Friday, February 8, 2019

Book - JUDGEMENT by Joe Finder - Fast-Paced Thriller with Technical Surveillance Overtones

Just Released
JUDGEMENT by Joe Finder
"It was nothing more than a one-night stand. Juliana Brody, a judge in the Superior Court of Massachusetts, is rumored to be in consideration for the federal circuit, maybe someday the highest court in the land.

At a conference in a Chicago hotel, she meets a gentle, vulnerable man and has an unforgettable night with him—something she’d never done before. They part with an explicit understanding that this must never happen again.

But back home in Boston, Juliana realizes that this was no random encounter. The man from Chicago proves to have an integral role in a case she's presiding over—a sex-discrimination case that's received national attention. Juliana discovers that she's been entrapped, her night of infidelity captured on video.

Strings are being pulled in high places, a terrifying unfolding conspiracy that will turn her life upside down. But soon it becomes clear that personal humiliation, even the possible destruction of her career, are the least of her concerns, as her own life and the lives of her family are put in mortal jeopardy.

In the end, turning the tables on her adversaries will require her to be as ruthless as they are..."

Inside Information: Several Technical Surveillance Countermeasures practitioners (including myself) were consulted for plot twists and technical realism. New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder does this kind of homework on all his novels. ~Kevin

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Ultrasonic Microphone Jammers — Do They Really Work?

It’s a question I get asked occasionally when one of our clients sees one of these devices being advertised on the internet.

Who can blame them for asking? The ads claim they can stop microphones from working properly. Instant privacy from electronic eavesdroppers, and anyone who is attempting to record your conversations.

Finally, Kryptonite for microphones!?!? Wow, how does that work?

The ultrasonic microphone jammer explanation is really simple... more

FutureWatch: Smartphone Comes with Optical Spy Pen

Click to enlarge.
Electronic pen device having optical zoom – Patent # US 10,198,649 – Feb. 5, 2019


The electric pen device includes an optical system including a lens and an image sensor configured to convert an image signal of light that has passed through the optical system to an electrical signal. The electric pen device includes a control board configured to interact with an electronic device and a communication module configured to communicate by wire or wirelessly with the electronic device, so that an image or a picture taken by a camera is confirmed and an optical zoom is controlled from the external electronic device. more

FutureWatch spy implications: Phone may be concealed in the pocket, backpack, or nearby desk drawer. Take high quality photos by aiming the top of the pen, pressing a button, and automatically transmitting the photo back to the phone. Pretty covert. No word about it transmitting audio, yet. Leaving phones outside of the conference room won't be enough. You'll have to check the pens, too. 

Need a spy pen camera you can actually buy today, or worry about being used to steal your secrets? Check here. ~Kevin

Thanks to our sharp-eyed Blue Blaze Irregular in the shadows of Pennsylvania for this.

Smart Light Bulbs May Not Be a Bright Idea

Your discarded smart lightbulbs reveal your wifi passwords, because they are stored in the clear.

Not to mention, someone replacing your bulb and getting the password that way.

Yes, I know, the spy might not program the replacement bulb to operate like the old one. Dead give-a-way, right? My bet is that you'll think the bulb just forgot it's settings, or not notice at all.

This hack was publicized here, and originally researched here, if you want to know more.

Thanks to our Blue Blaze Irregular from the Jersey shore for this one.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Business Espionage: The Case of the Broken Unbreakable Glass

In what sounds like a half-baked movie script about corporate espionage, an FBI sting conducted in collaboration with a specialized glass maker (and watched from a gelato stand by a reporter from Bloomberg) led investigators to a meeting at a burger joint in Vegas during CES... Akhan Semiconductor, reached out to potential customers regarding its recently developed Miraj Diamond Glass, a new take on the protective screens used in devices like smartphones that Akhan claims is six times stronger and ten times more scratch-resistant than Corning Gorilla Glass. Among Akhan’s potential clients was Huawei... more more sing-a-long

This Week in Technical Surveillance

Ukraine - Head of the election headquarters of the presidential candidate of Ukraine, leader of the Civil Position Party Anatoliy Hrytsenko, independent deputy, Viktor Chumak, has said that wiretapping devices were found in their headquarters, and therefore, called on other candidates to be vigilant. more

Israel - The Israel Police admitted on Tuesday that it eavesdropped on journalists’ telephone conversations with suspects, despite these conversations being protected by journalistic privilege. more

Australia - Australia is to establish a new sweeping anti-corruption regime which will be overseen by a national watchdog which will tackle both cheating and match-fixing in the Australian sports sector...  It would also have the power to conduct electronic surveillance of coaches, sports officials, and athletes and look for signs of suspected match-fixing... more

U.S. - A head custodian for the city's public school district was arrested after a female co-worker found a hidden camera that had recorded her using a restroom... Francisco Javier Lopez-Martinez, 59, was arrested...after an overnight police search... Lopez-Martinez was found hiding...police said he threatened suicide while holding a handgun...the gun was determined to be an air-soft weapon... A day earlier, a woman reported to police that she had discovered the camera while using a bathroom...she found footage of her and also a clip of, Lopez-Martinez, installing the camera. more

...and one for the birds...

