Monday, February 28, 2011

GSM Bugs, Prohibited Hi-tech Goods - Cheap

Vietnam - The Dong Kinh Market, the biggest and most bustling market in the border province of Lang Son, is considered the “paradise” of prohibited hi-tech goods, where imitated products are dirt cheap. 

Typical electronics market.
The noteworthy thing in the market is that prohibited goods are displayed openly. The “black technology” products, such as cameras, or key hooks with eavesdropping devices, are available at all electronics kiosks.

GSM bug
Most of these products (GSM bugs) are as small as matchboxes. The products use 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz band of GSM network and they have installed the MiniSIM of mobile phone in order to be used as sound recorders.

In February 2011, according to Buu dien, as the supply is profuse, the devices are selling very cheaply, at 500-650,000 dong ($23.94 - $31.13). The products with more complicated functions which allow to automatically call those, who want to eavesdrop, would be 100,000 dong ($4.79) more expensive.

The currently valid Government’s Decree No. 59 stipulates that all eavesdropping equipments are listed as prohibited goods. However, at Dong Kinh Market and other markets in the border provinces, such as Tan Thanh, Dong Dang in Lang Son province, Coc Leu in Lao Cai, the laws have been “ignored”. In fact, the market management taskforce has turned a blind eye to the products. (more)

• The electronic eavesdropping market is global.
• Laws against illegal eavesdropping devices are not being enforced, globally.
• Electronic eavesdropping is easy and affordable.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Web's Hot New Commodity: Privacy

As the surreptitious tracking of Internet users becomes more aggressive and widespread, tiny start-ups and technology giants alike are pushing a new product: privacy. (more)

NOC, NOC, Who's there? See I a...

Always look for the ring.
The history of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers landing behind bars in foreign countries dates back to 1951, when an undercover agent Hugh Redmond was caught in the Chinese city of Shanghai and charged with espionage.

According to the TIME magazine of October 27, 2003, agent Redmond was posing as an employee of a British import-export company. The CIA spy had to spend 19 years in a Chinese prison before actually dying there. In an article shedding light on the shadowy world of Non-official Cover spies or the NOCs, the afore-quoted edition of the TIME magazine had also mentioned another incident where the French agencies had rolled up five CIA officers, including a woman, who had been working under business cover for about five years. This incident had taken place in 1995.

Although the NOCs caught in Paris were simply sent home, a former CIA official familiar with the matter had opined,” The NOCs have no diplomatic status, so they can end up in slammers.

Research reveals that a “Non-official Cover” is often contrasted with an official cover, where agents assume a position at a seemingly benign department of their government, such as the diplomatic service. Diplomatic service provides the secret service agents with official immunity, thus protecting them from the steep punishments normally meted out to captured spies...

A thorough peek into this subject shows that serving as NOCs, various CIA officers even pose as American businessmen in friendly countries, from Asia to Central America to Western Europe.
The revelations about the NOCs (pronounced “knock”) were made public a few years ago by the American media. (more) (more)

Chinese Biz to US Gov... Prove we spy.

Huawei, the Chinese networking giant, has challenged US authorities to investigate claims it has close ties to the People's Liberation Army, after spying fears blocked its takeover of a small firm.

In an extraordinary open letter, Huawei's deputy chairman Ken Hu attacked "falsehoods" and "unfounded" concerns that scuppered the acquisition of 3Leaf, a cloud computing technology firm based in California.
"We sincerely hope that the United States government will address this issue by carrying out a formal investigation of any doubts it may have about Huawei in an effort to reach a clear and accurate conclusion," he said. (more)

Activist Group Sues Over Corporate Espionage

Following the recent undercover police scandal in the UK, the world's largest eco-activist group is turning the tables on one of the world's biggest chemical companies.

"And then they dumpster dived me, officer."
Greenpeace has field a lawsuit accusing The Dow Chemical Company of using private investigators to spy on the group, stealing thousands of documents and intercepting phone call details between 1998-2000...

The corporate spying was uncovered in an investigation by a journalist from the magazine Mother Jones, after it was handed documents by a former insider with the private security firm, since dissolved. (more)

When you think of business espionage, think outside the doughnut hole. Here, one business hires another business to do their spying. Nothing unusual so far. All spies try to insulate themselves from the actual act. Fark... The usual victim in the corporate/activists tug-of-war, the corporation, is alleged to be the spy this time. Backfark... The spies get stung by one of their own, via an internal theft of information. 

And you thought you only had to worry about activists. ~Kevin

Trojan Horse Spyware Masquerades as a "News" Item

Is this a blatant commercial for cell phone spyware being pawned off as a 'news' item? You decide. This just in from

"If you suspected your spouse, child or employee was up to no good, would you want concrete proof? Would it help if you had access to every phone call, text and e-mail they sent?

