Wednesday, January 31, 2007

...and spies like it, too.

The Spy Video Car is a remote-controlled toy car equipped with an image sensor attached to its body and monocular eyewear to be worn by a user. A camera mounted on the front of the car sends an image wirelessly to the eyewear, which enables the user to drive the car in light or darkness up to 75 feet away. The Spy Video Car allows children to enjoy the "real life" perspective of driving from inside the car or to play secret agent with night-vision capabilities.

The display we use for our Spy Video Car is small and sharp and, unlike larger remote-mounted monitors, it ensures that no one other than the main viewer sees the secrets the car uncovers," said Katie Broughton, design engineer at Wild Planet. "As the first toy car with the night vision capability, the Spy Video Car allows children to navigate secretly in darkness and see clearly without being detected. (more) (video)

FamilyFun T.O.Y. 2006 Grand Prize Winner... Teach your children well

Hype versus reality in VoIP security

Voice over IP, like many new technologies, suffers from having security as an afterthought. Headlines tell of VOIP vulnerabilities that can lead to eavesdropping, a new form of spam, even denial-of-service attacks that can take down the one communication network that businesses rely on most.

Lawrence Orans, a research director with Gartner, says some of these threats are overblown and aren't likely to happen in a corporate setting. Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects, which analyzes the industry, believes that given the lack of security built into IP, anything can happen. Network World Senior Editor Cara Garretson spoke with both, aiming to separate hype from reality. (more)

(On the topic of eavesdropping both say it is overhyped. However, both cover their rears and say encryption should be used anyway. Hummmm.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More denials from Thailand's Telecoms

Shin Satellite Plc has denied the interim government's allegations of phone bugging via satellite, saying it does not have the technology to facilitate such an act. However, tapping of satellite phones could be possible if a device was installed in the equipment of both the sender and the receiver, said Shin Satellite president Nongluck Phinainitisart.

Dr Nongluck yesterday clarified how satellite-controlled operations worked, and denied any knowledge of spying.

"In practice, tapping conversations from a satellite needs a large satellite dish launched in orbit to tap the signal between the sender and the receiver. But it's still very difficult to pinpoint exact signals," she said.

Dr Nongluck reiterated that Shin Satellite had never bugged communications, as such an action would be a violation of the law and an abuse of codes of conduct. It also required the installation of eavesdropping devices, which needed a licence. (more)

(for sale...)

Richie Rich, Paper Boy

News carriers and retailers in Worcester, Mass., get an unexpected bonus with their usual shipment of the Telegram & Gazette: the credit and debit card numbers of 240,000 subscribers to the paper and its sister publication the Boston Globe, both owned by the New York Times Co.

The security breach is the result of a recycling program in which paper from the Telegram & Gazette's business office is reused to wrap bundles of newspapers. (more)

Wiretappers Don't Always Eavesdrop

UK - Sophisticated criminal gangs are finding ways to beat the chip and PIN security regime, including bugging cash machines with MP3 players, to bring in millions of pounds. ...

The bugging of cash machines with an MP3 player was master-minded by 41-year-old computer expert Maxwell Parsons, from Gorton, Manchester. He secretly attached portable MP3 players at the back of freestanding ATMs in bars, bingo halls and bowling alleys so he could illegally tap into telephone lines used by customers during transactions.

As bank details and PIN numbers were punched in, data was recorded onto Parsons' MP3 players as it was transmitted down phone lines. He then used computer technology to "translate" the tones from the transactions and used the stolen data to clone new credit cards. (more)

Quote of the Day

"Employees can and should absolutely participate in industry events. However, it must be made clear to them that if trade secrets or corporate strategy is revealed, they can be fired." ~ Denny Hatch, Business Common Sense (more)

Spybuster's Mythbuster #423 - Shotgun Mics

Contrary to popular belief, shotgun microphones do not pick up sounds over long distances. They are made to focus on a small area and reject unwanted sounds coming in from other angles. Holding a paper towel roll to you ear has a similar effect. The usual working distance for a shotgun microphone is 3-6 feet from the sound source. (more)

It is actually the parabolic microphone which is associated with eavesdropping. (more)

Monday, January 29, 2007

FutureWatch - TESSbots

Some day we will have TESSbots (Technical Electroinc Surveillance Sensor robots); micro robots with the capability to detect electronic eavesdropping devices. Imagine armies of them auto-activating at the end of every work day; specifically tasked to find illegal and covert bugs and wiretaps within corporations and government agencies. Other bots will be doing other jobs as well, of course. This wall-climbing bot is getting the mechanics of scouring settled now. The sensor part will follow... (video)

More... iPhone, Espionage or Coincidence?

You decide!

A Chinese version of the iPhone!?!?

Supposedly, Meizu has a new PMP in the works - the M8 - bearing a strong resemblance to the Apple iPhone in both form and function. The pics are probably nothing more than concept art, but then again, we wouldn't be surprised if they were close to the mark. Meizu has a history of borrowing design elements from Apple, as with the M6.

VoIP security: Scenarios, challenges, and counter measures

VoIP combines the worst security vulnerabilities of IP networks and voice networks. This article discusses vulnerabilities, challenges and countermeasures in securing a VoIP network from the application right down to the hardware. ...

Eavesdropping is the intercepting of conversations by unintended recipients. Eavesdropping in VoIP requires intercepting the signal and associated media streams of a conversation. No one argues that an attacker cannot access and install a tap on a telephone pair outside your house. That action, however, requires more visibility and explicit laws prohibit eavesdropping. IP eavesdropping can be accomplished from the comfort of a laptop as long as the tools and expertise exist to carry out the attack successfully.

