselves and weaken the United States. And while we welcome fair competition, we cannot and will not tolerate illegal hacking, stealing, and cheating.
Now, we’re not talking about the Chinese people as a whole. We’re focused on state-sponsored actors engaged in illegal behavior. These aren’t just Chinese officials, employed by the Chinese government. They can be hackers, businessmen, researchers, or front companies acting on behalf of state actors. And often they’re recruiting or co-opting employees of American companies—people who are trusted insiders.
As noted, the actors named in this indictment were members of a hacking group operating in China that is associated with the Chinese Ministry of State Security—a group known as APT 10. The members of APT 10 conducted major computer intrusion campaigns, targeting U.S. government agencies and companies both in the U.S. and around the world, and stealing hundreds of gigabytes of intellectual property and confidential business information.
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks at a December 20, 2018 press conference at the Department of Justice announcing charges against Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, both Chinese nationals and members of the APT 10 hacking group, as Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein looks on.
The list of victim companies reads like a “Who’s Who” of the global economy—from biotechnology to agriculture to health care, and from oil and gas exploration to NASA.
Healthy competition is good for the global economy. Criminal conduct is not. Rampant theft is not. Cheating is not.
There’s no light on this issue between the United States and our law-abiding international partners. We’re all standing shoulder-to-shoulder to condemn this conduct.
The scope of this investigation was broad, as you might imagine, including our FBI field offices in New Orleans, New York, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Houston.
And we’re incredibly grateful not only to our DOJ colleagues, but to our partners at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Department of Homeland Security for their work. We also appreciate our partners in the Department of Defense’s Computer Forensic Laboratory, who worked with us as we analyzed hundreds of malware samples. With this malware, FBI and NCIS investigators found key links between major victims and APT 10’s “command and control” infrastructure.
After identifying additional victims here in the United States and around the world, the FBI’s Cyber Action Team—our elite rapid deployment unit—and our cyber counterparts at DHS deployed to multiple locations to provide technical support and investigative assistance. And we worked with our counterparts in the NCIS to investigate APT 10’s theft of personally identifiable information from more than 100,000 U.S. Naval service members.
We’re deeply concerned about American innovation ending up in the wrong hands, including by nation-states like China, intent on stealing the fruits of our research, our economic investment, our development, and our hard work for their own gain.
This is conduct that hurts American businesses, American jobs, and American consumers. The Chinese government’s not pulling any punches. They want what we have so they can get the upper hand on us. And they’re highly strategic in their approach—they’re playing the long game.
But let me make it perfectly clear: No country should be able to flout the rule of law So we’re going to keep tackling this illegal behavior with everything we’ve got—every investigative technique, every piece of intelligence, and every partnership, from our federal, state, local, and international partners, to our private sector, community, and academic partners.
And we’re going to keep calling out this state-sponsored behavior for what it is—illegal, unethical, and unfair.
It’s going to take all of us working together to protect our economic security and our way of life. The American people expect and deserve no less.

Two Chinese Hackers Associated With The Ministry Of State Security Charged With Global Computer Intrusion Campaigns Targeting Intellectual Property And Confidential Business Information

