Thursday, January 31, 2008

More falling spy stuff

South Korea - A pilotless South Korean spy aircraft crashed Thursday near the border with North Korea and there were no casualties on the ground, the South Korean military said. The aircraft from the 5th South Korean Army Corps went down near a factory in Pocheon, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas, shortly after it took off for a regular mission...

Some windows of the factory were broken but no one was injured on the ground.

The aircraft type was not immediately known, but Yonhap news agency said it was believed to be the locally developed RQ-101, which is 4.8 meters (16 feet) long and weighs 250 kilograms (551 pounds).

Happyton the Unhappy - Spy Chief

The US Treasury said Wednesday it had blacklisted the chief of Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organization and a nephew of Robert Mugabe, the African state's president.

The Treasury identified Zimbabwe's spy chief as Happyton Bonyongwe in a statement which also announced that Leo Mugabe, a nephew of the country's president, would also be subjected to targeted US financial sanctions.

"The US financial system is closed to Robert Mugabe, his cohorts and their businesses," said Treasury official Adam Szubin, who runs the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. (more)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"So, where does a 10,000 lb. spy satellite land?"

Anywhere it wants to! (rim-shot)

Did 'ya hear about the 'American Fallen-Idol' star?
It never made it to the Heavy Metal Band!

How about 'The Spy Who Slagged Me?'

The U.S. military is developing plans to deal with the possibility that a spy satellite expected to fall to Earth in late February or early March could hit North America. (Ok, I'll stop the jokes.)

Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, head of the U.S. Northern Command, said Tuesday that the size of the satellite suggested some pieces would not burn up as the orbiting vehicle re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere and would hit the ground.

A U.S. official confirmed that the spy satellite, which has lost power and no longer can be controlled, was launched in December 2006 and could weigh as much as 10,000 pounds. (more) (video report)

Stay tuned for more news about the final ride of US 193 / NORAD ID: 29651.

Listen to your neighbors from across the street!

just kidding.

...or, maybe not?

Duncan Wilson is a designer. He describes his invention this way...

"Every object and surface in our environment has a whisper; subtle tremors and vibrations that are usually undetectable to the human ear, produced by the activity and movement of daily life.

What if these sounds were audible? How would that change our aural awareness, perception of space and attitude towards objects? Would it be possible to ‘compose’ our own soundtrack using our walls and objects as a new form of instruments? Madsounds is a proposal for a different appreciation of our environment, space and objects by making it possible to identify, combine and manipulate these sounds.

We designed OTTO (Greek for ‘ear’); a device that makes hidden sounds audible. This is achieved via a thin polymer piezoelectric contact that senses weak vibrations and plays them as a sound through an integrated speaker. OTTO can be positioned on almost any surface through a combination of suction and magnets. By placing several units on different objects, one can select and create a new sonic experience and a form of ambient music appreciation, thereby utilising our space as a multidirectional audio platform." (more)

"...and stop saying 'loopy coolie'!"

A Florida woman who believed she was about to get fired has been accused of deleting $2.5m worth of computer files to seek revenge on her employer.

Jacksonville Sheriff's officials say Marie Lupe Cooley, 41, used her own account credentials to access the server of Steven E. Hutchins Architects and delete seven years' worth of drawings.

Cooley went on her silent rampage after finding a help-wanted ad placed by her boss. It described an open administrative assistant position that sounded remarkably similar to hers.

As it turned out, the help-wanted ad listed a position available in the office of Hutchins's wife. Cooley's job was never under threat, though it probably is now. (more)

Disgruntled employees also sneak in and plant bugs to find out who will be sacked. When was your last eavesdropping detection inspection?

More Spyphone Software Being Released

...from the manufacturer's web site...
Product Name: Mobile Phone Bidirectional Monitor
Model No.: MO-B-001 手機雙向監聽軟體

1. Not limited to any mobile phone
2. Not limited in time
3. Instant telephone alarm
4. Instant news in brief alarm
5. Outlying remote switch
6. No record kept back
7. Speedy and convenient modification
8. Installs in one minute

Why do I mention it?
So you know what you're up against.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

1,000 taps a day!?!? Quick, call Ripley's

UK - Britain is in danger of becoming a "surveillance state" as authorities including councils launch bugging operations against 1,000 people a day. ...

The report, by Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, has fueled fears that Britain is becoming a state where private communications are routinely monitored.

It also found that more than 1,000 of the bugging operations were flawed. In some cases, the phones of innocent people were tapped simply because of administrative errors. (more) (+1-407-345-8010)

Choo Shoe Gumshoe Tapper Story

UK - A private detective who helped to spy on the Jimmy Choo shoe boss Tamara Mellon was jailed for 21 months today.

David Carroll, 60, from Highgate, north London, played a leading role in a City-based agency operation, Active Investigation Services (AIS), which specialised in computer hacking and telephone tapping. ...

Engineers later found that hundreds of made-to-order tapping kits had been installed across the country by a former engineer on the AIS payroll.

The court heard that Carroll's tenure at AIS saw him involved in efforts to spy on a waste management company's critics, tap the phones of a client's wife suspected of having an affair, and target Mrs Mellon.

