Friday, October 28, 2011

"Wake up, Nguyen. Time to spy on the submarine races."

When foreign spies set their sights on America's secrets, many times they're not looking underground for secret bunkers or in the sky for massive spy blimps, but under the sea at the nation's low-profile underwater drone fleet.

According to some of the military's top counterintelligence analysts, in recent years there has been a significant increase in both old school spying and cyber operations, especially by unnamed East Asian nations, directed at gaining classified information on America's autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) in hopes of undercutting the U.S.'s "underseas battlespace dominance." (more)

Must be a Saturday Night Live skit that didn't get used...

Croatian businessman Vladimir Selebaj, who has been jailed over malversations with his production company Core Media, speaks to his parents only in French due to fears of wiretapping.

A French citizen, Selebaj allegedly talks only in French during his parents visits because he thinks he is being targeted by the police chief, Oliver Grbic.  

Grbic is currently in a relationship with Selebaj’s wife, Dijana Culjak.

Selebaj has been detained in Zagreb Remetinec prison while the investigation is underway, daily Vecernji List writes. (more)

BlackBerry / India Ink Surveillance Contract - RIM shot

 Remember when India was threatening to shut down BlackBerry service unless it could tap user's communications? Reports have RIM operating a wiretapping facility in Mumbai to help with that.

Back in 2010, the Indian government set multiple deadlines for RIM to provide the government with access to encrypted BlackBerry communication or face a shutdown of BlackBerry services in the country. Those deadlines came and went, with RIM insisting that it has no back door that would let government authorities (or anybody else) decrypt and access communications on its BlackBerry Enterprise services

However, by the beginning of 2011 RIM had been working with the Indian government to provide access to consumer-level BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS) email—and now the Wall Street Journal reports RIM is operating a small surveillance facility in Mumbai to process government requests for access to BlackBerry user communications. (more)

Spy Train Tracks Wirey Thieves

Using a thermal camera to track copper cable thieves.
UK - Network Rail said covert spy train patrols to deter metal thieves from the rail network are having an effect.

In the last year the price of copper has doubled and this year alone in the east there have been 72 serious incidents of cable theft, causing delays to more than 2,500 trains and costing the company more than £1m.

Look East joined Network Rail and the British Transport Police on a special spy train as they went on the hunt for thieves in Essex and Hertfordshire. (video)

A Simple Three Question Spy Movie Quiz

Go here
I got 2 of three. 
See what you can do.

Here is one from me...
What is the name of this famous spy story town?
What is its real name?
Did I live there for a week?

Answers later next week.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Security Alert: Easy Bypass of iPad2 Passcode Screen (w/ fix)

Apple's Smart Covers are pretty cool--they attach magnetically to your iPad 2, and you can lock your iPad's screen simply by "closing" the cover. Lift the cover off the screen, and your iPad wakes right up. Unfortunately, members of the German forum Apfeltalk ("Apple Talk") discovered a bug in how iOS handles the Smart Cover that makes it possible to bypass the iPad's passcode screen. Yikes.

To trigger this glitch, hold down the power button and wait for the iPad to ask to power off. When that happens, place the smart cover over the tablet. Next, take the cover off again, cancel the power down, and you're in--no passcode required.

Apple is aware of the issue and is working on a fix. And for the time being, you can make it so your iPad doesn't automatically unlock when you open your Smart Cover; that way, even if someone uses this bypass trick, they'll only be greeted with the passcode screen. To change this setting, Open the Settings app, tap General, and change the setting for "iPad Cover Lock/Unlock" to "Off". (more)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gang Members Are Coming For Your Info. What's Your Counterespionage Strategy?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday estimated there are some 1.4 million gang members in the United States and they are turning to white-collar crimes as more lucrative enterprises. 

Gangs like the Bloods and the Crips are engaging in crimes such as identity theft, counterfeiting, selling stolen goods and even bank, credit card and mortgage fraud, said a new FBI gangs threat assessment.

"We've seen it, but we've seen them doing it even more now and we attribute to the fact that the likelihood of being caught is less, the sentences once you are caught are less, and the actual monetary gain is much higher," said Diedre Butler, a unit chief at the National Gang Intelligence Center. (more)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Search Engine Encrypts Your Secret Yearnings, Lusts and Thirsts... for Knowledge

Click to enlarge.
Flash - "As of this week, Startpage, by Ixquick, the "world's most private search engine," automatically encrypts ALL searches. Startpage was the first search engine to offer SSL encryption in 2009, and today it again breaks new ground by making SSL encryption the default." (more)

Kevin's Security Scrapbook exclusive! Motion picture footage of the inside of a search engine's encryption kernel.