If so, a new cell-phone spying application might be right up your alley.

Made by Retina Software and released this week, ePhoneTracker allows users to monitor every move made on a person’s mobile phone, from call info and text messages to websites visited, e-mails sent and received, new contacts added and even the GPS coordinates of the phone’s user. Even deleted e-mails and texts can be retrieved by ePhoneTracker...

The software sells for $49.97. It is available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile 6 or Symbian OS 9." (more

Hope they give my book equal coverage.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Oh, yeah. Sesame Street is nifty keen. Wanna go?"

Isis Forensics is preparing to release new mobile phone software which it says will enable children to check that their friends really are who they say they are.
Called ChildDefence, it allows youngsters to scan webchats to check the ages of people they’re messaging, putting the process in the hands of the children themselves, rather than their parents.

“Our research shows that children find it very difficult to spot adults posing as children on social networks. This software improves children’s chances of working out that something isn’t right. Using state of the art language analysis software it gives children a powerful tool which can help them work out who they are really talking to online.

It's currently undergoing final testing before being made freely available as iPhone, Google and Nokia phone apps. (more)

Unintended Consequence: Undercover on-line honeypot cops will have to be younger because the predators will be using this app to out them. ~Kevin

Bugged Bear Bites Bugger

NE - First, Little Bear became Big Brother as an Omaha-area woman inserted an electronic device into her daughter's favorite stuffed animal to record her ex-husband.

Now, Little Bear has become Big Burden as a judge has ordered the woman and her father to pay a total of $120,000 to six people who were illegally recorded.

In a civil judgment, U.S. Magistrate Judge F.A. Gossett III has ruled that Dianna Divingnzzo unlawfully recorded ex-husband William “Duke” Lewton by inserting the device into her then-4-year-old daughter's toy bear.

He also found that Divingnzzo's father, Sam, improperly transcribed conversations from Little Bear — and that Divingnzzo's former attorney, William Bianco, improperly distributed copies of the recordings. (more)

The Trash, The Man and The Bird

Dude, just don't tell him about the hummingbird with the built-in camera. It would break his heart. 

India - An MTech student of Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur has come up with an `ornithopter' (mechanical bird) made out of scrap that is not only capable of flapping its mechanical wings just like birds but can also be used for spying. The bird, if fitted with cameras, can take pictures of enemy terrains. 

The `ornithopter' is in the shape of an eagle and is one metre long.

Joydeep Bhowmik, MTech first year student of IIT-Kanpur, who has made the mechanical bird, said that a smaller version of the mechanical bird can be used for spying purposes. (more) (sing-a-long)

"What Will Anna Chapman do Next?"

How Capt. Kirk's wardrobe got its start.
Remember our Anna Chapman Spy Contest, where we detailed her star-studded path since her failed career in espionage? From our "What will Anna Chapman do next?" files, an update!

Two new reports this week...

One-time Russian secret agent Anna Chapman, globally famous for being the only one of the deep-cover spy ring unmasked by the US last year who is even mildly attractive, will now assist the Russian space agency in designing a stylish new uniform for its personnel. (This story is disputed by some media.) (more)

Anna Chapman, the sultry redhead who was kicked out of the United States in June for spying, will run for Parliament in her native Russia, The Telegraph reported, citing Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper. (more)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cell Phone Spyware Found on 150,000 Phones

China - The National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center has found a mutated version of a spyware software that allows a third party to eavesdrop on a two-way cell phone conversation without the users knowledge, Beijing Times reported Wednesday.

More than 150,000 mobile phone users are victims of Xwodi, Beijing-based NetQin Technology Company, a mobile security services firm said Wednesday.

The firm did not say what phone company the customers mainly used, or whether the victims were concentrated in a particular city.

Once the virus gets into the mobile phone, Xwodi records the users' messages and voice calls, and then send the information to a dedicated receptor. (more)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spy Hard - Korean Style

South Korea’s intelligence agency has made headlines in the country for several consecutive days, after its agents allegedly broke into an Indonesian delegation’s hotel room last week in Seoul, in an attempt to steal classified information on Indonesia’s planned arms trade with South Korea. 

Korean media and net users lambasted it as both a botched spying job and an ethically regrettable act. The intelligence agency has neither denied nor admitted the allegation...

Local media reported that two men and one woman broke into the suite room at the Lotte Hotel on February 16, 2011 and fled after a delegation member saw them copying computer files onto a USB memory stick. South Korea’s Chosun newspaper reported an exclusive story strongly suggesting that the three intruders were members of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), South Korea’s top intelligence agency.

