Thursday, May 24, 2012

Small town mayor, son arrested for recall election website hack

This might be something Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin might consider, although he comes from the other side of the aisle. Felix Roque, the 55-year-old Democratic mayor of West New York, New Jersey, and his son, Joseph Roque, 22, were arrested early Thursday morning by FBI agents, on federal charges that the pair shut down a website advocating the elder Roque's recall after first hacking into the email accounts of their political foes.

The site in question was The question is, how did the pair manage to take it down?

It was a decidedly low-tech method. After trying to determine the identity of the site owner by trying to meet with him, the younger Roque managed to reset the password to the email account that was used to register Our guess is that he did so because the reset password question / answer was made far too easy, something many people are guilty of doing.

Once that was done, on February 8 at 4:49 pm, Felix Roque allegedly cancelled the domain name, causing the recall website to go offline. Cell phone records of the two Roques indicate the pair were in frequent contact during the eight hours during which Felix Roque took over the accounts.

In addition, there is other circumstantial evidence pointing to Felix Roque: browser records show he went to everyone's search engine of choice, and queried the search terms "hacking a Go Daddy Site," "recallroque log-in," and "html hacking tutorial."

According to the complaint, after the site was shut down, Mayor Roque used the messages retrieved from the hacked accounts to ID the people who involved in it. On February 9, he used his iPhone to call "Victim 1," a Hudson County, New Jersey government official, who had anonymously created the recall website. The older Roque then claimed to have proof that the official was involved with the site.

Roque allegedly told Victim 1, "A friend of mine, he works in the -- I can’t tell you -- three letters -- CIA. That's how I get information. So what I'm doing is not very kosher.”

It's interesting that he would say that what he was doing was not kosher. Roque could have been in trouble anyway, if the official had reported this to the authorities and if in fact it was true - which it was not. Roque's fictitious CIA friend could have been in hot water, as well.

The Roques are charged with causing damage to protected computers, gaining unauthorized access to computers in furtherance of causing damage to protected computers, and conspiracy to commit those crimes. In an ironic twist, Roque came to office after leading a successful recall against the previous mayor, Sal Vega.

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