"Dude, Scientology has an Office of Special Affairs?!?! I didn't know scientists even had affairs!"

The Village Voice is reporting that the Church of Scientology attempted to investigate Parker and Stone after a controversial 2005 episode of “South Park” titled “Trapped in a Closet.” The Emmy-nominated episode, airing on Comedy Central, satirized such figures as Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology member Tom Cruise. 

According to the Voice, former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun “revealed at his blog that in 2006, Scientology's Office of Special Affairs — the church's intelligence and covert operations wing — was actively investigating” Parker and Stone.

The Voice reports Monday: “We have more leaked OSA documents which give some idea of the extent of the spying operation on the ‘South Park’ offices and the people who worked there.” (more)

Chat and...ZAP. Your address book is stolen!

If you use Skype on an iPhone or iPod touch, Phil Purviance can steal your device's address book simply by sending you a chat message.

In a video posted over the weekend, the security researcher makes the attack look like child's play. Type some JavaScript commands into the user name of a Skype account, use it to send a chat message to someone using the latest version of Skype on an iPhone or iPod touch, and load a small program onto a webserver. Within minutes, you'll have a fully-searchable copy of the victim's address book. (more)

Your Rotund Guard Can Be Replaced by Rotundus, the 3-D RoboEye

Security Director Alert - Imagine replacing multiple guards, at multiple sites with GroundBots... all reporting to your command center. 

Think of the money you could then devote to more worthwhile security needs - intellectual property protection needs - like, ummmm... TSCM!

You don’t need to read instructions to operate an arcade driving game. It’s intuitive. And that’s how easy it is to steer GroundBot in the manual control mode.

But there’s one big difference: when you’re driving GroundBot the landscape you’re moving through is for real. Streamed in real-time, in 2D or 3D. Operators say that it makes you feel you are actually there, sitting in GroundBot, looking out. 

Guardbot is also amphibious and efficient and can run up to 10 km/h (6 mph) - without making a sound. Moreover, it can operate for 8-16 hours depending on mission profile.

This near-reality experience also makes operators more alert to anyone or anything that shouldn’t be there. GroundBot can even be used to find out where an unauthorized person is going. (more) (video) (c.1968 prototype)

Monday, October 24, 2011

FBI Business Espionage Warning - "If you haven't been a victim yet, it's because you have been and you don't know it, or you will be."

Kexue Huang, a scientist and native of China, pleaded guilty last week in a federal court to swiping millions of dollars worth of trade secrets from Dow Chemical Co. and Cargill Inc. for other people doing research in Germany and China.

A federal jury last month ordered South Korea's Kolon Industries to pay DuPont Co. $920 million for stealing trade secrets regarding synthetic fibers used in such products as Kevlar body armor. A former DuPont engineer hired by Kolon, Michael Mitchell of Virginia, was sentenced in March last year to 18 months in prison for theft of trade secrets for passing on key DuPont data to Kolon.

And area technology companies are likely fooling themselves if they think they're not in the cross-hairs of such spy efforts, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation."If you haven't been a victim yet, it's because you have been and you don't know it, or you will be," Barry W. Couch, a special agent with FBI's Buffalo division, told a conference room full of area optics industry executives last week. "Don't be blindsided."

The FBI has designated espionage, including economic espionage, its second-highest priority, behind only terrorism. (more)

Bug in the Boardroom - Nasdaq

New details have come out from the ongoing investigation into last year's attack on the Nasdaq stock exchange. 

It appears that when attackers breached the Director's Desk Web application, they not only gained access to data stored in the system, but they managed to install a monitoring software that was able to eavesdrop on "scores" of directors' communications

The application was used by board directors to discuss information relating to the company's financial performance and other intellectual property. (more)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Security Director Alert: Occupy Wall Street would love to have A Bug in Your Boardroom

The Occupy Wall Street movement is expanding. 

Your company is the target. 