Ethereal, Ettercap, Vomit represent just some of the software available that is used for media capture. Using the software is as simple as capturing and decoding RTP packets, analyzing sessions and then saving the the captured voice as an audio file (.au). This is based on the fundamental that every header of an RTP packet contains information about the codec used to encode voice samples. The codec used is generally a standard one, which allows the software to decode the RTP packet, and thus the audio data. Thus, an entire conversation can be tapped. (more)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Silent Guardian™ protection system

(give us your best Elvis)
Ooh, ooh, ooh,

I feel my temperature rising
Help me, I'm flaming

I must be a hundred n' nine

Burning, burning, burning
And nothing can cool me

I just might turn into smoke
But I feel fine (more) (video)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Describe the future of eavesdropping...

Mind reading, of course!

Hitachi Develops Mind Reading System Hitachi Electronics Advanced Research Labs have developed a system that can read peoples minds, albeit in a very primitive way.

It works by flooding the brain with near infra-red rays which are harmless but allow the system to measure blood flow in the frontal lobe areas. This blood flow changes in response to a persons thoughts and this change can be measured and interpreted as images which can in turn be used to trigger electrical devices.

They admit their ‘optical-topography’ system is in the early stages but hope to use it to develop remote control systems for disabled people, allowing them to control wheelchairs and other aids using only their minds.

They plan to develop the system into a usable application by 2011. (more)

Spy on Birds

"Motion sensing digital camera enables you to capture those difficult close-up images of birds in their natural environment without disturbing their activities. [assuming this butt-ugly, Martian-ish bird box doesn't scare them to death] Images are easily stored on standard SD memory cards. Fully automatic digital camera designed especially for backyard birders. Great for capturing impromptu images of birds visiting bird feeders, bird houses and bird baths." [Ok modders, do your best.] (more)

I spied on Dell for HP

A former Hewlett-Packard executive has cited the computer and printer giant's recent board-spying scandal in his suit against the company, claiming HP used similar fraudulent methods to obtain his private phone records in August 2005 after giving him a corporate espionage assignment to obtain trade secrets on rival Dell's printers. ...

Experts say corporate espionage has become common as competition rampages throughout industries, but there have been few cases made public.(more)

UK reporter faces jail for royal phone bugging

UK - A senior journalist on Britain's biggest-selling newspaper hacked into the mobile telephones of members of the royal household 'several hundred' times, a London court heard.

The News of the World's royal affairs editor Clive Goodman listened to voice mail messages left for the press secretary of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and also for two officials who worked for his sons Princes William and Harry.

Goodman, 49, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, 36, could face jail after admitting last November to plotting to unlawfully intercept communications.

Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to a further five charges of unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages. (more)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Job Opening - TSCM Instructor

NCI Information Systems, Inc. (NCI), is a leading provider of information technology solutions in the Federal government arena.

TSCM Instructor (149689-598)

The duties and responsibilities of this position consist of, but are not limited to:
Manage all aspects of security technology fundamentals training for Department of State Security Engineering Officers and Security Technical Specialists to include developing schedules and coordinating students, instructors, facilities, and classrooms... (more)

Jackson's Lawyer Sues Eavesdropping Jet Co.

Mark Geragos – the lawyer who was secretly videotaped while accompanying his client Michael Jackson on a flight from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara to surrender to child molestation charges – is suing the jet company for an alleged invasion of privacy. ...

Geragos testified this week that the secret videotaping was one of the worst experiences of his 24 years in legal work, and he now takes extreme measures to ensure that his private conversations with clients are not secretly recorded. He testified that he has met with some clients under freeway overpasses and in hotel rooms, and twice sent a colleague overseas to discuss a case rather than have them discuss it over the phone or by e-mail. (more)

Waffle House manager arrested for camera in restrooms

GA - A Waffle House manager has been arrested after authorities say he secretly installed a camera the restaurant's bathroom.

Keith Robert Christman, 28, was arrested Tuesday on charges of felony eavesdropping and illegal surveillance after police found a wireless camera hidden in the women's restroom of the Waffle House where he worked, Villa Rica police Capt. Brian Camp said.

Camp said Christman would go into the restroom and hide a wireless camera, which was found facing the toilet, and save the images onto a computer.

The spying also took place at four other restaurants in the area
, Camp said. Christman would sometimes watch a live feed of the restroom footage from his car, Camp said.

(more) (more)

Thailand government to probe eavesdropping

The Information and Communication Technology Ministry has entered the wiretapping fray, and is to set up a special committee to probe eavesdropping claims against the Singapore-owned telecoms firm Shin Corp.

"I will today authorise the creation of a special committee chaired by the ICT ministry's permanent secretary to conduct an investigation into eavesdropping," said ICT Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom.

Council for National Security chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin last week claimed that Singapore could be listening in to confidential calls after Temasek Holdings purchased Shin Corp last year.

Both the Singapore government and Shin Corp's mobile phone company AIS - headquartered in Thailand - have denied the allegations. (more)


It is not possible to prevent eavesdropping on mobile phones because radio signals spread in the air and can be tapped anywhere, Information and Communication Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said today.

"No country in the world can prevent phone tapping," said Mr Sitthichai during an interview with Channel 11 Saturday morning. Nor is it possible to know whether one's phone is being tapped.

Mr Sitthichai suggested that government agencies encrypt conversations with so-called "voice scramblers", to prevent casual eavesdropping. (more)

Mr. Sitthichai, let me introduce you to some folks in Korea. ~ Kevin

Cell Phone Camera Insights

"In 1984, George Orwell thought we'd be forced to behave because government cameras were always watching us. Instead, we'll have to behave because every person is a spycam operator. ... Cell-cam photos are the new autograph. See a celebrity, snap a picture and post it." (more)
There is a story that American Indians thought early photography was Spirit Capture, and didn't like it. Perhaps we are learning they were right. ~ Kevin

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Alleged school spying incident

GA - Boynton Elementary School has strengthened security since a 66-year-old man was arrested last week after neighbors accused him of watching the campus through binoculars. Assistant Principal Jason Carter said Catoosa County Sheriff's officers told school officials that Johnny Thomas Bennett of the Boynton community was arrested on Jan. 18 and charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer, making false statements, carrying a concealed weapon and trespassing. (more)

The Phone Company Has Been Lying to Us for Years they will help you do it with just your cell phone!

