XRP Sentiment Manipulated by Thousands of Bots, Analyst Claims

XRP Sentiment Manipulated by Thousands of Bots, Analyst Claims

In January, news.Bitcoin.com reported on the so-called ‘XRP army’ harassing Ryan Selkis, the cofounder of cryptocurrency data startup Messari. A recent data analysis has now alleged that the XRP army of shills is comprised of thousands of bots trying to sway market sentiment across social media channels like Twitter.

Also read: Jeff Garzik Subpoenaed in Kleiman Bitcoin Lawsuit Against Craig Wright

Thousands of XRP Bots and Fake Ripple Shills Have Infested Twitter, Researcher Claims

When people discuss Ripple Labs and the XRP digital currency, the conversation can sometimes turn ugly and controversial. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have noticed on platforms such as Twitter that if someone says something negative about Ripple or XRP, they are swarmed by Ripple supporters. The cofounder of Messari, Ryan Selkis, otherwise known as @twobitidiot, recently detailed how he was harassed by XRP supporters who called his home phone number. Now, a few reports from independent researchers have concluded that there are thousands of phony accounts or bots on social media being used to manipulate XRP sentiment. In fact, Geoff Golberg has spent a lot of time studying XRP-related bots and phony accounts on Twitter and first revealed his findings last year.

XRP Sentiment Manipulated by Thousands of Bots, Analyst Claims
Independent researcher Geoff Golberg’s data sets showing a large number of fake accounts and bots tied to popular accounts like ‘Giantgox’ and ‘Xrptrump.’

“Astroturfing = the deceptive tactic of simulating grassroots support for a product, cause, etc., undertaken by people or organizations with an interest in shaping public opinion,” explainedGolberg after sharing his data. “There are various types of graphs I use and analyses I conduct — It’s quite manual and requires lots of time.” One particular Twitter account called ‘@Giantgox’ raised Golberg’s curiosity as many bots showed signs of being tethered to the Twitter account.

Golberg’s analysis continued:

Every dot/node is a Twitter account which is following and/or being followed by Giantgox.

Golberg Continues to Share His Data Despite Threats

Last year, Golberg wrote about his investigation in great detail, which uncovered around 8,000 suspected phony XRP accounts on Twitter. The researcher also claims he made a bet with Ripple’s CTO, David Schwartz. In the post called “Dissecting a key (Twitter) account from the XRP Army,” Golberg says that Schwartz told him that if “there’s a real problem” the CTO would be “willing to deploy resources to investigate it.” However, since Golberg began sharing his data sets and analysis, he claims Schwartz has turned silent about his alleged promise. “There’s been crickets from Schwartz since I shared data outlining the magnitude of the XRP/Ripple astroturfing efforts,” Golberg tweeted.

Besides the Giantgox account, Golberg also found questionable data tied to another popular XRP-related Twitter account, ‘@Xrptrump,’ which has roughly 30,000 followers. While sharing his data, Golberg emphasized: “The large highlighted cluster is comprised of 8.2K accounts which follow Xrptrump — Take a look at this spreadsheet for yourself — do these look like real accounts?” The researcher’s seething critique of the allegedly manufactured support added:

The majority of Xrptrump’s followers are inauthentic accounts/accounts that have zero interest in XRP (large clusters, for example) — XRP army manufactures support.

According to the researcher, and similarly to Ryan Selkis’ experience, Golberg was harassed by the XRP army. After sharing his studies concerning the magnitude of alleged Ripple bots, the researcher received a message from a Twitter account that said: “Who can kill him?” He then reported the account to Twitter and the social media company told Golberg that the person did not violate Twitter’s harassment guidelines. Two days later, the account holder messaged Golberg directly and apologized for the threat and the account owner also deleted the profile. Despite this, the harrying and intimidation will not stop Golberg from sharing his research and analysis. “I eat XRP army shills for breakfast,” Golberg proclaimed.

Bookmark This: 400 Gun and Ammo sites Democrats don’t want you to visit

Bookmark This: 400 Gun and Ammo sites Democrats don’t want you to visit

Thomas Dishaw


Make no mistake the Democrats are coming for your guns. It’s not going to be in one clean swoop like the mandatory gun buyback program in Australia, because that would lead to a civil war. This roundup will be slow and incremental, and it starts with the limitation of information.