The 50-member delegation of Indonesian President Yudhoyono stayed for three days in Korea from February 15-17, 2011, to discuss on expanding bilateral economic and military cooperation between South Korea and Indonesia.

The three spies, who had not even disguised themselves as hotel staff, were caught red-handed handling two laptops in the room. When an Indonesian delegate walked in and found them, one agent handed him a laptop right away, while the other agents walked out of the room carrying another laptop to the hallway, only to then hand it back to the delegate. (more)

SpyCam Story # 602 - Toilet Brush with Danger

PA - An Earl Township woman has filed a lawsuit in Berks County Court accusing officials at a Muhlenberg Township company of failing to prevent a former employee from sexually harassing her, including videotaping her in the restroom

Sylvia Spayd and her husband, Glenn, accuse Markus Lattner, a former vice president of operations at Reading Powder Coatings Inc., of having a romantic fixation on her and hiding a video camera disguised as a pen in the ladies room.

Kathleen Heimbach of Douglass Township has filed a separate suit accusing Lattner of hiding a video camera in the ladies room.

Both suits allege Lattner used chewing gum to attach the video camera to a toilet brush in a bathroom stall at the plant at 1100 Commonwealth Blvd. The video also showed Lattner putting the device on the brush and leaving the restroom. (Doh!) (more)

Business Espionage - A Wiretapping Gang ?!?!?

Turkey - A wiretapping gang the police cracked down on in the southern province of Antalya last week offered a price list to its clients for the kind of tapping services it provides while charging them TL 2,500 ($1,565.00) for the entire wiretapping package, depositions of the suspected gang members have revealed.  

A complaint was lodged with the Antalya Prosecutor’s Office last year claiming that an organized group was illegally wiretapping individuals’ phones. The prosecutor’s office discovered that it was active in 15 provinces. In an operation named “Third Ear,” simultaneous raids were carried out at the offices of the gang, resulting in the detention of 10 people, including gang leader Ercan Ö. and a retired noncommissioned officer on Feb. 17. The gang, which offered its services to people who suspected their spouses of cheating on them, wiretapped the phones of suspected lovers or spouses for a fee. Police have detailed information about the working methods of the gang thanks to the depositions of the suspected gang members who were referred to the court.

The gang charged TL 350 ($219.00) for text-message following, TL 600 ($375.00) for text-message following and bugging, TL 500 ($313.00) for bugging and wiretapping of telephones, TL 600 ($375.00) to follow individuals weekly, TL 500 ($313.00) to follow a vehicle via general packet radio service (GPRS), while it charged TL 2,500 ($1,565.00) for the all-inclusive package. Clients who purchased the all-inclusive package were also given a three-day free trial period.

In addition to wiretapping and bugging, the gang members also physically followed people while disguised as couriers. (more)

How Some Energy Firms Spy on Environmental Activists

UK - Three large energy companies have been carrying out covert intelligence-gathering operations on environmental activists, the Guardian can reveal. 

The energy giant E.ON, Britain's second-biggest coal producer Scottish Resources Group and Scottish Power, one of the UK's largest electricity-generators, have been paying for the services of a private security firm that has been secretly monitoring activists.

Leaked documents show how the security firm's owner, Rebecca Todd, tipped off company executives about environmentalists' plans after snooping on their emails. She is also shown instructing an agent to attend campaign meetings and coaching him on how to ingratiate himself with activists. The disclosures come as police chiefs, on the defensive over damaging revelations of undercover police officers in the protest movement, privately claim that there are more corporate spies in protest groups than undercover police officers.

Senior police officers complain that spies hired by commercial firms are – unlike their own agents – barely regulated. (more)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Business Espionage: Phone-y Cleaner Upper

Spain - Industrial espionage in the telecom equipment sector appears to be alive and kicking if an incident reported by Nokia Siemens Networks is anything to go by.

The vendor's representatives say the security at its "experience center" (a large, closed "village" area in Hall 8 at the Mobile World Congress show) was breached at around 4 p.m. Monday when a Chinese male, disguised as a cleaner, got through its tight security checks by tagging along behind three genuine cleaners who were visiting the center to perform their daily tasks.

The unwelcome guest was spotted peeling away from the cleaning group and checking out the technology presentations. When challenged, the interloper fled the area and couldn't be caught.

NSN staff say they have no proof that he was a spy from another telecom systems vendor, but are convinced that this was a bungled spying incident, and believe a genuine cleaner was bribed to hand over his uniform. 

