Friday, February 28, 2014

Eavesdropping News of the Day

IL - Warren Township High School board member Liz Biondi claimed at a meeting this week that "someone in the district" has wiretapped her telephone. Biondi made the accusation while bantering with John Anderson, board president at Gurnee-based Warren District 121. She did not respond to emailed questions Thursday on why Warren officials would eavesdrop on her or whether she has evidence supporting the wiretap claim. (more)

Alert - Unless you want a public sex tape, you should probably stop using any kind of digital machine to record your intimate acts. The latest leak from Edward Snowden shows how the NSA and the British equivalent Government Communications Headquarters collaborated to intercept webcam images from innocent Internet users. (more)

Turkey - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has hit back against unprecedented accusations of corruption after the leak of incriminating phone conversations, accusing both prosecutors and police of spying for another country. (more)

Scotland - Michelle Mone's bra firm ordered to pay former director £16k after bugging pot plant in his office. (more)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Boeing to Launch its Own Black Phone

The world's biggest aerospace company is jumping into the business of making high-security smartphones.

Boeing Co. filed plans this week with the Federal Communications Commission for a smartphone dubbed Boeing Black, which is designed for defense and security customers and won't be available to average consumers. The phone is based on a modified version of Google Inc.'s Android operating system...

Boeing is being stealthy about the project. Without publicly announcing the product, the company posted a description on its website. It said the modular construction of the phone's 5.2-inch-tall body would allow users to attach devices that add such features as advanced location tracking, solar charging, satellite transceivers and biometric sensors.

In Monday's FCC filing, Boeing detailed plans to keep the phone's technology secret, saying it will be sold "in a manner such that low-level technical and operational information about the product will not be provided to the general public."

The filing documents also said the phone, which is about 50% heavier than Apple Inc.'s iPhone 5s and twice as thick, is designed to effectively self-destruct if tampered with: "Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable." (more)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Tiny Ultrasound Camera Sees What's in Your Heart ...really

Developed by a team at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the device consists of a 1.5-mm-wide disc-shaped head, from which trails 13 tiny joined cables. The idea is that it will be inserted into a patient's coronary blood vessels or heart, snaking its way through while being pushed or pulled from outside the body via an integrated 430-micron-wide guide wire, all the while using the cables to transmit ultrasound imagery.

Its head is built around a single silicon chip, which is equipped with a dual-ring array of 56 ultrasound transmit elements and 48 receive elements. Much of the processing of the ultrasound data is performed onboard the chip itself, meaning that less information has to carried outside the body – this is why it requires no more than 13 cables, allowing its consolidated "umbilical cord" to stay skinny and flexible enough to easily move through blood vessels. (more)

Off-Hook Telecoms Call for Attorneys' Fees - Disconnected

AT&T, Verizon and other telecoms cannot recover attorneys' fees after ducking claims that they overcharged for electronic surveillance, a federal judge ruled.

Former New York Deputy Attorney General John Prather had filed the lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. government, claiming that AT&T, Verizon, Qwest Communications International and Sprint Nextel overcharged federal, state and city governments for services under the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Agencies Act (CALEA), which requires the companies to provide the government with electronic surveillance of their customers in exchange for reasonable expenses.

Prather claimed to have "observed eavesdropping charges increase tenfold after CALEA despite changes in technology that should have made it easier for Telecoms to provide wiretaps, and believed that the Telecoms were overcharging for wiretaps." (more)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wiretapping Case Costs South Bend, IN almost $1 Million... so far

Summary: Former police communications director KarenDePaepe was fired in 2012 in the wake of an investigation into whether she and Chief Boykins violated the federal Wiretap Act by recording certain telephone conversations between Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett, officers Steve Richmond, David Wells and Brian Young and Young’s wife Sandy Young.
Timeline of the case.
TV report.

Brazil, Europe Plan Undersea Cable to Skirt Spying

Brazil and the European Union agreed on Monday to lay an undersea communications cable from Lisbon to Fortaleza to reduce Brazil’s reliance on the United States after Washington spied on Brasilia.