As most know Google is the information gatekeeper for about 75% of the world. It’s also a well-known fact that Google hates guns, and will do anything to destroy publishers and businesses that dare to uphold the Second Amendment. That is why this article is so important. Google can continue to suppress all the sites listed below, but they can’t suppress this page if you bookmark it in your browser. That is how we are going to win this war. Listed below are over 400 pro-Second Amendment websites offering valuable information in regards to firearms, ammo, gunsmithing, hunting, news, and much more. By no means is this list complete. I’m sure there are hundreds of great sites I missed, and if so please feel free to mention them in the comments and I will be sure to add them to this list. Please note I haven’t received any compensation from any of the companies or publishers listed below, my only goal is to create a great resource people can use over and over again.

10 Ring.com

.50 BMG Ammo 

.50 Forum 

.50 BMG Supply 

80% Lowers Forum

1911 Addicts

1911 Forum

1911 Talk


A-1 Hunting & Shooting Supply 

Able Ammo 

Accurate Powders 

Accurate Plating and Weaponry, Inc. 

Aero Precision


Airguns – Pyramyd Air, Inc. 

AK47 Talk

Alliant Powders 

ALPEC Laser Sights 

American Derringer 

American Gunsmithing Institute 

American Handgunner 

American Technologies Network 


Ammo in Bulk 

Ammo Boxes (Plastic) 



Ammo Subscription


Ammo from Able Ammo 


Ammunition from SHARP ammo 

Ammunition Store, The 

Ammunition To Go 



AR500 Armor

ArmaLite, Inc. 

Armament Technology 

Arms Vault 

Arms Vault Reloading page (companion to above) 

ATF Firearms Open Letters

ATF Firearms Rulings

Assault Web

ATN Corp


Back Woods Home


Ballistic Advantage

Barnes Bullets Inc.



Bear Claw Holsters.com 


BenchMade Knives 

Bench Rest Central

Beretta Firearms 


Black Hills Ammunition 

Black Powder Resource 

Black Powder Elephant brand 

Black Powder Shooting 

Blue And Gray Gun Club of Huntsville and North Alabama

Blue Book of Gun Values 

Blue Ridge Firearms

Briley Mgf. Co.



Browning Owners

Buckey Firearms

Buffalo Arms 

BullBerry Barrel Works, Ltd. 

Bullets from Bullet works

Bullets from CB Bullets 

Bullets from Master Cast 

Bullets from Matt’s Bullets.com 

Bullets from Meister Bullets.com 

Bullets from Missouri Bullet.com 

Bullets from Montana Bullet Works 

Bullets from Oregon Trail 

Bullets from Reloads ‘N More 

Bullets from Rim Rock Bullets 

Bullets from SNS Casting 

Bullets from Zero Bullets 

Bullseye Shooting 

Bullseye Tactical 

Burris Optics 


C&C Hunting & Fishing 


Cal Guns Forum

CAS City

Cascade Ammunition 

Century Intl. Arms 

Cheaper Than Dirt 

CHRONY Chronographs 

Classic Pistol Website 

Cherry’s Guns 

Chestnut Ridge Supply 

Cimarron Firearms 

Cliff’s Guns & Surplus 


Colt Firearms 

Concealment Express


Concealed Carry classes 

Country Outfitter 

Cowboy Action Shooting CAS-City 

Cowboy Fast Draw Association 

Cowboy Shooting, Navada 

Cowboy Shooting, Georgia 

Cowboy Shooting, Alabama 

Cowboy Shooting, Alabama 

Cowboy Shooting, LINKS Page 

Cowboy Holsters and Belts 

Cowboy Store 

Cowboy Store 

Cowboy Gun Leather 

Custom Gun Leather 

CTK Precision 

CrossBreed Holsters

Crow Shooting Supplies 

Cylinder and Slide 

CZ Talk

Dan’s Ammo & Sporting Goods 

Daisy Manufacturing Co. 

Dakota Arms, Inc. 

