Thursday, March 29, 2007

Windows XP is One Giant Bug (opinion)

One person believes the Windows XP computer operating system is just one big eavesdropping / bugging device. Mark McCarron writes...

"If you have ever wondered, if;

1. Microsoft, was secretly spying on end-user machines?
2. Big Brother deployment scenarios were real?
3. M$ Windows was a type of bugging device?

Then this, is for you my friend, the 'Top-47 Windows bugging functions', and then some. There is also an appendix on forensic methodology and Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM)." (more)

Royal Dutch Shell Wants Alleged Eavesdropping Investigated

Independent Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley says he intends to ask the Circuit Court judge who acts as the State’s complaints referee in relation to phone tapping, to investigate alleged surveillance of telephones held by himself and six prominent members of the Shell to Sea campaign. ...

Dr Cowley told The Irish Times that he would be pursuing this avenue immediately, as the Minister’s failure to rule out possible phone tapping had compounded his fears.

He claimed a “series of unusual coincidences” had alerted him to the possibility of surveillance of landlines and mobile phones of those involved in opposing aspects of the Corrib gas project.

“I am not the only one to hold these fears.

“People who have taken a particular stand on the Corrib gas dispute approached me on a number of occasions expressing their suspicions,” Dr Cowley told the Connaught Telegraph this week.

“They are convinced their telephone conversations are being monitored because there is compelling evidence of it happening.

“I am genuinely concerned that I am one of the people under surveillance.

“If it is proven that a member of the Oireachtas is having his phone tapped, it would be a scandal of the highest order,” he added. (more)

Mobile Phone Glitch Allows Eavesdropping

Australia - Optus is battling to find the cause of a fault in its network, which allows customers to eavesdrop on others' phone calls.

The issue was originally thought to be limited to the Optus pre-paid mobile service, but readers have subsequently described the issue occurring in Optus' landline network as well.

It has customers fearing their privacy has been compromised.

Users reported having to physically demonstrate the issue to Optus before they committed to looking further into it. (more)

Korea to enact new Wiretapping Laws

The National Assembly is likely to pass a revision to the Protection of Communication Secrets Act that would permit wiretapping of mobile phones on April 2. (more)

New Canadian Wiretap law

"The purpose of this Act is to ensure that telecommunications service providers have the capability to enable national security and law enforcement agencies to exercise their authority to intercept communications, and to require service providers to provide subscriber and other information, without unreasonably impairing the privacy of individuals, the provision of telecommunications services to Canadians or the competitiveness of the Canadian telecommunications industry." (more)

UPDATE - Tommy Sheridan - Bug Hunt

Scotland - Police specialists swept Tommy Sheridan's Holyrood office for electronic bugging devices yesterday.

And they also searched the Solidarity leader's Glasgow office and his home after a bug was found in his car last week.

Party spokesman Hugh Kerr said no other devices had been found. (more)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Police find what's bugging Tommy

Scotland - Left-wing MSP Tommy Sheridan may have been under surveillance from a secret bugging device in his car for more than three months.

The bug - capable of transmitting pictures as well as sound - was discovered yesterday after the Solidarity leader called in police and an independent security expert. It was pulled out from under the back seat of his Honda Civic.

But today a source close to Mr. Sheridan revealed his car was also searched three or four months ago, but nothing was found. (more)

This is an excellent example of the value of quarterly TSCM inspections. They limit your window-of-vulnerability. They alert you to spies before they can use your information against you. Call us, to begin your quarterly inspections.

Blue chip firms find bugging is now big business

Blue chip companies in Scotland are spending thousands of pounds on anti-bugging devices, which "sweep" their offices and prevent rival firms from stealing trade secrets.

Private investigators say some organisations are paying up to £10,000 to have their premises checked to keep sensitive information under wraps.

Stephen Grant, a partner with the Edinburgh-based investigators Grant & McMurtrie, deals with about 150 companies each year which have concerns about lapses in security.

He said: "People are becoming more aware of the technology available. Bugs are very cheap and can be bought for less than £100. We provide counter-surveillance and de-bugging equipment. We check merchant banks and the boardrooms of blue chip companies."

Privacy International, a watchdog on government and corporate surveillance, estimates that more than 200,000 bugging devices and covert cameras are sold every year. (more)

Bugging offices is not a crime, say experts

Bugging offices in the UK is not a criminal offence, according to surveillance and legal experts speaking to OUT-LAW Radio. While recording a phone conversation is a criminal offence, someone could place a recording device in an office legally, they said.

In an investigation into corporate surveillance techniques, the weekly technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio discovered that no offence is committed by placing a bug in a workplace to secretly record conversations.

"There's nothing in any piece of legislation that stops you from putting a physical bug in a room, an office or something like that provided you are there lawfully and you haven't committed any criminal offence to get access to it," said Victoria Southern, a lawyer at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW. (more)(podcast)(transcript)

Security Directors: FREE Security White Paper - "Surreptitious Workplace Recording ...and what you can do about it."  

Now have your home swept for spy bugs...

...police tell Sheridan.

Scotland - Police have recommended that Tommy Sheridan has his home checked for bugs after a listening device was found in his car, the MSP said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Sheridan said that following the discovery of a bug in his Honda Civic at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon, he would be acting on this advice "for peace of mind".

He said that the police were now carrying out a thorough examination of the device found in his car. "It will be sent for further tests including forensic and DNA." (more) (earlier reports here)

Colombia's former spy chief freed

Colombia's former intelligence chief has been freed by a court weeks after being charged with helping paramilitaries accused of carrying out atrocities in the country's conflict.

Jorge Noguera, the ex-head of Colombia's Administrative Security Department and an ally of the US-backed president, Alvaro Uribe, was freed on "procedural grounds". (more)

Man accused of spying for China

As a top engineer at a major U.S. defense contractor, Chi Mak helped develop some of the most advanced and closely guarded naval technology in the world, including silent-running propulsion systems that can make submarines virtually undetectable.

