Sunday, June 30, 2013

Number of federal wiretaps rose 71 percent in 2012

The number of wiretaps secured in federal criminal investigations jumped 71 percent in 2012 over the previous year, according to newly released figures.

Federal courts authorized 1,354 interception orders for wire, oral and electronic communications, up from 792 the previous year, according to the figures, released Friday by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. There was a 5 percent increase in state and local use of wiretaps in the same period. (more)

Stealth Wear for the Reg Blank in All of Us

The Tin Foil Hat folks have upgraded for the 21st Century. 
New types of stealth clothing are being developed. 
They thwart video and infrared surveillance techniques.  

Here is a brief rundown...

Stealth sunglasses.


Stealth handbag.

Stealth cap.

Stealth clothing.

TV Hat (More for video viewing rather than video stealth, but worth a peek :)

"What's a Reg Blank?" I hear you say... 
Reg is a "blank", a person not indexed in the government's database. (more) (video)
He sez... "All day every day, making tomorrow seem like yesterday."

Need a Tin Foil Hat to go with all your new anti-there gear? Check here.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Video Game Steeped in Surveillance, Wiretapping and SpyCaming

One of several surveillance-related games at E3, "Watch Dogs" casts players as Aiden Pearce, a vigilante who can tap into security cameras and listen in on phone calls across a virtual rendition of an automated Chicago...

The timing of "Watch Dogs" is remarkable in light of recent revelations about the National Security Agency's controversial data-collection programs. They were revealed in media stories by The Guardian and The Washington Post, leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden

Is "Watch Dogs" a case of a video game imitating life — or the other way around? (more)

Friday, June 28, 2013

SpyCam in Restaurant Can - "Don't like it? Don't go to the restroom!"

A visit to a restroom is usually a private thing but some customers at a Texas restaurant say that’s not the case. This comes after one man discovered a security camera in the restroom of Wolfie’s restaurant in Lake Conroe.

It’s not the place you’d expect to be under surveillance but the management says it’s for safety. The cameras are high up above the door so customers do not see them until they are about to exit.

There is a sign posted in the hallway stating the reason for the cameras but legal experts say it should not be done.

Management was asked about the tactic and they say it’s because some customers have destroyed property.

They also said if patrons do not like the cameras they do not have to go to the restroom. (more)

Spybusters Tip #543 - On "High Tech" Car Burglars

The news media is overflowing with reports of "High Tech" car burglars. They appear to be opening locked cars while holding a "black box" which "has police all over the nation stumped as to how it works."

Here, at the Spybusters Countermeasures Compound, we believe the black box is nothing more than a radio signal jammer. 

The thief is nearby when the person locks their car using a wireless fob. They interfere with the locking signal and the car never really locks. Once the owner walks away, they strike.

Spybusters Tip #543: When locking your car, make sure you test that it is really locked before walking way. This is especially important if you see anyone nearby. (sing-a-long)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Undercover Video Checks Government Waste

Undercover video shot in May by a conservative activist shows two corporate distributors of free cell phones handing out the mobile devices to people who have promised to sell them for drug money, to buy shoes and handbags, to pay off their bills, or just for extra spending cash.

The 'Obama phone,' which made its ignominious YouTube debut outside a Cleveland, Ohio presidential campaign event last September, is a project of the Federal Communications Commission's 'Lifeline' program, which makes land line and mobile phones available to Americans who meet low-income requirements. Lifeline was a $2.19 billion program in 2012. (more)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Angelina Jolie Stunt Double's Wiretapping Lawsuit

Eunice Huthart, who says she worked as a stunt double for Angelina Jolie, has filed a lawsuit against News Corp. for intercepting her voice-mail messages. 

The complaint was filed in California last week and is believed to be the first claim brought by a victim in the U.S. over the ongoing hacking scandal that has been haunting Rupert Murdoch's company.

Several thousands of people have been identified as phone hacking victims and News Corp. has already paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement money. (more) (lawsuit)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Google Chrome Camera-Microphone Hijack Trick

An issue, previously fixed by Adobe in October 2011, has reappeared in Google Chrome and allows attackers to take control of webcams and microphones from Flash content. At its heart the problem is an old one: click-jacking.