Dan Wesson Forum


Defensive Carry Forum

Dillon Precision 

Dixie Gun Works 



Ed Brown Products

Electronic Gun Shop 

Elite Survival.com 


Executive Gun Runners 

F4 Defense

Fast Draw Shooting 

Faxon Firearms

Fenix Flashlights

Field and Stream 

Find A Shooting Range

Firearms Organizations

Firearms Talk

Firearms Training 

First Defense

Friends of NRA – Huntsville, AL 

Fowler Gun and Machine Shop 

Fred’s Firearms Service 

Freedom Arms

Front Sight Firearms Training Institute 

GALCO International 

Gamaliel Shooting Supply 

Gardall Gun Safes 

Georgia Arms 


Glock Firearms Home Page

Glock “King Glock” Home Page 


Glock Talk

Gorilla Ammo

Grams Engineering 

Gray Beard Outdoors 


Guns & Ammo Forum

Gun Broker.com


Gun Cleaning 

Gun Collections On Line 

Gun Deals

Gun Deals(2)

Gun Deals(3)

Gun Deals(4)

Gun Facts

Gun Fighter Zone 

Gun Digest 

Gun Digest Gun Values 

Gun Giveaways

Gun Laws By State

Guns Magazine 

GunMag Warehouse




Gun Parts Corp. 

Gun Rebates

Gun Rebates(2)

Gun Rebates(3)

Gun Rebates(4)

Gun Safes by Homeland Safes

Gun Safes by Maximum Security

Gun Safes by Sportsman Steel Gun Safes


Gun Schematics

Gun Shop Finder 


Gunsight South Africa 

Guns and Game Magazine 


GunSmith School 

Gunner’s Alley 


GunSmith List 

Gun Video 

Gun Videos

Handgun Forum


Handloading For Hunting 

Hanson’s Leather

Henry Rifle Forums

Hinterland Outfitters 

HK Pro Forum

Hodgdon Powder Company 

Hogue Grips


Holsters for carry 

Hornady Bullets 

Hunting Information Systems 



Illinois Carry Forum

Impact Guns Store 

IMR Powders 

Innovative Technologies 


Ithaca Gun Co. 

Illinois Carry Forum

JM4 Tactical

Kahr Forum

kahr Talk

Keep Shooting.com 

Kel Tec Forum

Kimber of America 

Kirkpatrick Leather Company 


Kramer Handgun Leather 



Laser Range Finder Review 

Laser Sight Pro 

Larry’s Pistol & Pawn 

Lazzeroni Arms Company 

Leupold Scopes

Leadheads Cast Bullets 

Lucky Gunner.com 

Lyman Products 


Mag-Na-Port International 

Magnum Research

Magnus Cast Bullet Co. 

Marlin Owners

Marlin Firearms Co. 

Maryland Shooters

Matt’s Bullets.com 

Mauser Firearms Co. 

McKune’s Sporting Collectibles 

Midsouth Shooters Supply 

Midway USA 

The Military Rifle Journal 

Millett Scope Sights 

Misty Morn Safe Co. 

Mississippi Sportsman 

Montana Bullet Works 

Mountain West Brass 


M T M Case Gard 

Munitions Law Group 

Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, National 


National Bullet Company 

National Gun Forum

National Rifle Association 

National Rifle Association 

NRA guide to state gun laws

National Rifle Association ILA 

NFA Talk

NRA Friends – Huntsville, AL 

Navy Arms Co. 

Night Vision 4 Less 

Norma Precision 

North American Arms Catalog


Nosler Bullets 


NY Gun Forum

Ohio CCW Forum

Old Western Scrounger

Open Carry

Optics Planet.com 

Oregon Trail Bullet Co. 

Palmetto State Armory

Pearce Grip, Inc. 

Pellet Guns 

Perfect Union

Pinewood Derby Graphite


Potter Firearms 

Pro Ammo 

Professional Shooters Products Inc. 

Rainier Arms

Ransom Rests 

RCS Optics 

Recreational Software, Inc. 

Redding Reloading Equipment 

Redfield Optics 

RE Factor Tactical

Reloading Bench Plans from Widener’s 

Relentless Tactical

Rimfire Central

Remington 870 

Rossi Rifleman Forum

Rifle Scopes Review 

Ruger Firearms 



Ruger Talk

S&S Firearms.com 

Sako Ltd. 