Just like animal rights and other business protest movements, intelligence helps fuel their cause. A bug in your boardroom is the ideal intelligence pipeline. (Don't think they haven't thought of doing it. All they need is a sympathetic insider who believes the boss makes too much.)

I addition to your normal preparations (perimeter security, monitoring social media, etc.) electronic countermeasures inspections (TSCM) must be part of your protection mix. Covert electronic eavesdropping, video voyeurism, data thefts and business espionage attacks are vulnerabilities you can not afford to overlook.

If you have a trusted TSCM provider, great, call them in.
If not, please stop by our web site. Learn all about our economical TSCM security solutions.

But, what if you find a bug?
It's Monday morning. 
In the offices of Mongo Industries a secretary readies the Boardroom for the weekly strategy meeting. The air conditioning has been off all weekend, and just kicked in. Then...THUNK! 

Startled, she stares under the massive table. Her eyes adjust to the dark. A small dark object with gooey strips of masking tape near the Director's chair stares back.

"What should you do?" (click here)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flash - Adobe Flash Spy Personality Disorder Fixed

Engineers on Thursday patched a hole in Adobe's ubiquitous Flash Player that allowed website operators to silently eavesdrop on visitors' webcam and microphone feeds without permission.  

To be attacked, visitors needed to do no more than visit a malicious website and click on a handful of buttons like the ones in this live demonstration. Without warning, the visitor's camera and microphone were activated and the video and audio intercepted. (more)

Adobe: "We have resolved the issue with a change to the Flash Player Settings Manager SWF file hosted on the Adobe website. No user action or Flash Player product update are required." (more)

Calling all cars: OTL DIY CSI Taps Over Possible Alibi Die Lie - Be on the Louk-out.

PA - State police are looking for a Washington man who is one of four accused of placing a wiretap in the home of a relative because they did not believe his alibi for the murder of a Buffalo Township woman.

Douglas Edward Louk, 42, whose last known address was 843 Broad St., is wanted on wiretapping and conspiracy charges. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 210 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information on Louk's whereabouts is asked to call state police at 724-223-5200. (more) (more)

"Dude, werz my dikshunary?" or... My lawyer can spell illegally, can yours?

CA - Billboards along Southern California freeways are urging motorists to contact lawyer Jeffrey Krinsk if they believe they were “Illegaly [sic] wire-tapped by the LA Times” or to “Report LA Times Fraud.” The San Diego attorney represents a man who is suing Times staffer Michael Hiltzik and claims the columnist secretly recorded telephone conversations. (Hiltzik’s accuser is Robert Silverman, an attorney who represents 1-800-GET-THIN, a company that markets Lap-Band weight-loss surgery.) The Times has published a series of articles and columns detailing the deaths of five patients after having Lap-Band surgery at centers affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN. On Thursday, the paper told staffers in a memo that “we do not engage in wiretapping and fraud as the billboards allege” and that it’s confident that the lawsuit will be tossed. (more)

Cell Phone SpyWare Goes Legit

Realizing that the huge demand for parental monitoring programs for computers could also apply to phones, Dublin-based mobile web service company Associate Mobile has developed MobileMinder - a smartphone application running on a secure and encrypted network that allows parents to monitor their child's location, contacts, call history, photos, and web use. (more)

Edison Remembered

The real Edison lighthouse.
On Oct. 21, 1879, Thomas Edison invented a workable electric light at his laboratory in Menlo Park, N.J. (more) (The other Edison Lighthouse)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TSCM - Get the Whole Picture of Your Information Security Health

A security program without TSCM is like a photo that only tells part of the story. 

Seen on the USS Midway this week.
• You might misinterpret, 
• you might be left wondering, 
• or maybe you'll just shrug it off with a laugh. 
All leave you weak and vulnerable.

Get the whole picture. Conduct TSCM inspections in your business. Make sure they incorporate a counterespionage survey. Get the whole picture. Know the truth. Feel confident.

Fun Stuff: Release Your Inner Muse, with Animoog

Alert: This app is available at 99 cents for about 25 more days. Then it goes to $29.99... and it's still a bargain.
This week work took me from New York to San Diego and back; about 10 hours on a plane. Animoog kept me captivated for most of my time in the air. The depth of musical creativity that I pulled from this was astounding. Not musically inclined? No problem, neither am I. I barely know a quarter note from a quarterhorse, yet after the first ten minutes I was making music. Beautiful sounds. Hey, the thing even records your songs for you. 