Now, in a case that experts say could have serious implications for U.S. security, the Downey resident is accused of stealing those secrets for the Chinese. (more)

Ten dangerous claims about smart phone security

Many common assumptions about the security and privacy of smart phones or other handheld converged devices are off-base or just flat-out wrong.

For any high-value target -- whether that's a political candidate or an organization with valuable financial or personal data -- a little more thought ought to go into the process of selecting and deploying any device handling important data.

It makes sense, then, to challenge the more widespread assumptions, and consider how to handle oft-ignored risks. (highly summarized, more here)

1. It's just a phone with cool features, right?
No, it's not.
2. It's stable, just like any other purpose-built appliance.

No, it's not.
3. Communications are encrypted from end to end.
No, not entirely.
4. The connection's secure unless I use Wi-Fi in a café.
Guess, again.
5. E-mails and messages are secure from prying eyes.
Not if you're interesting.
6. Using a mobile phone constitutes out-of-band communication.
Who are you? No one knows for certain.
7. I trust the integrity of data and applications on a smart phone.
Not 100%, we hope.
8. Information deleted from a smart phone is gone, right?
No, just marked for overwrite.
9. Spying on my smart phone is hard.
I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
10. Abuse is minimal because the network and phones are constrained. :]

Friday, March 23, 2007

Surprise Twist in Hollywood Wiretapping Case

Anthony Pellicano Set To Remarry Former Wife...
Ceremony will be held in courtroom where he is being tried for wiretapping. (more)

Judge withdraws from lawyer wiretap case

VT - A state judge has stepped down from handling a case in which she allowed police to record phone conversations with a defense lawyer to determine whether she was obstructing an investigation. (more)

Bullies With iPods

UK - Playground bullies are deploying iPods and social networking sites such as MySpace and MSN Messenger to wage increasingly hi-tech campaigns against victims, according to new research.

Academics studying the growth in so-called cyber-bullying discovered that youngsters, particularly girls, who were twice as likely to be affected as boys, ruthlessly exploited every new technological gadget.

Victims reported feeling more lonely, having fewer friends and being less liked. Among the findings was a growing trend to circulate video clips of young people getting changed after PE sessions. The images are captured on mobile phones and passed onto classmates' video iPods. They are often accompanied by sound tracks of critical comments from laughing bullies. Others found images of their abuse on the MySpace and Bebo sites, although the researchers said operators were quick to remove offensive entries. There was also evidence that that the instant messaging service MSN Messenger was emerging as a hurtful new weapon. (more)

'Bugging device' found in Sheridan's car

Police in Scotland are investigating a complaint by the politician Tommy Sheridan that his car has been bugged.

A device was found in the Honda Civic belonging to the MSP in Edinburgh yesterday morning, and has now been removed by police.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "We received a report of a device being found in a car at the Scottish Parliament. The device was located and we are making inquiries." (more) (more)

Politician Tommy Sheridan has cleared security services of any involvement in bugging his car.

He dismissed speculation that he was being monitored by the authorities as "garbage". The left-wing politician also disclosed that police believe the device found in his silver Honda Civic was wired for pictures as well as sound.

Mr Sheridan, leader of the Solidarity Party, called in police after a member of his staff found what they thought was a piece of eavesdropping equipment in the car. (more)

Politician Tommy Sheridan has been told by police that a suspected bugging device found in his car was "viable". (more)

Private eye avoids jail in spying scandal

CA - A Melbourne (Florida) private investigator implicated in a spying scandal at Hewlett-Packard Co. will avoid jail time after his lawyer tendered a "no contest" plea Wednesday to a misdemeanor charges in California.

Lawyers for the local investigator, Matthew DePante, manager of Action Research Group, and three other defendants in the case entered no contest pleas to misdemeanor charges of fraudulent wire communications in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

The judge dropped the charges against former Hewlett-Packard Co. board Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who was accused of fraud in the company's boardroom spying scandal.

Like DePante, former Hewlett-Packard ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker and private investigator Ronald DeLia also will avoid jail time. (more)

Moral... Don't depend on the legal system to deter spies. Depend on your own proactive counterespionage efforts.

Oracle's claims highlight more corporate spying

Oracle's newly-filed lawsuit against rival SAP is only the latest in a slew of recent allegations that make it seem that business leaders are still willing to seek out ways to circumvent technological security systems.

In its suit -- which accuses enterprise applications giant SAP of fraud legislation, unfair competition, and civil conspiracy, and charges the German company of "corporate theft on a grand scale" -- Oracle claims that SAP workers illegally accessed its own computerized customer support systems and stole "thousands of proprietary, copyrighted software products," as well as other confidential materials...

...the accusations follow a string of other instances where corporate leaders have intentionally bypassed systems meant to protect sensitive data. (more)

Yet Another SpyCam'er

CT - A man landed in hot water after police say he hid a tiny camera in a shampoo bottle to watch two of his female roommates as they took showers.

A male roommate, curious why the shampoo wasn't moved for some time, found wires protruding from the back of the bottle, then called police, authorities said.

The camera recorded through a pinhole, and the images were sent to Steven Thibodeau's television, police said. Thibodeau, 25, had placed the camera to record the women showering and made a video of one of them changing clothes, according to police.

Thibodeau was arraigned Wednesday on 15 counts of voyeurism and one count of evidence tampering, which alleges he tried to delete some images. ...

It wasn't yet known how long the shampoo had been wired. (more)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

When Sneaky Spy Tactics Fail...

...Use a Ray Gun.

Dr. Grordbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators, are a line of immensely dangerous yet simple to operate wave oscillation weapons.

Meticulously built to the exacting standards and plans of Dr. Grordbort, these weapons, bespangled in fine detail and with various (most likely quite dangerous) moving parts are the perfect addition to a gentleman's study or a deterring centerpiece for a lady's powder room or chiffonier.