The company charged £3,000 for phone tapping, itemised line billing was priced at £750 a month, while personal banking information could be bought for £2,000 and confidential medical records for £500. Hacking into a computer was available for £5,000. (more)

Diana thought al-Fayed was bugging yacht

Princess Diana thought luxury store owner Mohamed al-Fayed was spying on her during her last voyage on his yacht before she died in a Paris car crash, her sister told the inquest into Diana's death on Monday. ...When asked by lawyer Ian Burnett if Diana had talked about being bugged, Sarah McCorquodale (Diana's sister) said, "She thought the boat was being bugged by Mr al-Fayed Senior." (more)

Spy vs Spy - The DC Tunnel

March 5, 2001 - Russia's Foreign Ministry has demanded details of a secret tunnel allegedly built underneath the Soviet Embassy in Washington for eavesdropping.

Present and former U.S. officials told CNN the tunnel -- under what is now the Russian Embassy -- was built by American intelligence services and packed with millions of dollars worth of sophisticated equipment. (more)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Spy vs. Spy - The East Berlin Tunnel

On a rainy day 52 years ago, the cover was blown on one of the biggest espionage plots of the Cold War. Soviet and East German forces announced that they had found a quarter-mile-long tunnel that the CIA had burrowed into East Berlin as part of a massive wiretapping operation.

Though the audacious project had come to a crashing end, news of the discovery generated unrestrained glee across the Atlantic at CIA headquarters. America's spymasters were thrilled by the world's response: admiration for the CIA's daring and technical prowess, and a general assumption that the agency had roundly snookered the Soviets.

The truth was much more complicated. Unbeknownst to the CIA, the Soviets had known about the tunnel all along. (more)
Book: Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War

The Ultimate Wiretap

The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret

Seth Shulman closely examines the race to build the first telephone and uncovers potential bombshells with The Telephone Gambit. Although Alexander Graham Bell is widely accepted as the father of the telephone (despite the fact that rival inventor Elisha Gray submitted a similar claim the same day Bell filed his patent), Schulman provides intriguing evidence questioning if the scales were deliberately tipped in Alexander's favor. Was the venerable inventor party to theft from Gray's own research?

While researching Alexander Graham Bell at MIT's Dibner Institute, Seth Shulman scrutinized Bell's journals and within them he found the smoking gun, a hint of deeply buried historical intrigue. Delving further, Shulman unearthed the surprising story behind the invention of the telephone: a tale of romance, corruption, and unchecked ambition.

Bell furtively—and illegally—copied part of Elisha Gray's invention in the race to secure what would become the most valuable U.S. patent ever issued. book

...just in time to see the other one.

India successfully launched an Israeli spy satellite into orbit on Monday January 21, 2008. The launch of the TECSAR satellite by an Indian-made rocket was carried out in clear weather at 9:15 am local time (0345 GMT) from the Sriharikota space station in southern India. (more) (the other one)


A disabled American spy satellite is rapidly descending and is likely to plunge to Earth by late February or early March, posing a potential danger from its debris, officials said Saturday.

Officials said that they had no control over the nonfunctioning satellite and that it was unknown where the debris might land. (more)

Quote of the Day

"We're long past alligator clips on copper wires." - Roger Pilon, writing in The Wall Street Journal about a bipartisan surveillance authorization measure that's already passed the Intelligence Committee. (more)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Senior Russian spy's secrets revealed in new book

"Comrade J.: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America after the End of the Cold War"

Once a senior KGB officer who says he was driven by patriotism, Sergei Tretyakov says he defected in 2000 because he lost faith in post-Soviet Russia and he's now ready to tell his story for the first time.

As deputy head of intelligence at Russia's U.N. mission from 1995 to 2000, Tretyakov directed spy operations in New York and at the United Nations. He says his agents included a former Soviet bloc ambassador and a senior Russian official in the Iraqi oil-for-food program.

Tretyakov's defection with his wife and daughter in 2000 caused only a minor flurry and was shrouded in secrecy.

A new book by former Washington Post journalist Pete Earley reveals he was among the most senior Russian agents to defect to the United States, and that he was a double-agent passing secrets to Washington for up to three years before 2000. (more)

China's Secret Police Target Britain's Sailors in Spying Row

"You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows."
Britain's Olympic sailing team have been targeted by the Chinese secret police for conducting "illegal meteorological surveys" at the 2008 Games' venue, Qingdao. The Royal Yachting Association, whose teams have been more successful than any other sports at the past two Olympics, set up a weather station in Qingdao to analyze the conditions that will influence August's races. But towards the end of 2006 the weather station, which cost £8,000, was confiscated by the Chinese authorities and has not been returned.

"With the approaching of the Beijing Olympics, foreign illegal meteorological surveys have emerged in several Olympic cities," said the official portal, "Three cases involving the US, the UK and Australia have been reported since last year. Foreign violators installed illegal monitoring equipments (sic) under the auspices of pre-match preparation. (more)

How secure are your text messages?

"For most people, the answer is ...don't worry."
(That, according to Time Magazine, who didn't see this.)

"In the mayor's case (see last story), the reason his messages have been exposed is because of the specialized service the city has contracted with to handle wireless communications between city officials. Although the scandal is already being dubbed BlackBerrygate by wags, the gizmo the mayor and Beatty used to communicate wasn't a BlackBerry at all.

It was a SkyWriter, and although it looks a lot like a BlackBerry, it's a dedicated messaging device provided to the city by SkyTel, a Mississippi-based wireless company that specializes in providing paging and messaging services to large corporations and governmental bodies through its own wireless network and devices.

"Every message sent over the SkyTel network ... is recorded, including: Date and time the message was sent... 'From' address... 'To' address... Length of the message..Entire message content up to 2,000 characters ," notes the company on its Web site in an article about the "benefits of message archiving."