Bonus... The trips seemed like minutes instead of hours.

Have some fun this weekend. Relax. Make music. Regain your soul. You'll be surprised how good you'll feel afterward.

"Animoog is the first professional synthesizer designed for the iPad. Powered by Moog's new Anisotropic Synthesis Engine, Animoog captures the vast sonic vocabulary of Moog synthesizers and applies it to the modern touch surface paradigm, enabling any user to quickly sculpt incredibly fluid and dynamic sounds that live, breathe, and evolve as you play them." (more)

A Survey of Mobile Malware in the Wild

via Michael Kassner,
A group of Berkeley researchers take a long, hard look at mobile malware. What they found should interest you...

William Francis — fellow TechRepublic writer/Android investigative partner — and I research Android permissions and Android malware. Every step of the way, we have the support and guidance of experts — one being Adrienne Porter Felt.

I just learned that Adrienne and fellow U.C. Berkeley researchers Matthew Finifter, Erika Chin, Steven Hanna, and David Wagner coauthored “A Survey of Mobile Malware in the Wild“. Their point: Mobile malware is a clear and present danger.

I normally avoid the dramatic, but a lot of good people are trying to raise awareness about the increased presence of mobile malware, and I want to help. (more)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MIT researchers have developed a new radar technology that gives real-time video of what’s going on behind solid walls from up to 60 feet away.

While existing through-wall systems have delivered images at a snail's pace, the new device offers video at 10.8 frames per second. (more)

Just don't put your phone on your girlfriend's nightstand...

People sit down, turn on their computers, set their mobile phones on their desks and begin to work. What if a hacker could use that phone to track what the person was typing on the keyboard just inches away?

A research team at Georgia Tech has discovered how to do exactly that, using a smartphone accelerometer ­the internal device that detects when and how the phone is tilted ­to sense keyboard vibrations and decipher complete sentences with up to 80 percent accuracy. The procedure is not easy, they say, but is definitely possible with the latest generations of smartphones. 

“We first tried our experiments with an iPhone 3GS, and the results were difficult to read,” said Patrick Traynor, assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Computer Science. “But then we tried an iPhone 4, which has an added gyroscope to clean up the accelerometer noise, and the results were much better. We believe that most smartphones made in the past two years are sophisticated enough to launch this attack.” (more)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Security Director Tip: Show & Tell with a Smile

Make this button part of your executive information security briefings.
Click to enlarge.
When you get to the part of your spiel about how business espionage surveillance gear is so effective, covert and easily available, take the button off, plug the SD card into your laptop and show them the movies of themselves. They will get the idea. And, you will get funding for eavesdropping detection sweeps (TSCM) of their offices, conference rooms and boardroom more easily. (Of course, abide by your state law if you record video and audio.)


  • Ease of use
  • Clip on style pin
  • Looks just like the iconic smile face pin
  • Record modes include: audio and video, still images, and audio only

Technical Specs

  • Resolution: 720 x 480 @ 29FPS
  • Still image resolution: 2048 x 1536
  • Storage: Micro SD Cards up to 16GB  (eBay)

Security Tip: Verizon will soon begin spying on your web habits, here's how to opt out...

If you're a Verizon wireless customer, your online identity is about to take another privacy hit.  
The company just revealed that its new service agreement will include language that allows the monitoring of your web habits, including websites you visit and even the location data of when and where you use your wireless browser...

Simply head to Verizon's privacy center, sign into your account using your phone number and password, and review the new policy. On this page there are two places where you can specify that your information not be used for marketing or any other purposes. Simply check these boxes and save your changes. This simple step will prevent your wireless carrier from tracking your location and web habits, and while it might not help advertisers present the best deals on items or services that interest you, your online identity will remain as secure as possible. (more)

Hollywood hacker apologises for spying on stars

FL - A computer hacker accused of infiltrating the email accounts of Hollywood stars including Scarlett Johansson has apologized, and says he plans to plead guilty to all charges.

Christopher Chaney, 35, faces up to 121 years in jail after being arrested in Florida on Wednesday. He faces 26 indictments, including accessing and damaging computers, wire tapping and identity theft.

Chaney's arrest, following an 11-month probe into the hacking of more than 50 victims, including actress Mila Kunis and singer Christina Aguilera. (more)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Hakim, if caught, you ditch the bug, eat the notes. Got it?"