Ammunition not supplied (Phlogiston and Compressed Aether phials may be ordered through the Doctor's upcoming Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory) (more)

Italy arrests 12 more in T.Italia wiretap case

Italian authorities have arrested 12 more people in connection with an investigation into illegal wiretapping by Telecom Italia... Magistrates accuse those arrested of illegally obtaining information through wiretapping and computer hacking. (more)

Vodacom 'spying' on workers

South Africa - A Vodacom worker's dismissal has raised questions about spying at the company.

The employee, Portia Sithole was dismissed last Friday after attending a union activity while on a doctor-mandated sick leave. ...

The company monitored her location using her mobile telephone.

"The company offers employees a phone as a company benefit. Now they are using it as a tracking device to see where one goes and when. I think it is a total invasion of privacy," said Sithole. (more)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Our New Instrumentation Wins Multiple Awards

Tektronix, Inc., a leading worldwide provider of test, measurement and monitoring instrumentation, announced that its RSA6100A Series Real-Time Spectrum Analyzers received the Editor's Choice Award in Electronic Engineering Times-China (EE Times-China) Annual Creativity in Electronics (ACE) Awards for the most significant technical solution in the past 12 months. ...

The awards, sponsored by EE Times-China, received 224 entries from 83 companies. The editorial team of EE Times-China reviewed these entries to evaluate their impact on the electronics industry in China. Based on its unique capability and innovative features, the editors of EE-Times China selected Tektronix's RSA6100A real time spectrum analyzer for the Editor's Choice Award.

"The RSA6100A Real-Time Spectrum Analyzer stood out as the most significant technical solution in the last 12 months," said Yorbe Zhang, Editor in Chief of EE Times-China. "The RTSA's ability to visually display the live RF spectrum, showing the spectral activity in real-time, is a stunning engineering accomplishment... (more) (even more awards)

Murray Associates is the only private-sector TSCM firm to own an RSA6100A. A view of it's screen can be seen here.
In short... It lets us see bugs no one else can see.

Wiretap Service & DIY Wiretaps

New York based call recording company 2ReCall just recently launched their initial call recording product last week. The new service lets you record any US domestic outgoing call by first dialing into an 800 number and then number you want to call.

The old fashioned way of recording calls consisted of Spy-vs-Spy type tape recorders and suction mics. VOIP changed that a bit, making it dead simple to grab the conversation as it passes through your phone client, although it leaves you chained to the desk.

2ReCall’s 800 number means you can record an outgoing call on any phone. Over the coming year the service will be able to record inbound calls as well, with the ultimate goal being a completely seamless solution that records all calls on the number. (more) DIY wiretap. (more)

FartCam Sniffs Out Trash Tippers

UK - A council is to hide cameras inside baked bean tins and brick walls to catch residents who put rubbish in the wrong bins.

The covert surveillance has been ordered by Ealing council to target 'enviro-criminals' an Evening Standard investigation has found. (more)

UPDATE... EALING council was rubbished' in national and London press this week over its decision to use hidden cameras in bags of rubbish. ... (reply) "We make no apology for taking the toughest action against those few who continue to blight our borough without any thought of the impact on the majority of residents." (more)

Ump's Bugs

Major League Baseball fans might get to eavesdrop on players and managers arguing calls this season as Fox and ESPN put microphones on umpires during telecasts for the first time. (more)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

VoIP Mixes SIP with Security

Switzerland - Telecommunications provider Amitelo today launches a new release of its softphone AmiVois that because of excellent features is superior to its competitors. AmiVois comes with a new kind of encryption that makes wiretapping virtually impossible. (more)

Double Czech for Wiretaps

Police have thus recorded the calls between Frantisek Kinsky and his lawyer, which are considered inviolable.

A Czech court approved the wiretapping. Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil (Civic Democrats, ODS) said that this was in accordance with law. (more)

...meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Tomas Almer, head of the Czech police unit in charge of wiretapping, will not be prosecuted over sending the parliament a secret report saying that police wiretapped some politicians and journalists. (more)

Spy Agency Resorts to Wiretapping More Often

S. Korea - The National Intelligence Service (NIS), the country’s spy agency, is wiretapping more and more fixed-line phones and tracking the e-mail messages of Koreans.

The Ministry of Information and Communication on Tuesday said the NIS traced a total of 8,440 phones or messages last year, up 4.4 percent from 8,082 in 2005. (more)

Equipment Spy Finds Nike's Sumo2 Driver Illegal

Nike calls it a "voluntary product return", ...

How could this happen in the dog eat dog world of golf equipment?

They were ratted out by a competitor.

And how would they gain by this bit of corporate espionage?

For whatever reason, even before this golf manufacturing "spy" committed corporate espionage, Nike’s product hasn’t been getting the same respect or publicity as Callaway. Even Tiger Woods doesn't have the new Sumo2 in his bag. How bad is it when your top spokesplayer snubs your product? (more)

Spy Agency Posts Windows, OS X Security Guides

Who should know more about security than the National Security Agency? (Hey, it's their middle name!) No one, presumably. Which is why you might want to check out a series of security configuration guides the NSA has posted for Windows XP, 2000, Mac OS X, and Sun Solaris. (more)

Have Tap, Will Travel

Romanian spy chief quits after admitting he misinformed parliament over phone tapping operations.

Claudiu Saftoiu, appointed last September by (Romanian President) Basescu, resigned after earlier telling a parliamentary committee that phone tapping of people suspected of violating national security had been conducted with the approval of the general prosecutor's office.

Later, in a letter, Saftoiu apologised, accepting that such operations could be carried out only with the authorisation of a judge.

"His move is an act of honour. He told us something and later took it back," Crin Antonescu, member of a parliamentary commission investigating opposition allegations of unconstitutional behaviour by Basescu, told Reuters.