Savage Arms 


Shooters Forum

Shooting Rebates

Shotgun Report 

ShotShow Online 

Shoot Steel

Sierra Bullets 

SIG Forum

Sig Sauer



Silencer Talk

Sinclair International 

Southern Ammunition Company 

Smith and Wesson 



Smith & Wesson Gear

Sniper’s Hide

Speer Bullets 

Sporting Clays: England 

Sportsman’s Guide

Sports South

Springfield Armory 

Springfield Forum

SSK Industries 

Stag Arms Retail

Star Packer 

Star Line Brass 

State Gun Laws Wiki

Steps of Reloading

Survivalist Boards


Target Timers 

Target Barn


Taurus Firearms


TSRA – Texas State Rifle Association 

Texas CHL Forum

Texas Gun Talk

Texas Gun Laws

Texas Gun Ranges

Texas – Austin Firearms Training


The AK Files

The FAL Files


The Firearms Forum

The Firing Line

The High Road

The Liberal Gun Club Forum

The Open Range


Thompson/Center Arms Co



Tommy Gun

Trap and Field 

True Shot Gun Club

Tumbling Media

Turner’s Outdoorsman 

Tyrant Designs




Valley Firearms 

Varmint Hunters Association 

Walther Forums

Western Bullet Co. 

Western Powders 

Western Today 

Western: Old West Gallery 

Western: Cowboy Emporium

Western Wear 

We The Armed

We The People Holsters



Wilson Combat 

Winchester Ammunition 

WMD Guns


XD Talk

Directed Energy Weapon Tech Transfer to Israel with US Taxpayers’ Subsidy

Directed Energy Weapon Tech Transfer to Israel with US Taxpayers’ Subsidy

While the US population are fully entertained and distracted by the all too predictable conclusion of the Mueller Investigations regarding the supposed Trump-Putin collusion during the 2016 presidential election, a new bill was filed behind the scenes for a measure to transfer one of the more exotic destructive technologies of our time, i.e. directed energy weaponry that includes laser and particle beam systems.

We’ve already seen how these Tesla technologies work during the California Wildfire, late last year. Now, they want to give it to Israel with US taxpayers’ subsidy.

New Bill Would See US Taxpayers Subsidize Experimental Israeli Laser Weapons

The U.S.-Israel Directed Energy Cooperation Act would deepen Israel’s access to grotesque weapons of war that have been developed by the U.S. military but have also been banned for use by American troops.

by Whitney Webb

WASHINGTON — Last Thursday, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced the “U.S.-Israel Directed Energy Cooperation Act,” which would authorize “the Department of Defense to carry out bilateral cooperation with Israel to develop directed energy capabilities,” according to a press release.

Directed energy weapons include laser weapons and particle beams; they are highly destructive but embraced by militaries for their “infinite magazines” and “incredible speed and range.”

More specifically, the bill — which is identical to a bill of the same name that Lieu and Stefanik introduced last year but failed to pass — would allow the Pentagon “to carry out research, development, test, and evaluation activities, on a joint basis with Israel, to establish directed energy capabilities that address threats to the United States, deployed forces of the United States, or Israel, and for other purposes.”

Arguably more troubling is the fact that this bill would deepen Israel’s access to grotesque weapons of war that have been developed by the U.S. military but have also been banned for use by American troops. For instance, in the late 1990s, the U.S. and Israel collaborated on the “Nautilus” program that created lasers that cause permanent blindness in those targeted by literally “melting the eyeball.”

Though the “Nautilus” lasers were banned for use by the U.S. under the Clinton administration because they could cause permanent blindness, they were nevertheless shared with Israel’s government. A spokesman for U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command, John Cunningham, at the time told the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs that the decision to share the technology with Israel had not been made by the command — which was the lead agency overseeing the program — and instead stated that “We are taking our orders from the Secretary of Defense [William Perry] and President Clinton.”

The “Nautilus” lasers were later shelved for use as missile defense by Israel in 2006, despite the U.S. and Israel having spent $300 million, owing to the “prohibitive cost” of their operation. However, Israel has continued to use the highly experimental technology to develop a new system it claimed was on the “verge of completion” this past December.

