Wednesday, January 22, 2020

FutureWatch: Mind-Reading Called Brain-Hacking - Food for Thought

The world is in the middle of a new technology arms race, according to best-selling historian Yuval Noah Harari, who warns that the prize being fought over this time is not physical territory, but our brains. 

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Harari predicted a future where governments and corporations will be able to gather enough data about citizens around the world that, when combined with computational power, will let them completely predict – and manipulate – our decisions. Harari calls this concept "brain-hacking".

"Imagine, if 20 years from now, you could have someone sitting in Washington, or Beijing, or San Francisco, and they could know the entire personal, medical, sexual history of, say, every journalist, judge and politician in Brazil," said Harari.

"You could control a whole other country with data. At which point you may ask: is it an independent country, or is it a data colony?" more   Previous mind-reading posts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Android Users Beware: These Top Camera Apps May Secretly Be Spying

The latest warning has come from the research team at CyberNews, exposing “camera apps with billions of downloads [that] might be stealing user data and infecting them with malware.”

...But that’s exactly what some of the top beauty camera apps have been found guilty of doing. more
  1. BeautyPlus – Easy Photo Editor & Selfie Camera
  2. BeautyCam
  3. Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera
  4. Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera & Photo Editor
  5. Beauty Camera Plus – Sweet Camera & Makeup Photo
  6. Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera & Photo Editor
  7. YouCam Perfect – Best Selfie Camera & Photo Editor
  8. Sweet Snap – Beauty Selfie Camera & Face Filter
  9. Sweet Selfie Snap – Sweet Camera & Beauty Cam Snap
  10. Beauty Camera – Selfie Camera with Photo Editor
  11. Beauty Camera – Best Selfie Camera & Photo Editor
  12. B612 – Beauty & Filter Camera
  13. Face Makeup Camera & Beauty Photo Makeup Editor
  14. Sweet Selfie – Selfie Camera & Makeup Photo Editor
  15. Selfie camera – Beauty Camera & Makeup camera
  16. YouCam Perfect – Best Photo Editor & Selfie Camera
  17. Beauty Camera Makeup Face Selfie, Photo Editor
  18. Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera
  19. Z Beauty Camera
  20. HD Camera Selfie Beauty Camera
  21. Candy Camera – selfie, beauty camera & photo editor
  22. Makeup Camera-Selfie Beauty Filter Photo Editor
  23. Beauty Selfie Plus – Sweet Camera Wonder HD Camera
  24. Selfie Camera – Beauty Camera & AR Stickers
  25. Pretty Makeup, Beauty Photo Editor & Selfie Camera
  26. Beauty Camera
  27. Bestie – Camera360 Beauty Cam
  28. Photo Editor – Beauty Camera
  29. Beauty Makeup, Selfie Camera Effects & Photo Editor
  30. Selfie cam – Bestie Makeup Beauty Camera & Filters

Dude, you gotta be a government before you shoot spies!

FL - A man is facing charges after authorities say he fired shots at children he thought were spying on him from canoes outside his home.

Deputies with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office
said they were called to the home in the 1500 block of Murphy Road in Pierson after the victims said they were fishing in a lake when 30-year-old Michael Adams fired several shots their way...

Adams was arrested and booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail on two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. more

Plumbing for Secrets in Davos

Swiss officials foiled an apparent spying operation by Russians posing as plumbers in Davos, site of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, a newspaper reported on Tuesday, but police did not confirm key details of the account.

The report in the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper said the pair presented diplomatic passports and left the country. more

‘Spy Games’ - 10 Civilians Vie for $100,000 Prize

One can’t deny that there is a certain charm and pull around the life of a spy - from going on undercover missions to just enjoying the finer things in life à la James Bond, and if you are keen on seeing how one goes about acquiring the skills needed to be a good spy, then Bravo’s latest offering ‘Spy Games’ might just be what you have been looking for...

One can’t deny that there is a certain charm and pull around the life of a spy - from going on undercover missions to just enjoying the finer things in life à la James Bond, and if you are keen on seeing how one goes about acquiring the skills needed to be a good spy, then Bravo’s latest offering ‘Spy Games’ might just be what you have been looking for.  more

Thursday, January 16, 2020

"I found this thing. Is it a bug?"

At Murray Associates we occasionally receive calls asking, "I found this thing. Is it a bug?"

Usually, the identification is easy:
  • it's a piece of electronic jewelry (blinky earring, or pin); 
  • an old annoy-a-tron
  • or Bluetooth tag, like a Tile item finder.
Today, a call comes in from a well-respected private investigator in Boston. He has a corporate client whose employee "found this thing."

She takes a photo, sends it to him, who sends it to us... via low resolution text message...

Rough guess...
A Bluetooth item finder, similar to a Tile, but a Chinese knockoff branded with some corporate logo. Possibly a promotional item?

We later learned it was in her bedroom, mounted to the wall, not found in a covert location. She had pulled it off the wall to take the photo. We did not receive a photo of the mounting piece, or a mention of its placement.