The trick places a transparent Flash animation panel over an image and then makes the permissions dialog for accessing the webcam and microphone appear. All that is then needed is to convince the user to click on the right part of the image. In security consultant Egor Homakov's proof of concept this is done by using an image which suggests a possibly risque video is available for viewing and placing the play button where the "OK" button on the permissions dialog has been positioned. (more)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Amazon Has Everything... Even CIA Documents Soon

You can now add “spymaster” to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s various titles. On Friday June 14, a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report elaborated on previous reports that Amazon had won a $600 million contract to build a “private cloud” for the CIA...[on their employment site,] Amazon is looking for engineers who already have a “Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information” clearance, or are willing to go through the elaborate screening process required to get it. TS/SCI is the highest security clearance offered by the US government, and getting it requires having your background thoroughly vetted. (more)

I know what's going on my "Wish List". ~Kevin

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Run Your Own NSA with Your Old Phones and iOS Apps

Odds are, sometimes you wish you could check in on what’s happening around your home from your phone. Problem is, unless you regularly take a dip in your Scrooge McDuck money pool, decent remote-viewable camera technology is still an unaffordable luxury for most. It’s a premium feature for many alarm companies, even though the tech behind it is pretty old, and the prices on warehouse-store offerings can be steep.  

People Power’s Presence and Appologics’ Airbeam apps serve roughly the same purpose: repurposing iOS devices you already own into always-connected cameras that you can check in with anywhere. While similar on the surface, the underpinnings of the two apps are very different. We’ll shed some light on why this matters so you can decide which is right for you. (more)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"You know, it's just a Toys-r-Us kind of thing."

The FBI employs drones in domestic surveillance operations, Director Robert Mueller revealed, but said they were used in a "very, very minimal way."

Mr Mueller, in Senate testimony on Wednesday, acknowledged for the first time that the Federal Bureau of Investigation uses "very few" drones in a limited capacity for surveillance.  (more)

Friday, June 21, 2013

FREE - BYOD Policy Guidebook

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy Guidebook 

This policy guidebook was created to help guide you through the questions to ask and provide some best practices to consider when establishing your own BYOD policies. 

Your employees want to use their own mobile devices for work. This represents a tremendous opportunity for you to extend the benefits of mobile technology to all employees. As more companies embrace the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model, many questions arise. 

Offered Free by: SAP  (more)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

They Know Who You Are... and it ain't the NSA!

Many Internet advertisers rely on cookies, digital code stored on your browser. Some websites place multiple cookies when you visit, allowing them to track some of your activity over time (you can see who is tracking you by installing an application such as Ghostery or Abine’s “DoNotTrackMe”).

The problem for marketers is that some users set their browsers to reject cookies or quickly extinguish them. And mobile phones, which are taking an increasing chunk of the Web usage, do not use cookies.

To combat the cookie’s flaws, advertisers and publishers are increasingly turning to something called fingerprinting. This technique allows a web site to look at the characteristics of a computer such as what plugins and software you have installed, the size of the screen, the time zone, fonts and other features of any particular machine. These form a unique signature just like random skin patterns on a finger...

Fingerprinting may prove a more robust tracking technology than cookies because the user’s identify endures even if they erase their cookies. Making changes to your software and settings only makes you more identifiable, not less. An EFF study several years ago found that it is easy to track when someone changes their profiles by adding software updates, for example. You can see what details your computer is transmitting right now by visiting this site. (more)

Try it. You'll be amazed. ~Kevin

India Launches Wide-Ranging Surveillance Program

India has launched a wide-ranging surveillance program that will give its security agencies and even income tax officials the ability to tap directly into e-mails and phone calls without oversight by courts or parliament, several sources said.

The expanded surveillance in the world's most populous democracy, which the government says will help safeguard national security, has alarmed privacy advocates at a time when allegations of massive U.S. digital snooping beyond American shores has set off a global furor. (more)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quote of the Week - Orwell Got it Wrong

"And surveillance has become entertainment, most ironically in 'Big Brother' where people compete to be under constant scrutiny. More revealing than their narcissism is the audience's enthusiastic voyeurism, playing at Thought Police from the couch." — Peter Marks, Associate Professor, senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University Sydney. He is also a member of the Surveillance and Everyday Life Research Group

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Is Privacy Dead?" - A Question Older Than Many of You

Note the date...
Click to enlarge.
We are still worried about the same things...
Click to enlarge.

