'Credible' Email Bomb Threat Shuts Down LA Schools… Sent From 'madbomber@cock.li'

from the that's-credible? dept

As you may have heard, Los Angeles closed all of its public schools today based on a bomb threat that the district deemed to be “credible.” Later in the day, New York City’s school district announced that it had received the same, or a similar, bomb threat, and had deemed it not credible and kept its schools open. Later in the day, it was reported that the bomb threats appeared to be a hoax.

Now, rather than deeming them “credible” or “not credible” perhaps a better term would be “incredible.”

That’s because it now appears that both bomb threats were sent from the throwaway email address “madbomber@cock.li.” “cock.li” is an anonymous emailer service, whose website I wouldn’t necessarily recommend visiting — especially if you’re not a fan of autoplay videos. Either way, the guy who operates cock.li — Vincent Canfield — posted to Twitter that both threats were sent via the “meme” emailer, and that he had received subpoenas trying to find out who was behind the “madbomber” account.

Canfield has posted the details of his contact with law enforcement over all of this, including two phone calls with police where he asks about the gag clause in the subpoena and is told that it’s a “request” rather than an order. The first phone call was a bit more confrontational.

The releases also include the emails sent by the NYPD:

Good Morning,

Attached is a subpoena requesting subscriber, IP logs and other user information pertaining to a Cock.li email address, which used to send a threatening email to the superintendent of the NYC Public schools. We are requesting that these results be expedited do to the severity of this threat, thank you for your attention in this matter and have a nice day.

Detective Michael Arena

NYPD Intelligence Bureau

It does seem that that New York City made the right call in judging the threats to be non-credible, though a little ridiculous in originally pretending that Canfield was gagged over discussing them. And, it does appear that the LA Unified School District over-reacted in shutting down all of its schools (which it did without even talking to the LAPD) — though, to some extent, you can understand why such a decision was made.

Still, it seems that a bomb threat coming from “madbomber@cock.li” probably should have raised a few eyebrows…

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Comments on “'Credible' Email Bomb Threat Shuts Down LA Schools… Sent From 'madbomber@cock.li'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

8chan, actually. The FAQ even links to cock.li:

What, did you miss the Great Exodus? Moot selling 4chan? Well, have a couple of short summaries, then:

8chan’s starting to look shaky now, actually. Both 4chan and 8chan were sold to shady businessmen, and both sites’ former owners have abandoned imageboards altogether. There might be another exodus in the future.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I very much enjoyed the media breathlessly reporting that this was a credible threat sent from “overseas”!

Then the officials in LA who decided to get in early with the don’t you dare judge us in retrospect because that is easy, it is not easy to brain while in the midst of a(n imaginary) crisis.

Why did they have to freak out?
San Bernardino!!!
Because the terrorists are everywhere all the time!!!!!

We have lost the ability to handle life.
We can’t go out tonight, there might be terrorists.
We can’t go shopping, there might be terrorists.
We can’t… because terrorists.

We somehow expect to be 100% safe all the time, and we will punish anyone who fails to do that impossible task for us. Had this story broken while kids were in class, you’d have had tons of parents descending to ‘save’ their baby. A nearby car would have backfired and oh hey look at the pandemonium and injuries over people running from their shadows.

There are not terrorists everywhere.
Not all brown people are terrorists.
Not all people of other faiths are wishing you death.
Yes there are terrorists in the world.
Overreacting to everything is what the terrorists (and those who $$$ benefit) want you to do.
Stop demanding the impossible, and live your life.
Learn to manage your own real risks, and stop focusing on boogeymen who send emails from domains involving cocks and anuses.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Then the officials in LA who decided to get in early with the don’t you dare judge us in retrospect because that is easy, it is not easy to brain while in the midst of a(n imaginary) crisis.

It’s totally understandable. An overreaction to a fake threat gets them in mildly hot water for a few days or weeks. Can you imagine the crapstorm if kids had been killed and it turned out there was a threat that they didn’t deem credible? This is the calculus that results in overreaction, and I can’t say I fault them. Is having school closed for a day really that awful?