The Justice Department released the below information:
The unsealing of an indictment charging Zhu Hua (), aka Afwar, aka CVNX, aka Alayos, aka Godkiller; and Zhang Shilong (张士龙), aka Baobeilong, aka Zhang Jianguo, aka Atreexp, both nationals of the People’s Republic of China (China), with conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft was announced today.
The announcement was made by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Director Christopher A. Wray of the FBI, Director Dermot F. O’Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) of the U.S. Department of Defense, and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.
Zhu and Zhang were members of a hacking group operating in China known within the cyber security community as Advanced Persistent Threat 10 (the APT10 Group).  The defendants worked for a company in China called Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Company (Huaying Haitai) and acted in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s Tianjin State Security Bureau. 
Through their involvement with the APT10 Group, from at least in or about 2006 up to and including in or about 2018, Zhu and Zhang conducted global campaigns of computer intrusions targeting, among other data, intellectual property and confidential business and technological information at managed service providers (MSPs), which are companies that remotely manage the information technology infrastructure of businesses and governments around the world, more than 45 technology companies in at least a dozen U.S. states, and U.S. government agencies.  The APT10 Group targeted a diverse array of commercial activity, industries and technologies, including aviation, satellite and maritime technology, industrial factory automation, automotive supplies, laboratory instruments, banking and finance, telecommunications and consumer electronics, computer processor technology, information technology services, packaging, consulting, medical equipment, healthcare, biotechnology, pharmaceutical manufacturing, mining, and oil and gas exploration and production.  Among other things, Zhu and Zhang registered IT infrastructure that the APT10 Group used for its intrusions and engaged in illegal hacking operations.
“The indictment alleges that the defendants were part of a group that hacked computers in at least a dozen countries and gave China’s intelligence service access to sensitive business information,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.  “This is outright cheating and theft, and it gives China an unfair advantage at the expense of law-abiding businesses and countries that follow the international rules in return for the privilege of participating in the global economic system.”
“It is galling that American companies and government agencies spent years of research and countless dollars to develop their intellectual property, while the defendants simply stole it and got it for free” said U.S. Attorney Berman.  “As a nation, we cannot, and will not, allow such brazen thievery to go unchecked.”
“Healthy competition is good for the global economy, but criminal conduct is not.  This is conduct that hurts American businesses, American jobs, and American consumers,” said FBI Director Wray.  “No country should be able to flout the rule of law – so we’re going to keep calling out this behavior for what it is: illegal, unethical, and unfair.  It's going to take all of us working together to protect our economic security and our way of life, because the American people deserve no less."
“The theft of sensitive defense technology and cyber intrusions are major national security concerns and top investigative priorities for the DCIS,” said DCIS Director O’Reilly.  “The indictments unsealed today are the direct result of a joint investigative effort between DCIS and its law enforcement partners to vigorously investigate individuals and groups who illegally access information technology systems of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Defense Industrial Base.  DCIS remains vigilant in our efforts to safeguard the integrity of the Department of Defense and its enterprise of information technology systems.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
Zhu Hua (), aka Afwar, aka CVNX, aka Alayos, aka Godkiller, and Zhang Shilong (张士龙), aka Baobeilong, aka Zhang Jianguo, aka Atreexp, the defendants, both nationals of China, were members of a hacking group operating in China known within the cyber security community as the APT10 Group, or alternatively as “Red Apollo,” “CVNX,” “Stone Panda,” “MenuPass,” and “POTASSIUM.”  The defendants worked for Huaying Haitai in Tianjin, China, and acted in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s Tianjin State Security Bureau.  From at least in or about 2006 up to and including in or about 2018, members of the APT10 Group, including Zhu and Zhang, conducted extensive campaigns of intrusions into computer systems around the world.  The APT10 Group used some of the same online facilities to initiate, facilitate and execute its campaigns during the conspiracy.
Most recently, beginning at least in or about 2014, members of the APT10 Group, including Zhu and Zhang, engaged in an intrusion campaign to obtain unauthorized access to the computers and computer networks of MSPs for businesses and governments around the world (the MSP Theft Campaign).  The APT10 Group targeted MSPs in order to leverage the MSPs’ networks to gain unauthorized access to the computers and computer networks of the MSPs’ clients and to steal, among other data, intellectual property and confidential business data on a global scale.  For example, through the MSP Theft Campaign, the APT10 Group obtained unauthorized access to the computers of an MSP that had offices in the Southern District of New York and compromised the data of that MSP and certain of its clients involved in banking and finance, telecommunications and consumer electronics, medical equipment, packaging, manufacturing, consulting, healthcare, biotechnology, automotive, oil and gas exploration, and mining.
Earlier, beginning in or about 2006, members of the APT10 Group, including Zhu and Zhang, engaged in an intrusion campaign to obtain unauthorized access to the computers and computer networks of more than 45 technology companies and U.S. government agencies, in order to steal information and data concerning a number of technologies (the Technology Theft Campaign).  Through the Technology Theft Campaign, the APT10 Group stole hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data and targeted the computers of victim companies involved in aviation, space and satellite technology, manufacturing technology, pharmaceutical technology, oil and gas exploration and production technology, communications technology, computer processor technology, and maritime technology.
In furtherance of the APT10 Group’s intrusion campaigns, Zhu and Zhang, among other things, worked for Huaying Haitai and registered malicious domains and infrastructure.  In addition, Zhu, a penetration tester, engaged in hacking operations on behalf of the APT10 Group and recruited other individuals to the APT10 Group, and Zhang developed and tested malware for the APT10 Group.
The MSP Theft Campaign
In furtherance of the MSP Theft Campaign, Zhu, Zhang, and their co-conspirators in the APT10 Group engaged in the following criminal conduct:
  • First, after the APT10 Group gained unauthorized access into the computers of an MSP, the APT10 Group installed multiple variants of malware on MSP computers around the world. To avoid antivirus detection, the malware was installed using malicious files that masqueraded as legitimate files associated with the victim computer’s operating system.  Such malware enabled members of the APT10 Group to monitor victims’ computers remotely and steal user credentials. 
  • Second, after stealing administrative credentials from computers of an MSP, the APT10 Group used those stolen credentials to connect to other systems within an MSP and its clients’ networks. This enabled the APT10 Group to move laterally through an MSP’s network and its clients’ networks and to compromise victim computers that were not yet infected with malware. 
  • Third, after identifying data of interest on a compromised computer and packaging it for exfiltration using encrypted archives, the APT10 Group used stolen credentials to move the data of an MSP client to one or more other compromised computers of the MSP or its other clients’ networks before exfiltrating the data to other computers controlled by the APT10 Group.
Over the course of the MSP Theft Campaign, Zhu, Zhang, and their co-conspirators in the APT10 Group successfully obtained unauthorized access to computers providing services to or belonging to victim companies located in at least 12 countries, including Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  The victim companies included at least the following:  a global financial institution, three telecommunications and/or consumer electronics companies; three companies involved in commercial or industrial manufacturing; two consulting companies; a healthcare company; a biotechnology company; a mining company; an automotive supplier company; and a drilling company. 
The Technology Theft Campaign
Over the course of the Technology Theft Campaign, which began in or about 2006, Zhu, Zhang, and their coconspirators in the APT10 Group successfully obtained unauthorized access to the computers of more than 45 technology companies and U.S. Government agencies based in at least 12 states, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.  The APT10 Group stole hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data and information from the victims’ computer systems, including from at least the following victims: seven companies involved in aviation, space and/or satellite technology; three companies involved in communications technology; three companies involved in manufacturing advanced electronic systems and/or laboratory analytical instruments; a company involved in maritime technology; a company involved in oil and gas drilling, production, and processing; and the NASA Goddard Space Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  In addition to those victims who had information stolen, Zhu, Zhang, and their co-conspirators successfully obtained unauthorized access to computers belonging to more than 25 other technology-related companies involved in, among other things, industrial factory automation, radar technology, oil exploration, information technology services, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and computer processor technology, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 
Finally, the APT10 Group compromised more than 40 computers in order to steal sensitive data belonging to the Navy, including the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, salary information, personal phone numbers, and email addresses of more than 100,000 Navy personnel.
*                *                *
Zhu and Zhang are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. 
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the assigned judge.  The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the FBI, including the New Orleans, New Haven, Houston, New York, Sacramento, and San Antonio Field Offices; DCIS; and the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).  Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. Berman and Mr. Demers praised the outstanding investigative work of, and collaboration among, the FBI, DCIS, and NCIS.  They also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, and the Department of Defense’s Computer Forensic Laboratory for their assistance in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sagar K. Ravi of the Southern District of New York’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit is in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Matthew Chang of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