A NSN spokesman says the vendor's security team, which is on guard 24 hours a day, has thwarted two other attempts by unwelcome visitors to gain access to its exhibition space. In one incident, two Asian males with cameras arrived at NSN's center in the late evening (once the show is closed) saying they had been given permission to visit the stand "while it was quiet." They were turned away.(more)

Private Sector Spy Interviewed

UK - Ejector seats, super magnetic watches, guns you can make from a cigarette case and a cuff link - sadly none of these exist in the lives of real spies but Pocket-lint spoke to surveillance expert and ex-SAS member, Dave Thomas to find out what does.

“All the gadgets are mostly about collecting intelligence,” he tells us. “That’s the core of the job.

There are bugging devices like this one,” he says as he opens up his briefcase full of wires and connectors to clutch a microphone no bigger than a pin head between his thumb and forefinger.

“This little thing is sensitive enough to pick up all the audio from a whole room in all directions. All you need is a battery and transmitter and you can hide this thing just about anywhere - in the light, under the table, in the plant pot but then you might have to worry about someone watering it.”

Spotting a niche in the market, Thomas set up a business 17 years ago providing surveillance services for blue chip companies and has been using the same techniques as those he learned on the governmental side of the trade.

“We’ve followed everyone from terrorists to footballers to journalist, corporate fraudsters, movie stars and all to find out what they’re doing, what they’re up to, where they’re going, who they’re meeting, who they’re getting their drugs from, where they’re getting their weapons from and whatever else there is to know.” (more)

The Faceless at Facebook Who Spy

The war between security firm HBGary and Anonymous reveals a new tactic: using fake social network profiles to gather information.
Is that new friend really your friend, or just someone pretending to be your friend so he can spy on you? No, I'm not just being more paranoid than usual. This really does happen - especially if you're a member of an anonymous collective determined to do battle with the forces of corporate evil (not to mention Tom Cruise, Soulja Boy, and your mom).

The ongoing battle between Anonymous and the security wonks who are trying to take it down has revealed a new weapon: Creating fake profiles on social networks to trace out the connections between you and your comrades. (more)

"Every step you take, I'll be watching you"

Applause also to American Express security department. The Amex Sting private event at Newark's Prudential Center last night was covered perfectly. Thanks, for the memories.

Friday, February 18, 2011

SpyCam Story # 601 - Janitor in a Tank

An Ottawa, Kansas, school employee is under arrest for allegedly trying to spy on a high school girl's lockerroom, police say. Marshall Dean Silve, 53, faces misdemeanor attempted eavesdropping charges after a camera was found in the girl's lockerroom at Ottawa High School... was discovered on Monday by two Ottawa High sophomores. The girls say that when they walked into their locker room, they saw something out of the ordinary.

"We saw a dust mop, and usually there's a janitor where there's a dustmop, so she lifted the dust mop and there was a camera underneath there," said Ottawa High student Erika Doty, who says at first they thought the camera was left there by accident. (more)

Baby Monitor as Eavesdropping Device

 In case you have just exited cryogenic suspension, this just in from KTVX-TV...
UT - Someone could be eavesdropping on you using something as simple as a $99 baby monitor.

In just three hours wandering the streets of Herriman, we picked up 15 video and audio signals. We used just two brands of monitors. (more)

"All right. Which one of you muttered, 'What about indirectly?'"

Canada - Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay is denying being directly involved in spying on the city's own financial watchdog, the auditor general.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Pierre Reid, the city's controller-general, was spying on the auditor general's e-mails....

On Tuesday, Auditor General Jacques Bergeron sent to all city councillors, informing them city bureaucrats were snooping in his email account, and had been reading all correspondence, including private messages sent to and from his lawyers. (more)

FBI Seeks Über Light Switch

Rapid advances in communications are eroding police departments' abilities to conduct wiretaps, and Congress needs to take steps to ensure that new telephone, computer and wireless systems are designed to allow lawful police access, FBI and police officials told Congress Thursday.

But other witnesses cautioned that any such move could stifle innovation, place U.S. technology companies at a competitive disadvantage and unintentionally create systems vulnerable to hackers, criminals and terrorists.

At issue is the diminished capability of law enforcement agencies to conduct quick wiretaps in an age of Twitter accounts, Facebook and MySpace pages, BlackBerrys, Androids, iPhones and iPads. The Justice Department calls the phenomenon "going dark." (more)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Similar to Iceland's Recent 'Extra Computer' Find

A computer found hidden at Jönköping Airport in central Sweden in a case of suspected industrial espionage has been found to have been part of routine cooperation between the IT department and an airline.

The computer was discovered three weeks ago by a member of staff connected to the airport's intranet. Both the airport management and the police suspected a case of industrial espionage and launched an investigation.