At a summit in Brussels, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the $185 million cable project was central to “guarantee the neutrality” of the Internet, signaling her desire to shield Brazil’s Internet traffic from U.S. surveillance. (more)

Shhhh... Apparently, they missed reading this, this 1918 experiment and this modern day story. Not to mention... Operation Ivy Bells, Operation Tempora and Glimmerglass.

Computer Allegedly Bugged by Ethiopians

A Maryland man is suing the Ethiopian government after it was discovered that it infected his computer with spyware, wiretapped his calls made via Skype, and monitored his family’s computers for months.

"We have clear evidence of a foreign government secretly infiltrating an American's computer in America, listening to his calls, and obtaining access to a wide swath of his private life," said Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Nate Cardozo. 

"The current Ethiopian government has a well-documented history of human rights violations against anyone it sees as political opponents. (more)

Turkish Watergate - Surprise - The Guard Gets Blamed for Bugging the Place

Turkey - A police officer only known as S.D., allegedly responsible for placing a bugging device in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's study inside his Ankara residence, has reportedly been working as a bodyguard for Saudi Arabian businessman Yasin al-Qadi, the Taraf daily claimed on Tuesday.

“It has come out that S.D., who has been accused in connection with the bugging device discovered in Prime Minister Erdoğan's Ankara house, was assigned to protect Yasin al-Qadi,” Emre Uslu wrote in his Taraf column, which was also the daily's headline story.

Four covert listening devices, as Erdoğan explained in December 2012, had been discovered in the office of his Subayevleri home in Ankara, without detailing exactly when the devices had been found, adding that an investigation was being launched. (more)

Netflix New Drone Delivery Service

Another nail in the Post Office's Coffin...
Sorry, this just couldn't wait until April 1st.

Going Down - Goldman Elevator Eavesdropper Exposed

The author of the anonymous Twitter feed purportedly recounting conversations in the elevators of Goldman Sachs has been unmasked as a former bond executive living in Texas who has never worked at the bank. The revelation hasn't affected John Lefevre's six-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster based on the feed @GSElevator. (more)

Monday, February 24, 2014

"My ankle bracelets are so good, I wear one myself!"

CA - FBI agents arrested a Mexican tycoon named Jose Susumo Azano Matsura at his Coronado, Calif. home on Wednesday as part of a political bribery investigation based on captured emails, seized banking records, and covertly recorded conversations.

The unfolding scandal is soaked in irony: Azano is a surveillance evangelist whose company won a secret, no-bid contract with the Mexican military for computer and mobile phone hacking and spying technology in 2011. He is chairman of a company called Security Tracking Devices SA de CV, and he is now chained to a tracking device—on house arrest. (more)

Privacy Art that Tells You a Story... really

This company ( turns the text of various books into a piece of appropriately themed text-art and makes lithographs, tees and tote-bags out of it. 

Cory Doctorow announced that the company has produced a line of Lithographs based on his novel Little Brother, with a gorgeous anti-surveillance design by Benjy Brooke. (more)

Little Brother is a novel by Cory Doctorow, published by Tor Books. It was released on April 29, 2008. The novel is about four teenagers in San Francisco who, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge and BART system, defend themselves against the Department of Homeland Security's attacks on the Bill of Rights. The novel is available for free on the author's website under a Creative Commons license, keeping it accessible to all.

The book debuted at No. 9 on The New York Times Best Seller list, children's chapter book section, in May 2008. As of July 2, it had spent a total of six weeks on the list, rising to the No. 8 spot. Little Brother won the 2009 White Pine Award, the 2009 Prometheus Award. and the 2009 John W. Campbell Memorial Award. It also was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Little Brother received the Sunburst Award in the young adult category. 

The New York Times says, “Little Brother isn't shy about its intent to disseminate subversive ideas to a young audience. The novel comes with two afterword essays by cryptographer and computer security specialist Bruce Schneier, and hacker Andrew "bunnie" Huang, and has a bibliography of techno-countercultural writings, from Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" to Schneier’s "Applied Cryptography." (more)

Blackphone - A Smartphone That Keeps Its Mouth Shut

via the Blackphone store...
Blackphone. The high-end smartphone which puts privacy and security ahead of everything else.