In light of this current bill, it is important to revisit the “Nautilus” example, as it clearly shows that the U.S. government, in past “collaborative” efforts, has provided experimental, hi-tech weapons to Israel even when they are so controversial, potent and deadly that the U.S.’ own military is banned from using them. This point is even more troubling when one considers that Israel regularly testsits experimental and newly developed weapons on Palestinians, including civilians, who live in the blockaded Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

U.S. to subsidize Israeli arsenal

While it has been touted as a means of “jointly” researching directed energy weapons, the text of the bill reveals that it would be used to funnel U.S. taxpayer funds to subsidize Israeli directed energy weapon research in Israel.

For instance, the bill states: “The Secretary of Defense is authorized to provide maintenance and sustainment support to Israel for the directed energy capabilities research, development, test, and evaluation activities authorized.” It then states that Israel’s financial contribution to said research would not necessarily need to be equal to the U.S.’ contribution, but merely “an amount that otherwise meets the best efforts of Israel, as mutually agreed to by the United States and Israel.”

Furthermore, the “memorandum of agreement” between the two countries states that the bill would require “the United States Government to receive semiannual reports on expenditure of funds, if any, by the Government of Israel, including a description of what the funds have been used for, when funds were expended, and an identification of entities that expended the funds.” This passage strongly suggests that the research will take place in Israel under Israeli government supervision.

The bill is part of a recent congressional effort to mandate close cooperation between the Israeli and U.S. governments in sensitive technology, despite Israel’s history of using such collaboration to steal state secrets. For instance, a widely overlooked provision of the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 — which was nearly passed but ultimately blocked last year in the Senate by Rand Paul (R-KY) — would have mandated that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) work closely with the Israel Space Agency (ISA) “to identify and cooperatively pursue peaceful space exploration and science initiatives in areas of mutual interest.”

The provision was included despite the fact that an Israeli postdoctoral student, Amir Gat, at Caltech had illegally transmitted to Israel classified information on NASA technology. Gat is now employed by an Israeli state-run research institution.

Considering the source(s)

This current bill appears not to provide any direct benefit to the United States and, instead, promises to be a way of subsidizing hi-tech weapons research of an allied government that regularly commits war crimes. Though Rep. Lieu has claimed that the legislation is an “opportunity” for the U.S. and would “save lives,” it seems that the $31,850 Lieu received from the pro-Israel lobby just last year may have swayed his opinion.

Yet, in contrast, the bill’s other sponsor, Rep. Stefanik, has not received such largesse from the Israel lobby. Instead, Stefanik is connected with and used to work for the country’s most notorious and zealously pro-Israel neoconservatives, when she served as communications director for the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). FPI was founded in 2009 by neoconservatives Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol as the successor to the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which had fallen into disrepute for its role in promoting — and some argue helping to plan — the Iraq War. Yet, Stefanik’s association with neoconservatives goes beyond her association with FPI, as neocon National Security Adviser John Bolton endorsed her re-election campaign bid in 2017.

Given the lack of benefit for the U.S. — and Israel’s history of war crimes and testing its newly developed weapons on disenfranchised Palestinians in blockaded Gaza or the occupied West Bank — this bill is a perfect example of yet another “Israel first” bill now making its way through the U.S. Congress.

Top photo | An Israeli soldier is seen next to an U.S-funded Iron Dome interceptor battery deployed near the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Aug. 28, 2013. Tsafrir Abayov | AP

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

Defund the criminal cabal and accelerate its demise by boycotting Big Pharma for good.

On Live TV, Netanyahu Admits Approving Submarine Sale to Egypt Because of ‘State Secret’

Premier gives first televised interview in three years, denies that he made any profits from deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives an interview to Israel's Channel 12, March 23, 2019.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied any financial connection to the sale of German submarines to Egypt on Saturday evening and said his reasons for approving the sale are “state secrets.” In addition, Netanyahu admitted that the decision was made without the involvement of the defense minister and the chief of staff.