The computer, which was connected to Jönköping Airport's internal network, was discovered by a member of staff a couple of weeks ago and it was feared that sensitive information had been transferred to a third party. (more)

Truth, or the public version of the story? You decide.

Hummingbirds Drone... and Spy

A pocket-size drone dubbed the Nano Hummingbird for the way it flaps its tiny robotic wings has been developed for the Pentagon by a Monrovia company as a mini-spy plane capable of maneuvering on the battlefield and in urban areas...

Equipped with a camera, the drone can fly at speeds of up to 11 miles per hour, AeroVironment said. It can hover and fly sideways, backward and forward, as well as go clockwise and counterclockwise, by remote control for about eight minutes.

The quick flight meets the goals set forth by the government to build a flying "hummingbird-like" aircraft. It also demonstrates the promise of fielding mini-spy planes. Industry insiders see the technology eventually being capable of flying through open windows or sitting on power lines, capturing audio and video while enemies would be none the wiser. (more)

Can Apple Make Security Sexy?

Security has never been sexy. It just isn't. Unless you are fond of men in uniforms. Some people are. Most are not. Security is a shadowy world of white hats and black hats and Anonymous and known. Security is a fact of life that no one likes. Security, like back-up, is a problem everyone has and no one wants to understand.

Security must be sexy
Apple's next step will be to make security sexy. It must. Because the future connected-planet needs security to be over 100 percent before it is born. The company has already begun. Last month it appointed former National Security Agency analyst and author David Rice as its global director of security. Security is the biggest challenge Apple faces as it moves to define the future of technology in modern living. Security is the new frontier. (more)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Business Espionage: Quote of the Week

Kommersant, a leading financial newspaper in Russia, interviewed Raili Maripuu, WhiteRock’s Managing Director for this week’s major business trend analysis. The article is dedicated to the growing threat of industrial espionage from China and following the trade secrets theft scandal surrounding the French car producer Renault. 

Miss Maripuu explains that: "Any successful company with a value is a likely target to its competitors. Information gatherers do not necessarily choose a particular sector to attack - espionage happens across the board." (more)

Business Espionage: Ratan Tata Lashes Out Over Leaks

In an interview, Indian industrialist Ratan Tata lashed out at the government for allowing media outlets to get hold of wiretap recordings of his lobbyist's phone calls, and said strong privacy protection is needed to prevent similar episodes in the future. (more)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Library PC Bugging Scam

In-line Keyboard Cable Logger
UK - Police are investigating the discovery of snooping devices attached to public computers in two Cheshire libraries. Staff found the keyloggers, USB devices which record keyboard activity, in the back of two PCs at Wilmslow Library and one at Handforth Library. (more)

Tip: Don't use public computers, but if you must, don't type in any confidential information, but if you must, don't use public computers. 

In-line USB Keystroke Logger
A physical search may turn up a keystroke logger, but cannot be relied upon to declare a computer is clean. Keystroke loggers are also sold embedded inside keyboards and as spyware (software), some of which instantly transmits the keystrokes to a remote location. 

Two types of physical hardware loggers are shown. ~Kevin

Business Espionage: Target - Global Energy Companies

A China-based man named Song Zhiyue has provided cheap U.S. computer servers for hackers who used everyday tools to infiltrate five multinational energy companies for as many as four years, according to a report issued by McAfee. Song, based in the Shandong Province's Heze City, in eastern China, is one of an undetermined number of other hacking specialists working normal business hours in Beijing to infiltrate the computer systems of energy companies in four countries -- the United States, Taiwan, Greece and Kazakhstan. McAfee did not identify the companies but said that Song's operation and that of the hackers has not been shut down.

Artist's conception.
The attacks are a sign of the increasing difficulty and high stakes involved in oil and gas exploration, and the extent to which some companies and countries are willing to go to get access to the fields. The purpose of the octopus-like hacking was a system that mined financial and exploration data on oil- and gas-fields that was critical to bidding for the fields, McAfee said. The attacks suggest that officials or companies in China were attempting to understand fields that were or going to be under bid; the financial and other plans of rivals that might bid on the same fields; and the equipment already at the fields or that might be used to explore or produce there. (more)

Tip: Computer hacking is supplemental to other espionage techniques, like electronic eavesdropping. Spies also want information before it gets put into the computer and the information which never gets put into a computer. Check your networks, but check your offices and phones first. ~Kevin

This week in Spy News

UK - An MP's assistant accused of spying for Russia is on course to follow in the footsteps of Anna Chapman after being offered a job at the Kremlin's English-language TV news propaganda channel.(more)

A Taiwanese general detained in what could be the island's worst espionage case in 50 years was lured by sex and money offered by a female Chinese agent, media reported Thursday. (more)