"Mobile Faker is designed to help consumers [lie] navigate the competitive social scene with ease.

Ever been at a bar and needed to look busy because some loser is giving you the eye? Schedule a Faux Call and your handset will rescue you.

Someone asked for your number, and you're afraid to tell the person you've been flirting with for two hours that you're married? Give her a Faux Number."

Additional assistance... Pick-up Lines, Rejections and a Fake Breathalyzer.

Mobile Faker is available as a JME application on Sprint Nextel under the Applications > Entertainment menu on the handset. (more)

Opie opines. Andy argues. Bug busted.

Sheriff Andy Griffith teaching Opie (Ron Howard) about the 4th amendment and the due process of law after Opie eavesdrops on a private conversation.

VoIP security barely a blip on SMBs' radar

Security is a low priority among most small and midsized businesses (SMBs), as well as vendors, when it comes to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP - Internet telephony), experts say. That will quickly change once hackers take aim, however.

As with anything, the risk [of a security breach] is theoretical risk right now," Ridolfo said. He said today it's much easier to write a virus or steal data off a file-sharing system than it is to build an exploit for VoIP.

"Does that mean someone isn't working on it right now? No," Ridolfo said. "A high-profile attack, such as a single, crucially important phone call, that will be intercepted, whether it is commercial or government. Then you'll see a bunch of those in short succession. Then there will be a big push to introduce security."

Voice is just as vulnerable to exploits as data communication, Ostrowski said, "because at the end of the day it's running over an IP network and it's 'packetized' data."

One analyst was surprised by how many SMBs said they felt VoIP was secure.(more)

News from Sweden

Bugging proposal 'enjoys support of government partners'...
When presenting his proposal on secret telephone call and e-mail monitoring, defence minister Mikael Odenberg stressed that he enjoyed the support of his government partners. (more)

Head of Sweden intelligence dies at 61...
Klas Bergenstrand, the head of Sweden's intelligence agency, died from an apparent heart attack. He was 61. (more)

Spying on employees is legal

Malta - Education minister Louis Galea has said in parliament that employment laws do not prohibit employers from installing CCTV cameras in every nook and cranny of an office to monitor employees. (more)

E. Howard Hunt, Watergate Figure, Dies at 88

E. Howard Hunt, who helped organize the Watergate break-in, leading to the greatest scandal in American political history and the downfall of Richard Nixon's presidency, died Tuesday. He was 88.

Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. Twenty-five men were sent to prison for their involvement in the botched plan, and a new era of skepticism toward government began.

"I will always be called a Watergate burglar, even though I was never in the damn place," Hunt told The Miami Herald in 1997. "But it happened. Now I have to make the best of it." (more)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bugging Device Found in German MP's Office

Police have found a bugging device in the office of a German MP, who is involved in investigations of the doings of the local federal intelligence.

Wolfgang Neskovic is an independent MP, who was a member of the Supreme Court before he was elected for parliament.

The commission that deals with the intelligence, and that Neskovic is a part of, will investigate the bugging case. An emergency meeting of the commission will be held next week. (more)

"The German Parliament said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that after the devices were examined by the Federal Office for Security and Information Technology, "with the microphones alone, surveying, recording or forwarding the spoken word is not possible."

The devices were covered by a layer of dust that had settled atop of the lamp, pointing to the fact that the microphones had not been used for a long time."

Old spycraft tricks...
- Blow a layer of dust over an eavesdropping installation. Alters the perceived time-frame of the attack, if discovered.
- Use Hollywood special-effects cobwebs. Spray them over the opening to an installation to deter inspection.
The key question... "Why were microphones there in the first place?"
~ Kevin

Inquiry committee head Sigfried Kauder, a senior lawmaker of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union, said in a statement Tuesday that all members of the board have been advised to check their offices for similar devices.

Now, there is some sage advice :)

UPDATE 1/26/07 (the story changes) ...officials in Berlin said the alleged bug found in the office of Wolfgang Neskovic, a leftist former judge who has demanded Steinmeier's resignation, was not a functioning one and its placement was too inept to have been the work of intelligence professionals.

The microphone of a type freely on sale was attached to a ceiling lamp and was visible, security officials said. (more)

This Day in Spy History...

Today is the 39th anniversary of North Korea's seizure of the spy ship USS Pueblo and it 83-man crew, triggering an international confrontation between the United States and North Korea in the tumultuous year of 1968. The Pueblo was a World War II-era freighter that had been outfitted as an electronic eavesdropping ship for the National Security Agency. Commissioned in May 1967 and named for the city of Pueblo, the ship was under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Lloyd "Pete" Bucher when it set out to patrol the North Korean coast in January 1968. Cutting in and out of North Korean waters while eavesdropping, the Pueblo's crew had expected to be harassed by North Korean warships but on Jan. 23, the spy ship was surrounded by patrol boats and raked with machine-gun and cannon fire. Crewman Duane Hodges was fatally wounded in the attack. (more)

Check your flip-top ring at the door...

Feel daring?
Have dinner with a spy!

An Evening with Melissa Boyle Mahle
Tuesday, 6 February; 7–10 pm

From the Reagan years through 2002, CIA intelligence officer, Melissa Boyle Mahle, ran operations against Al Qaeda terrorists, conducted missions to interrupt illicit networks plotting to sell weapons of mass destruction, and completed assignments throughout the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa as the agency’s top-ranked female Arabist. Mahle, author of Denial and Deception: An Insider’s View of the CIA, has discussed her fourteen-year tenure as a covert operative for the CIA with CNN, PBS, Jon Stewart, and now you!