New Zealand - In a technology that's been heralded as a breakthrough in conservation, a remote recording device is 'eavesdropping' on one of the rarest birds in New Zealand to monitor how they're adjusting after being released back into the wild. more

Facilities Manager Alert: Your Smart Building May Start Doing Dumb Things

Researchers at enterprise security vendor ForeScout have warned that malware specifically targeting smart buildings is an inevitable next step given the rapidly expanding attack surface that building automation systems expose.

The operational technology researchers at ForeScout should know: they created proof-of-concept malware that revealed smart building vulnerabilities every business should be concerned about.

...just yesterday, Tenable Research revealed it had discovered several zero-day vulnerabilities in a premises access control system used by Fortune 500 companies. Among the many attack scenarios these vulnerabilities could facilitate was 'unfettered access to the badge system database' which in turn meant an ability to create fraudulent access badges and disable building locks. more

Spybusters Tip #847: Stop Car Theft via Key Fob Signal Intercept

By simply wrapping your key FOB in aluminum foil you can prevent a thief from intercepting the signal. 

If you park your car outside at home then you might consider using a foil-lined container or placing your keys in a coffee can.

I’m going to start wrapping mine in aluminum foil when I travel and stay in a hotel. If you doubt that this issue is a serious threat then watch How Thieves Unlock A Car. more

A big thank you to our Blue Blaze Irregular ensconced in Illinois for alerting us to this tip. ~Kevin

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Hackers Now Banking on Two-Factor Authentication for Profit

Sophisticated hackers have long exploited flaws in SS7, a protocol used by telecom companies to coordinate how they route texts and calls around the world. Those who exploit SS7 can potentially track phones across the other side of the planet, and intercept text messages and phone calls without hacking the phone itself. 

This activity was typically only within reach of intelligence agencies or surveillance contractors, but now Motherboard has confirmed that this capability is much more widely available in the hands of financially-driven cybercriminal groups, who are using it to empty bank accounts. So-called SS7 attacks against banks are, although still relatively rare, much more prevalent than previously reported. Motherboard has identified a specific bank—the UK's Metro Bank—that fell victim to such an attack...

One source familiar with SS7 attacks across banks said the exploitation has targeted banks globally, but that American banks seem to be less impacted. more

Reader comment: "Please note the Motherboard reporter carefully differentiates between "sophisticated hackers" and "financially-driven cybercriminal groups".  I hope you'll consider being equally judicious in your own reporting and online comments."

Friday, February 1, 2019

Book Review Request: Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures a Complete Guide

If any TSCM'er out there buys this book. Please send me a review.

Thank you, Kevin

Evil Child Watch Spies

In late 2017, the Norwegian Consumer Council published its audit of kids' smart-watches, reporting that the leading brands allowed strangers to follow your kids around and listen in on their conversations; a year later, Pen Test Partners followed up to see if anything had changed (it hadn't).

Now, a year and a half later, Pen Test Partners have done another security audit of kids' smart watches and you'll never guess what they found! Kids' smart-watches are still a dumpster-fire: anyone can access the entire database of kids' data, including "real time child location, name, parents details etc," and since most leading brands use the same back-end from Gator, virtually every kid's smart-watch is vulnerable. more

Smartphone Security Tips

2/4/19 UPDATE: European Commission orders mass recall of creepy, leaky child-tracking smartwatch. more

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Business Espionage – A Cunning Protection Plan to Protect us and U.S.

We are bombarded with news stories and court trials tornado-ing around Chinese spies. They’re everywhere. Collecting everything. They are such a fixture in and around our hapless businesses that it only seems right to offer them health insurance, a pension plan, cookies and milk.

But wait. Let’s think this through.

Aren’t these the folks who had the secrets of silk stolen from them by Justinian I? Humm, could this be why great neckties are made in Italy, not China? Even their espionage death penalty law couldn’t protect them. Boom! Business espionage devastated their economy.

I also recall a dude from the UK, Robert Fortune, sort of an early 007. He was sent to steal the secrets of tea production from… Have you guessed yet? China! That caper is now know as The Great British Tea Heist. Boom! Business espionage devastated their economy yet again.

Oh, and what about the Chinese secret of making porcelain? A French Catholic priest stole that one. BOOM!! I could go on and on. Gunpowder, paper, etc. Bing! Bam! BOOM! 

Feeling sorry for China yet? Don’t. They are making up for it, right now. The disk drive that just started whirring in your computer… it might be them.