Alleged spying at French car maker Renault may have targeted the costs involved in making electric cars, its chief executive said in an interview published Friday. (more)

A court in Moldova's breakaway Transdniestria region has sentenced a Moldovan man to 14 years in jail after convicting him of espionage. (more)

India - A senior home ministry official accused of leaking sensitive information in return for sexual favours moved his bail application in a court here Friday. (more)

Italy's sex scandal mired prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has likened Italy's prosecutors, its left-leaning newspapers and TV talkshows to spies from the former communist East Germany. (more)

Pakistan - Militants killed three, including two Khasadar tribal force members, accusing them of spying, sources said. (more)

Iran - Two Americans accused of spying appeared in a closed-door Iranian court session Sunday to begin trial after an 18-month detention that has brought impassioned family appeals, a stunning bail deal to free their companion and backdoor diplomatic outreach by Washington through an Arab ally in the Gulf. (more)

German federal prosecutors have charged a 43-year-old Moroccan with spying on exiled opposition activists for his country's intelligence service. (more)

Pakistani authorities have decided to indict US diplomat Raymond Davis on espionage charge, saying he had been conducting surveillance of the Pakistan Army’s bunkers on the Eastern border with India. (more)

Two retired marines have been held captive for more than eight weeks in the Horn of Africa after a gun battle while they were escorting a merchant ship through waters threatened by pirates... they are accused of spying after being arrested by a naval vessel from Eritrea as they guarded the ship in the Indian Ocean. A dispute about their paperwork escalated and threats were followed by shots being exchanged. Two guards tried to escape in a skiff but were seized after a chase. They were, it is claimed, kept on an offshore island without food or water for more than a day before being taken back to a port city on the mainland for incarceration. (more)

OR - A student at St. Paul High School has been caught spying on the girls' basketball team by hiding his cell phone in their locker room. (more

Mark J. Hulkower, prosecutor in Aldrich Ames spy case, dies at 53. (more)

SpyCam Story #600 - Wildman on Good Behavior

Australia - A 29 year old Nelson Bay man who broke into his ex-girlfriend's home and installed a camera to spy on her has been placed on a good behavior bond.

Dane Wildman pleaded guilty in November last year to breaking into his ex-girlfriend's home to install the optical surveillance device.

He admitted to having a key cut so that he could install the small camouflage camera under the woman's bed to determine if she was seeing another man. A small child discovered the device.

The woman took it to police who downloaded nearly 400 images including one of Wildman as he installed it. (more)

First modern spy novel is still one of the best

Book review: Penguin Classics has reissued "The Riddle of the Sands" by Erskine Childers, a 1903 novel thought to be the progenitor of all modern spy novels, and still one of the best.

Childers' story of Britons trying to foil German spies takes place partly on the Baltic Sea, with which he was familiar as a yachtsman. His day job was clerking for the House of Commons, but at night he toiled away at this novel, adding a romantic subplot at the suggestion of his sister Dulcibella, whose mellifluous first name he gave to the yacht in his book.

Childers was superb at depicting action, as in this scene in which the narrator, Carruthers, senses that he is not alone on deck: "I started up involuntarily, bumped against the table, and set the stove jingling. A long step and a grab at the ladder, but just too late! I grasped something damp and greasy, there was tugging and hard breathing, and I was left clasping a big sea-boot, whose owner I heard jump on to the sand and run." (more)

How to Secure Cell Phones in Sensitive Areas

"The US Government has a requirement to properly secure any Portable Electronic Device (PED) introduced into classified processing areas...

PEDs such as cellular phones, Blackberry devices, laptop computers and PDAs have inherent technical vulnerabilities that are potentially exploitable... without the users’ knowledge. For example, microphones and photographic/video cameras built into many PEDs can be remotely activated... audio and/or visual information near the PED can either be transmitted in real-time or recorded and then transmitted at a later time. PEDs can also... wirelessly probe the surrounding area... in an attempt to connect to or map out any computer network system."

Several companies, including Vector, have come up with some ingenious products. From cell phone box and socks to portable Faraday rooms, there are solutions for every need.

Resources list:

Tip: Turn your gadget entirely off before storing it. Otherwise the phone will try transmitting signals to the cell site using its highest power level, thus depleting your battery quicker than normal.

Beware: Googling "Cell Phone Shielding" will return hundreds of sites selling quack personal radiation shielding products.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hackers Retaliate Against Corporate Security Firm

WikiLeaks hackers and a California-based Internet security business has opened a window onto the secretive world of private companies that offer to help corporations investigate and discredit their critics.

This week, hackers said they had penetrated the computers of HBGary Federal, a security company that sells investigative services to corporations, and posted tens of thousands of what appear to be its internal company e-mails on the Internet.