Be one of only 20 guests at Zola for a three-course meal where you’ll hear the inside story on her counterterrorism operations, her views on today’s continuing intelligence challenges, and enjoy the dialogue between Mahle and former CIA chief of disguise, International Spy Museum board member, Jonna Mendez. (more)

Singapore denies bugging phones

Singapore has denied listening in on private phone conversations between Council for National Security members following remarks by CNS chief Sonthi Boonyaratkalin. ...

"As an international telecommunication hub, Singapore maintains a strict and professional operating environment to safeguard the integrity of all communications which terminate in or transit through Singapore,'' the foreign ministry said. (more)

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Our Hottest Security Tips"

The smart folks over at Computerworld have put together a very good 18-page Executive Bulletin - "Our Hottest Security Tips - Sage advice for protecting corporate assets in a dangerous world". It's free... once you fill out their marketing form (hey, that's only fair).

Quote of the Day

"A company's liability will be measured against what steps it took to protect data privacy." - Charlene Brownlee, Attorney, Fulbright & Jaworski LLC

Heads of security accused of corporate espionage

Italy - Milan magistrates have arrested four Telecom Italia SpA employees for alleged illegal espionage activities...

The suspects were identified as Fabio Ghioni, the head of information security at Telecom Italia, his assistant Rocco Lucia, and Guglielmo Sasinini, a former journalist who had been hired by the company to conduct country risk analyses for the Middle East region...

A fourth warrant was served in prison on Giuliano Tavaroli, the former head of security at Telecom Italia, who had already been incarcerated on illegal espionage charges as a result of a separate investigation.

The four men are accused of using Telecom Italia’s resources to spy on Vittorio Colao, the former executive chief executive officer of the Rizzoli Corriere della Sera (RCS) SpA publishing group and on Massimo Mucchetti, the deputy director of the Corriere della Sera newspaper, as part of an elaborate intelligence operation that has all the hallmarks of a spy thriller...

...his former boss Tavaroli, allegedly rose to the top of Telecom Italia’s security department after engineering the discovery of an electronic bug planted in the Telecom Italia chief executive officer’s car in 2001. The then head of security at Telecom Italia was fired for the lapse and Tavaroli was able to take his place.

Spy Guys...

...The anatomy of a covert wireless security assessment or, how serious spies go after corporate wireless LANs.

"The most important item, as any seasoned penetration-tester will confirm, is a get-out-of-jail-free letter, preferably signed by a C-level officer for the organization being probed. Each team member ought to have a copy in his or her pocket, and another copy taped to the inside wall of the truck in a visible spot where one can point a terrorist-addled security guard or local peace officer who’s unsnapped his holster." (more)

Trident sues former employee over trade secrets

Trident Systems is suing a former executive for $9.2 million, alleging he recruited away staff and customers for a new company before he quit and that he took trade secrets with him when he left. (more)

Many companies this size have a yearly program to detect espionage warning signs. Detection keeps problems from reaching this stage. Cost... less than 1/100th of the cost of this lawsuit, much less. (see for yourself)

Tech Corner - If you WEPed then LEAPed... may be in for a fall.

"Cisco LEAP authentication is a huge security risk in enterprise wireless LANs. So much attention in wireless LAN security or security in general is given to the encryption component of security that the authentication component is often neglected. If your wireless LAN is running LEAP and this document doesn't scare the living day lights out of you, it should." (more)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Fire the retrojustification rockets, Sulu."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday accused his nation's main telecommunications company of spying on him and suggested it was at the bidding of the United States. Chavez, addressing 10 South American leaders at a summit of the Mercosur trade bloc, gave no additional details.

The accusation came less than two weeks after Chavez announced he would nationalize CA Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, known as CANTV. (more)

Man Sues Over Sperm Bank Hidden Camera

Claiming that he found a video camera hidden in the ceiling of a sperm bank's "donation room," a Los Angeles man is suing the firm for negligence and emotional distress. Ken Rigberg, 27, charges that he discovered the pinhole camera during a June 2005 visit to Pasadena's Pacific Reproductive Services. According to Rigberg's Los Angeles Superior Court complaint, a copy of which you'll find... (more)

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Street Sweeper, or...

Your Surveillance Dollars at work.

Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) automatically reads license plate numbers on stationary or moving vehicles. Using advanced camera, recognition, and database technology ALPR systems automatically capture images of vehicle license plate numbers and instantly checks those numbers against a variety of vehicle “hot lists” held in target vehicle databases. Alarms can be triggered when a “hit” (match) is detected on any given database giving the ALPR operator the opportunity to take immediate action. (more)

Apple's Secret Keeping = Competitive Advantage

One of the most astonishing things about the new Apple iPhone is how Apple managed to keep it a secret for nearly two-and-a-half years of development...

Apple does make it clear to employees and business partners that they will be dismissed and possibly prosecuted for leaking company secrets. Apple has also played the bully role, suing bloggers and other independent journalists for posting purported advance information about unannounced Apple products.

Secrets - along with patents - protect Apple against competitive threats from foreign companies that have become expert at instant cloning of Apple's products and designs. (more)

Millionaire jailed for hiring crooked PI

(A story of massive illegal electronic surveillance.)
A multimillionaire (
one of Britain's richest men) was jailed yesterday after hiring corrupt private detectives to tap telephone conversations and hack into computers. Adrian Kirby used the detectives to spy on environmental investigators and residents opposed to the activities of his waste disposal company.

The agency he used, which employed private investigators, serving police officers and retired detectives, operated illegally over five years until 2004.

Hundreds of telephone lines were compromised by an array of illegal snooping equipment used to reroute and record conversations. Personal banking information and “targeted” computer hacking were available to customers willing to pay thousands of pounds a time. Confidential medical notes were also obtained.

Kirby, who is on The Sunday Times Rich List, paid the agency £47,000 to monitor opponents of his company’s plans to dispose of toxic waste.

Others involved as well...
Another job taken on by the London-based agency, which cannot be named for legal reasons, was an acrimonious divorce case.

Prestige bathroom company boss Anthony Waters paid them £50,000 to "spy" on his estranged wife with the help of special software to monitor everything she typed onto her laptop about the divorce proceedings and her finances.