And, don’t think this is just some cosmic Yin and Yang, great mandella, or as we say here in New Jersey, “What goes around, comes around.” No, that explanation is too simplistic, not to mention fatalistic. There is more to this industrial espionage business. The circle is bigger. This is history repeating itself, over and over and over, but I think I have the solution... more

Second Apple Pickin' Spy Caught in Last 6 Months

The United States FBI this week accused a Chinese citizen working for Apple of attempting to steal trade secrets that are related to the company's autonomous vehicle program, reports NBC Bay Area.

Apple launched an investigation into the employee, Jizhong Chen, when another employee spotted him taking photographs "in a sensitive work space." 

 Apple Global Security employees searched his personal computer and found "thousands" of Apple files, including manuals, schematics, photographs, and diagrams. 

Chen had recently applied for a position with a China-based autonomous vehicle company that is a direct Apple competitor. Chen was arrested a day before he was set to fly to China. 
Apple in a statement said that it is working with the authorities."Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "We are working with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the FBI."

This is not the first time an employee has been caught trying to steal secrets from Apple's car team. Back in July, the FBI charged former Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang with theft of trade secrets for stealing hardware and software that included prototypes and detailed prototype requirements. more

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Tired of Smartphone Security Vulnerabilities? Go Dumb!

Punkt - The MP02 is significantly more complex than the MP01, so we have teamed up with BlackBerry to keep it secure. BlackBerry adds enhanced security to the device at the point of manufacture, which means the MP02 is hardened and highly secure. With BlackBerry’s integrated software components, the MP02 will be built with security from the start so you can trust that your data will be safe. more

The new Nokia 3310 2.4” polarized and curved screen window makes for better readability in sunlight. Remember when you could leave the house without a charger? Well, with the Nokia 3310, you can. It comes with a long-lasting battery, so you can talk all day, or leave the phone on standby for up to a month. When needed, a Micro-USB port makes charging simple. more

The Light Phone 2 is a 4G LTE phone with a beautiful black & white matte display. It's a more reliable, durable, and practical phone than its predecessor. It brings a few essential tools to the Light Phone, like messaging,  an alarm clock, or a ride home, so you can leave behind your smartphone more often... or for good. We call this experience 'going light'. more (An indiegogo project at the moment.)
Another dumb phone, the Alba Flip fits right between the borderline-brain-dead dumbness of the Light Phone and the smarter-than-you’d-think trickery of the Nokia remakes. Plus, it's a flip phone, which you've got to love. The Alba Flip is not designed to be a basic phone. Alba are a brand designed for those who struggle with conventional mobile phones, either through technophobia or because of visual impairments. more (Warning: 2G only which is becoming harder to rely upon as it is phasing out. In the U.S. that means T-Mobile 2G.)

And, the dumbest one I've ever used... The BM70 is the smallest phone which supports 4G network. With built-in Micro SIM card slot, it can store 250 contact numbers. Not only a mini cell phone, also a Bluetooth earphone more (Only $12.99, and yes it really works.) ~Kevin

If you don't go dumb, go smart, and smarter.

Shred Bin Security – Yours Stinks – Fix it for Free

Shred Bin Security — How to upgrade it... probably for free!
If you have a sizable contract with a shredding company, keep reading.

The Shred Bin Security Conundrum

Your organization realizes they need help getting rid of their wastepaper. Some of it can be recycled. Easy. There are plenty of recycling companies around. Some of it, however, contains sensitive information that must be destroyed.

So, you contact your local "I-Rip-A-Part" shredding company.

You are offered your choice of two shred bin styles, if you are lucky. The elegant particle board beige box, or the converted garbage can.

Both scream security joke. But hey, they only gave you two choices. So, you take what "I-Rip-A-Part" gives you. After all, it's their business. They know best.

Your employees may not laugh out loud, but they get the message. Management either doesn't know much about shred bin security, or they only care enough to make it look like they are doing their due diligence. The result...

Pretty soon these start popping up.


Who's laughing now?
Just the office snoops, competitive intelligence professionals, activists, news media, hackers, etc.

Let me provide some background before providing a workable solution. The crummy shred bin issue is a problem for most U.S. based organizations.

The problem has two roots:
  1. A lack of understanding about information security on the part of the confidential information custodians.
  2. Shredding companies preying on this ignorance to maximize their profits. (Number one allows number two.)
Most shred bins being provided by shredding companies are nothing more than security theater; a mental bandage playing to the threat. They are inexpensive, ineffective, and won't prevent any semi-espionage adept person from taking what's inside. 

Attacks include: unscrewing the cabinet, picking the cheap lock, sticking a $8.00 flexible grabber through the slot, bending the plastic lid back, or pulling the inner liner bag through the slot... more