"Indiana wants me, Lord I can't call back there..."

IN - Cell phones and other electronic devices have opened new avenues for criminals, but these same technology advances have left Indiana police investigators behind.

Hoping to regain lost ground, the Indiana State Police is pushing a bill in the Statehouse that would give it the authority to listen in on cell phone calls and intercept other electronic communications, such as e-mail. Local law enforcement agencies would have the same power, but only with State Police supervision.

"Is this a game of chance?"

..."Not the way I play it, no." ~W.C. Fields

New York City — A jury was chosen Monday to weigh charges against four former A.B. Watley Group Inc. executives accused of paying brokers at securities firms thousands of dollars to let them eavesdrop on share orders by institutional clients. (more)

UPDATE - 3/29/07
A former Merrill Lynch & Co. broker (Timothy O'Connell, 42, of Carle Place, New York) was arrested on state gambling charges in New York, postponing his federal trial for selling access to trading information broadcast over his firm's office intercom. ... O'Connell is one of seven defendants on trial for conspiring to trade on information broadcast over internal ``squawk boxes'' at top Wall Street firms. He and brokers at Citigroup Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. allowed day traders at A.B. Watley Group Inc., an online brokerage, to eavesdrop on large institutional orders, according to prosecutors. (more)

Must have been a nice place to live!

Oregon - Law-enforcement officials said Monday that they used wiretapping to help gather evidence against the defendants in a suspected illegal drug-distribution ring and said it was the first time that a Benton County investigation used wiretaps under state law. (more)

Monday, March 19, 2007

China Edging US in Espionage

Washington, DC - Chinese espionage directed against the United States has met with "total success for China" and "total failure" for America's own intelligence operations, said an author and reporter on national security issues.

Counter-intelligence operations have allowed the Chinese to block and manipulate U.S. electronic eavesdropping operations while the theft of U.S. technology has helped accelerate Beijing's military ambitions, Bill Gertz said Friday at a gathering of the Defense Forum Foundation on Capitol Hill. ...

For legal reasons, espionage cases are very difficult to prosecute unless someone is caught "red-handed," Gertz observed. Consequently, U.S. government officials must often settle for circumstantial evidence that translates into lesser charges. ...

One of the most sensational cases detailed in Gertz's new book involves Katrina Leung, a Los Angeles businesswoman, who secretly remained loyal to China while working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Leung is one of the many spies who got away, thanks in part to a "botched" FBI investigation, Gertz said.

U.S. officials believe Leung is responsible for compromising an electronic eavesdropping program that involved the planting of bugs on a Boeing airliner China was purchasing in 2000 for Jiang Zemin, who was the communist leader at that time.

The prosecution of Leung proved difficult because she had "intimate relations" with two FBI agents who were responsible for intelligence operations involving China, Gertz said. Consequently the espionage charges against Leung "went away." (more)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bugs go to court...

South Africa - Three secret microphones and a hidden camera were discovered in Fidentia's Cape Town boardroom in a sweep for electronic bugs after curators took over the business, the city's magistrate's court heard on Friday. (more)

RF Condoms

Protect cell phones, PDAs, laptops and even cards with embedded RFID chip from eavesdroppers. EM-SEC Technologies makes and sells special cases which protect your electronics from secretly communicating with ether-snoops.

Need to protect something larger... like a whole room?

They also make paint that blocks radio waves! EM-SEC Coating is applied as an interior surface coating to individual rooms or entire facilities to provide a secure “Electromagnetic Fortress” for the safe operation of both wired and wireless networks and other electronic equipment.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Intercepting Text Messages

Interception of our phone calls and messages is the thing that’s ‘in’ among those who put eavesdropping first. There are various methods that are used.

- First we have phone cloning where the interceptor disguises as the receiver and receives the data, be it text or voice. Later he forwards it to the receiver.

- Another working technique for hacking into phone communications is by using certain illegal firmware that can cause your phone to pick up broadcasts from any other phone that is at a suitable proximity from the mobile station. (more)

Wi-Fi Security Tips

Experts say home networks are particularly vulnerable

When many of the computer industry's top security gurus gathered in San Francisco last month for a conference, a Boston company decided to point its radar toward the airwaves and see how much of the show's wireless activity it could see.

The distressing and ironic answer? The Boston hackers could eavesdrop on more than half of the wireless traffic ... at a security conference!

Security experts offer these tips when using wireless Internet access (abbreviated):

-- Use a suite of security software, including a firewall.

-- When logging on in a cafe or hotel, make sure you find out from an employee what the name of the network is, so you don't fall for a phony network set up by a hacker.

-- Change the password when you set up your router at home.

-- Try using OpenDNS, a free service at, which will change the router's settings and, among other things, prevent pharming attacks (in which you think you're entering data at, say, your bank's Web site, but really you're at a fake site).

-- When on a secure financial site, make sure the address bar reads https (the "s" at the end stands for "secure") and that a picture of a lock shows up next to the address.

-- To get particularly tricky, when setting up your laptop. Give yourself a gender-bending sign-in.

-- If you get confused, call tech support for the router or the security software. (more)

From the 'Add Insult 2 Injury' department...

The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to levy what likely will amount to wiretapping taxes on companies, municipalities and universities, saying it would create an incentive for them to keep costs down and that it was necessary to fight the war on terror. ...

"We're going to have a lot of fights over cost reimbursement," Al Gidari, a partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie...

"I am not persuaded merely by largely speculative allegations that the financial burden on the higher-education community could total billions of dollars," said FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate...

BLAMMmmmpppp! You're both wrongo. The cost of forced wiretapping is always passed down the line to the people whose voice is taken - the voiceless consumer.

VoIP Security Tips

VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol) "telephone" services are open to the vulnerabilities of the Internet.

