Hacker/cyber criminal Jeremy Hammond is serving 10 years in jail (Photo: Chicago Police Department)

FBI’s most wanted cyber criminal caught out by pet cat password

A ‘mastermind’ hacker has revealed how he was arrested when FBI detectives worked out his ridiculously easy to guess computer password, the name of his pet cat followed by 123.

Jeremy Hammond, who is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence, says he infiltrated dozens of US government websites to “expose and confront injustice”.

When agents armed with assault rifles raided his home in 2012, the hacktivist dashed to his bedroom to slam shut his encrypted Mac laptop.

But he believes his rookie password mistake made it easy for agents to crack his encryption program and get the evidence needed to put him in prison.

“My password was really weak,” he told AP. “Chewy 123.”

The 29-year-old was convicted in 2013 of hacking into the US-based security think tank Stratfor, whose clients include the US Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department.

FBI detectives enlisted the help of a notorious hacker, known as Sabu, who helped them infiltrate the notorious Anonymous hacking group.

Federal prosecutors said the Stratfor hack resulted in more than a million dollars in losses to individuals.

Five-year-old British boy becomes youngest ever qualified computer specialist

A schoolboy has become the world’s youngest qualified computer specialist after passing a Microsoft Windows exam at the age of just five.

Ayan Qureshi has only just started elementary school, but passed the test at Birmingham City University (England) to become a Microsoft Certified Professional.

ayan-qureshiHe has set a new world record for the youngest person ever to pass a Microsoft exam – at the age of five years and 11 months, beating the previous record held by six-year-old Mehroz Yawar from Pakistan.

Ayan was first introduced to computers when he was just three, by his father Asim, 43, who soon realized his son’s natural aptitude for technology.

The IT consultant then built his son a computer lab at the family’s home in Coventry, West Midlands and started preparing Ayan for the complex Microsoft test.

After just five months training, Ayan sat the ‘Supporting Windows 8.1’ assessment for IT professionals alongside several adult candidates, even though at five he will not be able to work for another eight years.

Ayan sailed through the two hour exam in September and even finished with time to spare before finding out shortly afterwards he had passed.

“We are just so proud of him,” said Mr Qureshi.

“He has plans to take an advanced test in the future but he has to concentrate on school for now.

“He was very interested in computers from the age of three so I started explaining to him about hardware and software and installing programs.

“I found that whatever I told him, he was able to remember it the next day, so I built a computer lab in our house for him to use, and he loves it.

“I showed him how to install Windows and then decided to enter him for this exam.

“It wasn’t easy teaching him every day but he picked it all up in the end.”

When Ayan, now six, and his father arrived at the university invigilators (proctors) were so shocked to see such a young candidate and they said he couldn’t take the exam.

However, a phone call to Microsoft rectified the problem and Ayan took his place at a computer alongside the other adult candidates.

“There was just a room full of adults there when we went to take the test on a Saturday, but I’m not sure if they all passed or not,” said Mr Qureshi.

“He wants to keep on learning so I am sure he will be ready to take more exams quite soon. He’s incredible really.

“He enjoys playing computer games like any kid but now he is more interested about how they work.”

The test is normally taken just before or after university by young adults aiming to be information technology technicians.

Ayan was born in Lahore, Pakistan, but his father and mother Mamoona, 34, moved to London in 2009.

The youngster is yet to decide on a career path but hopes for a job involving his favorite subjects of maths and computing.

In England, employment laws mean the youngest age a child can work part-time is 13, except children involved in areas such as acting and modeling, who can work as long as they have a performance license.

Children over 13 can work for 12 hours a week in term time, and 25 during school holidays.

Venezuela’s everlasting lightning storm enters book of records

This year Venezuela’s Catatumbo Lightning was approved for inclusion in the 2015 edition of Guinness World Records, dethroning the Congolese town of Kifuka as the place with the world’s most lightning bolts per square kilometre each year at 250.

So what causes such a powerful storm to develop in the same spot, up to 300 nights a year?

lightningScientists think the Catatumbo, named for a river that runs into the lake, is normal lightning that just happens to occur far more than anywhere else, due to local topography and wind patterns.

Lake Maracaibo basin is surrounded by mountains that trap warm trade winds coming off the Caribbean.

These winds crash into cool air spilling down from the Andes, forcing them up until they condense into thunderclouds creating an average 28 lightning strikes per minute across a wide area – an energy burst that could power all the light bulbs in Latin America.

History books show the lightning has played a significant role in Venezuelan history, helping thwart at least two nocturnal invasions of the country.

The first attempt was in 1595 when it illuminated ships led by Sir Francis Drake of England, revealing his surprise attack to Spanish soldiers in Maracaibo. The other was during the Venezuelan War of Independence in 1823, when it betrayed a Spanish fleet trying to sneak ashore.


From The Telegraph (London)