New Crowdsourcing App Logs All Street Cameras

You may not be able to control the privacy of your electronic data. But keeping yourself off security cameras? There’s an app for that.

A new crowdsourcing mapping app called Surv gives city dwellers a way to prepare themselves for that kind of privacy infringement by mapping where those cameras are and what they’re used for.

Currently in private beta-mode for New York (and raising money for a wider release on Kickstarter), the app encourages users to post the locations of security cameras around their cities, along with a description of the camera--whether it’s a traffic camera or a police camera, a dome camera or a shielded one. (more)

It was noted that during the recent Boston bombings the FBI asked businesses if they had security videos. One would think, keeping a database of public cameras (proactively) would be an essential part of "Homeland Security". This app might fill that vacuum. How ironic that privacy advocates will build it for them. ~Kevin

Friday, June 14, 2013

FutureWatch - Increased use of Private Search Engines

Traffic at the private search engines StartPage and Ixquick has dramatically increased this week as Internet users react to news of the PRISM data sharing program. Combined, the two search engines served 3.4 million direct private searches on Wednesday, an increase of 500,000 over last week. (more) 
FutureWatch: A rise in encryption usage, and a new search engine... GoogleSecure?

Spy News Bites

We're not the only ones...

Russia - President Vladimir Putin has defended the right by Russian special services to wiretap... “If this [wiretapping] is made within the framework of the law, by which the special services’ rules of conduct are guided, this is normal." (more)

Canada has also been electronically eavesdropping on Canadians and others, scouring global telephone records and Internet data for patterns of suspicious activity, a newspaper said Monday. (more)

Panama - A TV journalist and cameraman were detained by police while working on a story... about alleged government wiretaps. (more)

Former Bulgarian interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov was indicted Wednesday in connection with a scandal over the irregular wiretapping of top politicians and businessmen, sources said. (more)

Not to be left out...

DC - The IRS... is ordering surveillance equipment that includes hidden cameras in coffee trays, plants and clock radios. The IRS wants to secure the surveillance equipment quickly – it posted a solicitation on June 6 and is looking to close the deal by Monday, June 10. (more)

PA - The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would... add audio surveillance to security cameras already mounted in school buses. (more)

Taiwan - Taiwan's top intelligence body is seeking a change to the law to expand its power to conduct wiretapping in anti-espionage operations. (more) (copycats)

Nigeria - The Bayelsa (state) Government awarded a contract valued at N3.6 billion for electronic surveillance in the state... to the Chinese Firm, Wali... The governor appealed to residents of the state to cooperate with the contractors... (more)

Unintended Consequences...

NSA leaks will... significantly increase the level of state-sponsored economic espionage directed against American companies. (more)

Sales of George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 have skyrocketed following revelations about secret US spying on internet data. (more)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

'I listened to Marilyn die': Private eye who bugged Monroe's house reveals details...

Files shedding new light on Marilyn Monroe's last night alive and her relationships with President John F Kennedy and his younger brother Bobby have emerged 51 years after her death.

Documents belonging to the late Fred Otash, one of Hollywood's most notorious private detectives, were uncovered by his daughter Colleen after being found in a suburban storage unit. his notes, Otash claimed: 'I listened to Marilyn Monroe die.'

He recorded that on August 5 1962, she had a violent argument with the Kennedys and that she felt that she had been 'passed around like a piece of meat'.
The notes read: 'She was really screaming and they were trying to quiet her down.'

'She's in the bedroom and Bobby gets the pillow and he muffles her on the bed to keep the neighbors from hearing. She finally quieted down and then he was looking to get out of there.'

Otash only found out she had died later on.

A red filing cabinet that contained Otash's most sensitive material was removed from his apartment by his lawyer after he collapsed from an apparent heart attack. Its contents were never seen again. (more)

Cool but Off-Topic - Beer Bottle Record

19th Century technology meets 21st Century music over a bottle of beer in the latest extension to the Beck’s Record Label project. 

This time, the art label has evolved, and been replaced by the grooves of Auckland band Ghost Wave. Their new single was inscribed into the surface of a Beck’s beer bottle which could then be played on a specially-built device based on Thomas Edison’s original phonograph. 