Many threats may even be more acute because VoIP architectures are complex and hierarchical with many networked components such as IP PBXs, application servers, media gateways, and IP (Internet Protocol) phones.

VoIP networking also relies on numerous protocols, some of which remain poorly defined, and all of which introduce their own security risks.

VoIP Security Threats include DoS and Distributed DoS Attacks; unauthorised access to administration systems for toll and credit card fraud or identity theft; eavesdropping by unauthorised agents; and application-level attacks for registration hijacking, illegal teardowns, register floods, call floods, malformed packets, harassing calls and spam over Internet telephony (SPIT).

The following comprise a best practices approach to VoIP security (summarized):
- Maintain current patch levels.
- Install a good antivirus system.
- Apply state-of-the-art intrusion detection and prevention systems.
- Install application-layer gateways.
- Enforce SIP security by means of authentication.
- Establish policy-based security zones to isolate VoIP segments.
- Run VoIP traffic on VPNs to minimise eavesdropping risk on critical segments.
- Use VLANs to prioritise and protect voice traffic from data network attacks.
- Apply encryption selectively.
- Protect against UDP flooding.
- Develop a holistic security program.
From Andy Miller, vice-president of Juniper Networks Asia Pacific's enterprise division.

Soap Snoop News, or... imitates life, again.

Last week on the Bold and Beautiful:
Stephanie secretly turns the intercom on at work so that she can eavesdrop on Rick and Phoebe, and hears their secret plan to meet at the Big Bear cabin. (surprise) At the cabin, Rick and Phoebe are enjoying their time alone as the sexual tension rises between them. Ridge and Stephanie walk in on Rick and Phoebe's romantic set-up... (more, if you can stand it)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Fun Weekend Project - Make a Throwie!

Developed by the Graffiti Research Lab a division of the Eyebeam R&D OpenLab, LED Throwies are an inexpensive way to add color to any ferromagnetic surface in your neighborhood.

A Throwie consists of a lithium battery, a 10mm diffused LED and a rare-earth magnet taped together. Throw it up high and in quantity to impress your friends and city officials. (more) Kits available here.

Quick, guess which is the Bug.

...from the manufacturer's web site...

"During the Sengoku era in Japan there were people who called 'Shinobi'. They carried particular kinds of tools and worked for their king
as intelligence agents.

Our new model Shinobi, UHF micro size transmitter is named after those people and the world in which they lived. We believe Shinobi will be the best tool for gathering intelligence. Sun-Mechatronics supports the Shinobi who live in our age."

The answer... Can't fool you (all are bugs, of course). Sun-Mechatronics is just one of many companies from Bombay to eBay which sell bugging devices built into everyday objects. The good ones, however, are not this easy to spot; like that innocuous 'extra' block of wood glued under your conference table. (more)

Yet Another Spy School

London's Science Museum is offering the James Bonds of the future the chance to try their hand at espionage and learn some of the trade's most useful skills.

In its special family exhibition entitled the Science of Spying, trainee spies are recruited at the Spymaker Base before being trained in important skills... In addition, the exhibition will explore the future of espionage, focusing on the science and technology side of the business... The exhibition will be at the museum until the beginning of September.

Top Secret Gov't Spying room revealed by AT&T Whistleblower [VIDEO]

ABC Nightline Special Report
In this clip, former AT&T technician Mark Klein discusses his investigation of a secret room built in conjunction with the National Security Agency through which all customer information was routed.

The Los Angeles TImes killed the story. The New York TImes gave it life. Both the EFF and the ACLU have cases in the courts at the moment. As the clip shows, the government (and AT&T) are trying to get the case dismissed on "national security" grounds. (video)

(update - 11/7/07)
A former technician at AT&T, who alleges that the telecom forwards virtually all of its internet traffic into a "secret room" to facilitate government spying, says the whole operation reminds him of something out of Orwell's 1984.

Appearing on MSNBC's Countdown program, whistleblower Mark Klein told Keith Olbermann that a copy of all internet traffic passing over AT&T lines was copied into a locked room at the company's San Francisco office -- to which only employees with National Security Agency clearance had access -- via a cable splitting device.

"My job was to connect circuits into the splitter device which was hard-wired to the secret room," said Klein. "And effectively, the splitter copied the entire data stream of those internet cables into the secret room -- and we're talking about phone conversations, email web browsing, everything that goes across the internet." (video)

Saskin accused of spying on player e-mail

NHL players are expected to discuss firing Players Association executive director Ted Saskin and another top union official in the wake of a Toronto newspaper report claiming union executives have tapped into players' e-mail accounts. (more)

Alleged Wal-Mart Tapper Goes to the Wall...

...Street Journal.
(A strong case for not having an in-house TSCM team.)

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employee fired this week for allegedly intercepting and recording calls from a news reporter and others said he felt pressured to uncover who at the retail giant was leaking embarrassing information to outsiders.

Bruce Gabbard, a 44-year-old employee of the company's information-security operation, said he wanted to tell his side of events for the first time. Mr. Gabbard and his supervisor were dismissed this week after the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas told the retailer he was looking into possible violations of federal law in the alleged wiretapping.

After a flurry of articles about Wal-Mart's employment and benefit practices appeared in the New York Times newspaper and elsewhere, Mr. Gabbard said, he took it upon himself to find out if any of the newspaper's information was coming from internal sources.

"Our job was to plug any information hole," Mr. Gabbard said. "That was the primary reason for our team to be there."

Mr. Gabbard had worked for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart for 19 years and was a member of its Threat Research and Analysis team, a group of about 20 employees in its information-systems division. He and others would sweep rooms for electronic-listening devices and do "forensic" data gathering for use in court cases. ...