In a surprise interview on Channel 12 news, his first in three years, the premier denied any wrongdoing in the submarine affair and addressed recent allegations about his investments in the Seadrift steel factory. 

>> Analysis: Israel’s submarine affair was already serious, but then Netanyahu opened a Pandora’s Box ■ Explained: Netanyahu in deep water: Everything you need to know about the submarines scandal

Netanyahu noted that he purchased the steel shares with his own money while serving as a Knesset member, contradicting his previous version, according to which he bought them while he was not in office. 

“I want to blow up this entire blood libel,” Netanyahu said. According to him, Steeldrift “was a company with great technological capacity but it was managed poorly.” 

By Netanyahu’s account, in 2007, while he was opposition leader, he acquired shares in the Texas-based company Seadrift Coke, which was managed by his cousin, Nathan Milikowsky.

Seadrift was later acquired by Ohio-based GrafTech International, a maker of materials needed for steelmaking, which was a supplier to German industrial group ThyssenKrupp. The German company later sold submarines to Israel and Egypt.

According to the prime minister, he sold the shares in November 2010, a year and a half after becoming prime minister. “There is no connection between the investment I made and the submarines,” the premier said. “I sold all my shares in this company a year and a half before the first submarine was sold. There is no essential connection.” 

Netanyahu gave the interview before departing for Washington, where he is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump and address the annual AIPAC Policy Conference. 

The prime minister said that he could not reveal his reasons for authorizing the sale of submarines to Egypt because they are state secrets. “My reasons are security reasons and security reasons alone. The State of Israel has secrets that only the prime minister knows and a handful of people.”

Germany had not needed Israel’s formal approval for the sale to Egypt, but because of the special relationship between Israel and Germany, Berlin approached Israel on the issue.

The premier went on to address claims that reports regarding the alleged profits he made from the submarine sale were circulated to hurt him. “This came out when it became clear that the Iranians hacked into Benny Gantz’s phone,” the prime minister said, seemingly suggesting that the report was published to hurt his standing among voters so that he wouldn’t gain from the hit his main opponent Gantz suffered. 

Earlier this month, it was reported that Iranian intelligence breached the device of Gantz, the co-chair of the political alliance Kahol Lavan. The latter confirmed the report. 

Netanyahu went on to blast the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, saying: “These elections are about if we’ll allow a leftist government headed by Gantz and Lapid who are dressing themselves up as right or center-right.”

Asked whether he would promote a law that would block his indictment if elected in the April 9 ballot, Netanyahu replied: “No way, I didn’t deal with this and I do not plan to deal with this. I believe I won’t do something like this.”

He added that the Likud party he heads will “stand against Iranian pressure. Ten generals won’t help if we don’t have the right policy. They will support an Iran deal.”

Netanyahu also went after other members of Kahol Lavan who accused him of corruption in the submarine affair: Co-founder Yair Lapid and members Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi. 

The prime minister said he intended to sue the four, adding: “Gantz, Bogie [Ya’alon] and Ashkenazi are telling a tale because they know I can’t reveal one of Israel’s state secrets here on live television.”

Kahol Lavan issued a response following Netanyahu’s interview, calling him “hysterical.” 

“He changes his version of events again and again, avoids difficult questions and continues to slander. We got no answers about his 16 million shekels in profits. If there was a secret, which there isn’t because he just invented it, why did he agree to sell advanced submarines to Egypt without alerting the security establishment?” the statement read, adding:

“The only thing that can be said to his merit is that he has finally internalized what others have already figured out: He’s going to lose the election.”

Feds won’t charge suspect in deadly Texas school shooting

Feds won’t charge suspect in deadly Texas school shooting

FILE – In this Feb. 25, 2019 file photo Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the Santa Fe High School student accused of killing 10 people in a May 18 shooting at the high school, is escorted by Galveston County Sheriff’s Office deputies into the jury assembly room for a change of venue hearing at the Galveston County Courthouse in Galveston, Texas. A state lawmaker is proposing changes to a bill that would leave certain underage offenders eligible for parole after 20 years after hearing opposition from families of victims involved in a Texas high school shooting last May. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP, Pool) (Associated Press)

DALLAS — Federal prosecutors say they will not pursue charges at this time against the teenager accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 18, faces a state capital murder trial for the deadly shooting last May at Santa Fe High School that also wounded 13 people.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas says prosecutors and FBI agents met with the victims and family members Tuesday and that no federal charges will be filed at this time. A spokeswoman declined to say whether Pagourtzis might face future federal prosecution.