Later we eventually received a photo of the flip side...

Hummm... not too helpful, but no evidence of on the front of a pinhole for video, or a microphone on the circuit board. No battery seen, but the two large solder tabs and circles on the circuit board indicate there is a battery on the other side of the board.

Why would someone mount something like this on a bedroom wall?!?!

One possibility emerged... "How to find your lost iPhone with Tile."

Nope. Tiles have their logo on them. Ours looks different.

Another possibility... Yahoo changed their logo last Fall.

Could they have sent out a promotional "Tile" with their newly designed exclamation point logo on it?

Close, but no prize.

Okay, let's start fresh.
Say, the Tile is a MacGuffin.
Look elsewhere.

What other wall-warts do we know of?
HVAC sensors, for one.

Google search....
Ah ha.... that's what this thing is
Case closed.

This was a good investigative process refresher for us, and a thing we will all remember next time "this thing" shows up.

Extra Credit:
  • If you find a thing and think it's a bug, read this.
  • To learn about the other Thing—the famous spy eavesdropping device—read this.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Case of “Eddie Spaghetti” and the First Spycam News of 2020

We are only halfway through, the first month, of the first year, in a new decade... and the spycam pandemic is off to a roaring start. 

Like corporate espionage and other forms of illegal electronic surveillance, only the failures make the news. The vast majority of illegal covert electronic surveillance goes undetected.

Learn how to spot spycams and keep scheduling your corporate TSCM inspections.


Canada - Edward Casavant, 55, (who gave himself the nickname, “Eddie Spaghetti”) pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, making child pornography, voyeurism and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability, and was sentenced to six years in prison. more

OH - A former Hillsdale Middle School and High School art teacher convicted of voyeurism was sentenced Tuesday to 180 days in jail. more

CA - Peterborough man charged with voyeurism after allegedly using electronics to peer through windows. more

Singapore - The alleged victims of a Singaporean undergraduate accused of illicitly filming 12 women want a gag order on his identity to be lifted, despite being fully aware of the risk of being identified. more

ID - Kory Ray West, the 34-year-old man accused of concealing a video camera in the bathroom of a Blackfoot home where he had been staying, and of stealing items of underclothing from bedrooms, could serve up to seven years in prison for his crimes. more

NY - The husband of a New York prosecutor who filmed his child's nanny on bathroom spycam, could have charges against him dropped, after he claimed he only used it to watch himself undress. more

HI - An $8,000 project to install covert security cameras in the Council Chambers of the county building in order to monitor an active shooter or hostage situation was kept secret from most council members and the public, county officials said. more

CA - Ring of fired: Amazon axes multiple workers who secretly snooped on netizens' surveillance camera footage. more

KY - A former teacher at a Kentucky high school admitted to filming students in a bathroom...
Police...reported finding a recording device set up in the bathroom of the nurse's station. Police said the video recorder captured the person putting the device in place. more

MI - A Canton man pleaded guilty last month to three felony charges associated with illegal voyeurism at an Aqua-Tots swim school in his hometown... Police said they were dispatched to the Canton Aqua-Tots swim school for young children...because a woman saw a recording device targeting her changing stall. She reported her suspicions to staff. more

UK - staff and parents with children at Denmead Junior School were in shock at the grim discovery of an iPhone in a vent. Action was taken by the school. A 23-year-old man from Waterlooville (was arrested) on suspicion of voyeurism. He has been released under investigation. more

CT - An investigation that began in South Windsor in August that led to a Manchester man being charged with voyeurism after filming people in a locker room at L.A. Fitness resulted in more charges being filed against him Friday stemming from similar incidents in Farmington, police said. South Windsor police said that Selby had placed his cellphone in one of the lockers and left the door open. more

CA - A Desert Hot Springs man who was previously required to register as a sex offender pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of filming people inside a grocery store bathroom in Cathedral City...10 misdemeanor counts of unlawful use of a concealed camera to secretly videotape.... 2013 - Prosecutors alleged he concealed a video camera in a paper bag and entered a woman's restroom in a Los Angeles Macy's department store dressed as a woman and secretly videotaped women using the restroom. more

Wales - A sportsman who once represented Anglesey in the Island Games has admitted installing a camera in toilets where people, including youngsters, got changed. more

Surveillance in Tombstone Territory

It's the Wild West when it comes to modern surveillance tech. 

One recent example we've come across is the Tombstone Cam... Click to enlarge. more  The last time we heard of a bugged funeral.

The Crazy Story of How Soviet Russia Bugged an American Embassy’s Typewriters

...All of the electronics at the embassy—some 10 tons of equipment—was securely shipped back to the United States. Every piece was disassembled and X-rayed.

After tens of thousands of fruitless X-rays, a technician noticed a small coil of wire inside the on/off switch of an IBM Selectric typewriter. Gandy believed that this coil was acting as a step-down transformer to supply lower-voltage power to something within the typewriter. Eventually he uncovered a series of modifications that had been concealed so expertly that they had previously defied detection.