The Lebanese Army Intelligence arrested a man after doctors at a Beirut hospital found a spying device planted in his belly, As Safir daily reported on Wednesday.

As Safir said that H.M. was admitted to hospital after falling ill. When the doctors ran a check-up on him, they found the electric device.

After inspecting the device, the Army discovered that it is a highly developed spying equipment, the newspaper said. It added that the Army Intelligence is questioning the man in full secrecy. (more)

This Week in World Spy News

Cuba - Rene Gonzalez, freed from a US prison last week after serving 13 years on spy charges, pledged to "keep fighting" for the release of his jailed comrades. (more)

An Iranian Furgetaboutit
Iran - The alleged Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador to the United States may have revealed the biggest secret of all -- intelligence agencies mess up and do not always live up to the James Bond ideal. (more)

USA - A detention hearing for a Virginia man accused of spying on protesters in the U.S. for Syria has been postponed until next week. (more)

Germany - Germany's Bundeswehr introduced the latest addition too the fleet of its Luftwaffe air force: the "Euro Hawk," a massive reconnaissance plane that can zero in on targets from altitudes of up to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). The unmanned drone is the product of a joint venture between the American defense contractor Northrop Grumman and the European aerospace company EADS. (more)

USA - According to a new Harris Interactive survey conducted with over 2,300 people, 50 percent of American adults have no problem whipping out the smartphone to take secret videos of unsuspecting people. While this doesn’t mean that all respondents have come across an opportunity to spy on someone, they did list several scenarios that would cause them to hit the record button. The most popular response at 23 percent was recording people in embarrassing outfits, perhaps to upload a silly compilation on YouTube. Fifteen percent of mean-spirited survey takers would use the video function to record someone tripping and falling. (more)

USA - The NanoEye program is a research and development effort to support future theater operations. The Technical Center is developing NanoEye as a low cost, maneuvering, electro-optical, microsatellite-class imagery satellite that will be tasked directly by the tactical ground component Warfighter, who will then receive the desired images minutes later. The on-board propulsion system can take the satellite to lower altitudes finer ground resolution imagery necessary to support the mission. (more)

USA - A retired Springfield police officer is accused of recording video from hidden cameras in the bathroom and bedroom of a teenage girl. Jack Van Matre, 54, is charged with first-degree invasion of privacy, for which he could get a prison sentence up to four years if he’s convicted.  (more)

Give 'em a liter and take a hose'n...

Germany - A group that calls itself the Chaos Computer Club prompted a public outcry here recently when it discovered that German state investigators were using spying software capable of turning a computer’s webcam and microphone into a sophisticated surveillance device.

The club, a German hacking organization, announced last Saturday it had analyzed the hard drives of people who had been investigated and discovered that they were infected with a Trojan horse program that gave the police the ability to log keystrokes, capture screenshots and activate cameras and microphones. The software exceeded the powers prescribed to the police by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court. The public condemnation was swift and strong, renewing a national debate into how far the government can intrude into digital privacy. (more)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Do Business Spies Spy?

In this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, Marc Reisch authors a rather interesting look at the multitude of US-based multinational employees who have taken company trade secrets and intellectual property and gone east with them. After talking about Michael David Mitchell, a DuPont employee who gave his company's IP to a South Korean competitor:
Nobody has a clear fix on just how often employees steal vital confidential information from their employers. What is clear is that over the past five years six former chemical company employees have admitted to or been convicted of stealing trade secrets from their employers. In five of the cases, the employee involved was of Asian descent. And in all of the cases, the intended recipient of the proprietary information was an Asian company or university.
The reasons for the IP (Intellectual Property) theft aren’t clear either. “Those who engage in a major scam are likely to have complex motivations,” says Chris MacDonald, author of the Business Ethics Blog and a visiting scholar at the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics & Board Effectiveness at the University of Toronto. “It’s hard to boil it down to a single factor.”
MacDonald points out that “when people do the wrong thing, it’s generally not because they lack the relevant values.” Instead, wrongdoers find ways to rationalize their behavior. For instance, employees who steal IP may believe they serve a higher purpose in committing the act, such as helping fellow countrymen or bringing the benefits of technology advances to underprivileged people.
Although the motives of those who steal corporate secrets may be complex, monetary gain was involved in most of the chemical industry cases, according to a review of court documents by C&EN. After Mitchell stopped working for DuPont in 2006, he began to work as a paid consultant for Kolon and e-mailed proprietary DuPont documents to Kolon employees. Court documents ascribe the crimes of former Dow Chemical researcher Kexue Huang mostly to greed but also to feelings of patriotism and paternalism. (more)
Why do people betray their country? MICE, of course: Money, Ideology, Compromise, Ego.

