Published On: Mon, Oct 9th, 2017

Real Life or Horror Movie? How VPN Logs Helped FBI Unmask a Cyberstalking Suspect

We mostly spin to substitute and VPN services for safeguarding a identities online. But are these products indeed stealing your late night searches? Perhaps not. Criminals increasingly use these anonymizing services to censor their tracks, however, a new arrest, while formulating questions about a flawlessness of VPN services, could also assistance in deterring identical iniquitous rapist activities.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was means to lane down a infamous internet stalker regulating logs supposing by paid VPN services. In an announcement, a US Department of Justice pronounced that a detain of Ryan Lin, a 24-year-old from Massachusetts, was probable interjection to VPN logs supposing by PureVPN. He was arrested on charges of cyberstalking a former roommate and badgering her family, her employers, friends, and her community.

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“Those who consider they can use a Internet to scare people and censor behind a anonymity of a net and dupe law coercion should consider again,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of a DoJ’s Criminal Division said.

“The Department of Justice will be relentless in a efforts to identify, arrest, prosecute, and retaliate a perpetrators of these horrible acts and find probity on interest of their victims.”

Bomb threats, doxing, nuisance – a cyberstalking debate right out of Hollywood’s fear genre

The censure filed against Lin in a Massachusetts District Court reveals that he stalked his former roommate (referred as Jennifer Smith in a justice papers to strengthen her identity), who said the violent online debate opposite her began shortly after Lin altered in and continued even after she had altered out dual months later.

The charges opposite Lin include doxing, posting insinuate photos suggesting they were Smith’s, promulgation “images that expected consecrate child pornography” to her family and friends, among others. Private information, including Smith’s birth date, address, phone numbers, and passwords of accounts regularly showed adult online. Lin is also purported of carrying done a array of fake military reports, promulgation unknown tips of bombs and drugs during Smith’s residence.

Smith’s defenceless MacBook carried a request carrying all her passwords

The confirmation reveals that Smith had a request on her laptop (which wasn’t cue protected) that carried passwords to all her accounts, including iCloud that was after used by Lin to take her private pictures.

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To cover his tracks, Lin used several remoteness services, including Tor, anonymized general texting services, abroad encrypted email services, and VPN services. But what done it comparatively easy for FBI to lane him down was his work mechanism that he had used for some of his cyberstalking campaign.

After being consummated from work, his employers had reinstalled Windows to have a complement reassigned to a new employee. However, FBI was means to follow a crumbs left by Lin, including a following:

The logs from PureVPN and footprints left on his work mechanism helped a agents infer that it was indeed Lin who had been targeting Smith, her colleagues, friends, and her family with a year-long nuisance campaign. The logs showed that a same VPN IP chateau that had logged into Lin’s Gmail comment was used to record into another comment that was used for creation threats opposite her. PureVPN was also means to couple a stalking debate with Lin’s home and work IPs.

In a affidavit, a FBI has common how Lin had ironically tweeted about VPN services gripping logs.

“There is no such thing as VPN that doesn’t keep logs. If they can extent your connectors or lane bandwidth usage, they keep logs.”

Investigators serve became certain that Lin was a one behind this debate after they were means to bond him to a Rover comment that was used to get Smith’s new phone number. Lin had sealed adult on Rover regulating name “Ashley Piano” where Smith was charity pet sitting services. Using Rover, Lin was means to get Smith’s new series as she had altered her prior one after being harassed.

“As alleged, Mr. Lin orchestrated an extensive, multi-faceted debate of mechanism hacking and online nuisance that caused a outrageous volume of angst, alarm, and nonessential output of singular law coercion resources,” Harold H Shaw, FBI Special Agent in Charge of a FBI Boston Field Division, said.

“This kind of function is not a prank, and it isn’t harmless.”

FBI representative who oversaw a debate combined that “no one should feel vulnerable in their possess home, school, or workplace, and a FBI and a law coercion partners wish today’s detain will deter others from enchanting in identical rapist conduct.”

Lin faces adult to 5 years in jail and adult to 3 years of supervised release.

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