If convicted in state court, Pagourtzis could be sentenced to life in prison. But he has the possibility of parole after 40 years because he was a minor at the time of the shooting.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

FEMA ‘unnecessarily’ shared data of 2.3 million disaster victims with contractor

FEMA says accidental data leak has been dealt with and user data removed from contractor’s systems.


The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has shared the personal and financial information of more than 2.3 million disaster victims with one of its contractors, a government report has revealed.

Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria survivors, along with the California 2017 wildfires victims had their data shared inappropriately by FEMA officials, according to a report published this week by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The data belonged to disaster victims who signed up with FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program to receive temporary housing.

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The OIG report found that FEMA shared too much information about disaster victims with one of its contractors.

Normally, FEMA should have released 13 data points about each applicant to its contractors, but in this case, the agency released an additional 20 fields, some containing what the OIG described as “sensitive personally identifiable information” (SPII), such as the applicant’s street name, city, ZIP code, and bank and other financial details.

The name of the contractor who received this data was redacted in the OIG report. It also didn’t say when the data breach occurred, but it’s believed to have happened sometime between the fall of 2017 and mid-2018 when the DHS OIG audit took place.

In a canned statement sent out to inquiring press, FEMA said it corrected the mistake.

“FEMA is no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor’s information system,” Lizzie Litzow, FEMA’s press secretary, told ZDNet sister site CNET.

Other US government agencies who reported data breaches in the past few months include NASA, the DOD, and HealthCare.gov.

Research: Using the Hidden Markov Model to identify Meek based Tor network traffic

Tor is by far the most widely used internet censorship circumvention solution. The Tor browser relies on a unique obfuscation technology known as “Meek” to promote users’ privacy. Meek obfuscates Tor network traffic so that it seems like ordinary forms of internet traffic. However, hidden Markov models can be used to identify Tor network traffic. A recently published research paper presents a novel approach for detection of Meek obfuscated Tor traffic which relies on a mixture of Gaussians based Hidden Markov Model (MGHMM). Experiments conducted by the authors of the paper prove that the proposed model is highly effective in the identification of Tor network traffic. Throughout this article, we will take a look at this novel Tor traffic analysis model.

The adversary model and capturing of Tor traffic:

The proposed approach relies on a relatively weak threat model via which an adversary can access network traffic traveling between the user and the entry Tor relay node. The adversary does not have to generate, delay, delete, or modify network traffic, which renders the attack highly stealthy. Apart from the adversary’s own Tor relay node, no other node across the network is compromised, which renders the attack easy to launch successfully on a live network setting.

Traffic analysis begins with the interception of network traffic data packets. Only the targeted user and the gateway have the capability of capturing data packets travelling between them. Practically speaking, multiple entities can access network traffic data packets. The LAN’s administrator can access all traffic flowing across all of their network’s endpoints. The ISP can monitor all traffic of its subscribers. After obtaining consent from the ISP, law enforcement agencies can monitor and record all network traffic data packets of any internet user. Moreover, a malicious adversary on the LAN can launch a man in the middle (MITM) attack between the target user and the gateway and route all traffic to their server. The MITM attack can be launched easily via means of ARP spoofing or poisoning.

Assuming an adversary can intercept the Tor network’s data packets via one of the previously mentioned means, the process of capturing of Tor traffic passes through three stages as illustrated in figure (1). Initially, traffic’s data packets are dumped in a file via a simple application such as tcpdump. Thereafter, the data packets are filtered to keep data packets related to Tor network traffic.

Figure (1): Stages of capturing of Tor’s traffic

The traffic is then grouped into streams. As the list of Tor relay nodes is publically available, it is used to filter Tor network traffic out from the remainder of captured traffic. The list of Tor relay nodes can be obtained from Tor’s status files, especially the cached consensus file, which can be manually downloaded via one of the aforementioned authorities; they can also be directly accessed via the local folder of the Tor status. As the adversary is also a Tor user, they will use their very own status file to obtain a list of all Tor relay nodes.