Blackphone includes a unique combination of operating system and application tools which offer unparalleled security and privacy to information workers, executives, public figures, and anyone else unwilling to cede ownership of their privacy to other authorities. Blackphone's PrivatOS, built on Android™, and combined with a full suite of privacy-enabled applications, allows users to regain control over their communications activities. 

No longer will the use of a smartphone demand acceptance of unauthorized surveillance, commercial exploitation of activity data, and the loss of privacy, security and fundamental human rights...

Selling for US$629 (plus shipping and any local taxes or duties for the destination address), Blackphone is a real no-excuses solution for traveling executives looking to BYOD...

Blackphone comes unlocked and features several pre-installed privacy tools, all of which are fully enabled for at least two years of usage. These tools include the Silent Circle suite of apps, including Silent Phone, Silent Text, and Silent Contacts; anonymous search, private browsing, and VPN from Disconnect; and secure cloud file storage from SpiderOak. In addition, Blackphone ships with the Smart WiFi Manager from Mike Kershaw, Chief Architect for SGP Technologies, and a powerful remote-wipe and device recovery tool. (more)

Guzman Trapped By Tap

After fruitlessly pursuing one of the world's top drug lords for years, authorities finally drew close to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman using a cellphone found at a house where drugs were stored. 

The phone belonging to a Guzman aide was recovered with clues from a U.S. wiretap and provided a key break in the long chase to find Guzman, officials told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Another big leap forward came after police analyzed information from a different wiretap that pointed them to a beachfront condo where the legendary leader of the Sinaloa cartel was hiding, according to a U.S. government official and a senior federal law enforcement official. (more)

Privacy Hero - Keep Your Snooping Nose Out of My Car

NY - Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on federal regulators to set guidelines to protect consumers as car companies collect personal information through “smart car” technology and sell it to third parties.

The New York Democrat announced Sunday that he’s asking the Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to establish guidelines requiring carmakers to notify drivers when they are being tracked and allow drivers to opt out from sharing information. (more)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ireland's Watergate Reveals Bug Sweeps (TSCM) are Common Business Practice

Ireland - The Department of Finance and the National Treasury Management Agency carry out regular sweeps to ensure they are not subject to any bugging or surveillance.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan confirmed the steps were taken due to the commercial sensitivity of issues being discussed within the department... Mr Noonan said he was “aware of the importance of maintaining security given the commercially sensitive meetings held in the department and the sensitive information held by the department”...

A spokesman for the NTMA said it also carries out sweeps.

“Given the sensitivity of the business activities of the NTMA and its various linked business units, including Nama, the agency carries out regular, comprehensive security checks, including sweeps for any evidence of bugging. ” (more)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Business Espionage: Casino Caught Spying - Fine $1 million

NV - The commission considered a two-count complaint by the Gaming Control Board against Peppermill Casinos Inc., which owns operations in Reno, Sparks, Henderson and Wendover, for sending out an employee to illegally gather information on the slot machine win percentages of its competitors. The complaint also recommended a $1 million fine

The complaint alleged that since 2011, Peppermill employee Ryan Tors had a slot machine "reset" key that allowed him to enter the slots in other competitors to determine the amount of hold — the amount kept by casinos on wagers.

On July 12, hotel security officers at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno caught Tors using a reset key at their property. An investigation revealed that, beginning at least in 2011, Tors had used the reset key to obtain the information in 10 other casinos in the Reno-Sparks and Wendover areas. (more)

FutureWatch: Your Visitors are Spying, Just by Walking Around

Google on Thursday unveiled Project Tango, an effort to "give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion" using a combination of robotics and computer vision.

The project has a prototype phone loaded with sensors and software "designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment," the Project Tango leader Johnny Lee said in a blog post. (more)

Smartphone business espionage spy tools are coming. A visitor to your organization will be able to walk out with a floor map, record the sounds of your manufacturing process (for later analysis), and use other sensors to gather competitive intelligence. And, they won't be as obvious as the folks you saw in the video.

Security Directors: I wasn't kidding. It is time to create a Surreptitious Workplace Recording Policy
Need help?  
Call me.

Security Director Alert - New Audio & Video Bug. Records and Stores 24-hours. Blasts it out via Wi-Fi in 5-minutes.

This is the new eavesdropping technology you are up against. 