Klaus says:

What use is the NSA / GCHQ?

“…and that he had received subpoenas trying to find out who was behind the “madbomber” account.”

The capabilities of the so-called security services impress me less and less each day. Their massive data centres, the constant monitoring, all those analysts, and they can’t answer a simple question about a couple of eMails?

Seriously, what use is the NSA / GCHQ?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The guy who runs the email provider emailed his users, I think he makes some great points.

” While people that abuse cock.li are actually the scum of this site and waste so much of my time, it’s amusing that an administration can take a few E-mails and shut down a school district of hundreds of thousands of students as a result. This is an administration problem and the fact that NYC didn’t close schools it wasn’t a “credible” threat is especially telling of the subjectivity that goes into making sweeping decisions like this that effect [sic] countless people.

We live in an age where anonymous messages can be sent with extreme ease (not just through cock.li). When someone uses a meme E-mail provider to threaten your organization, pulling the plug on all students and wasting over 1,800 combined YEARS of student-classroom time is a PR stunt and another example of officials employing security theater to make their students and parents feel safe. This cannot be demonstrated clearer than the fact that when something like this happens, and copycat threats inevitably come soon after, the same response is not deployed.

All of this over from an E-mail from a meme email provider. Sorry for the political E-mail, hopefully this situation adds more kek to your day than it has added me stress.”
snatched from the Ars Technica coverage

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Overheard on a newscast in the background…
They disregarded the “threat” because it read like the plot to recent episodes of Homeland.

I think this is a very telling thing about the difference in responses. Many of the most vocal cheerleaders always talk about these huge massive incidents that would look right on a soundstage, ignoring that the actual threats are never that big and complicated. In order to protect us from movie threats, we need magical movie solutions that can’t exist in reality. They get frustrated trying to find these mythical things despite spending billions on tech that is supposed to solve the movie problem… while ignoring that none of what they have focused on has found the actual events that happened. Then they try to puff up the real events with movie magic to keep everyone focused on that unreachable goal.

We can built crypto that locks out everyone but the government who can just have a “hacker” type swordfish into the master supercomputer to unlock the massive 300 page powerpoint presentation that lays out the next terror attack.

Instead its 4 guys texting and emailing with no crypto or opsec, they are on watch lists, supposed to be tracked, and the system gets to caught up trying to figure out if there was a secret code in how this person 10 steps removed form them ordered food in a cafe in the UAE that will tell them where the nuclear material for the dirty bomb is hidden… meanwhile the bad guys acquire weapons and terrorize a city. They spend more time talking about what country to blame as the source, the “crypto” that hid them from the all seeing eye, and how much more liberty we need to surrender to be safe.

New Mexico Mark says:

This whole problem is easily fixed

Yesterday one of the news shows panned over the front of an LA school where the school had a “Drug Free Zone” sign prominently posted.

Sheesh! Why not just add “Bomb Free Zone” signs to all the schools? And if you want to be *really* proactive (and cost conscious), just cover everything with “Bad-Stuff Free Zone” signs and take all the others down?

Mission accomplished.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Was Ther Ever a Real Bomb Threat?

I was just about to say this.

I’d be interested to learn if there was ever any kind of terrorist activity that happened after a threat was called in. Like you said, threats are just that- threats… or maybe distractions.

Did anyone call New York on 9/11 to say they would be flying planes into buildings? Did anyone call in a threat to San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, or any other mass shooting sites?

Yet the school officials are worried that this will be the one time (out of 10,000 threats) that something happens and they’ll be blamed for not doing something.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Where do you "expect" the threat to come from?

Do you really think an actual threat is going to use their own email address?

We just had a story on here about how most terrorists are not that smart or careful. They often use real names, regular credit cards, etc. because either they’re dumb or they know the intelligence services are really bad at catching terrorists before the attack. It’s not unbelievable to think some idiot with a bomb would use his real email address.

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