SpyCam Story #625 - Angry Bird Brains

The California Public Utilities Commission has ordered Muni to install video cameras in the cabs of Muni metro trains to surveil operators and discourage cell phone use while operating trains. We all know that many of the drivers just like to kick it in there, up in the front of the trains, while the trains are on auto-pilot in tunnels and being controlled by computer. But now they must stop playing Angry Birds and remain ever vigilant while on the job, or else face possible disciplinary action. (more)

Business Espionage: Hooters v. Twin Peeks - Battle of the...

(stop snickering)
The AP is reporting the Hooters of America restaurant chain filed a federal lawsuit in Atlanta this week claiming that a former executive swiped mounds of documents to help an upstart competitor that plans to expand the Twin Peaks franchise.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on Wednesday said former Hooters vice president Joseph Hummel downloaded reams of “sensitive and highly confidential business information” to help La Cima Restaurants, an Atlanta-based firm that plans to help build 35 Twin Peaks stores across the Southeast.

Both chains are known for scantily clad women serving casual food... “The casual dining industry operates on extremely thin profit margins,” it said. “As a result, every operational advantage … is a jealously guarded business secret.”

...Even after his last day, Hummel was still able to download documents from company servers and transmit them through his personal email account because the company forgot to block his access, it said.

All told, the lawsuit said, Hummel took “well over 500 pages of highly sensitive business information and trade secrets” from Hooters. (more)

Is that runny nose a cold, or just a new message coming in?

via our West Coast ghost... 
Espionage just got a little more sophisticated and scientific. Invisible ink? Decoder rings? Lemon juice? Puh-lease -- that's mere child's play compared to what double agents scientists at Tufts University just created.

Now secret messages can be hidden in genetically engineered bacteria, thanks to a new method called steganography by printed arrays of microbes, or SPAM. Developed by chemistry professor David Walt and his cloak-and-dagger team of researchers, this new method uses an assortment of E. coli strains modified with fluorescent proteins that glow in seven colors.

Multiply that number by the two colors each message character is encoded with, and spies like us have more than 49 possible code combinations. That's enough for the alphabet, plus digits 0 to 9, with room left over for a few extra symbols...

It is also possible to develop bacteria that lose their fluorescent properties over time, creating a message that self-destructs in the style of Mission Impossible. (more)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Business Espionage: Bus Staff Bus'ted

Australia - Two senior staff members admitted downloading sensitive company information from Torrens Transit before taking management roles at new bus operator Transfield, their former employer claims.

The two men were accused of downloading confidential documents including suppliers' names, contact details, rosters and costings, resulting in the men being banned from Torrens Transit sites for life.

There have been claims that the life bans on the men exacerbated the chaos that ensued for passengers after this week's handover of services to Transfield. (more)

SpyCam Story #624 - A Bad Aim

CO - A jury on Thursday convicted a Durango man of felony stalking for secretly videotaping his housesitter and her boyfriend.

Mark “Steve” Brown, 57, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were announced. Wearing a suit and tie, he dabbed his eyes with a tissue shortly after the courtroom emptied. He remains free on $5,000 bail.

Brown, also known by his nickname Downtown Steve Brown, was found guilty on two counts of felony stalking, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct and two counts of invasion of privacy...

Brown set up covert cameras to record his housesitter while he worked as a civilian military contractor in South Korea... The cameras, which resembled motion detectors, recorded the housesitter and her boyfriend in various states of undress, including having sexual intercourse... Brown argued the cameras were for security...

Deputy District Attorney Justin Fay said Brown knowingly videotaped his housesitter for personal gratification without her consent. He asked jurors to consider the camera angles, especially the one in the bedroom that was pointed directly at the bed. (more)

Man Admitted Installing Spying Program

PA - A Pottstown man accused of illegally intercepting his father’s emails prior to his 2008 murder told investigators he had installed a program on two family computers that relayed keystrokes and other information on a daily basis, according to testimony given Thursday.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Robert Levan said Parth Ingle, 25, had told him in 2008 that he had installed a keystroke-logging program called eBlaster on the family computer in 2004 and on a subsequent family computer sometime in 2007.