• Do you conduct regular information security surveys (TSCM)? 
• Are your current current TSCM bug sweeps capable of detecting new technologies like the device shown?
If the answer to either question is no, contact me.

via Acustek...
The concept of the GEM AUDIO/VIDEO is... storing audio and video files on micro-SD card up to 32 GB and then forward, ultra-fast download, through protected WiFi connection.


The GEM WiFi A/V is a small device integrating a small powerful audio-video recorder, external miniature video camera and concealed built-in Wifi antenna for transmission together. This allows the user ultra fast download of large volumes of high quality audio and video without the need of direct connection with the recorder. It can be set up to record with multiple advanced timers or by voice activation mode. The supplied video camera is capable to provide good quality picture at very low light conditions, with sensitivity of .3lux.

HIGH AUTONOMY AND CAPACITY All audio records are stored to micro SD memory (up-to 32Gb) and can be downloaded at any time, or listened to "Live".

ULTRA FAST DOWNLOAD SPEED Downloading over WiFi is very fast and takes approx. 5 minutes for every 24 hours stored audio record.

DEDICATED FOR CONCEALED OPERATION All records are exported or reviewed securely via the included software. GEM WiFi doesn't transmit anything on air when disconnected from the host computer. It searches for the WiFi signal only from user host computer; this makes this device very confidential and makes it virtually impossible to find by any WiFi wireless spy detection technology such as RF Analysers. (We know how to find it.) 

SECURITY The audio data transfer is encrypted, each record has a precision timeline and can only be reviewed using the supplied software, the records may also be password protected. If the recorder is intercepted then the micro SD card is unusable. (more)

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams on Electronic Surveillance Bugs

Bugging devices in all shapes and forms, tracking devices to monitor movement, and remote controlled surveillance cameras were all an integral part of the British government’s war in the north. Over the years they were found in the homes of republican activists, under floor boards and cabinets, attached to wooden beams in attics, and hidden in the insides of cars.

In the years since the war ended the surveillance war has continued. It has become ever more sophisticated. Now according to some reports they can even bug your clothes...

The surveillance technology involved today reads like science fiction but it is real not imagined and very effective, and most times you don’t know that it is there. (more)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thank You for Punching Those Goofy Little Buttons

Thank you to all my readers...
who are pressing the goofy little buttons at the bottom of each Scrapbook posting. I sincerely appreciate it, as do the people who would have missed a cool bit of news had you not generously shared. ~Kevin

TSCM Find Confirmed - Three Bugs Found in Jakarta Governor's Home Office

Indonesia - Jakarta Governor, Joko `Jokowi` Widodo confirmed the bugging device findings at his home office... 

Jokowi stated that the findings of some bugging devices in his home office was found using a detector device in December 2013...

He described, those bugging devices were found in three different places, such as bedroom, private living room, and dining room used to hold meetings "Actually, I don`t want to talk about this. But in fact there are three devices in the home office found," he disclosed. (more)

Hero: TSCM Bug Report Author Fired for Not Changing Report Under Political Pressure

Turkey - The former head of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey's (TÜBİTAK) Research Center for Advanced Technologies on Informatics and Information Security (BİLGEM) has said he was forced to make changes in a report as part of an investigation into a "bugging device" found at the prime minister's office.

In a blistering statement over his dismissal from the top post at BİLGEM, a critical department within TÜBİTAK that prepares expert reports for court cases and state agencies, Hasan Palaz said he was forced to make changes on a scientific report that was prepared as part of a criminal investigation into the installment of bugging devices at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's office in Parliament and his home in 2012...

In a stern warning, he said the government's interference in TÜBİTAK reports and politicians' meddling in scientific inquiries would be suicide for the science world.

The discovery of the bugging devices led to an outcry and fueled a debate over who is responsible for monitoring and bugging the prime minister's office. (more)

Note: Although this translated news story makes it sound as if he did make the change, a careful reading of the whole story indicates he did not, hence his dismissal. 

From the other side of the fence in Turkey today...

