Friday, February 22, 2013

Security Scrapbook Reader's Question - Spy School

Q. "I really enjoy your articles. Let me ask you: Would a spy school go over here in the U.S.?"

A. It probably would. There are plenty of people - from kiddies to Mitty's - who think spying is cool, albeit illegal. Training is probably not illegal, just implementing the skills. 

I educate my clients on spying techniques, just so they know what to look out for. Being aware helps them protect themselves against spying. 

Come to think of it, we are one of the very few countries whose government spy agencies do not support the private sector with the business intel they collect. Perhaps there is a spy school niche market, to help us level the international economic playing field. Hummm... Just don't have your Bonds reporting to HR or Facilities, like the security departments I see in some corporations.

Examples of spy schools, games and books... (game for kids)

Spy School (book for kids) 
Another Spy School (book for kids)
So You Want to Be A Spy (book for kids)
So you want to be an industrial spy? (rare, out of print)
The Complete Idiot's Guide to the CIA (book)
Spy's Secret Handbook (Project X Top Secret) (book for kids) 

It's True! This Book is Bugged (book for kids) 
How to be a Spy: The World War II SOE Training Manual
The Spycraft Manual: The Insider's Guide to Espionage Techniques

The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception
The Spy's Handbook: Learn How To Spy On Anyone At Anytime Without Getting Caught By Using Spy Gadgets And Other... 


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Business Espionage - Quote of the Month

“This is an absolute tidal wave of criminal activity, and we’re not even scratching the surface. We are literally having our nation systematically stolen out from under us.”

 Brett Kingstone, a one-time victim of trade secret theft and writer of The Real War Against America, a book that details how his start-up company was crippled by the theft of trade secrets related to LED lighting. (more)


A technology called Legal Intercept that Microsoft hopes to patent would allow the company to secretly intercept, monitor and record Skype calls. And it's stoking privacy concerns. (more)

We're shocked. q.v. - Yesterday's story.

Express Scripts vs. E&Y - Trade Secret Theft Allegations

Express Scripts Inc. sued the accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP and one of its partners for the alleged theft of trade secrets and misappropriation of the pharmacy benefit manager’s confidential and proprietary data.

The Express Scripts Holding Co. unit said in a complaint filed yesterday in state court in Clayton, Missouri, that it learned last year that accounting firm partner Don Gravlin had been “sneaking” into its St. Louis headquarters and e-mailing documents to a private Google account via the account of an Ernst & Young consultant...

The accountants allegedly took the equivalent of more than 20,000 pages of data, including pricing information, business strategy, projections and “performance metrics” documents, to aid development of Ernst & Young’s own health-care business segment, which includes Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions Inc., which it acquired last year, as well as some of their competitors. (more)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

U.S. Unveils New Strategy to Combat Trade-Secret Theft

The White House unveiled a new strategy to exert pressure on China and other countries that engage in corporate espionage against the U.S. as part of a new Obama administration push to counter cyberattacks and commercial spying.

The strategy, released Wednesday in a report that was the subject of a White House meeting, raised the prospect of stepped-up U.S. trade restrictions on products and services derived from stolen trade secrets. Officials also outlined a series of diplomatic actions to reinforce the administration's commitment to curbing such thefts.

The new push comes on the heels of fresh revelations of Chinese cyberspying and represents an effort by Washington to respond to growing complaints about theft of military and corporate secrets, with a number of the allegations focusing on China. (more)  

Trade restrictions and diplomatic actions are historically ineffective, not to mention unrealistic and counterproductive when trying to develop a global economy. These hand slaps are likely viewed as a cost of stealing doing business. Reward outweighs punishment. 

The missing element in intellectual property protection... 
Holding caretakers responsible. If your information would hurt the country if stolen, there should be a legal duty to protect that information. Add that element to trade restrictions and diplomatic actions, and you may just have a workable counterespionage strategy. Hey, it works for the other guys. (more)

P.S. "Promote Voluntary Best Practices by Private Industry to Protect Trade Secrets" (Section 2 of the report) is both vague and voluntary. It will never be adopted. Why? Two words... Risk Analysis. Think HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley would work if they were just voluntary best practices?

Don't get me started.

Skype Plebes Petition Redmond Patricians

A coalition of activists, privacy organizations, journalists, and others have called upon Microsoft to be more forthright about when, why, and to whom it discloses information about Skype users and their communications.

In an open letter published on Thursday, the group argues that Redmond's statements about the confidentiality of Skype conversations have been "persistently unclear and confusing," casting the security and privacy of the Skype platform in doubt...

