Wednesday, 12 July 2017 09:14

ATO worker puts mobile hacking details on LinkedIn

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An employee of the Australian Taxation Office has published information obtained from the Israeli firm Cellebrite online, detailing ways of breaking into mobile phones.

The information, which was removed about an hour later after the ABC informed the ATO about it, was said to show the ATO's tactics for investigating fraud and its bid to obtain powers that are normally granted only to police and intelligence bodies.

The ABC reported that the instructions were published on LinkedIn and included ways of bypassing passwords and obtaining data even if the phone battery was dead and there was no SIM in the device.

Cellebrite is said to be the company that helped the FBI obtain data from an iPhone 5C belonging to one of the terrorists involved in an attack in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015, after Apple had refused to do so.

The ATO document made reference to Cellebrite software for breaking into mobiles. The ABC said that the ATO had paid the company $42,747 for training its employees.

Last month, a Fairfax Media report said many government agencies, including ASIC, the AFP, and the Department of Defence, were using Cellebrite's services.

The ABC quoted an ATO spokeswoman as saying: "Security staff use a range of technologies, including Universal Forensic Extraction software provided by Cellebrite, as part of our digital forensic capability to support investigations."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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