For major corporations and governments, the automatic archiving of such messages is important, where legal requirements mandate the storage of all business- or government-related communications. But tell the mayor that's a benefit today." (more)

'Sex, Lies and Texting’

A scandal envelops the mayor of Motown...

MI - It's bone-chillingly cold in Detroit, and the big auto show is going on, but all anyone can talk about is the scandal consuming Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick--the one a local TV station calls "Sex, Lies and Texting."

Once known as America's first hip-hop mayor, Kilpatrick, 37, had notably toned down his living-large lifestyle in his second term as the mayor of Motown. But this week, his partying past caught up with him.

The Detroit Free Press published text messages between Kilpatrick (who is married with children) and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty (divorced with children), that seem to confirm what both have denied under oath: that they had an illicit affair. (more)

SpyCam Story #428 - Counterspy High

MA - Students (Jason Kuo and Nathan Yeo) writing for Newton South High School's newspaper (Denebola) discovered that secret cameras were installed in their school.

"Two cameras are located near the locker rooms and are enclosed in black translucent domes. Three others are in halls around the school and are disguised as smoke detectors. They have clear views of bathrooms that school administrators believe are at most risk of vandalism." (more)

"It's just really concerning that the general public just wasn't made aware of the fact that they installed these cameras," said Jason Kuo, a managing editor who worked on the story.

School Principal Brian Salzer wrote an internal e-mail, "They were installed without permission from anyone. I didn't know they were up! The students broke the story to (Superintendent) Jeff Young, School Committee and me." ...Salzer, who wouldn't speak on camera, admitted he later learned who installed the cameras but refused to reveal names. He also indicated in his e-mail that he believed the cameras would be removed soon. (more)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Researchers Develop 100% Accurate Electronic Face Recognition

Researchers claim they have perfected a system that uses computers to accurately identify images of people's faces, which could aid in the apprehension of criminals in public places such as airports that use surveillance cameras. (more)

SpyCam Story #427 - From Cell to Cell

MA - A 2006 graduate of New England School of Law will stand trial on Jan. 29 in Boston Municipal Court on charges of wiretapping, aiding an escape and disturbing the peace for allegedly using his cell phone to record the arrest of a 16-year-old juvenile in a drug case.

The matter, which stems from an Oct. 1 incident, has drawn the ire of local legal heavyweight Harvey A. Silverglate — who has penned an op-ed on the case for the Jan. 28 issue of Lawyers Weekly — and others who worry about the consequences for “concerned citizens” who choose to record possible police misconduct. (more)

UPDATE - 2/1/08 - A Boston lawyer charged with wiretapping, disturbing the peace and aiding the escape of a suspect while using his cell phone to film a Boston Police officer won dismissal of the aiding-an-escape charge in Boston Municipal Court yesterday.
It pays to be a lawyer...
The trial of attorney Simon Glik is not the first time Massachusetts has pursued wiretapping charges against citizens with cameras. A Brighton District Court jury on Dec. 5, 2007 convicted protester Peter Lowney, 38, of Newton, of wiretapping when he video recorded a Boston University police sergeant during a demonstration - despite that officer's repeated instructions to stop taping. Lowney was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine. (more)

Isiah Thomas doesn't deny 'spies' claim

NY - Perhaps he was worried that Big Brother was listening in, but an extremely cautious Isiah Thomas did not deny Larry Brown's damning contention that the Garden was a veritable spy nest during Brown's one season coaching the Knicks.

Finally breaking his silence on his disastrous season in New York, Brown told Philadelphia Magazine that "they had security people standing close to me in press conferences, and spies throughout the arena."

So welcome to another PR mess for the Knicks. When asked yesterday after practice if Brown had ever complained to him about the spies, Thomas - Brown's boss in 2005-06 - took a long pause, but never denied the charge when he said, choosing his words carefully, "I don't think we need to revisit any of that." (more)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ever wonder what the future will bring?

Ever consider that today was somebody else's future?

What were they thinking about us?

Were they correct?

David Szondy

You will find him here.

Take all the 'tours'.

You will never see your future the same again.

Need a daily dose to make you feel superior to your ancestors? Visit Ephemeral Isle.

Spy on Guam News Junkies

Ever wonder what the News Hounds on Guam are craving?

This is your chance to spy on them. (more)

Skim Scam

Australia - Criminals are using wireless technology to skim personal identification numbers from bank cards at ATMs while sitting up to 100m away.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of Queensland police said the new technology also meant skimmers no longer needed to install spy cameras on ATMs to record PINs.

"All the card data is transmitted to their laptops while they're having a cup of coffee up to 100m away,'' he said. "They design the keypad overlays for specific types of ATMs so it makes them very difficult to detect.''

Police found the technology could be bought on the internet from black market websites. (more)

Hot Tip - "Buy Tiawanese CCTV stock."

Research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the global video surveillance equipment market will grow from US$800 million in 2006 to US$10 billion in 2008. (more)

Another one of the Masters framed

Mere hours after the release of Tim Masters, the Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck held a press conference signifying a new chapter in the case.

In 1999 Masters was convicted of murdering and mutilating Peggy Hettrick in 1987, when he was 15 years old. Today, Masters conviction was overturned due to new DNA evidence pointing to a different suspect...

“I won’t name anybody particularly, but (we’re investigating) individuals within the Fort Collins police department, and the scope involved possible perjury and illegal wiretapping,” Buck said. (more)

Max Means Business

FIA president Max Mosley has revealed that any Formula One team caught spying in the future faces expulsion from the championship.