In a third example, a Strathclyde woman asked the agency to monitor the phone calls of someone she believed had killed one of her elderly relatives to pocket a large inheritance.

Also before the court are the detective agency's "telephone interception specialists" Michael Hall, 35, of Battersea, London, and Stuart Dowling, 30, from Sittingbourne, Kent, who made some of the telephone monitoring devices, and two more of the company's clients, Adam Share, 35, of Corby Glen, Lincolnshire...

They variously admitted intercepting illegal communications and making unauthorised modifications to a computer. (more)

Ghana: VP's Office Dismisses Bugging Rumor

Ghana - The alleged bugging of the vice president’s office is generating controversy. Aides to Vice President Aliu Mahama have dismissed the surveillance reports as false. But an article published in an independent newspaper claims the discovery of sophisticated bugging gadgets in the vice president’s office at the castle in Osu, a suburb of the capital Accra. (more)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Espionage or Coincidence?

You decide...

LG said on Thursday it will start selling next month a new mobile phone that incorporates a buttonless touch-screen resembling the much-hyped iPhone from Apple. (more)

PI Agency and Clients Convicted of Wiretapping

UK - 38 months jail time was handed down to employees and clients of a London private detective agency which illegally hacked into telephone lines.

Eight people connected with the agency, which cannot be named for legal reasons, variously admitted charges of conspiring to intercept communications unlawfully...

...authorities were first made aware of the agency when it was discovered that a serving police officer, who was on sick leave citing depression, was effectively working as a full-time private investigator...

...Green roadside junction boxes had been broken into and hundreds of private lines were compromised. The agency also hacked computer systems to order to access private banking and medical information... (more)

U.S. ceases warrantless spy operation

In a surprising reversal, the White House said it would end the National Security Agency's controversial practice of domestic wiretapping without warrants – one year after the secret program was disclosed -- and agreed to give an independent court jurisdiction over such surveillance measures in the future. (more)

Cell Phone Operators Warned Against Eavesdropping

Thailand - The permanent secretary for Information and Communications Technology will Thursday summon all mobile phone service operators to warn them against eavesdropping.

ICT Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said the warning would be given after Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, chairman of the Council for National Security, said his phone conversation was tapped and leaked to Singapore.

Sitthichai said the permanent secretary would warn the operators that their license could be terminated if they are found to have conducted electronic eavesdropping.

Sitthichai said he would also order an investigation to find out which agencies have phone tapping equipment in possession. (more)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wiretap Mix

Take a break.

Hide Your Computer Files

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An Interspousal Wiretapping Conundrum

The Glazner's divorce was pending in the late 1990s, but they were still living in the same house. James put a recording device on a telephone in their home, and it recorded a number of conversations between Elizabeth and third parties. She filed a lawsuit against her (soon-to-be-ex-) husband in federal court for violating a federal law that made wiretapping illegal.

The problem, as she discovered, was that a 1974 case, Simpson v. Simpson (no . . . not those Simpsons) that was still binding in the Eleventh Circuit, had created an "implied exception" to the federal law for "interspousal wiretapping." (The judges apparently thought that married folks might have good reasons to bug their spouses, so that they couldn't sue each other when the other party - like Elizabeth - found out.) The first three judges who heard the case in 2002 agreed and upheld the dismissal of Elizabeth's case.

But then a larger panel of the Eleventh Circuit took up the case again, , and decided to revisit that 1974 decision to decide whether it had been correct. This time, in 2003, a majority of the judges who heard the case decided that the 1974 case was wrong - the wiretapping law had no explicit exception for spouses, and they not only overruled that case, but also made their decision retroactive. This meant that even though what James had done hadn't been illegal (for a damages lawsuit) when he did the wiretapping, Elizabeth's case against him could go forward.

Three judges dissented... (more)

The Tap Dance Continues

CA - Days after persuading a judge to let him represent himself at trial, indicted private investigator Anthony Pellicano is again poised to use private lawyers in his defense against federal charges of racketeering and wiretapping. (more)

And... there are rumors that in addition to re-hiring the attorney's, he is re-marrying his wife! (more)

Your Average Surveillance-Filled Day

Eye-opening article about a person's encounter with electronic surveillance technology during just one day... (more)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The spy in your home

Virtually everyone owns a mobile phone, but few of us realise that this innocent device can be turned into a hidden spy inside our own homes.

Inside Out shows how easy it is to turn your phone into a bugging device. ... Spyphone software can be installed on some mobile phones in well under a minute. ... the crime is almost impossible to detect… (more)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hey, we told you so!

A statement in the 2006 Defense Security Service Technology Collection Trends in the U.S. Defense Industry report which claimed radio frequency transmitters were discovered embedded in Canadian coins is not true, according to DSS officials. (more)

Bill would alter N.H. wiretap statute

NH - A Nashua man’s arrest for recording detectives at his door last year has inspired a bill to let property owners record audio and video on their premises without notice.

Michael Gannon, 40, was arrested June 27, after his home security camera made video and audio recordings of detectives who had come to 26 Morgan St. looking for his teenage son.

Gannon was arrested on felony wiretapping charges after he brought the recordings to the police station to complain that a detective was rude to him. The case drew international ire, especially online, and police later opted to drop the charges. Police also concluded that Gannon’s complaint against the detective was justified.

Police later returned Gannon’s cameras and recording equipment, though he said the wiring was damaged when police pulled them from the mounts. Police refused to give back Gannon’s tapes, however, saying they were illegal recordings, and thus contraband. (more)

"Wiretapping VoIP Will Kill Innovation" - Vint Cerf

Building standardized wiretap backdoors into Internet telephone systems is a bad idea that will lead to increased cyber security concerns. At least that's the opinion of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA).

Responding fiercely to a Friday court decision upholding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authority to impose traditional wiretap laws on Voice over IP companies, the ITAA Tuesday issued a report sharply critical of the ruling.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said VoIP calls are no different than traditional telephone service when it comes to wiretap laws.