Making the world’s first playable beer bottle was a formidable technical challenge. (more with video)

Top 10 iPhone Passwords

Time to change your password.
1. “1234”
2. “0000”
3. “2580”
4. “1111”
5. “5555”
6. “5683”
7. “0852”
8. “2222”
9. “1212”
10. “1998”

Oh, Number 6, it spells LOVE.

New "Surveillance-Industrial State" Book Coming

A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and investigative journalist is working on a book about the "surveillance-industrial state" that emerged after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Penguin Press announced Thursday that it had acquired a book by Barton Gellman, a contributing editor at large for Time magazine and a Washington Post reporter. The book, currently untitled, does not have a release date. (more)

Barton also has a great blog... CounterSpy

Cloak of Invisibility Emerges from the Labs

To make a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak requires the use of materials that have what's known as a negative refractive index over all optical wavelengths, from red to violet. 

You don't see yourself.
However, the artificially-structured optical materials from which cloaks are made thus far have been restricted to a very narrow range of optical wavelengths, limiting their ability to cloak over a range of colors. 

That obstacle to progress looks to be at an end, as a group of optical engineers at Stanford has succeeded in designing a broadband metamaterial that exhibits a negative refractive index over nearly the entire rainbow...

The broad bandwidth of the new Stanford metamaterial suggests that this new class of materials will one day allow the fabrication of invisibility cloaks that are truly invisible, at least to the human eye. Beyond this, the extraordinary freedom to control light with metamaterials is likely to lead to hordes of applications never previously imagined. (more) (original paper) (lab-shirt) (How to hide a bug from an IR viewer.)

Imagine the impact on eavesdropping and spying.

Spybusters Tip #631 - Top Four Anti-Surveillance Apps reported by Violet Blue for Zero Day.
Text Secure (
TextSecure encrypts your text messages over the air and on your phone. It's almost identical to the normal text messaging application, and is just as easy to use.

Red Phone (
RedPhone provides end-to-end encryption for your calls, securing your conversations so that nobody can listen in.

Onion Browser (Apple iTunes)
Onion Browser is a minimal web browser that encrypts and tunnels web traffic through the Tor onion router network and provides other tools to help browse the internet while maintaining privacy. 

Orbot (
Orbot is a "proxy app that empowers other apps to use the internet more securely. It uses Tor to encrypt Internet traffic and hide it by basically bouncing through a series of computers around the world; it is the official version of the Tor onion routing service for Android. (more)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thoughts on a PRISM Term

by James B. Rule, a sociologist and a scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

"THE revelation that the federal government has been secretly gathering records on the phone calls and online activities of millions of Americans and foreigners seems not to have alarmed most Americans... We privacy watchers and civil libertarians think this complacent response misses a deeply worrying political shift of vast consequence...

Institutions and techniques predictably outlive the intentions of their creators. J. Edgar Hoover went before Congress in 1931 to declare that “any employee engaged in wiretapping will be dismissed from the service of the bureau.” A few decades later, F.B.I. agents were in full pursuit of alleged Communist sympathizers, civil rights workers and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — using wiretapping, break-ins and other shady tactics.

We must also ask how far we want government to see into our private lives, even in the prevention and punishment of genuine wrongdoing. The promise that one especially egregious sort of crime (terrorism) can be predicted and stopped can tempt us to apply these capabilities to more familiar sorts of troublesome behavior.

Imagine that analysis of telecommunications data reliably identified failure to report taxable income. Who could object to exploiting this unobtrusive investigative tool, if the payoff were a vast fiscal windfall and the elimination of tax evasion? Or suppose we find telecommunications patterns that indicate the likelihood of child abuse or neglect. What lawmaker could resist demands to “do everything possible” to act on such intelligence — either to apprehend the guilty or forestall the crime.

Using surveillance for predictive modeling to prevent all sorts of undesirable or illegal behavior is the logical next step. These possibilities are by no means a fantastical slippery slope — indeed, the idea of pre-empting criminals before they act was envisioned by Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Minority Report,” later a movie starring Tom Cruise." (more)

Business Espionage - FBI Stops "Millions" from Flying Out of the U.S.

NJ - FBI agents arrested an engineer on Wednesday as he was preparing to return to India with trade secrets he allegedly stole from Becton, Dickinson and Co., the Franklin Lakes-based global medical technology company, authorities said.