McLaren were fined £50million and kicked out of the 2007 constructors' championship by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council in September after they were found guilty of being in illegal possession of Ferrari technical data, but their drivers - Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso - were allowed to retain their championship points and fight for the drivers' crown.

Mosley added: "In the case of McLaren everybody said 'oh, a hundred million dollars', but the alternative would have been to exclude them - and that would have been more expensive!" (more)

Spy History - OSS - A Living History Website

"The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was created on June 13, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who understood America's need for an intelligence service similar to Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE).

Its director was Major General William "Wild Bill" Donovan, a World War I Medal of Honor winner, the only person to win our nation's four highest military honors, and the father of the CIA and US Special Forces." (more) (OSS wikipedia) (The OSS Society)

OSS Reborn is a website created by my good colleague Charles Pinck and his father Dan Pinck, who served in the OSS. The website tells the history of this exciting - and life saving - espionage organization. It also goes one step further - living history. solicits contributions! This will get very interesting.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of Dan Pinck's memoir, Journey to Peking: A Secret Agent in Wartime China.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hacking Wireless Headsets

It is good to see other security consultants are beginning to spread the message, too. The following is a cautionary tale and a friendly reminder from an article by Secure Network Technologies)

Those cool wireless headsets keep your hands free – and give hackers the ability to eavesdrop on your conversations...

In offices all over the world, users are becomingly increasingly enamored with those wireless "hands-free" headsets that allow the speaker to move around the office while continuing a conversation on the phone. But have you ever wondered how secure those headsets are?

We purchased a commercially available radio scanner. These devices are available at any local electronics retailer at prices ranging from $80 to several thousand dollars. We chose a scanner capable of monitoring frequencies from 900-928 Mhz and the 1.2 Ghz ranges, which is where many of the popular hands-free headsets operate.

We took a position across the street from the facility and started up the scanner. Within seconds of turning on the device we were able to listen to conversations that appeared to be coming from our client's employees. Several of these conversations discussed the business in detail, as well as very sensitive topics. After some careful listening, we determined that the conversations were indeed coming from our customer. (more)

Official Spybuster's solution for increased privacy...
Purchase wireless headsets which use digital transmission in the 1.9 GHz, 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz frequency ranges. Avoid headsets using Bluetooth transmission (here's why)

Product Suggestions...

GN Netcom GN9300 GN9120
Plantronics CS70N CS55

SpyCam Story #426 - Long Arm Gets Third Eye

Scotland - Spy cameras are to be fitted to the uniforms of Scottish police officers for the first time, in a new hi-tech initiative in the fight against crime.

The cameras will be in open view on the uniforms or body armour of officers on patrol and will be used to gather evidence to help secure convictions.

Initially, recorded footage taken by the CCTV cameras will be downloaded to a computer, but SCS Security Design, the company behind the scheme, is developing software that will allow images from the cameras to be beamed back live to the force's CCTV control room. (more)

The Art of SpyCams - "Trioptisamongus"


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

SpyCam Story #425 - Amy Winehouse

The list of celebrities caught unaware by covert surveillance sadly grows. This time, it is Amy Winehouse - caught on camera - reportedly "blitzed out of her skull and struggling to talk after sucking in crack fumes from a glass pipe." (story & video of the incident)

Whatever you think about this story, remember, your privacy can be violated - and broadcast on the Internet - in an instant, using similar techniques.

Reduce your risk...
In addition to Bob's sage advice below, have a specialist conduct periodic bug sweeps for you...

Walk on your tip toes
Don't try "No Doz"

Better stay away from those

That carry around a fire hose

Keep a clean nose

Watch the plain clothes...

From the Flase Alarm files...

New Cell Phone
Replacement Battery

May be Mistaken for
a Bugging Device.

This is not a bug.
No need to call us.

The seller claims
this thing can help you...

"Defend yourself from the electromagnetic smog of modern life."
more from their website...
"Wi-Guard batteries contain proven technology that stops man-made EMF (Electro Magnetic Frequency) radiation having an effect on the human body. The widespread proliferation of electronic and wireless devices has led to a huge increase in EMF radiation over the last 50 years. Scientific studies show over a 1 billion fold increase in EMF radiation since 1950, caused in part by the popularity of wireless devices and personal consumer electronics.

Wi-Guard Batteries, developed by Exradia eliminate any potential risk caused by EMF radiation. Utilising technology originally developed by the American military to shield their solders from EMF radiation in battle, Wi-Guard seamlessly converts man-made EMF radiation into harmless natural radiation.

EMF radiation is a naturally occurring phenomenon, present in the environment around us. Wi-Guard works by making use of this phenomenon by introducing a random field that makes emissions behave like the harmless EMF occurring in nature.


Wi-Guard batteries contain the only proven technology that stop man-made EMF radiation from having any effect on the human body. Independent scientific studies show that Wi-Guard technolgy is proven to stop EMF radiation having any effect on the human body." (more)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Industrial espionage, or good old fashioned spying, is as alive and well today as it has ever been." ~Nigel Stanley, Bloor Research (more)

Cyber Eavesdropping

She’s called the Top Spy around her NYC office. Kurt (KTLA's "Cyberguy") gets a lesson on cyber eavesdropping and how this pop culture craze could have people you don’t even know telling secrets about you online. (video) (a New York-based cyber eavesdropping web site) Moral: Watch what you say in public.

SpyCam Story #424 - Pac-Man Fever

Australia - Police have searched the home of a man found covertly photographing women in the city, seizing video tapes and discs.