According to Levan, Parth Ingle said his mother, Bhavnaben Ingle, told him in 2003 or 2004 that her husband had been unfaithful, but did not say his mother had directed him to install the software.

Parth and his sister, Avnee Ingle, 28, also of Pottstown, are accused of intercepting 15 emails between their father and women with whom he was believed to be having affairs.

No one has ever been charged with killing Arunkumar Ingle, whose beating and stabbing death at his Middletown home in January 2008 remains unsolved. (more)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Russia Accuses China of Spying (we're shocked)

Russia’s spy service has announced that it had arrested a Chinese citizen for allegedly attempting to steal secrets about the country’s missile system.  

The Russian statement came after a top American lawmaker accused China of exercising "an intolerable level" of espionage against the US, ABC News reports.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said a Chinese citizen, Tong Shenyun, who pretended to be an official delegations’ translator, was working under the Chinese Government to buy "technical and repair documentation” about Russia''s S-300 missile system. 

China has so far not given response to the report, but officials have repeatedly condemned the hacking accusations against their country as "groundless."  (more)

Thus Clinching the Less Exciting than Watching Grass Grow Prize

Click to enlarge
Research scientists focused on the impact of climate change on the Himalaya have installed a new webcam to keep an eye on Mt. Everest. 

The high-definition camera is part of a larger initiative called SHARE, or "Stations at High Altitude for Research on the Environment," which hopes to track the retreating glaciers on the world's tallest peak – something that is already having a profound effect on the region. (more) (spycam)

EU restricts export of eavesdropping technology

The European Parliament has revised EU rules on the export of so-called dual-use technologies with an aim of restricting those that can be used to violate human rights.

Until now the export of products that had both civilian and military applications was not subjected to any EU authorization system, leaving the decision on the export of potentially dangerous technologies up to the member states.

The legislative resolution by Jrg Leichtfried, Austrian member of parliament for the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) party, prohibits a general EU approval for the export of telecommunications technologies that can be used to violate human rights, democratic principles or freedom of speech. The revision was made for "interception technologies and digital data transfer devices for monitoring mobile phones and text messages and targeted surveillance of internet use," the European Parliament (EP) said in a press release. (more)

Friday, October 7, 2011

5 Google Privacy Settings You Should Check

In our recent story on the privacy risks of using technology, we called out some of Google's products as potential privacy leaks. But Google also has some excellent tools you might not be familiar with that help preserve your privacy. Here are five tools you should be using... (more)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Too Much Hacking - Based on Too Few Discoveries

The chairman of the House intelligence committee on Tuesday launched a broadside against the Chinese government and its efforts to steal commercial data and other intellectual property online, saying that Beijing's cyber-espionage campaign has “reached an intolerable level” and that the United States and its allies have an “obligation to confront Beijing and demand that they put a stop to this piracy.” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) noted that it might seem odd that a lawmaker charged with overseeing the U.S. intelligence community should lament spying by another government. But he said that China's espionage activities now extend beyond the U.S. government and military to include scores of private American companies. (more

Unfortunately, it's never this obvious.
Out of the last 50 forensic investigations that information security company Mandiant has conducted, 48 of the businesses involved didn't know they'd been breached until informed by law enforcement agencies, Mandiant CEO Kevin Mandia told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. (more)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We'll miss you Steve

Steve Jobs, the visionary in the black turtleneck who co-founded Apple in a Silicon Valley garage, built it into the world's leading tech company and led a mobile-computing revolution with wildly popular devices such as the iPhone, died Wednesday. He was 56. (more)

"Steve Jobs has been called the Edison of our time." Derek Thompson, Senior Editor - The Atlantic (August 25, 2011)

Autumn in New York city, when the spies bloom...

Even before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad finished his incendiary rant (last year), U.S. diplomats marched out of the cavernous U.N. hall in protest and were ready with a written statement condemning his comments.

It was as if the U.S. knew exactly what Ahmadinejad intended to say.

The walkout hinted at one of the well-known but seldom spoken truths about the United Nations: The international organization, which was founded in the name of peace and security, is also a hotbed of spying and clandestine operations, where someone might very well be listening to your conversations and monitoring your emails — or perhaps reading your speeches in advance.