B-D Patent from the late 1990's
Ketankumar "Ketan" Maniar, 36, an Indian national who lived in Mahwah until last week, had amassed a veritable tool kit for the manufacture of a new pen-like device for injecting drugs that was being developed by Becton Dickinson, authorities said...
 The stolen information was valued in the millions of dollars and could be used by Maniar to set up a new business or sold to a competitor...

If convicted, Maniar could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. (more)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quote of the Year - You Decide

Quote 1: "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."

Quote 2: "You can't come up against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will." (more - with video interview) 

From an interview with Edward Snowden, self-confessed Intelligence Community whistle-blower, now on the run.

Dead man running?
Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from the US whistleblower Edward Snowden... (more) (sing-a-long)

Guess Who Else is Scared of PRISM

Business and the advertising industry!

via... AdAge
Privacy legislation has been brewing in congress for years now, but a combination of public apathy and strong industry opposition has kept it at bay. Could the Prism data surveillance scandal become the watershed moment that propels it forward?

It's too soon to tell how revelations that the U.S. government has been mining web communications and phone logs will impact public opinion, but none of what the government has been implicated in doing would be possible if corporations weren't mining and storing consumer data, often for advertising purposes...
Of course, many in the ad industry hope this government data-gate serves as a foil to commercial data practices, resulting in less focus on how marketers gather and use consumer information. (more)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Whatever happened to OPSEC?"

Last week's news sparked much discussion about privacy. Here is one semi-sarcastic exchange between two well-respected, over-50 security professionals...

Q. "Whatever happened to OPSEC?"

A. "Indeed. Whatever happened to OPSEC?

I think you and I are seeing the "generation gap" from the other side, now.
Yesterday, I was talking to a sixteen year-old about the past week's news (PRISM and the Supreme Court decision on DNA).

The attitude was, "So?"

Geeez, the under-30 crowd has no expectation of privacy. It is a foreign concept to them. They grew up going to school with cameras aimed at them all day, and Ra-parents checking their email, and cocooning them in play dates and bike helmets. Sprinkle with general self: indulgence, centered-ness, and entitlement, and this is what evolves—a new world where real privacy is a quaint concept.

Their new world is "look at me, look at me", tweet, tweet, tweet. The new privacy hinges on SnapChat zaps, and the ability to 'friend' and 'unfriend'.

The first Eloi of this new wave are starting to take their places in business and government. They are being egged on, and in turn enabling, a few dystopian power-elders. Together they constructed PRISM. The flip side of the coin, however, is that they don't get to do it in private.


So, to answer the question, OPSEC and Privacy have joined hands... and are skipping on their merry f-ing way to oblivion.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The PRISM of Surveillance - 2002-2013

The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying surveillance and information technology to track and monitor terrorists and other asymmetric threats to U.S. national security, by achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA). 

Following public criticism that the development and deployment of this technology could potentially lead to a mass surveillance system, the IAO was defunded by Congress in 2003. 
However, several IAO projects continued to be funded, and merely run under different names. (more) (60's update... "We all prism'ers chicky babe, we all locked in.")

Obama: 'Nobody Is Listening to Your Telephone Calls'

President Barack Obama on Friday defended his administration's vast collection of emails and telephone records, saying the programs help prevent terrorist attacks while imposing only "modest encroachments" on people's privacy...

"When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls," the president said. 

 Mr. Obama made clear that his own views of such intelligence-gathering efforts have evolved since he was a candidate for the presidency in 2008. He suggested he is now more comfortable with the "trade-offs" involved in guarding against terrorism. (more)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

FutureWatch: 24/7 Outdoor Surveillance from 17,000 Feet - Recorded & Searchable

A new camera developed by the Pentagon's research arm was highlighted in a recent special on PBS' "Nova" in an episode called "Rise of the Drones." It's a camera system so detailed it can discern specific movements and even what a subject is wearing.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System (ARGUS) has 1.8 billion pixels (1.8 gigapixels), making it the world' highest resolution camera. 

The sensors on the camera are so precise, PBS stated it is the equivalent to the capabilities of 100 Predator drones in a medium city.

Spain - Law to Install Spyware Being Drafted

Spain pushing for right to install government spyware on citizens' devices...

Spanish daily El PaĆ­s reported on Tuesday that the bill, drawn up by the ministry of justice, is still in its draft phase. But should it be passed into law, police authorities would have the power to install spyware on computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and even USBs and external hard drives in order to harvest personal information about the owner.