A solid aluminum bar, part of the structural support of the typewriter, had been replaced with one that looked identical but was hollow. Inside the cavity was a circuit board and six magnetometers. The magnetometers sensed movements of tiny magnets that had been embedded in the transposers that moved the typing “golf ball” into position for striking a given letter. more

Monday, January 13, 2020

Security Tip #792: Be Gone Phishing

via Krebs on Security
"Savvy readers here no doubt already know this, but to find the true domain referenced in a link, look to the right of “http(s)://” until you encounter the first backward slash (/). The domain directly to the left of that first slash is the true destination; anything that precedes the second dot to the left of that first slash is a subdomain and should be ignored for the purposes of determining the true domain name."

"For instance, in the case of the imaginary link below, is the true destination, not" more

Double checking links before clicking can save you from sleeping with the phishers. Hover over links, but don't click, to see where you might be going.

Death by Spycam

The wedding hall was booked and home furnishings all bought... but the bride — one of thousands of women to fall victim to an epidemic of high-tech voyeurism in South Korea — is not here.

Lee Yu-jung took her own life after a colleague secretly filmed her in the changing room of the hospital where they both worked, the country’s first reported spy-cam death.

Footage of Lee was found among a bigger video cache of women, all illegally snatched in the country’s spy-cam epidemic, often with cheap devices as small as a key ring. more

Spybuster Tip #632: Fortify Your Two-factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a must, but don't settle for the SMS version. Use a more secure authenticator app instead.

 The most popular authenticator apps are Google Authenticator and Authy, but password managers 1Password and LastPass offer the service as well, if that helps you streamline. If you're heavy into Microsoft's ecosystem, you might want Microsoft Authenticator. While they all differ somewhat in features, the core functionality is the same no matter which one you use. more

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Art of Investigation (book)
The Art of Investigation examines the qualities required to be a professional, thorough, and effective investigator. As the title suggests, it delves into more than the steps and procedures involved in managing an investigation, it also covers the "soft skills" necessary to effectively direct investigations and intuit along the way.

The editors and contributing authors* are the best in their field, and bring a wealth of real-world knowledge and experience to the subject. There are several publications available on the nuts-and-bolts of the process and stages of an investigation. That ground has been covered. However, little has been published on the investigative skills required, the traits necessary, and the qualities endemic to an inquisitive mind that can be cultivated to improve an investigator’s professional skill-set.

Each chapter discusses the applicability of the traits to the contributor’s own work and experience as an investigator. more
*Robert Rahn (Lt. Ret.) is one of the excellent contributors.
ISBN-13: 978-1138353787
ISBN-10: 1138353787

FutureWatch: The Demise of the Common Spies

Not so long ago, Secret Agent Man could globe-hop with impunity (sing-a-long) and hide with undercover diplomatic immunity. Now, he may as well wear the Scarlet Letter "A", for Agent.

WTF happened? Quite a bit...

9/11, for one. It's not so easy to fly under the radar these days.

In 2014, U.S. spies were exposed when the Office of Personnel Management was hacked. About 22 million fingerprints, security clearance background information, and personnel records allegedly fell into Chinese hands. In 2015 it happened again.

One can be fairly sure this isn't just a problem for U.S. spies. Other countries get hacked, too. You just don't hear about it.

If all this wasn't bad enough, a spy's best friend turned on him in the 2000's. Technology.

Video cameras are planted everywhere, and facial recognition is becoming more accurate every day. It is being used at airports, in buildings, and with in conjunction with city surveillance cameras. This list will grow, of course.

The latest advancement is analysis of video streams using artificial intelligence logarithms.  Suspicious movements, packages left unattended, predictions of future movements and crimes are analyzed by mindless machines 24/7, waiting to trigger an alert.

On the communications side spyware is a concern. Smartphone and GPS tracking don't help spies hide either.

It has been reported that some countries are compiling real-time databases which incorporate the above-mentioned speed bumps with: taxis, hotel, train, airline, credit card, customs and immigration information. As soon as one enters the country, they know where you are—minute by minute. And, if one takes too long going between locations, or a dual timeline appears (being in different places at the same time), a security alert is generated.

Couple all this with countries sharing information, e.g. EU, being a spy who needs to make in-person contacts becomes nearly impossible.

Think staying out of view is a good spy strategy? For now, perhaps. However, progress is being made by constructing a person's face by the sound of their voice.

The future of spying (no, it won't go away) will be radically different out of necessity. One can only guess how, but I understand they are working very hard on mind-reading.

Be seeing you.

Surveillance is Hot at CES 2020

At CES show, devices that see, hear, track people are promoted. Privacy concerns? Not so much.

From the face scanner that will check in some attendees to the cameras-everywhere array of digital products, the CES gadget show is all-in on surveillance technology...

All these talking speakers, doorbell cameras and fitness trackers come with the promise of making life easier or more fun, but they're also potentially powerful spying tools.

And the skeptics who raise privacy and security concerns can be easily drowned out in the flashy spectacle of gee-whiz technology. more