The group claims that both Microsoft and Skype have refused to answer questions about what kinds of user data the service retains, whether it discloses such data to governments, and whether Skype conversations can be intercepted. (more)

"more forthright" 
"in doubt" 

The original Skype-in-the-wild was viewed as high security privacy tool. Guess who didn't like that. Guess why Skype was "bought" in from the wild and given adult supervision. (Think Spypke.)

Post de facto petitioning is painful to watch. If you want privacy, you need to start much earlier in the game. It begins with self-reliance.  

Example: You don't see smart corporations sitting around waiting for 'the government' or some free software to protect their information. No, they take proactive measures like TSCM and IT security. They don't wait and whine later.

Yet Another Teleconference Eavesdrop (with recommendations)

Alaska’s largest statewide commercial fishing trade association announced (it will) request Alaska authorities to investigate what they say was unauthorized eavesdropping of their United Fishermen of Alaska private teleconference by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association's office.

According to UFA Interim President Bruce Wallace, on January 17, 2013 the United Fishermen of Alaska, representing 34 member organizations, held a private teleconference. 

In addition to 25 UFA Board members, UFA alleges an individual or individuals at the offices of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) was also on the line during the private teleconference.

This allegation was later confirmed by the teleconference vendor, who provided a phone log, which included a phone number registered to the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) office. KRSA is not affiliated with UFA in any way. (more) (REAL Spy Fishing)

A reminder to our clients, and a free sample for potential clients...

Murray's Teleconferencing Checklist

     • Change all current passcodes, now.
     • Prohibit employees from mass e-mailing or posting passcodes.

Switch to a conference call system with accountability features...
     • each participant is given a unique passcode,
     • the passcode is changed for each new conference call,

     • only the pre-authorized number of callers may be admitted,
     • and a record of all call participants is available to the call leader.

Send Employees for Counterespionage Training? Brilliant!

Russia - Reviving the Soviet cult of vigilance in the digital age, the administration of Russia’s second biggest city launched a tender to teach its officials the basics of combating technological espionage.

A hand-picked cadre of 25 civilian bureaucrats in St. Petersburg will train in ways of “countering foreign technical intelligence services and technical data protection,” according to the tender’s description... The course would last for 108 hours and end in a test. The tender has a price tag of 727,000 rubles ($24,000)...
In December, the administration of St. Petersburg – headed by Governor Gennady Poltavchenko, also a former KGB officer – also contracted anti-espionage companies to look for covert listening devices in its offices, city news website reported. (more)

The ROI on this should be tremendous. 
Every organization should be so smart. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

United States Intelligence Community - Virtual Career Fair

The United States Intelligence Community (IC) invites you to attend the fourth annual IC Virtual Career Fair - a free online event - on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern). 

Space is limited. To guarantee entrance, pre-registration is highly encouraged. Reserve your spot today!

Don't miss this opportunity to learn about IC careers and get tips on how to apply for positions.

The following agencies and components will be participating in the 2013 IC Virtual Career Fair:
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
FBI Language Services Section (FBI LSS)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
National Security Agency (NSA)
National Virtual Translation Center (NVTC)

Weird Security News of the Week

Japanese police believe they have finally caught the man behind an extraordinary malware campaign that included taunting police in January by sending them clues on an SD card strapped to a cat.

According to TV station NHK, 30 year-old Yusuke Katayama was picked up after Tokyo police accessed CCTV pictures that showed the accused near the animal not long before the memory card was retrieved from its collar.

It later emerged that police had attempted to coerce confessions from four of the innocent suspects which led to a hugely embarrassing climbdown when they were shown to be uninvolved.

Disturbing messages were also received by a lawyer in Tokyo and a TV station threatening suicide, backed up by a picture of an anime doll inside a noose made from Ethernet cable. (more)

More strange security news...
Ex employee wiped financial data from bikini bar
Fugitive John McAfee taunts police as he evades capture
Burglar unintentionally films robber while using iPhone as flashlight

Mechanic Hits Emails at Rival Limo Firm

A Las Vegas limousine company executive was convicted Friday of hacking into the emails of his former employer. 