Kenneth H. Senser, a senior vice president who heads Wal-Mart Global Security, instructed Mr. Gabbard and another member of his team to find the source of the leak, Mr. Gabbard said. He swept Ms. Chambers' office for bugs to no avail, he said, and then they examined the computers of the people who had received and written different iterations of the Chambers memo. (more)

UPDATE - 3/29/07
Wal-Mart PR is in fine fettle... (more)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Yet another Creepy Peepy Toy - NetTansor

It sees.
It walks.
It talks.
It trips over a deck of cards
and crawls on its belly like a reptile!
It's NetTansor by Bandai Robot Labs.

Control it from your computer screen.
It sends what it sees to your cell phone.

See it in "action" here.
Buy it here.
See its evil twin here.

Technology continues to grow within personal robots.
Some now even have human-like skin and physical attributes.
Prices continue to fall.
Humans will develop very personal relationships with their cybuddies.
Next... human-like laws to protect the new species, here.

US Dept. of Agriculture Warning

The USDA has a security warning on their web site about... bugs in hotel rooms!

No, not the little critters who eat crops, the little critters that eavesdrop.

...from the USDA web site...
"It is sometimes said that 'All hotel rooms abroad are bugged for audio and visual surveillance.' Of course it is not true that all of them are bugged, but a great many are -- especially in major hotels frequented by foreign business and government travelers.

To maintain an adequate level of security awareness while conducting business abroad, you must operate on the assumption that your hotel room conversations are being monitored. If you are an active target who is known to pick up local women, you could also be filmed by a concealed camera.

The goal of surreptitious monitoring may be to learn your business or negotiating strategy, identify your local contacts, assess your vulnerabilities, or obtain evidence that can be used to accuse you of improper activities or to pressure you to cooperate..."

Overview of the Threat
"A bug is a device placed in an office, home, hotel room, or other area to monitor conversations (or other communications) and transmit them out of that area to a listening post. Other listening devices work from a distance to monitor communications within a room without actually having a microphone or transmitter in the room.

Thanks to an explosion of miniaturized technology, the tools for bugging and other forms of eavesdropping have never been cheaper, smaller, more powerful, or easier to come by." (more)

Eavesdropping Methods
"Eavesdropping equipment varies greatly in level of sophistication. Many off-the-shelf spy shop devices are generally low-cost consumer electronic devices that have been modified for covert surveillance. They are easy to use against unsuspecting targets but can be detected by elementary electronic countermeasures.

Devices produced for law enforcement and industrial espionage are more expensive, more sophisticated, and more difficult to find during a technical security countermeasures (TSCM) inspection.

Devices designed and built for intelligence services are still more expensive and very difficult to find." (more)

Detecting and Preventing Eavesdropping
"Never try to find a bug or wiretap yourself. ... A Technical Security Countermeasures (TSCM) survey, also known as a 'sweep,' is a service provided by highly qualified personnel to detect the presence of technical surveillance devices and hazards and to identify technical security weaknesses that could facilitate a technical penetration of the surveyed facility." (more)

In other words, have qualified, experienced people conduct your search.
Call us.

Finland vexed by Sweden's eavesdrop plans

Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Radio reported Wednesday that Finnish authorities had expressed concern about Sweden's plans to boost the interception of telecommunications crossing the border.

"Finnish law requires that all telecommunications traffic is kept confidential. It is the transport ministry's task to monitor that everyone live up to this obligation," Harri Pursiainen, the permanent secretary at the Finnish transport and communications ministry, told the Finnish News Agency (STT).

The Swedish government is drafting a bill that would give Försvarets radioanstalt (FRA), the national authority for signals intelligence, a wider envelope than before to intercept and monitor cross-border telecommunications. (more)

"...and then they taught me how to say, Bond... James Bond."

Spy Academy Experience Day Gift Pack

You'll learn the essential skills required to conduct a secret agent operation during an action packed 3 hours at the Spy Headquarters.

You'll be shown how to use specialist spy equipment, covert cameras and UHF radios, bugs and listening devices, and lock picking gadgets.

You'll be taught how to use a pistol, the Secret Agents weapon of choice, and then test your skills with quick draw techniques.

Finally you'll also receive some expert instruction on un-armed combat techniques, useful when you're cornered by enemy agents, and learn contact drills using our state of the art laser combat system. Only £99.95
Getting your Walter Mitty butt there, extra. (more)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

"...and the winner for Wiretapping is..."


Britain may have more CCTV cameras per head than anywhere else in the world but when it comes to electronic surveillance the country is way behind Italy, the Netherlands and even Sweden. ... Italy leads the world with 76 intercepts per 100,000 head of population, shortly ahead of the Netherlands (62), and with third-placed Sweden some way back (33). Germany comes in fourth with 23.5 intercepts per 100,000 head of population with England and Wales trailing on six intercepts per head of population. (more)

The Big Apple and eavesdropping

You probably know that New York City is often called by its nickname, The Big Apple.

But, did you know that eavesdropping played a part in this?

The city's nickname The Big Apple came from sportswriter John Fitzgerald eavesdropping on stable hands in New Orleans who referred to NYC's racetracks as "The Big Apple". (more)

Churchill feared Soviet spies might bug hearing aid

UK - Winston Churchill banned an electronics expert from Downing Street after an MI5 warning that Soviet spies might use him to bug the prime ministerial hearing aid.

Churchill, then nearing his eighties, had an elaborate desktop loudspeaker system installed at No 10 during his second premiership in the early 1950s.

Files released at the National Archives in Kew show that Roger Hollis, then deputy director-general of MI5, warned Downing Street about the risk of continuing to employ Alexander Poliakoff, a Russian émigré, to service the unit.

The warning over Poliakoff occurred in 1953, the year after the Americans had found a bug in the beak of the eagle in the great seal of the United States at their Moscow embassy. They later found another 40; 14 more were found at the British embassy. (more)

Job Opening - Opening other people's mail

Ever wonder who actually spies on employee's e-mail?
Maybe, it could be Y-O-U!
Take a peek at this job opening, for opening...