The documents appear to include pitches for unseemly ways to undermine adversaries of Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, like doing background research on their critics and then distributing fake documents to embarrass them. (more)

Friday, February 11, 2011

SpyCam Story #599 - Looking Up Down Under

Australia - Police say a man used a sophisticated system to secretly film up women's skirts in Sydney's CBD.

Sabapathy Chandrahasan, 56, has been granted bail after officers allegedly found more than 1,000 photos on his home computer yesterday.

He was arrested by police at Central Station yesterday, moments after he allegedly filmed a woman who was climbing stairs to a platform. (more)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Update on Camera Man

Remember Camera Man?
 The New York University professor who implanted a camera in the back of his head was prepared for privacy-related objections by the school and his pupils. What he didn’t anticipate was resistance from a more intimate source: his own body.

Last week, Wafaa Bilal removed part of the device, saying his body had rejected it despite antibiotics and steroid treatments, according to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education. A spokeswoman for Bilal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bilal, an assistant professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, was commissioned to implant the camera in his head for one year by a museum in Qatar, part of a project that broadcasts to the museum and to a website a live stream of images snapped automatically by the device at one-minute intervals.

The 10-megapixel camera was attached to Bilal’s skull during a November procedure at a piercing studio that specializes in body modification. Three titanium plates, each with a post attached, were inserted underneath a large flap of skin on the back of his head. The camera was screwed onto the posts. But his body rejected one of the posts, causing him “constant pain,” he told the Chronicle. He had one post removed, but left the other two, and intends to replace the camera with a lighter model. (more)

CA Court - Car Computer Data Protected by 4th Amendment

The case is State v. Xinos. The question... Can the police swipe your car's black box data, without due process, after an accident and use the findings against you?

The answer... No, "We do not accept the Attorney General’s argument that defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the data contained in his vehicle’s SDM (Sensing and Diagnostic Module). The precision data recorded by the SDM was generated by his own vehicle for its systems operations. While a person’s driving on public roads is observable, that highly precise, digital data is not being exposed to public view or being conveyed to anyone else. . . . We conclude that a motorist’s subjective and reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to her or his own vehicle encompasses the digital data held in the vehicle’s SDM."

Another interesting point the court made... The SDM is located inside the vehicle, not outside, so... "Thus, a warrantless search of a vehicle, or the containers within it, under the automobile exception continues to be circumscribed by probable cause." (more)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Five out of Seven Hacker Types also Bug & Tap has identified seven types of hackers. Five of them (in bold) will also use standard electronic surveillance techniques to achieve their goals. 

Why? Because that information is fresher, it is available long before it becomes computer data... and some of it will never become computer data.

If you are only watching your computer networks, you are a day late and a dollar short. Traditional bugs and wiretaps remain spy staples. Two more overlooked attack points include Wi-Fi security (and compliance) and Internet telephony (VoIP).

Malicious hacker No. 1: Cyber criminals
Professional criminals comprise the biggest group of malicious hackers, using malware and exploits to steal money. It doesn't matter how they do it... (Eavesdropping is just another profit center.)

Malicious hacker No. 2: Spammers and adware spreaders
Purveyors of spam and adware make their money through illegal advertising.

Malicious hacker No. 3: Advanced persistent threat (APT) agents
Intruders engaging in APT-style attacks represent well-organized, well-funded groups -- often located in a "safe harbor" country -- and they're out to steal a company's intellectual property. They aren't out for quick financial gain like cyber criminals; they're in it for the long haul. Their dream assignment is to essentially duplicate their victim's best ideas and products in their own homeland, or to sell the information they've purloined to the highest bidder.

Malicious hacker No. 4: Corporate spies
Corporate spying is not new; it's just significantly easier to do, thanks to today's pervasive Internet connectivity. Corporate spies are usually interested in a particular piece of intellectual property or competitive information. They differ from APT agents in that they don't have to be located in a safe-harbor country. Corporate espionage groups aren't usually as organized as APT groups, and they are more focused on short- to midterm financial gains.

Malicious hacker No. 5: Hacktivists

Lots of hackers are motivated by political, religious, environmental, or other personal beliefs. They are usually content with embarrassing their opponents or defacing their websites, although they can slip into corporate-espionage mode if it means they can weaken the opponent. 

Malicious hacker No. 6: Cyber warriors
Cyber warfare is a city-state against city-state exploitation with an endgame objective of disabling an opponent's military capability. Participants may operate as APT or corporate spies at times...