FBI Warns of Cyber Scammers Targeting Holiday Shoppers

The FBI offers a warning about cyber crime during the Christmas season.
MEMPHIS, TN—The FBI Memphis Field Office reminds shoppers to be aware of cyber criminals and their aggressive and creative ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims, including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices, and phishing emails advertising brand name merchandise for bargain prices or emails promoting the sale of merchandise that ends up being a counterfeit product.
Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales
Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else’s stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.
Shoppers should be cautious and not provide credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or other financial information directly to the seller. Fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their scheme from the provided financial account. Always use a legitimate payment service to protect purchases and never send personally identifiable information or payment information over email.
Diligently check each seller’s rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100 percent positive feedback if they have a low total number of feedback postings and all feedback was posted around the same date and time.
Gift Card Scam
The safest way to purchase gift cards is directly from the merchant or authorized retail merchant. If the merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number and it will not be honored to make purchases.
Phishing and Social Networking
Be leery of emails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individual to a fraudulent website or message that appears legitimate; however, any personal information you provide, such as account number and personal identification number (PIN), will be stolen.
Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed website. A spoofed website is a fake site or copy of a real website that is designed to mislead the recipient into providing personal information.
Consumers are encouraged to be aware of bargain emails advertising “one day only” promotions for recognized brands or websites. Fraudsters often use the hot items of the season to lure bargain hunters into providing credit card information. The old adage “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is a good barometer to use to legitimize emails.
Along with online shopping comes the growth of consumers using social networking sites and mobile phones to satisfy their shopping needs more easily. Again, consumers are encouraged to be aware of emails, text messages, or postings that may lead to fraudulent sites offering bargains on brand name products.
Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.
  • Be cautious of emails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in email messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the email to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
  • Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the email, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the email to verify that the email is genuine.
  • If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
  • If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source (phone book, trusted Internet directory, legitimate billing statement, etc.) and use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
To report online scams, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

A Little Night Music: Perry Como's 'Sunrise Sunset'

The late Perry Como did a nice job with Sunrise Sunset, a song from the musical Fiddler On the Roof.