Thereafter, the packets have to be classified into streams at the level of Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). A stream is established via means of a three way TCP handshake (SYN, SYN-ACK, and ACK). Then, the stream is tracked via means of the ports, IP addresses, Sequence/Acknowledgement numbers, and TCP flag bits. Following termination of a TCP connection, the stream is closed.

Circuit construction and analysis of Tor traffic:

Figure (2) illustrates the sequence of data packets required to create a typical circuit composed of three hops. Since the adversary will be only eavesdropping between the first hop and the target Tor user, they will be monitoring only the six data packets shown on the first column of figure (2). Moreover, all the data packets that they monitor are encrypted with a fixed size of 512 bytes, which renders the task of identifying them extremely difficult.

Figure (2): The process of construction of Tor circuit

The only piece of information that the adversary can exploit is the IPT, which refers to the delay period between two successive data packets. The IPTs of the circuit construction’s six data packets exhibit a unique pattern. Actually, the IPT values are based on two elements: the roundtrip time (RTT) of given data packets within the network and the Tor client’s processing time. More precisely, the following can be monitored:

– The IPT between the initial (CREATE) and the following (CREATED) data packets equals the time required to receive CREATED cell following successful sending of CREATE cell.

– The IPT between the 2nd (CREATED) and the 3rd (EXTEND) data packets equals the time required to process the CREATED cell and then create and send the EXTEND cell.

– The IPT between the 3rd (EXTEND) and the 4th (EXTENDED) data packets equals the time required for the EXTEND data packet to arrive at the first hop, in addition to the time required to extend the Tor circuit by adding the 2nd hop and the time required to receive the EXTENDED data packet. This must be proportionately longer than the IPT between the sequence’s 1st and 2nd data packets.

– The IPT between the 4th (EXTENDED) and the 5th (EXTEND) data packets equals the time required to compute the EXTENDED cell and to create and then send the EXTEND cell data packet.

– The final IPT between the 5th (EXTEND) and the 6th (EXTENDED) data packets equals the sum of the following times:

    • The time required for the EXTEND data packet to arrive at the first hop.
    • The time required for the first hop to compute the received EXTEND data packet, create its very own EXTEND data packet, and then send it.
    • The time required for the first hop’s EXTEND data packet to arrive at the second hop.
    • The time required for the second hop to compute the received packet, create a CREATE cell data packet, and then send it over to the third hop.
    • The time required for the third hop to compute the CREATE cell data packet and so on.

The Mixture of Gaussians based Hidden Markov Model (MGHMM):

The Hidden Markov Model (HMM) is a special system that can be defined at any given time as being one of a group N of states. The system regularly changes its state according to a group of probabilities linked to the state. Every system’s state always creates a single observation out of a group of M observations. As such, if an attacker observes the system for a number of time units n, he will make a number of observations n.

The sequence of exchanged data packets between the Tor user and the first hop, in order to form a three hop Tor circuit, can be represented by an HMM. The group of HMM’s states can be represented by the group of six steps needed to construct a Tor circuit. Because the space of potential IPT values or observations is typically continuous, the circuit construction process is represented by a Continuous HMM throughout which every system state reflects a continuous probability distribution.

The proposed MGHMM is comprised of two main elements:

1- Mixture of Gaussians (MOG) which is used to define the density distribution of Packet Size (PS) and the distribution of Inter-Packet Time (IPT).

2- A special HMM which is used to process the probability of a sequence of Tor network traffic observation and to detect Meek based Tor network traffic via means of two dimensional traffic observations composed by PS and IPT.

The proposed model was tested in the wild, i.e. on real world network traffic. Experiments prove that the proposed MGHMM is capable of identifying Meek based Tor traffic with high efficiency.

Final thoughts:

MGHMM can identify Meek based Tor traffic even with an adversary with who can only detect sequences of Tor circuit construction. This information is essential when considering the privacy of Tor users, especially in countries where internet censorship is exercised. More research is needed to identify if the proposed method can further classify the types of network traffic transmitted via the Tor network.