When officers searched the man's backpack they discovered it had been modified to hide a video camera with only the lens showing. Police executed a search warrant on the man's home in central Victoria and seized 17 video tapes, 13 minidiscs and two compact discs. (more)

Great Eavesdropping Quotations

The great British statesman Winston Churchill had one standard procedure, whenever he was housed in magnificent Russian palaces during his state visits.The first thing the British Prime Minister used to do was to go through all the rooms of his suite shouting “You b@#*%#ds, I know this room is bugged and will not be fooled by you.” (more)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hack Attack Jacks. Black.

Cyber-security experts have long warned of the vulnerability of critical infrastructure like power, transportation and water systems to malicious hackers. Friday, those warnings quietly became a reality: Tom Donahue, a CIA official, revealed at the SANS security trade conference in New Orleans that hackers have penetrated power systems in several regions outside the U.S., and "in at least one case, caused a power outage affecting multiple cities." (more)

"I said 'non-profit', not 'open a shop and don't let anyone in'."

Canada's official spy souvenir shop is the perfect complement to the country's official spy museum. They're both top-secret facilities that are strictly off limits to ordinary Canadians and tourists. But in a nod to the modern world, the agency has since posted a virtual tour on its website, highlighting items such as a toy truck that conceals a microdot reader and codebook.

Word of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's museum, featuring espionage cameras, micro-transmitters and other paraphernalia from the Cold War, leaked to the media years ago.
But a newly released document indicates CSIS also runs a non-profit "souvenir shop," available only to those with proper security clearance. (more)

The NSA has a great spy museum and souvenir shop which is open to the public. Free admission!

Wanted by the FBI: spy busters

Curious about how the FBI operates?
If you can pass a background and are 21 or over, a six-week course awaits you. (more)

"From your lips to..."

German bishop
vows a fight against
bugging confessionals.

Hamburg, Gemany - A German bishop has assailed the suggestion, raised by officials in the
country's interior ministry, that police should be allowed to eavesdrop on confessionals. (more)

Man Challenges 15-Year Term for High-Tech Peeping

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to consider whether it will hear (Eddie) Gilmer's challenge to Mississippi's surveillance law. Gilmer and his attorneys argue that the law, as interpreted by the state's supreme court, violates his First Amendment and due process rights.

Though the tapes zoomed in on the woman's chest and crotch, court records say she was fully clothed and sitting in front of a partially-open balcony door, where she could be seen from the parking lot where Gilmer was sitting.

After he was caught filming her several times, Gilmer was sentenced to 15 years in prison under the state's video voyeurism law, in what appears to be one of the country's toughest punishments for high-tech peeping.

"They've put people who have killed people in jail for less time than that," said Gilmer's attorney, Julie Epps, who has appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The voyeurism law makes it illegal to secretly tape someone, with a lewd purpose, in a place where they would intend to be undressed and expect privacy. In Gilmer's case, the victim admitted that she was fully clothed and that she would not take her clothes off in front of an open window or door, according to court records. (more)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wal-Mart Spying: Good, Bad, Or Just The Wave Of The Future?

Wal-Mart is used to finding its name on the front page of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, but in March of 2007 it found itself making news under very different circumstances.

Wal-Mart officially apologized to the Times and retail reporter Michael Barbaro after a member of its internal security organization was found to have secretly taped conversations between Wal-Mart employees and the Times reporter. Not only did Wal-Mart apologize to the reporter, chief executive H. Lee Scott phoned the chief executive of The New York Times to personally offer an explanation and convey the information that the technician involved, who had 19-years with the company, as well as a supervisor, had been fired.

But the matter did not end there. Weeks later, the fired technician, Bruce Gabbard, went public, telling The Wall Street Journal he was part of a larger, sophisticated surveillance operation at Wal-Mart. Gabbard said the retailer employs a variety of means, including...

To be fair, Wal-Mart is not the only company involved in a spying controversy. Other high-profile corporate spying incidents have drawn public attention to the fact that companies are using an increasing array of methods to snoop on, or monitor as is the preferred term, the everyday activities of employees, suppliers and customers on their networks. (more)

Japan Plans To Criminalize Industrial Spying

Japan wants to amend its Criminal Code to make industrial spying a crime. Under present laws, a theft case may only be filed if there are goods or money involved. Stealing of vital corporate technology or data is not included.

Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari confirmed on Tuesday a bill is underway to facilitate the filing of criminal cases against corporate spies. The decision to criminalize industrial espionage arose from the recent arrest of a Chinese staff working for Denso Corp.

Yang Luchuan, an engineer who was previously employed by a military firm in China, was caught bringing out a laptop with 130,000 product designs illegally copied from the company's database. The data involved 1,700 types of products ranging from sensors to industrial robots. Included in the stolen information are 208 company secrets.

However, the case against Yang was dropped since the police could not locate where the Chinese engineer sent the stolen information. (more)

SpyCam Story #423 - Love Italian Style

Italy's supreme court ruled Tuesday that it is legal to record sex videos without telling one's partner. The court ruled in favor of a 49-year-old man who had secretly recorded his bedroom activities with his former girlfriend. (more)

...and a spy agency somewhere smiles.

Greece - A judge formally ended an investigation into a wiretapping scandal that targeted Greece's prime minister and other top officials during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, judicial officials said Thursday.

Investigating magistrate Panagiotis Petropoulos found no evidence of who was behind the wiretaps that hacked into Greece's Vodafone network. (more)

Hollywood - Make this into a movie. It has all the elements of a great thriller; side stories about impossible "suicides", cover-ups and technical elegance which would bring tears to any hacker's eyes.