At issue is the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a 1994 law mandating traditional telephone companies build their technology in specific ways in order to make wiretapping easier for law enforcement officials. (more)

Gigabit Quantum Encryption - World's First!

Quantum cyptography company id Quantique SA (Geneva) has teamed with Australian cyptography company Senetas Corp. Ltd. (Melbourne) to create what the partners claim in the world's first 1- to 10-Gbit/s secure network that combines uncrackable quantum keys with classical encryption. ...

Quantum key distribution makes communications hack-proof by eliminating the possibility of eavesdropping—rather than depending on the length of an encryption key to scramble transmitted data. Quantum cryptography instead employs individual photon polarization to represent 1s and 0s in such a way that intrusions can be detected. The uncrackable codes rely on single-photon emitters and receivers that detect whether a hacker has viewed a polarized photon—flagging the intrusion by switching any bit that has been observed, thereby alerting the recipient to an eavesdropping attempt. (more)

The DIY Spy

from Technology Insight...
"Had an old Espion (sic) digicam with a broken LCD lying around. Removed the case, LCD and battery connections and found it fit perfectly in this tiny (<5cm> Connected via Skype and set to auto answer and send video when I call it. Shame about the USB cable sticking out the side (I may move it to the back)… and the fact I have nobody to spy on… " (more)

Korean Cell Phone Encryption

Korea’s three telecom companies are planning to unveil a subscription anti-wiretapping service for cell phone users this week. SK Telecom, KTF and LG Telecom said Sunday that they will offer the Private Long Code service, a digital encryption system, from this week.

Dubbed “Voice Private”, the service was developed to prevent eavesdropping on mobile phone calls. The technology uses a strong encryption code to make it difficult for unauthorized listeners to decode digitalized voice information.

Fees range from W1,500 to W2,000 ($1.60 - $2.13 USD). Customers can subscribe to the service without having to purchase a special phone. Telecom providers say they will begin the service as soon as the Ministry of Information and Communication approves it.

Customers are expected to include people who deal regularly with sensitive information, such as politicians, public officials, businesspeople and journalists. (more)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Teaching Eavesdropping in School ?!?!

UK - "This is an activity for students to practise reporting speech. ... You may have to explain the concept of eavesdropping (listening to someone else's conversation). With lower levels it may be easier to explain spying." ~ Marta Joyce Sabbadini, Teacher & Trainer, British Council, Cameroon (more)

...and you wonder where the adults come from who think that eavesdropping, spying and espionage are socially acceptable. ~Kevin (more)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Swedes favour more bugging

Sweden - A large majority of Swedes like the idea of additional surveillance to aid in the hunt for terrorists and serious criminals. A survey carried out by Statistics Sweden shows that a full 80 percent of Swedes favour increased surveillance.

But while the general public supports plans to keep a closer eye on the population, public bodies have been lining up to criticise defence minister Mikael Odenberg's proposal to permit the monitoring of ordinary citizens' phone calls and email.

Man-Roach Bugs House

OR - The Roseburg man who allegedly attacked his ex-wife last month at her townhouse had apparently been eavesdropping on her with recording equipment below her home for some time, according to police.

Police say Vincent Wayne Maneha, 41, broke into the woman’s Umpqua Street home with a gun Dec. 15 and choked her. She was able to escape with minor injuries...

In the crawl space beneath the residence, police found a cordless drill, a pry bar and a microcassette recorder. The recorder was attached to a corded microphone that had been placed in a hole drilled through the subfloor into the living room, according to the probable cause affidavit RPD filed in court upon the man’s arrest.

A set of earphones that fit the microrecorder were later found in Maneha’s coat. Police also found energy bars, water and extra clothing, according to the affidavit.

“There was definitely evidence that he’d been spending some time in the crawl space under the apartment,” Sgt. Aaron Dunbar said.

Guilty Plea in H-P Case Involving Bugging of Journalist

San Francisco - Federal prosecutors are poised to score their first victory in their investigation of Hewlett-Packard Co's ill-fated boardroom spying probe, after a private investigator agreed to plead guilty to identity theft and conspiracy charges.

Bryan Wagner, 29, of Littleton, Colo., will enter his plea during his scheduled arraignment hearing... (more)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Latvian police prosecuted for wiretapping

Riga – The Prosecutor General’s Office has launched a criminal case against four officers of the Latvian Finance Police over the wiretapping of journalists’ telephone conversations.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spy transmitters in Canadian coins: Report

Canada – They say money talks, and a new report suggests Canadian currency is indeed chatting, at least electronically, on behalf of shadowy spies.

Canadian coins containing tiny transmitters have mysteriously turned up in the pockets of at least three American contractors who visited Canada, says a branch of the U.S. Defense Department.

Security experts believe the miniature devices could be used to track the movements of defense industry personnel dealing in sensitive military technology. (more)

There is something wrong with this story. It does not make sense - technically or practically. Transmitter... no. RFID tag... maybe. Purpose... ??? More likely, souvenir challenge coins were given as gifts to these contractors and someone joked that they were bugged. ~Kevin

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Technical Surveillance to the Rescue!

Australia - The Queensland Opposition is calling for extra resources, like secret surveillance cameras, to help police find the offenders attacking women on Brisbane walkways and bike paths.

There have been 36 attacks in the past 12 months. ...

The Opposition's Mark McArdle says a helicopter would also be a valuable tool in the search for the attackers.

"I'm talking about modern technology on the helicopter - infrared cameras, infrared lights, covert lighting systems, also on board cameras capturing real time imagery, so this can be used at a later date and assessed," he said. (more)

One man's trash is another man's...

OK - Dumpster diving thieves may have their hands on your private information. Personal documents, with visible bank account information, were found in an overflowing dumpster behind a strip mall near 91st and Yale on Sunday. Some of the documents, which were not shredded, had fallen onto the ground and were blowing around in the wind, police said.