"The Manager of the Electronic Communications team will provide top-level guidance and advice to an excellent team of surveillance analysts who are charged with the day-to-day compliance and oversight of all forms of electronic communications (e-mail, IM, and other forms). With the ever-evolving nature of the Firm's business and the regulatory landscape, the Manager's primary role is to realize necessary improvements in existing surveillance methods with respect to electronic communications and compliance with the Firm's policies on electronic communications.

The Manager must be comfortable working with Technology staff on creating, defining and testing new electronic communications systems. A major project will involve supporting the rollout of a new Firm wide electronic communications supervision system in 2008 while providing maintenance of the legacy e-mail supervision systems.

The Manager will be responsible for initiating and overseeing a wide-range of strategic planning projects related to electronic communications to assist the Firm in complying with regulatory and legal requirements. The Manager will also have extensive interaction with senior members of other Legal and Compliance departments and Businesses. Accordingly, this is a high exposure position within the Compliance Department that should prove to be both challenging and rewarding.

The ideal candidate must have a strong management background with:
- Undergraduate degree required, graduate degree a plus
- Minimum 6 to 8 years of Legal/Compliance/Control experience within the securities industry
- Familiarity with electronic communication issues a must
- Ability to understand and work well within the complex organizational structure
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Impeccable personal and professional integrity
- Highly responsive and client relationship focused.
- Ability to inspire confidence and be a great ambassador for Compliance

Washington's CIA Spy Leak Comes to a Theatre Near You!

A Hollywood studio plans a film on Valerie Plame, a glamorous CIA spy outed after her husband accused President George W Bush's administration of exaggerating intelligence to invade Iraq, Variety said.

Warner Brothers has acquired the rights to the life story of Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, the couple at the heart of a scandal which led to the trial (and conviction - see below) of Vice President Dick Cheney's aide Lewis Libby.

Warner Brothers "also will use Plame's memoir Fair Game if the CIA permits her to publish it," Variety said. (more)

If you like me, you'll love her...

The Spy Who Billed Me
by R J Hillhouse, Ph.D.

Police blotter: Wife e-surveilled in divorce case

What: Husband uses keystroke logger to spy on wife's suspected relationship with another woman, who sues to prevent the records from being used in the divorce case.

When: U.S. District Judge Thomas Rose in the southern district of Ohio rules on February 14.

Outcome: Rose denies request for injunction preventing the electronic documents from being introduced as evidence in the divorce case.

Excerpt from Rose's opinion:
Because the suppression provision excludes illegally intercepted wire and oral communications from the courtroom, but does not mention electronic communications, several courts, including the Sixth Circuit, have concluded that Congress intentionally omitted illegally intercepted electronic communications from the category of cases in which the remedy of suppression is available. (more)

Landlord sentenced for spying on tenants

NY - A central New York man was sentenced yesterday for spying on his tenants with hidden cameras.

Patrick Kaiser of Oneida was sentenced to two to six years in state prison. ... 49-year-old Kaiser told the judge he was sorry for installing cameras in an upstairs apartment so he could spy on his tenants having sex.

...he told investigators he'd installed small cameras in a bedroom alarm clock, the bathroom, and living room of the upstairs apartment of his Oneida building. The cameras provided a live video feed to two televisions in Kaiser's downstairs apartment.

Kaiser retired as a lieutenant with the Oneida City Fire Department in 2005. (more)

How HP bugged e-mail

"ReadNotify uses a combination of up to 36 different simultaneous tracking techniques," Chris Drake, the company's Sydney, Australia-based chief technology officer said in an e-mail interview. "One or more of these usually works in all different e-mail clients and operating systems, making us the most powerful and reliable tracking service on the Internet."

Use of the e-mail bug is one of the possibly illegal methods used in HP's investigation into boardroom leaks. (more)

My teacher had one in the back of her head.

UK - Tiny CCTV cameras could soon be used by wardens or police on the streets of Norwich as the latest weapon in the war on yobs.

The devices, which are discreetly placed on officers' headwear, have been trialled in other parts of the country... the cameras could be used to capture images of youths spraying graffiti or behaving in other anti-social ways and used, if needed, as evidence.

“It means people can walk around recording what's going on and gathering evidence. ... an incredibly powerful tool because youngsters don't misbehave when they are being recorded. (more)

Alleged spying by NHL union leaders

Canada's most recognized labour movement executive says he is shocked and "extremely troubled" by news that NHL Players' Association officials allegedly accessed and in some cases blocked the email accounts of players who have challenged the hiring of union executive director Ted Saskin.

"Unions are supposed to be about promoting democracy and responsibility and full disclosure," Buzz Hargrove, national president of the Canadian Auto Workers, said yesterday. "I've followed what's happened in the corporate world with things like this, but you don't expect it in a union. This is incredibly shocking if it's true." [snort] (more)

A former Wal-Mart IT Security Staffer Speaks...

"I am reasonably sure that there is no Dr. Evil at work here. Instead, I believe that this incident is a case of human nature running amuck -- a legitimate investigation that got out of hand.

Based on the stories I read, this seems to have two components: 1) monitoring and recording of phone calls between Wal-Mart’s PR department and a New York Times reporter; and 2) intercepting message traffic from portable devices.

In my estimation, the initial monitoring of PR calls seems very targeted -- so that may have very well been part of an official internal investigation (though it may or may not have been authorized appropriately). Indiscriminate monitoring of wireless traffic for both employees and non-employees, however, seems to be clearly out-of-bounds. This is probably the result of the "systems technician" being over-zealous." (more)

Think your office phone calls are private?

Think again...

Vanderbilt professor says Wal-Mart case calls attention to employer’s right to eavesdrop on employee calls.