The bill states that targets would have to be suspected of terrorism, organized crime, child pornography, online fraud or cyber-bullying offenses carrying a minimum sentence of three years for the use of spyware to be authorized. The spyware would be installed remotely, the report said, and the target machine would have to be physically located in Spain. (more)

FutureWatch: See a trend?

Technorant - Your children are slaves to their smartphones...

A Caution Sign on the Highway of Life
Summary: (from the article) Today's teens and pre-teens are overly reliant on technology, lazy, self-entitled, and are the worst read of any generation. (more)

The author is a bit harsh, but the article may give smart kids a little help in taking back their lives... if they read it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Secret Files Released - Edward VIII Bugged by His Own Government

Intelligence files kept secret for almost 80 years today reveal that phone calls from Buckingham Palace and the monarch’s Windsor residence, Fort Belvedere, were monitored while he decided whether to give up the throne for Wallis Simpson.

The revelation suggested an extraordinary breakdown of trust between Edward and his Government amid the constitutional crisis in December 1936.

The Cabinet papers also show the huge lengths the then Home Secretary Sir John Simon went to try and keep a lid on the looming controversy after a journalist leaked the story. (more)

A 'Trust But Verify' SpyWare App

"Within 3 months more than 80k people used Spy Your Love mobile application to spy their partner’s mobile phone (7000 couples are still daily using application). 

Spy your Love is mobile application that comes with controversial solution of partner's cheating and trust issues. Solution is based on mutual and voluntary monitoring/sharing of phone calls, SMS and Facebook messages. Mutual means that both partners are spying each other. Partners are losing 15% of their privacy but getting 90% assurance that their partner is faithful." (more)

Grain-of-Salt Alert: This excerpted from a Slovakian press release, hence the odd syntax. It is, however, an interesting spyware app concept.

Moto X - The Creepy Boyfriend You Never Knew You Wanted

Imagine a spy with access to a second-by-second record of your location and all of your electronic communications—and which is also the world’s most sophisticated superbrain, capable of mining all that information, big data-style, for unexpected connections... 

...the Moto X... essentially, it’s the world’s most sophisticated cluster of sensors you can wear on your person, and it’s going to know every single thing you do, whether it’s driving, sleeping or taking a walk around the block. Google is betting that you will love your pocket Stasi so much you’ll never want to be without it—and Google is right...

For example, the phone knows how fast you’re traveling, so it might not let you text while driving. And it has enough contextual information to know not only whether or not you just took it out of your pocket, but also why you just took it out of your pocket, so it can immediately fire up the camera app when you want to take a picture...

It’s the fact that Google’s forthcoming phone will start to know that “why”—the causal connections that stitch together our actions and desires—that is nothing short of astonishing...
Normal smartphones are limited in their ability to spy on you because their makers never anticipated that this is a thing you’d want to do. (more)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The VD of Apple iOS Devices - Unsafe Charging

Using the bogus charger, a team from Georgia Institute of Technology managed to infect a phone with a virus in less than a minute.  

Any device using Apple's iOS operating system would be as vulnerable to infection, claim the trio. More details of their work will be given at the upcoming Black Hat USA hacker conference. (more)

But this will not surprise our regular Security Scrapbook readers... "Joseph Mlodzianowski and Robert Rowley, built a juice jacking kiosk at Defcon 2011 to educate the masses about the risks associated with blindly plugging in mobile devices." (more)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Attention High School Seniors: Get a Spy Job... Sha na na na, sha na na na na,

When the NSA’s brand-new $1.2 billion data center goes live in Bluffdale, Utah this fall, the nation’s spy agency is going to need a special kind of person to keep the lights on, the networks humming, and the servers from melting down.

So two years ago, the agency got in touch with Richard Brown, the dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Utah, and asked him to craft a special program that could teach computer science students all of the networking, electrical engineering, and server cooling skills that they’d need to run one of the world’s largest data centers...
His school’s Data Center Engineering program will go live this fall, with bachelors and masters-level certifications. With its cool climate and inexpensive energy, Utah is already home to data center facilities for many tech companies including Twitter, eBay, Workday and Oracle. (more) (sing-a-long)

Spy Summer in the City of Brotherly Love... Franklin would have loved it!