Tulsa Police contacted some of those identified on the documents; their reaction was not a pleasant one. (more)

If you can't beat party line eavesdroppers...

...give them a special phone!
from Modern Mechanix (February, 1932)

Telephone companies are much concerned by eavesdropping on rural party lines because it interferes with transmission over the line. To take down the receiver increases the electrical resistance of the circuit.

It is proposed to stop fighting the apparently incurable tendency of rural subscribers to listen to other people’s business and to recognize it by installing special telephone instruments to which eavesdroppers can listen without increasing the electrical resistance of the circuit or interfering with its legitimate use. (more)

Info-security is more than just eavesdropping detection...

...from Bank Technology News...

Trust Your Instincts. If you think something's going on, it probably is; reacting quickly can prevent extensive damage.

One Size Doesn't Fit All. There is a wide range of information-security events, from pure technology incidents to phishing to lost laptops. Each bucket of incidents should have its own response plan and team that includes members with expertise in that particular event, as well as the business owners.

Tell Your Boss Now. Keeping senior management in the dark is never good. (more)

Extortionography finds a home...

"WikiLeaks is developing an uncensorable version of WikiPedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis." (more)

Every coin has it light side and dark side.
The flip side of this coin is extortionography.

What is Extortionography?
Using audio / video / photographic or other evidence for personal or monetary gain, or to force a desired result or outcome. "Do [insert your demand here] or I will send [insert your eavesdrop, wiretap or leak here] to WikiLeaks!"

The Ultimate Eavesdrop

Astronomers have proposed an improved method of searching for intelligent extraterrestrial life using instruments like one now under construction in Australia. The Low Frequency Demonstrator (LFD) of the Mileura Wide-Field Array (MWA), a facility for radio astronomy, theoretically could detect Earth-like civilizations around any of the 1,000 nearest stars.

The Mileura Wide-Field Array will be able to "eavesdrop" for unintentional signals from any such worlds within 30 light-years of Earth.

"Soon, we may be eavesdropping on signals from Galactic civilizations," says theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "This is the first time in history that humans will be capable of finding a civilization like ours among the stars."

Loeb will present his findings on Wednesday, January 10, in a press conference at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Wash. (more)

The paper describing these findings has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics and is available online.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Oprah Extortionography Plot

Man accused of seeking money for tapes about her...

Oprah Winfrey was the victim of an extortion attempt
after an Atlanta man threatened he had potentially damaging audio tapes he'd publicize if he wasn't paid off, according to federal charges.

Keifer Bonvillain of Atlanta is charged in Chicago federal court with illegally taping telephone calls he had with a Winfrey employee he befriended at a party.

Over a series of weeks, Bonvillain allegedly asked the employee many questions about Winfrey and her business. He later told a second person, described as Winfrey's "business associate," that he recorded 12 hours of those conversations and ultimately asked for $1.5 million to destroy the tapes and his notes, according to charges.

At various times, Bonvillain threatened to sell the information to tabloids, to use the tapes to write a book or to simply sell them to Winfrey's representatives, according to federal charges.

Bonvillain's name came up in a separate legal case in New Jersey recently. According to court records, he was hired as a consultant by one of the parties to that case and involved in tape recording conversations while probing claims tied to an insurance dispute. (more) (update)

Polish archbishop resigns in spying row

Poland - The newly-appointed archbishop of Warsaw resigned on Sunday after admitting he spied for Poland's former communist regime, in a major embarrassment for the Vatican and the powerful Polish Catholic Church.

Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus read out his resignation, which came at the request of Pope Benedict who appointed him just a month ago, at a special mass in Warsaw Cathedral replacing a formal ceremony that was to have sworn him in. (more)

Taxman to get bugging and phone-tap powers

UK - Tax inspectors are to be given new powers allowing them to tap taxpayers’ telephones and plant bugs inside their homes and offices. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) says its inspectors need such covert surveillance to tackle the growing threat from organised and white-collar crime.

However, lawyers and accountants argue that the move could breach human rights and have condemned ministers for “creeping authoritarianism” (more)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Hollywood private investigator wiretap trial (update)

Tossing a legal hand grenade into an already-contentious case, celebrity sleuth Anthony Pellicano on Friday demanded and won the right to act as his own lawyer in his upcoming trial on wiretapping and racketeering charges.

U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer tried to talk Pellicano out of his plan, but he would not relent. "I urge you to let me appoint counsel for you," Fischer implored in federal court in downtown Los Angeles. "You're very kind, your honor, but no, thank you," Pellicano said. (more)

How (simple) Wiretapping Works

"If people did want to eavesdrop, they could tap into almost any phone line quite easily.

When you open up a phone, you can see that the technology inside is very simple. The simplicity of design makes the phone system vulnerable to surreptitious eavesdropping. In this article, we'll explore the practice of wiretapping to see just how simple it is. We'll also look at a few different types of wiretaps, find out who taps phone lines and examine the laws that regulate this practice. To learn how wiretapping works, you first have to..." (more)
How a private individual can detect wiretapping... (more)
How a business or government can detect wiretapping... (more)

Calling Major Bowes (update)

WV - The Hinton City Council is still waiting to find out if federal investigators will look into potential wiretapping at Hinton City Hall.

Several letters were sent to federal, state and county prosecutors asking to investigate the claim. A tape was found inside the Hinton Police Department and turned over to the West Virginia State Police.

One letter sent to the FBI office in Beckley says the integrity of the tape may have been compromised. The council unanimously approved an investigation into alleged wiretapping on December 28th, 2006. (more)

Hollywood private investigator seeks to represent self at trial

CA - Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano is expected to ask a Los Angeles federal judge tomorrow for permission to represent himself in his upcoming wiretapping trial.

Pellicano has pleaded not guilty to racketeering and wiretapping charges.