Hard Times for Sports Spies

No money for spying in Ghana, says Mulee...

Kenya - While coaches will be spying on rival teams at the African Nations Cup ahead of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, Harambee Stars coach, Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, will remain at home with his local league champions Tusker FC.

When reached for comment, KFF secretary general, Sammy Obingo, admitted the federation could not afford Mulee’s trip to Ghana due to lack of funds... (more)

2008 - Year of the Mute

China will field about 800 athletes for the upcoming Olympics, and right now they are hard to find. Trying to keep distractions to a minimum - and fearful that opponents might be spying - China is shuttering away its top medal contenders. ..."We are now entering a period of silence," said Li Yongbo, coach of the national badminton team. (more)

Bugging Device Found at TV Auditions

UK - Police were called to the audition venue for Britain's Got Talent today after a bugging device was discovered under the judges' table.

The surveillance equipment had been left overnight in the judges' room, where Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan embarked on a second day of filming.

Cowell said afterwards: "This shows the extent to which people will go to to get inside knowledge on what is going on."

A man was allegedly caught using a listening device in his car outside auditions in Manchester.

He was seen lurking backstage on Wednesday and the Palace Theatre room was swept yesterday after crew reports of sound interference.

TV bosses believe there is a possibility that a freelance journalist could have planted the device to find out what was being said in the judges' room. (more) (more)

Our spies tell us...

...anyone can be a spy! Just go to Spy School.

Unlike some spy schools in the US and UK - adventure diversions - this one (now defunct) appears to be real. Igor Seroff, is a former FSB (previously KGB) officer. He just opened a "Spy School" and registrations are now being accepted. The school is located in Russia.

This is serious business, and it makes sense.

The trend...
• Governments now out-source intelligence collection to private consultants.
• Corporations now out-source intelligence collection to private consultants.
• Private consultants also out-source intelligence collection to 'other specialists' (aka Cut-Outs).

Cut-Outs = Plausible Deniability

"So, what's a 'cut out'?" I hear you say.

In espionage, a cut-out is a courier or mechanism used to pass information and devices from one spy to another while operating in a "denied area" or a hostile environment. The two forms of cut-outs are the block and chain. A block cut-out is an agent familiar with the entire spy network or cell and those who are in it, while the chain cutout is simply an agent who is aware of only the person providing the information and the spy who is receiving the information. The chain cut-out helps to maintain the compartmentalization of the spy network, which increases security by maintaining everyone's anonymity. The term cut-out may also be used more generally to describe a person or agency used as a pawn by intelligence agencies. (more)

The Paladins return...
And, as we all know, one person's "noble cause" is another person's downfall. Be prepared. They are coming to a corporation near you, soon.

A Classic Eavesdropping

A former North Platte fire captain will face felony charges of assaulting a corrections officer after his preliminary hearing Monday.

Doyle was originally accused of dressing in camouflage clothes and creeping up near this estranged wife’s parents’ home in rural Lincoln County to eavesdrop, the affidavit said. The affidavit said Doyle told his friend that he got close enough to hear a conversation between his wife and her family. (more)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Turned 'off' Cell Phone Calls Owner ...Whoo Hoo, Whoo Hoo Hoo

Ed Ravin reports...
"A friend of mine uses Vonage (VoIP) for her primary phone line. Their VoIP system gave her a nightmarish experience during the wee hours of December 15.

The problem started around midnight - her VoIP phone rang, and caller-ID showed it was a number local to her area, but she didn't recognize it. She answered, but there was no one on the line. Her phone rang again several minutes later - same caller-ID, again no one there. And a few minutes later, the phone rang again, same caller-ID, same nobody there.

Then her cell phone rang. The cell phone's caller-ID showed the same phone number as her VoIP phone did. Again, the line was dead when she answered it. Twice more in short order, the phantom caller rang her cell phone.

Now wide awake and rather disturbed, she went to her computer to look up the phone number of her putative persecutor. Google helpfully provided a reverse directory lookup - to a person with an Arabic-sounding name that she did not recognize. With the help of Mapquest, she found out that this unknown person lived only a few miles from her. Worried and feeling vulnerable, she was unable to get to sleep, thinking that a strange person in the neighborhood was calling both her home phone and cell phone for no apparent reason.

At 3 in the morning, her VoIP phone rings again - this time, the caller-ID says that her own cell phone is making the call! But the cell phone is turned off and is sitting on her nightstand. She finally smells the rat, and at 4 AM calls the Vonage customer support line After a 30 minute wait, a polite but difficult-to-understand person explains that Vonage has been experiencing a problem with "phantom calls" and it should be resolved soon.

My friend had her Vonage account set up so that if her VoIP number was down, it would automatically forward calls to her cell phone. So Vonage's software PBX had her cell phone number on file, and it apparently went haywire and began placing calls to numbers in its database, and using other numbers in its database as the caller-ID.

The biggest risk here is believing what you see on your caller-ID display. Using computerized tools to compound your error and jump to the wrong conclusions is a close second. Then there's the well-known "mission creep" risk, where data supplied for one purpose is (mis) used for another. Even though the misuse was unintentional, it's a stark reminder that phone numbers are a special kind of data with real-world implications, especially when in the hands of buggy software that can make phone calls. ...from Risks-Forum Digest - Volume 25 : Issue 02

Industrial Espionage - Rolls-Royce and Royal Dutch Shell

Rolls-Royce and Royal Dutch Shell have fallen victim to Chinese espionage attacks, The Times has learnt.