John Sinagra, vice president and general manager of VIP Limousines of Nevada, was indicted last year on charges of obtaining information from a protected computer and aggravated identity theft.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Sinagra, who once was charged as a mob hitman in a sensational New York murder case, hacked into the emails of rival Las Vegas Limousines, owned by Frias Transportation, and stole key information. (more) (The Mechanic)

Hobby Drones Under Fire

On Dec. 26, a grand jury handed down several indictments against the owners of the Columbia Packing Company for dumping pig blood into a creek. They now face hefty fines and even prison time stemming from the water pollution, and the plant has since been shuttered. 

Neighbors had complained about noxious fumes and other issues for a while, according to the local news. But investigators didn’t get involved until this drone pilot took his pictures.

Under a new law proposed in the Texas legislature, sponsored by a lawmaker from the Dallas suburbs, this type of activity could soon be criminal. Not the pollution--the drone. (more)

And from down under...
One Tasmanian man is using a drone to help take video in tricky places and some of the video has gone viral. (video)

A UAV Alternate POV

Cute animated video from The New York Times... (more)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Two Princesses in a Bug House

GLOBE reveals that the royal couple’s new home, Kensington Palace, is bugged, and it seems that Camilla Parker-Bowles is the prime suspect for bugger. 

According to the cover of GLOBE’s current edition, February 18, two listening devices were discovered right inside the couple’s apartments. In this royal bombshell GLOBE will explain exactly how and where the royal bugs were discovered and why suspicion naturally fell on evil Camilla.

Now that the bugs have been discovered and removed what will Camilla do? Do you think that there are other listening devices spying on the royal couple? (more)

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

She was so concerned about eavesdropping that she called in a four-man team to carry out a search for listening devices.

The check was ordered in May 1993 after the princess expressed fears that her conversations were being monitored...

But it went disastrously wrong when police detained the security firm's workers, who had arrived at the palace posing as carpet-fitters...

She had her butler Paul Burrell and his colleague Harold Brown - later both cleared of stealing from her after her death - arrange for the de-buggers to access the palace without the police knowing.

They gained access to the palace by claiming to be from a carpet firm. The secret mission was only discovered-when one of the team went to the palace gate house and asked for access to mainframe telephone equipment located in the engineers' room next to the police gate house.

Officers became suspicious and realised that the team from Moran Security Support Services Ltd had been contracted to "de-bug" the royal apartment. (more)

If the competition isn't bugging you, they are probably doing this...

Interesting read...
A competitive intelligence consultant discusses things that can help a business--at the expense of another. (more)

Report Recommends a TSCM Sweep of City Hall

According to the report*, many staff members worry there are bugs in city hall that an exterminator cannot remove.

So much so, that one of the official recommendations is to sweep city hall.  

"The Council should retain an outside firm to conduct a sweep of City Hall for bugs or other surveillance or electronic devices," the report reads. "While it is doubtful that any such devices exist in City Hall, there is a clear and present perception among staff that the facility is not secure and possibly bugged. Many employees in the City have resorted to the use of their personal cell phones and often leave the premises to discuss sensitive matters. A sweep of City facilities would help restore confidence in the security and privacy of the City buildings."

The findings of fact revealed that "based on credible and objective evidence, Police Chief Debra Duncan secretly tape recorded former City Manager Wayne Herron." (more)

* The rest of the story...
"the report" aka "The Fox Report" - "Attorney Anthony Fox led the team of two attorneys, Sarah Hutchins and Mary Crosby. They interviewed about 24 people, including current and former employees." "The report cost $50,000." 

A sweep of the sensitive City Hall areas would have cost less than 1/4 of that. ~Kevin

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Law Proposed to Let Parents Wiretap Kids

An Ohio lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would allow parents to wiretap their child’s cell phone conversations to be used in court.

Under the bill, only parents or guardians would be allowed to track online or cell phone communications of a minor under the age of 18. (more)

Groundbreaking Encryption App is a Fed Freaker

For the past few months, some of the world’s leading cryptographers have been keeping a closely guarded secret about a pioneering new invention. Today, they’ve decided it’s time to tell all. 

Back in October, the startup tech firm Silent Circle ruffled governments’ feathers with a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts easily. Now, the company is pushing things even further—with a groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app that will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button. (For now, it’s just being released for iPhones and iPads, though Android versions should come soon.) That means photographs, videos, spreadsheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds. 

Click to enlarge.
This has never been done before,” boasts Mike Janke, Silent Circle’s CEO. “It’s going to revolutionize the ease of privacy and security.” 

The sender of the file can set it on a timer so that it will automatically “burn”—deleting it from both devices after a set period of, say, seven minutes. Until now, sending encrypted documents has been frustratingly difficult for anyone who isn’t a sophisticated technology user, requiring knowledge of how to use and install various kinds of specialist software. 

