Facebook helped the FBI to hack one of its users who was using the social media platform to terrorise, extort, and threaten young girls for months.
Buster Hernandez of California, who was known as “Brian Kil” online, was using chats, emails, and Facebook to extort young girls for nude pictures. He would also threaten to kill and rape them, while saying he would shoot or bomb their school if they refused to send pictures and videos.
All of this was done through a secure IP address, which made it difficult to identify Hernandez, according to Motherboard.
Facebook sourced an outside cyber security consulting firm to develop a tool that would identify Hernandez from his IP address, Motherboard first reported.
Hernandez’ abuse of young girls spanned multiple years.
Some of his abuse started by claiming he had access to nude pictures of the girls, and he would then threaten to release them if they didn’t do what he said. Besides threatening the girls and their schools, he would also threaten to shoot family members.
A Facebook engineer worked with the hired consulting firm to develop a tool to hack the man’s IP address through a loophole that would give them access to his video operating system, called Tails OS.
Hernandez, who was previously caught hacking in 2017, pleaded guilty this year to charges of child pornography, coercion, and enticement of a minor, among other charges.
According to Motherboard, this was the first reported time Facebook worked with authorities to track down a user. But it calls into question privacy and security within the social media site.
“The only acceptable outcome to us was Buster Hernandez facing accountability for his abuse of young girls,” a Facebook spokesperson told Motherboard, defending the site’s decision after confirming the it worked with the FBI.
“This was a unique case, because he was using such sophisticated methods to hide his identity, that we took the extraordinary steps of working with security experts to help the FBI bring him to justice.”
Facebook did not want to set a precedent for future cases, but the actions of tracking down Hernandez’ identity were justified by the site based on how serious his actions were against young girls.