Prosecutors contend that Pellicano illegally wiretapped the phones of Hollywood stars such as Sylvester Stallone and bribed police officers to run the names of more than 60 people through government databases. (more)

3 great tricks for geeks

#3 Create a spycam
Curious to see who’s using your computer when you’re away from your desk? Set up a spycam! All you need is a Web cam; Econ Technologies’ $30 ImageCaster for broadcasting footage to a Web site; and Humongous Elephants and Tigers’ free Dockless, which helps keep your snooping on the down low. (more)

Spying on Teen in McDonald's Bathroom

MI - ...a 41-year-old Dearborn man has been charged with spying on a teenager in a McDonald's bathroom. Police had been searching for Gary Wayne Carr since Dec. 5 when a 17-year-old girl from W. Bloomfield reported a man used a mirror to look over the top of a bathroom stall at a McDonald's restaurant. Waterford Police say Carr has quite a criminal history. He's been convicted of trespassing and eavesdropping in Bloomfield Twp. and Canton. Oakland County prosecutors have charged him with felony eavesdropping and surveillance in the McDonald's case. (more)

Friday, January 5, 2007

InfoSecurity tops list of executive worries

The compromise of corporate information systems is the number-one worry of business executives, according to a survey of 197 senior executives at corporations with $1 billion or more in annual revenue.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, revealed that 61 percent of the executives cited data breaches as their biggest worry. (more)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Art Imitates Life... again.

The Secret Show is a new animated series, commissioned and produced by British media outlets and British animators, scheduled for a North American premiere in late January. Animated in flash with flat, curious characters moving around a frenetically plotted spy-like environment, The Secret Show is an entertaining new program that is quite like what a lot of animation fans are probably in need of: a series you don't have to think about, because it's madcap fun from beginning to end. More or less, this is an animated television program about a couple of spies in a government organization; but the catch however, is that The Secret Show has as much fun with the subject matter as is possible in the medium. This series is about embracing the oft-absurd nature of spy secrecy to the point where everything is a secret and everything is a joke. ... The animation for The Secret Show is slightly unusual... (more)

Japan to set up spy agency

Local media in Japan are reporting the country will set up a new human intelligence unit. The spy service will be the first for any branch of the nation's military.

According to reports, the human intelligence group is expected to have around 70 members. Japan's Ground Self-Defense Forces have a centralized intelligence unit. But the unit has reportedly been unable to use people to gather information, relying instead on satellite images and radio signals. (more) (video)

Shhhh! De Niro’s Spy Flick Keeps It to a Whisper

Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd, from a screenplay by Eric Roth, has been described as “The Godfather of spy movies,” which is reasonably accurate as far as the depiction of violence is concerned, as well as the emphasis on ethnicity, which in The Good Shepherd is mostly multi-generational American ruling-class WASP, while in The Godfather it was mostly the Italian-American (or, more specifically, Sicilian-American) lineage that was on the line. But the differences between the two films are more striking. previous American film has ventured into this still largely unknown territory with such authority and emotional detachment. For this reason alone, The Good Shepherd is must-see viewing. (

I was spy for Fijians

Australia - After almost crippling Britain's Blair Government with a corruption scandal, Gold Coast conman Peter Foster has gone undercover for the Fijian military to expose alleged vote rigging and corruption.

With a male clutch bag concealing a mini video camera and a microphone taped to his chest, Foster met with senior leaders of Fiji's SDL party which controlled the Government until overthrown in a military coup in December.

At the time, Foster was facing forgery charges and was under house arrest in Suva.

"Why did I do it? There is this perception of me as someone who takes from society and doesn't give anything back. Maybe I am just trying to make amends for my sins of the past by being a good citizen, by going out there and putting my neck on the line and saying you know. I want to be on the side of the good guys for a change," Foster said yesterday.

Countering Foster's claims were allegations yesterday that the Australian conman tried to bankroll the SDL election campaign.

But in carrying out the sting operation, Foster has upset some powerful people in Fiji where he had been working to build an island resort.

Local sources yesterday said it's unlikely he will ever be able to regain credibility on the Pacific island nation. (more)

Foreign spy activity surges to fill technology gap

Several U.S. defense contractors have reported that between October 2005 and January 2006 they found radio-frequency transmitters hidden in Canadian coins that were planted on them after they traveled through Canada, according to the report....

Foreign spies are stepping up efforts to obtain secret U.S. technology through methods ranging from sexual entrapment to Internet hacking
(electronic eavesdropping and wiretapping fall in between), with China and other Asian countries leading the targeting of U.S. defense contractors.

"The apparent across-the-board surge in activity from East Asia and Pacific countries will continue in the short term as gaps in technological capability become apparent in their weapons-development processes," the latest annual report by the Defense Security Service counterintelligence office stated.

Other methods included offering marketing services to contractors, spying during visits to U.S. companies and the use of "cultural commonality" to obtain technology.

The report did not identify the 106 countries that are engaged in the collection activity, but other defense officials said the most active technology spies are working for China, Russia and Iran. Other collectors of U.S. technology were identified as agents working secretly for Israel, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Egypt and United Arab Emirates, the officials said. (more)

There is something wrong with this story. It does not make sense - technically or practically. Transmitter... no. RFID tag... maybe. Purpose... ??? More likely, souvenir challenge coins were given as gifts to these contractors and someone joked that they were bugged. ~Kevin

LA: More Free Wi-Fi! And Spy Cameras!


Los Angeles - "The city's considering spending $165,000 expanding downtown's free-wireless nodes to include Bunker Hill, the financial district, the historic core and Little Tokyo.

The Community Redevelopment Agency wrapped the hardware expense into a larger new appropriation for its "official" ExperienceLA calendar site and, oh, just happened to tack on some money for more wi-fi surveillance cameras ...

The cameras are to be installed at Angels Knoll Interim Park and Little Tokyo for the purpose of feeding your downtown activities (and, of course, those of street criminals) to video monitors inside LAPD.

Make of that what you will." (more)