What Silent Circle has done is to remove these hurdles, essentially democratizing encryption. It’s a game-changer that will almost certainly make life easier and safer for journalists, dissidents, diplomats, and companies trying to evade state surveillance or corporate espionage. Governments pushing for more snooping powers, however, will not be pleased. (more)

Authorities... "No probing all the way. Promise."

The U.K. plans to install an unspecified number of spy devices along the country’s telecommunications network to monitor Britons’ use of overseas services such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a report published Tuesday by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

The devices — referred to as “probes” in the report — are meant to underpin a nationwide surveillance regime aimed at logging nearly everything Britons do online, from Skype calls with family members to visits to pornographic websites. The government argues that swift access to communications data is critical to the fight against terrorism and other high-level crime.

Authorities have been at pains to stress that they’re not seeking unfettered access to the content of emails or recordings of phone calls, but rather what many have described as “outside of the envelope” information: Who sends a message, where and how it is sent, and who receives it. (more) ...for now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Business Espionage - Sentences Short - Fines Small

MO - A Chinese business owner and one of his employees have pleaded guilty in Missouri to conspiring to steal trade secrets from a U.S. company, in what one expert called a rare example of foreign business people being successfully prosecuted for corporate spying.

Ji Li Huang, 45, and Xiao Guang Qi, 32, admitted Friday, Jan 25 in federal court that they tried to buy Pittsburgh Corning Corp.’s proprietary formula for cellular glass insulation by bribing an employee of the company’s Sedalia plant.

U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes sentenced Huang to 18 months in federal prison and fined him $250,000. Qi — Huang’s employee at a plastic novelties manufacturer called Ningbo Oriental Crafts Ltd. — was sentenced to time served and fined $20,000, with the understanding that he would leave the United States immediately. Both men paid their fines Friday, The Kansas City Star reported. (more)

British Army Unveils New Mini Spy Drone

The British army has demonstrated a new tiny spy drone as the latest weapon against Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

Soldiers from the Brigade Reconnaissance Force at Camp Bastion demonstrated the eight-inch long plastic moulded drone, which has three cameras hidden inside its nose and weighs just 15 grams.

Codenamed the Black Hornet, the tiny aircraft is being used by British troops against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The small flying machine, which has a smooth grey body and twin black rotors, can either be controlled directly or programmed to fly to a given set of co-ordinates and then return to base after carrying out its spy missions. (more)

Two sneaky Android apps have been detected...

The apps cloaks as cache cleaners but instead snoop around once connected to PC. Superclean and DroidCleaner are the two applications uncovered by Kaspersky Labs. Both feature clean-up of Android phone or tablet cache files.

The so-called "cleaners" promise to make devices faster and to increase processing but turns out to download three separate files - autorun.inf, folder.ico, and svchosts.exe. These components are automatically placed in the root of the device's SD card, and once the user connects it to the computer using USB mode, the malware begins to execute itself.

The malware activates the desktop microphone, encrypts all recording, and send all gathered information back to the developer of the malicious application according to Kaspersky. Aside from infecting the PC, the malware also uploads Android device's information, opens arbitrary browser links, uploads and deletes SMS, and distributes contacts, photos, and coordinates online. (more)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Wave Of Hidden Cameras Make Spying Easy

It’s becoming easier than ever to keep an eye on spouses, children, business partners, and nannies with a new wave of spy gear.

Note: The spy gadgets are real, and work very well — the 'antidote' gadgets used to protect against them, not so well. Save your money. 

Need protection? Find a professional electronic countermeasures specialist. Invest your money with them. Need help finding one? Check here. ~Kevin

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spy vs. Spy vs. Judge Leonie

A former CIA officer who pleaded guilty to identifying a covert intelligence officer was sentenced on Friday to 30 months in prison.

John Kiriakou and prosecutors agreed on the term as part of the plea agreement he struck in October.

Kiriakou, 48, declined to make a statement at the Alexandria, Virginia, federal court prior to sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema. "Alright, perhaps you've already said too much," Brinkema said. (more)

See What Drones See

These unmanned flying robots–some as large as jumbo jets, others as small as birds–do things straight out of science fiction. 

Much of what it takes to get these robotic airplanes to fly, sense, and kill has remained secret. But now, with rare access to drone engineers and those who fly them for the U.S. military, NOVA reveals the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful as we see how a remotely-piloted drone strike looks and feels from inside the command center.