Wal-Mart officials have said the employee in the recently reported case was not authorized to make the recordings and added that company policy restricts monitoring of employee communications to instances in which fraud or criminal activity is suspected. However, that policy is not a requirement. "We know from recent surveys by groups such as the American Management Association and others that many firms do routinely monitor employee communications that employees might think is private, without cause of suspicion," says Bruce Barry, professor of management and sociology. (more)

Professor Barry is the author of , "Speechless: The Erosion of Free Expression in the American Workplace."

Washington's CIA Leak Case Comes to a Close

CNN - The verdict by an 11 member jury comes after a nearly two year ordeal. Libby resigned from Cheney's staff in 2005, after he was charged with lying to investigators about the leak about the identity of Valerie Plame....a CIA operative. Lawyers for Libby originally stated Libby learned about Plame from Cheney, then forgot, then learned about her again from NBC's Tim Russert. The defense said Libby had a bad memory -- blaming it on his busy schedule as a top White House aide. (more)

During the first week of this story, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh tried their creative hands at predicting what had happened, on "K-Street."

"HBO's latest groundbreaking series is an experimental fusion of reality and fiction--an entertaining, fly-on-the-wall look at government, filmed in and around the corridors of power in Washington. Starring Beltway insiders James Carville, Mary Matalin, Michael Deaver--and a host of political celebrities." We were there.

See a brief video clip of our sweep for the Valerie Plame bugs here. The full episode occasionally airs on HBO OnDemand. Full series available on DVD.

FutureWatch - Mind Reading

At a laboratory in Germany, volunteers slide into a donut-shaped MRI machine and perform simple tasks, such as deciding whether to add or subtract two numbers, or choosing which of two buttons to press. They have no inkling that scientists in the next room are trying to read their minds - using a brain scan to figure out their intention before it is turned into action.

In the past, scientists had been able to detect decisions about making physical movements before those movements appeared. But researchers at Berlin's Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience claim they have now, for the first time, identified people's decisions about how they would later do a high-level mental activity - in this case, adding versus subtracting.

While still in its initial stages, the techniques may eventually have wide-ranging implications for everything from criminal interrogations to airline security checks. And that alarms some ethicists who fear the technology could one day be abused by authorities, marketers, or employers. (more)

Critics put pressure on Wal-Mart over eavesdropping

Two of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s most vocal critics — the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which backs, and Wal-Mart Watch — are putting pressure on the world’s largest retailer to disclose if it has monitored its workers’ communications.

The moves come amid a federal investigation after Wal-Mart said a systems technician monitored text messages and phone calls of other employees and nonemployees, including a New York Times reporter. (more)

'Big brother' surveillance makes waves in Sweden

Sweden - A far-reaching wiretapping programme proposed by Sweden's government to defend against foreign threats, including monitoring emails and telephone calls, has stirred up a fiery debate in the past few weeks, with critics decrying the creation of a "big brother" state.

The new legislation, to be presented to parliament on Thursday, would enable the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) to tap all Internet and telephone communication in and out of Sweden.

Under current law, FRA, which cracked Nazi codes during World War II and was Sweden's ear on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, is only allowed to monitor military radio communications. (more)

"OK, show of hands, who wasn't tapped?"

Judge Limits Defendants In Civil Wiretapping Suits
Ruling Breaks Logjam In Case Against Private Eye Who Spied On Stars

LOS ANGELES - A judge has moved to break a legal logjam in the Hollywood wiretapping case by ruling that no new defendants can be added to the 13 civil lawsuits already filed against private eye Anthony Pellicano and others. ...

Prosecutors contend in a 111-count criminal indictment 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, including comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon, through government databases. (more)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sam's other Club... eavesdropping

Federal investigators are looking into the actions of a computer systems technician at Wal-Mart Stores who, over a period of several months, intercepted pager and text messages and also secretly taped telephone conversations between Wal-Mart employees and a reporter for The New York Times, the company said yesterday. ...

Wal-Mart said the technician was not authorized to monitor and tape the conversations between members of its media relations staff and Michael Barbaro, a retail reporter for The Times. ...

The focus of any criminal investigation might be on the text messages and the pages transmitted near company headquarters by people who were not Wal-Mart employees; the technician made those interceptions using his own personal radio-frequency equipment.

“He captured all of the text messages that were within a range of his equipment,” Ms. Williams (a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart) said. “Some of those messages had key words in them that he was watching for. Those were captured and put into a separate file or bucket from the others.” She declined to provide details of the messages or motives for those actions by the technician. (more)

What do you think would have possessed an employee to do this extra work?
Do you check for unauthorized eavesdropping at your workplace?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

SpyCam'er goes free with summons?!?!

FL - No additional charges will be filed against a Merritt Island man charged with video voyeurism after his arrest Thursday at a Melbourne clothing store. Police said the man carried a digital video camera into a dressing room at a Beall's Outlet and had images of a woman trying on clothes.

Teddy W. Underwood, 31, is charged with video voyeurism, a misdemeanor, police spokeswoman Jill Frederiksen said.

If police technicians had discovered the woman was audiotaped as well, Frederiksen said, then Underwood could have been charged with a felony count of illegally taping a person without their permission. No audiotape was discovered. ...

Store clerks called police, who arrived while Underwood was still in the dressing room. They questioned him and found the camera. He claimed he found it and was going to turn it in, Frederiksen said.

An officer looked at the video, saw the images of the woman changing and arrested Underwood, she said. (more)

Friday, March 2, 2007

Lip Reading (updated)

Our clients (especially the ones in big cities) have been warned about being eavesdropped on by people who can lip read. Unlikely, but possible. We handled only one case involving lip reading in over 30 years.

This may change...

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UK) are about to embark on an innovative new project to develop computer lip-reading systems that could be used for fighting crime.

The three-year project, which starts next month, will collect data for lip-reading and use it to create machines that automatically convert videos of lip-motions into text. It builds on work already carried out at UEA to develop state-of-the-art speech reading systems. (more)