Sustained spying assaults on Britains largest engineering company and on the worlds second-biggest oil multinational occurred earlier this year as part of a campaign to obtain confidential commercial information, sources said.

News of the attacks on Rolls-Royce and Shell comes after a warning by Britain's security services that China is sponsoring espionage against vital parts of the British economy, including breaking into big companies computer systems. (more)

Spy Bar - Dead at 10

OH - The once-chic Spy Bar is no more. Since opening in '97, the Warehouse District nightclub established itself as one of Cleveland's swankiest spots and strongest celebrity magnets. Its VIP room hosted A-listers like Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Prince, and even that magician who's married to that hot chick. "David Copperfield was the nicest man," says owner Raj Singh, remembering the glory days. (more) (others)

Spy Barred - Dead at 72

Cuban state media report that former CIA agent Philip Agee, who caused outrage by naming undercover former colleagues, has died in Cuba at the age of 72.

Agee quit the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in the late 1960s after 12 years of working mostly in Latin America. He later wrote the book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," which included the names of certain undercover agents.

The book infuriated U.S. officials who said it put those agents in danger, and the U.S. government revoked Agee's passport. (more)

Listen Up

The TV ad for this electronic amplifier starts of innocently. "Do you sometimes disturb others while you watch TV?"

Then, it turns creepy.

"Listen to a pin drop from across the room. Or, listen into a conversation from across the street."

Headphones would solve the TV problem. And, if you feel the need to hear pins drop from across the room the only electronics you need might be shock therapy.

Several more references to eavesdropping follow. (scene: a health club) "Ever wonder what people are talking about across the room?" (video)

There oughtabealaw!
There is a law. "Manufacture, distribution, possession, and advertising of wire, oral, or electronic communication intercepting devices prohibited" But, if you are a follower of this Security Scrapbook you know that the law is not being enforced.

This item is not much of a threat in corporate and government circles. However, many of the other eavesdropping devices you read about here are being used.

Moral: It is up to you to protect your privacy.
All we can do is help.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sow, Reap & Weep

Remember these stories?
"I'm dreaming of a Spy Christmas..."
Christmas Toys Which Teach (somesorta) Lessons
More bugs for your kids...
The Kids Spy Back
If so, you knew this was coming...

"My 9-year-old was given a spying device for Christmas. It has a sensitive microphone so he can eavesdrop, unnoticed, on others' conversations. He can't resist using it even though he gets in trouble when he gets caught. What should we do?"

(answer from Beth Palmer - The Rocky Mountain News)
This toy might be too much temptation for most kids.

If you've been clear about what's inappropriate and he's had consequences when he crosses the line, he isn't ready to have the toy. Take it away. Explain that when he is able to resist the temptation of invading others' privacy, then he can try again.

Do the best thing for your child even though he may protest that it's not fair. Exercise good judgment, especially when your son can't. (more)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Normal looking belt buckle...

(from the seller's website) a high quality Audio Video recorder.

"Our Buckle DVR gives you the ability to perform personal investigation, conduct secret video surveillance or for any ideal covert operation where gathering evidence is important.

Ideal for hidden camera use where wireless camera can be detected easily with a wireless camera detector." (more) (sample video)

Why do I mention it?
So you know what you're up against.

Short Wave Radio to the Rescue

Plot by terrorists to blow up the Eiffel Tower uncovered.
A scrambled short-wave radio conversation exposing the planned attack on the world's most visited monument was picked up by Portuguese air traffic controllers and passed on to French spy chiefs. The threat was uncovered in a "vague and muffled" radio conversation picked up by air traffic controllers in Lisbon on Thursday. (more)

Nato Secrets USB Stick Lost

A Cautionary Tale...
The discovery of a USB memory stick containing classified NATO information in a library in Stockholm has prompted a meeting between the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service and foreign defence officials.

According to Swedish daily Aftonbladet, the stick contained ( material on NATO's ISAF peace-keeping force in Afghanistan, as well as an intelligence report on the attempted assassination of Lebanon's defense minister and the murder of Sri Lanka's foreign minister.

Colonel Bengt Sandström of the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service says this kind of carelessness is intolerable and can result in up to six months in prison.
It is unclear how the USB stick ended up in the library.

It isn't the first time the military has lost USB sticks with secret files. In 2006, a memory stick containing files on the Dutch military mission to Afghanistan was lost in a rented car. The documents also included information about the rules of engagement for Dutch troops in Afghanistan and the personal protection of Dutch Defense Minister Henk Kamp.

Also in 2006, the Dutch Defense Ministry reported the loss of another memory stick containing sensitive information about military intelligence agency MIVD. (more)

By this time, you should be convinced that you have to do something immediately about YOUR USB memory stick.
(more USB stories) (IronKey solution) (a great movie!)

"Clerk 'M' is eavesdropping and spying on us"

A co-worker is a spy-pipe-line to the boss. What would you do?
"Mr. I-want-privacy" took his plight to and received some sage advice from Dr. Greg Ketchum. (more)

SpyCam Story #422 - Carpenter Nail'ed

UK - A Polish peeping Tom will have to sign the sex offenders register for seven years after admitting spying on his housemates in the shower.

Grzegorz Zdyb, 34, a carpenter, admitted a charge of voyeurism at Isleworth Crown Court and was handed a three-month sentence, although he has already served this on remand.