From cameras that can capture every detail of an entire city at a glance to swarming robots that can make decisions on their own to giant air frames that can stay aloft for days on end, drones are changing our relationship to war, surveillance, and each other. And it's just the beginning. Discover the cutting edge technologies that are propelling us toward a new chapter in aviation history as NOVA gets ready for "Rise of the Drones." 

Sneak preview...

The full program is available on-line. ~Kevin

Experts warn on wire-tapping of the cloud

Leading privacy expert Caspar Bowden has warned Europeans using US cloud services that their data could be snooped on.

In a report, he highlights how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendment Act (FISAAA) allows US authorities to spy on cloud data.

This includes services such as Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud and Google Drive.

He told the BBC this heralded a new era of "cloud surveillance". (more)

Man held on suspicion of business espionage

UK - A 52-YEAR-OLD man was arrested yesterday in Oxfordshire on suspicion of business espionage. The Metropolitan Police Service made the arrest as part of Operation Tuleta, an investigation into criminal breaches of privacy... The arrest, the 20th in Operation Tuleta, is part of the Kalmyk investigative strand of inquiry relating to computer hacking offenses. (more)

New Report: Drones Could Be Used for Stalking, Voyeurism

The sight of a drone in flight is likely to become a regular occurrence in the United States within the next few years. But the rise of unmanned technology could lead to new crimes like “drone stalking” and “drone trespassing,” lawmakers are being told. 

A Congressional Research Service report published Wednesday, Integration of Drones Into Domestic Airspace: Selected Legal Issues, sets out the many contentious areas around unmanned aircraft. It cautions that in the future, as drones become more easily available to private citizens, we may see the technology used to commit various offenses. This could mean neighbors using drones to infiltrate one another’s gardens as a means of harassment, or a voyeur using one strapped with a camera and microphone to photograph women and listen in on people’s conversations.

“Traditional crimes such as stalking, harassment, voyeurism, and wiretapping may all be committed through the operation of a drone,” the report says. “As drones are further introduced into the national airspace, courts will have to work this new form of technology into their jurisprudence, and legislatures might amend these various statutes to expressly include crimes committed with a drone.”

Of particular note is a section in the report titled “Right To Protect Property From Trespassing Drones.” It outlines that in certain instances, under a section of tort law, “a landowner would not be liable to the owner of a drone for damage necessarily or accidentally resulting from removing it from his property.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can “use force”—like shooting the thing down—if someone flies an unmanned aircraft onto your property. But it does mean you could remove a drone from your property without resorting to force, and if it were “accidentally” damaged in that process, you might not be in trouble. (more)

Alerts sent in by our Blue Blaze Irregulars this week...

• "Time to take the glue gun to your USB ports." Data exfiltration using a USB keyboard. 

• "Dust off your information security policy (or start putting one in place…)" Do you have a comprehensive information security program? Many businesses are still operating without one, leaving them open to preventable data breaches.
• "Enough already: encrypt those portable devices" The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it had reached a settlement with a cord blood bank in respect of the loss of nearly 300,000 customers’ personal information. ...The information had been stored on unencrypted backup tapes, an external hard drive and a laptop that were stolen from a backpack left in an employee’s car.

• “This call may be recorded” - Ninth Circuit says disclaimer not always necessary. But it’s still a good idea! 

• "Man cleared of spying on his wife via computer software..." His attorney argued that prosecutors could not prove why Ciccarone used the software.

• "Nestlégate" Court convicts Nestle of "spying" on Swiss activists. (vintage commercial)

Friday, February 1, 2013

From the Business Spy's Toolkit - NoteMark

Unlike other miniature scanners, the NoteMark is equipped with a 5-megapixel sensor with an auto-focus lens that can capture an image instantly. Twisting the top of the pen readies the sensor, while a button on the side activates the shutter.

The sensor is capable of digitizing just about any information put in front of it, from a small blurb in a magazine to an entire whiteboard of notes. Each picture is captured as a sharp 2048 x 1536-resolution JPEG and stored in the pen's 1GB of flash memory, which can hold up to 1,000 images. The pen also features a microphone and can record up to 1,000 one-minute voice clips in WAV format.

It takes one hour to fully charge the scanner through USB, which gives it enough power to take about 300 images. Once the images or audio clips are saved, you can access them by plugging the NoteMark into any Mac or PC and even sync them across computers and mobile devices using software from Evernote.

It's a fairly simple device, but one that could no doubt save a lot of time and hassle for both office workers and James Bond alike. ($124.95)