PA - "Spy: The Secret World of Espionage," at the Franklin Institute through Oct. 6, takes a declassified look into the reality of this intoxicating world, with a display of more than 200 artifacts used by real spies that underscore the real dangers they faced.

Drawn from the immense private collection of intelligence historian H. Keith Melton and the collections of the CIA, the FBI and the National Reconnaissance Office is everything from a KGB poison dart-firing umbrella to the fake movie script that enabled the rescue of the diplomats from Iran.

The show is a touring exhibit that opened at Times Square New York last year and now travels to 10 science museums around the United States for the next five years.

While younger visitors might pass on the show's informative wall text, they can't help but love the spy cameras, tear-gas pens, shoes with hidden compartments, a coin with a poison needle hidden inside and even a hollow molar the East German secret police created to conceal a microdot in a spy's mouth.

This is definitely a kid-friendly show, with interactive displays aplenty. (more)

"Why I secretly recorded Mitch McConnell"

Curtis Morrison speaks out...

"Earlier this year, I secretly made an audio recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican on the planet, at his campaign headquarters in Kentucky. The released portion of the recording clocks in at less than 12 minutes, but those few minutes changed my life.

I leaked the recording to Mother Jones, which published it with a transcript and analysis in April, and over the days that followed, blogs and cable news shows lit up with the revelations from that one meeting. At the time, McConnell was prepping for a race against the actress Ashley Judd — it was “the Whac-a-Mole stage of the campaign,” McConnell said smugly — and the recording captures his team in some Grade-A jackassery, including plans to use Judd’s history of depression against her.

But also up for debate was the the ethics of the audio recording itself. Here’s the latest... [long explanation]

[in a nutshell] Unlike Mitch McConnell, I will not paint myself as a victim... I’m a liberal activist in Kentucky. I’m also a citizen journalist... If given another chance to record him, I’d do it again." (more)

Campaign Headquarters Bugged - FBI Investigating 
McConnell's Suspected Bugger Has Hand Out
Sen. Mitch McConnell's "Bug" - Recorded Acoustical Leakage

Eavesdropping occurs all the time. Only failed attempts become public knowledge. This is one of thoses tip of the iceberg stories. 

Like most of these stories, both sides failed. Morrison for getting caught. McConnell for not taking the proper security measures to assure privacy.

We see the same scenario in the private sector. Smart businesses employ information security measures. Others get their pockets picked, and occassionally, find embarrassing stories about them in the news. ~Kevin

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Old Conference Call Trick Still Works

MA - Two Plymouth men who allegedly planned to line up professional sports tryouts are facing federal wiretapping charges for taping a phone conversation between two NFL general managers and sold the recording to a sports website.  

Joshua Barber, 20, and Nicholas Kaiser, 20, face up to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted of secretly recording a conference call they allegedly organized between Buffalo Bills General Manger Buddy Nix and Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik, according to federal procecutors.

The Boston Globe reports that Barber first called Nix posing as Dominik and then called Dominik and used the conference call function to link the calls for the conversation, recorded by Kaiser.

In a roughly six-minute call posted on Deadspin in March, Nix and Dominik discuss potential trades and complain about their lack of a franchise quarterback, according to the Boston Herald. (more)

Eavesdropping on Fire Department No Solution to Burning Ears

NH - A former lieutenant in the Deering Fire Department
who was at the center of a recent hiring controversy has been indicted on a felony charge of wiretapping staff conversations last year, including at least one senior-level meeting.

Stephen Brooks, 39, allegedly placed a recording device inside the Deering Fire Station on or around May 29, 2012, and “recorded a period of time including, but not limited to, a meeting between senior staff of the Fire Department,” according to a direct indictment, issued May 15 by a Hillsborough County grand jury.

Because it is a direct indictment, the case will bypass preliminary hearings and head straight to trial. Brooks has not been arrested, according to Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Valentine, who is handling the case. Valentine said direct indictments are typical when there has been a previous police investigation.

An arraignment has been scheduled for June 21.

Deering Town Administrator Craig Ohlson said the charge follows a “lengthy” investigation by the state police. He said Brooks, who faces as many as 31∕2 to 7 years in prison and a $4,000 fine if convicted, was fired from the department April 17. It’s unclear whether the termination was directly related to the wiretapping investigation. (more)