Malicious hacker No. 7: Rogue hackers
There are hundreds of thousands of hackers who simply want to prove their skills, brag to friends, and are thrilled to engage in unauthorized activities.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Visit the New CIA Website

The CIA has launched a revamped website with links to YouTube and Flickr to help the public better understand the spy agency's often clandestine work, officials said.

"The idea behind these improvements is to make more information about the Agency available to more people, more easily," CIA Director Leon Panetta said in a statement on Monday.

"The CIA wants the American people and the world to understand its mission and its vital role in keeping our country safe," he said.

Although the Central Intelligence Agency's mission has always hinged on secrecy, the spy service is conscious of its public image -- partly for recruiting reasons -- and in recent years has added games and links for children on its website. (more)

Are you the right kind of person for a career at the CIA? Take this fun quiz and find out. You might be surprised by the type of people we actually hire. (QUIZ)

My quiz result... "According to your responses, you are a: Thoughtful Observer."

Dental Data Extraction

Dentist hacked into fiancee’s laptop to show she was a fantasist
A dentist loaded spyware onto his fiancee’s laptop to gather evidence against her as their relationship collapsed, a court has heard...

The High Court heard that in a desperate attempt to hang on to his assets, Mr Singh, described as a “canny businessman”, tried to exploit the spyware he placed on her pink laptop "for improper advantage". He had also "lost no opportunity to belittle and discredit" his ex-lover in court when they came face to face. (more)

"Nei, we are just Odin-ary students, ja."

Who's the spy?
Norway - A leading foreign policy analyst says it should come as no surprise that Norway maintained a secret spying unit that operated in nine countries for 10 years. Two Oslo newspapers reported its existence over the weekend, and key government officials claim they didn’t know about it...

Agents posed as students
It operated separately from the Defense Ministry and its own intelligence gathering units, although many of its staff were defense personnel. VG reported that it operated in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and its agents often posed as Norwegian students.

Here Come the Cell Phone Anti-Spyware Laws

WV - A type of stalking that relies on the victim's mobile phone could soon become a crime in West Virginia.

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill to the House on Monday that targets anyone who secretly puts spying software on someone else's mobile phone or device.

These programs allow the spy to eavesdrop on phone calls, monitor text and e-mail, and track the victim's location.

The bill exempts parents, service and global positioning system providers, and employers when they supplied the mobile device.

Those guilty of this new misdemeanor would face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.

Sen. Clark Barnes sponsored the bill after learning of a woman who was stalked and harassed through her mobile phone for three years. (more)

Sin? I Phone it in.

Selling for $1.99, "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" was developed as an aid "for those who frequent the sacrament and those who wish to return," according to Little iApps, the firm behind the idea. Its makers insist it is not a replacement for confessing in person with a priest, but instead helps to keep track of all the evil things you have done since the last time you confessed by ticking off some of the most common failings. Deviants get the opportunity to add their own, bespoke, sins as they go. (more)

"First to mind is the potential law enforcement bonanza whenever searching for Catholic criminals, especially in states like California where the California Supreme Court has recently granted authorities access to smartphones and other devices' contents without even needing a search warrant."Lauren Weinstein

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Business Espionage - Et tu, IT guy?

In a recent instance, one German engineering company found it was frequently beaten on price by a competitor. The group discovered an employee in its information technology department was related to its archrival’s CEO. The IT specialist had wiretapped his own CEO’s office and phone and put a tracking device on his car, enabling him to follow his movements and identify the customers to whom he was talking. (more)

Little US action as industrial spying surges

In the year since Google revealed that some of its prize intellectual property had been stolen by hackers it associated with the Chinese government, the private sector and the FBI have increased their efforts on cybersecurity. But it isn’t nearly enough, according to outside experts including an influential panel of advisers. (more)

Survey: 32% admit mooching neighbor's Wi-Fi

Some 32% of respondents to a recent national survey admitted borrowing a neighbor's unencrypted Wi-Fi connection. That's nearly double the 18% who said they borrowed Wi-Fi in a 2008 poll...

Sharing an open Wi-Fi hookup might seem neighborly. But a nosy neighbor could use eavesdropping software to monitor your online haunts. A free, easy-to-use eavesdropping tool called Firesheep has been downloaded more than 1 million times since last year...

You can repel moochers and snoopers by taking a few simple steps while configuring your wireless network. (more) (video)

Sneaky Sneaker SpyCam

"The World's the most powerful audio video 2.4 GHz wireless with Hidden Shoes camera, super crisp real time audio video recording with date/time  stamping. Specially designed for Law enforcement agencies for their hidden investigation. This amazing device is ideal for covert or spy operations. Please tell us the size of your shoe when you pay." (more)

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

Visit this one-stop-shop to become familiar with almost all the different types of covert spycams that could be watching you.