The start of the General Assembly each year is the Super Bowl of the U.N. spy games. (more)

Confessions of a domestic spy victim...

"Throughout my 9 year marriage my husband has spied on me using various techniques i.e. putting spyware on my iphone, hiding audio recording devices in my car, putting software on my computers to find out my passwords so that he could read my email. I need to say that I have never cheated on him, never. Every time I find out that he's spied on me we get in a huge fight which results in him promising that he'll never violate my privacy again. But what he does each time is only tell me part of the truth i.e. he says he figured out my iphone password which let him see my texts but in actuality he jailbroke my phone and purchased a spyware package to be able to track my gps, read all my texts, etc. I recently found out, yet again, about more lies and spying. He promises, yet again, to never do this again. What should/can I do? I love him and can definitely understand some of his insecurities (we both suffer from insecurity-I just don't get into his stuff) but I can't handle being lied to and violated. Plus-this type of behavior makes me think that HE'S know (and I did also just find out that he has been secretly looking at internet porn and paying for it)? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I posted this thread here because I DO think that he has a type of "spying addiction". Thanks." (more)

It is easy to believe that spying is an exciting and glamorous business. It is not. For every spy there is a victim, be it a business that loses money and marketplace, or a real person who is crushed by having their privacy and trust abused.

Playground Wiretapping Showdown - No Contest

PA - A Bucks County man who was facing wiretapping charges has made a plea. Nick Scott of Richland Township has pleaded no contest to intercepting communication, and was sentenced to a year of probation. He also can't have any contact with Joe Murgia, the man he was accused of recording a conversation with. Murgia is the Quakertown Public Works Manager. Scott complained to him about conditions at Panther Playground. (more)

Security Director Briefing: Inspecting Aircraft to Detect Electronic Eavesdropping Devices

More and more of our clients are asking me to inspect their corporate aircraft for eavesdropping devices. Trips to closed countries top the list of concerns for many of them.

There has also been a rise in general questions coming from other organizations. They are just beginning to realize the seriousness of this privacy vulnerability.

Their questions range from:
• "How is an inspection performed?"
• "Is scheduling and doing an inspection a difficult process?"
• "I am preparing a presentation for management and need a few more specific reasons to inspect. What do you suggest?"
• "We sometimes park in a semi-public hanger [or an untrusted foreign airport]. Do you have any suggestions?"

Sometimes I am out traveling and unavailable to answer questions. This prompted me to create a general briefing sheet for security directors who call me. It provides some instant answers my staff can send via email. 

If you have corporate jets or helicopters to protect, please feel free to help yourself to a copy of my briefing. No sign-in required. Just download the pdf file. When you decide to conduct your inspections, please give me a call (908-832-7900). ~Kevin

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kenya Intelligence Service Wants What Everyone Else Has

Here's a quaint notion... 

Tourist testing indigenous eavesdropping device.
Kenya - Imagine living in a country where Government operatives eavesdrop into your telephone calls at will. (Hard to imagine a country where they can't.) They listen to your intimate chat with a friend and snoop into a briefing with your boss.

Intelligence officers raid your home without a warrant, perform searches, cart away items and plant eavesdropping devices.

Scary as it may seem, this could become reality if the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) has its way. (more)

Movie Review - The Man Nobody Knew

William Colby was, frankly, a nerd—but a nerd with a mission. He was a lifelong spy, or, perhaps more properly, a spymaster, who rose through the ranks of the CIA to become its director and something of a martyr to the cause of not letting the right hand know what the left hand was doing. 

His son, Carl Colby, has now made a fascinating documentary that seeks to unravel the mysteries of, as his title would have it, “The Man Nobody Knew.” Good luck with that. You leave the film knowing next to nothing about the man, but with the suspicion that he was a psychopath of secrecy, a man devoted to his job, of course, but essentially friendless and utterly detached from normal human feelings. (more) (trailer)

Rowan Atkinson back as spoof spy Johnny English

Rowan Atkinson is back as bumbling spy Johnny English in the sequel to his 2003 hit... In Johnny English Reborn, "the improbable secret agent" is called back into action when his superiors learn the Chinese premier's life is in danger... Early reviews have been mixed to poor, according to critic tracker (more)