Zdyb, who has been in the country for nine years but still speaks little English, lived with three women and three men at a house in Rosemont Road, Acton.

Police were called in when one of them found the camera, which was connected to recording equipment in his room, while having a shower.

Prosecutor Tim Nail said: "One of the residents noticed a shiny area next to the shower and discovered it was the lens of a camera. Investigation revealed that it was connected to a wire which went outside the building and up to the attic occupied by the defendant." (more)

DIY - SpyCam Sunglasses for under $40.00

What the video doesn't mention...
In the United States, laws prohibit recording audio without the consent of at least one party to the conversation - and, in some states, all parties must consent.

The video aspects of the laws are currently evolving. Here is our general advice concerning the use of covert video. Your local laws may be more restrictive.

Have fun with the construction project.
Use your new powers wisely.

Extra Credit: A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C.

If you loved the...

• Radar Detector Zapper!
• Cell Phone Zapper!
You will also love the...
(watch the movie first)

Get yours here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Princess Diana hired a private security firm to secretly sweep Kensington Palace for bugs

The newspaper explains it one way...
"Diana told 'without any doubt' that she was being bugged by a five-strong surveillance team - Surveillance expert detected a device behind her bedroom wall

...She was so concerned about eavesdropping that she called in a four-man team to carry out a search for listening devices. (from Moran Security Support Services Ltd)...

Princess Diana's bedroom was being bugged two years after her split from Prince Charles, her inquest sensationally heard yesterday.

An electronic surveillance expert made the astonishing discovery after Diana asked him to check her Kensington Palace apartment for listening devices because she feared 'dark forces' were snooping on her.

Former soldier Grahame Harding located a suspected bug behind a wall in her bedroom, adjacent to a room which had been used by Charles." (more)

Mr. Harding explains it this way... (in the same article)
"My equipment detected an electronic signal which indicated that a possible bugging device may have been present behind a wall in her bedroom. Princess Diana was present when I found this signal.

"As you walk into her bedroom, I believe there was another room off it where His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales had a room and it was on that wall."

He said was unable to get behind the wall to examine the device. But there was "no indication" that the fabric of the wall had been altered. He said he swept the room again later that day and the signal had gone.

"I could not give an explanation to the reading. It could have been innocent electronic equipment in another room. But the noise behind the wall was very similar to a transmitter device."

Alert - SkyeSpy

Short Story - Add this inexpensive software to any S60 mobile phone (aka smart phone) and you have a bugging device with brains and the ability to snitch.

Why do I mention it?
So you know what you are up against.

Long Story - from the seller's website...

SkyeSpy is remote audio monitoring, detection and notification software for your S60v3 mobile device.

SkyeSpy can be used as:
(1) an intruder detection and alarm system for the home and office,
(2) a remote baby monitor,
(3) a remote car alarm monitor, or
(4) a spy device to listen-in on any environment without anyone knowing!

SkyeSpy is installed on a mobile device that is used as the audio monitoring hardware. The SkyeSpy device is placed in an area where the audio/sound is to be monitored e.g. near a baby, in the home/office etc. SkyeSpy is 'paired' to 'communicate' with another mobile device or landline. When SkyeSpy detects an audio instance, it alerts the paired device with an SMS, MMS or even a CALL!

There are 2 ways for the user to interact with the SkyeSpy device:
(1) SkyeSpy will contact the user.
(2) User can call the SkyeSpy and secretly listen in real-time.
1 day trial FREE!
Purchase price: $17.95

Wiretapping Before the Wires...

...The Post Office and the Birth of Communications Privacy
by Anuj C. Desai,
University of Wisconsin Law School

"In this Article, I look beneath the surface of that raging debate to one of the premises underlying the court's conclusion, that the Fourth Amendment protects the confidentiality of communications. I explore the origins of the notion that the Fourth Amendment protects communications privacy. Most scholars and commentators look to Justice Brandeis's famous dissent in the 1928 case Olmstead v. United States. In this Article, I contend that we must go further back, back to surveillance of the first communications network in the United States, the post office. I explain the history of postal surveillance and show that the principle of communications privacy derives not from the Fourth Amendment or even from the Constitution at all. Rather, it comes from..." (more)

Identity Thief Wiretaps Victim's Phone

WA - Investigators say a thief managed to bilk money out of a local man's credit union by wiretapping their phones.

The man was on vacation with his family when he got a disturbing call from their credit union.

According to the police report, Woodstone Credit Union of Federal Way called the man last week to ask about a $450,000 transferred out of their home equity line of credit. The man never transferred any money.

On Monday, the man received a second call from Woodstone Credit Union. This time the money mysteriously transferred was up to $655,000.

The victim was told the suspect had the victim's signature. He was also told the thief had and tapped his phone line and intercepted his calls in order to give the proper verification when Woodstone called his home inquiring about the large money transfer. (more)

Some Gatorade, some beans and you're 'on the air'

A radio antenna made of electrified gas could lead to stealthy, jamming-resistant transmitters, research now reveals.

Electrified gas, or plasma, makes up stars and lightning and is what sheds light in fluorescent bulbs. Sealed glass, ceramic or even flexible plastic tubes of plasma can behave just like conventional metal antennas.

These antennas only work when energized, effectively vanishing when turned off, with the plasma reverting back to normal gas. This is key for stealth on the battlefield—metal antennas can scatter incoming radar signals, giving away their presence.

In addition, to counteract jamming attempts, plasma antennas can rapidly adjust which frequencies they broadcast and pick up by changing how much energy the plasma is given. (more)