It makes me think of my grown daughter and stepson.

Is this the little girl I carried,

Is this the little boy at play?

I don't remember growing older,

When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty,

When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise Sunset

You can hear Perry Como sing the song via the below link:

TSA Answers Your Holiday Travel Questions

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers travelers some holiday travel safety tips.

Earlier today, we announced that we are projecting a record number of flyers this holiday travel period starting Dec. 19 and continuing through Jan. 5. That’s a 6 percent increase from 2017, with 41 million passengers traveling through security screening checkpoints nationwide.
All of us at TSA want you to have a safe and happy holiday season, no matter where your travels may take you. So once you’ve made your list and TSA Prechecked it twice, take a peek at our list of holiday travel tips, based on some of the most frequently asked questions sent to AskTSA. 
You can read the tips via the below link:

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

My Crime Fiction: 'Twas A Crime Before Christmas: My Interview With Santa Claus'

As the Christmas season is here once again, I'd like to offer my short story, Twas a Crime Before Christmas, which originally appeared in The Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine in 2009.   

Twas a Crime Before Christmas: My Interview With Santa Claus

By Paul Davis

As a crime reporter and columnist, I was compelled to look into a report of a burglary of an unemployed construction worker on Christmas Eve in South Philadelphia.

The burglar or burglars broke into the home early on the morning of the 24th. They stole the family’s TV and other household goods. They also took a dozen or so wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree that were intended for the family’s two children.

I interviewed the victim, who was so devastated by the burglary that he could hardly speak. I also spoke to a detective who said he presently had no leads on the case but he planned to keep working it, and I spoke to a local priest who told me that the church was collecting donations for the poor family.

Lastly, I spoke to a man of great wisdom and experience. The jolly old fella was kind enough to pause during his special night out to talk to me about crime.

I interviewed Santa Claus as he was packing up his sleigh and getting ready to head off on his magical trip, bringing toys and goodies to good children around the world.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow and the beard on his chin was white as snow. His eyes twinkled and his dimples were merry. His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. He looked like a candidate for a heart attack.

And he smoked. The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth and the smoke encircled his head like a wreath (the Surgeon General would not approve). He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot (PETA would not approve) and his clothes were tarnished with ashes and soot (Mrs. Santa would not approve). With a lumpy sack over his shoulder, he looked like a homeless person.

I asked Santa Claus if the public’s fear of crime had changed how he did his job.

“The increased use of car and home burglar alarms makes my journey tougher, I must say,” Santa said. “As you know, my miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer make such a clatter, they set off every car alarm on the block.”

Santa also said that home burglar alarms has made his surreptitious entry, via the fireplace, most difficult. When he slides down the chimney, he sets off alarms, which wakes the household and brings the police.
Santa went on to say that the alarms ruin the surprise for the children and he is often detained by the responding police officers, who demand identification and administer alcohol tests.

Fortunately, Santa looks like a right jolly old elf, so the police officers have to laugh, in spite of themselves. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head give the people who thought they were being robbed the knowledge that they had nothing to dread.

“I once had my sleigh and reindeer stolen while I was in a home setting up the toys, and I must admit that I paused to enjoy the milk and cookies that a child left me,” Santa said. “But with some kindly police officer’s help, I was able to recover the sleigh and reindeer rather quickly. You see my lead reindeer has a bright red nose and we were able to spot him from about three blocks away.”

Santa said his brush with crime made him understand why families were installing burglar alarms and why they were more concerned about a strange old fat man in red entering their home in the middle of the night. He told me that he was looking into some kind of security system for his sleigh as well.

I asked him about the burglary that occurred that morning in South Philly and he replied he was well aware of the sad incident.

“I plan to visit the house tonight on my rounds and with a little magic I’ll leave them some special gifts under their tree,” Santa explained. “I also did a little investigative work to find the crooks, as I have powers the police lack."

Santa said he discovered who the crooks were and he tipped the police off. He also plans to leave the crooks lumps of coal in their stockings, which will be hung with care in the local jail.

“Don’t they know I’m watching?” Santa asked. ”I know when they have been naughty or good. My surveillance techniques are finer than the FBI’s.”

“This should be a joyful time of year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” Santa said. “This should be a time of love, charity and good cheer.”

The interview concluded, he sprang to his sleigh and to his team gave a whistle and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

(With apologies to Clement C. Moore and my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all)