Turkey - Battling a corruption scandal, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is seeking broader powers for his intelligence agency, including more scope for eavesdropping and legal immunity for its top agent, according to a draft law seen by Reuters. (more)

UPDATE: (2/22/14) - Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that two suspects believed to be involved in a bugging scandal have fled the country. (more)

Audio & Video Eavesdropping on NASCAR

NASCAR fans can listen to an uncensored buffet of communication ranging from foul-mouthed rants to finish line screams of victory on FanVision controllers that provide access to live broadcast feeds, onboard cameras, official timing, data, statistics, instant replays and a digital radio scanner

At Daytona, the device rents for $59.99 for the weekend. (Or, it may be purchased, plus a per race subscription.) They have to be returned no later than 90 minutes after the race ends. (more)

Other NASCAR eavesdropping options...
Sportstronics NASCAR Proscan 100 Scanner


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just Change 'Baby Monitor' to 'Bug' for High Tech Eavesdropping

Smart Baby Monitor (Bug) in your pocket!
The baby monitor (bug) for the smartphone age. Includes all standard features of a hardware baby monitor (bug) and some surprising extras.

Works at any distance. Dormi can use any available route to connect parent and child units (WiFi, mobile data), and can work even when Internet is not available (WiFi Direct, HotSpot / AP)

Ultimate feature? 

You can connect MULTIPLE devices in parent mode to a single child device simultaneously.

Intelligent audio
You don't need to configure microphone sensitivity - Dormi adjusts to noise levels automatically. Leave the device several meters away from the sleeping baby (target) and it will still be able to detect when it cries (or plans a corporate takeover) and amplify the sound for the parent device as if it were placed right next to the baby (target).

Press and hold the Listen button to hear sound from the child device even while the baby (target) is not crying (or selling stocks). Equally, use the Talk button to talk back to soothe or calm the baby (or spook the hell out of your target).

Convenient info-center
With Dormi you always know what's going on. All important information about the child device is always available while monitoring. If connection with the child device is lost, the parent device will notify you.

Dormi will even notify you about missed calls and new text messages received on the child device, so you will not miss something important while not having direct access to the device.

If the baby (target) starts crying (or talking with the General Counsel) while you are on the phone, you will be notified with vibrations and a gentle beep to your ear - without abruptly disturbing the phone call, yet letting you know.

Of course, Dormi works in the background, even when the device screen is off. Great care has been taken to limit battery usage - you can monitor for many hours on one charge.

Have you got an old Android device sitting in the drawer that you have no use for? Not anymore - try using it as the child device with Dormi. We have made the effort to ensure it runs from Android 2.3 onwards.

Start right away...
All you have to do after install is pair two devices together (our autodiscovery feature makes this a breeze) and start monitoring right away.

Although unlimited monitoring is paid, you will get 4 hours of monitoring for free every month.

If you do decide to make a purchase, you only have to do so on one of the devices participating in the monitoring. (more)

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

Jazzpunk: A Spy Game Full Of Jokes

Jazzpunk has been nominated for the grand prize at the 2014 Independent Games Festival, is to video games what movies like Airplane!, The Naked Gun and Hot Shots are to film...

The setup is charmingly basic and silly, like the rest of the game. After an upbeat and stylized Saul Bass-inspired intro, you are plopped into your role as Polyblank, a spy for an unnamed organization helmed by a bureau chief who makes his office in a subway car and sounds like the person that delivered Ethan Hunt his impossible missions, perhaps if he was talking through a fishbowl.

With the satisfying wheeze of an obviously placed whoopee cushion, the game wastes no time letting you know you are here for the gags, not the story. (more)

Jazzpunk is a first-person comedy adventure game set in an alternate-reality Cold War World, plagued with Corporate Espionage, CyberCrime™, and Sentient Martinis. Gameplay is inspired by spoof comedy films and cartoons of yester-year (eg: Naked Gun, Airplane!, Hot Shots, etc), with a focus on weird gadgets, exotic locales, and open-world style exploration.

You Know You've Made It When...

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is reported to have been cast as an action figure in a video game that has him reenacting the NSA spying scandal, while avoiding government capture. 
A 12-inch action figure of the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor is being marketed by for 99 dollars.

Proceeds from the action figure's sale will be donated to the Freedom of the Press Foundation. (more)

P.S. They can make one of you, too.

A Self-Licking TSCM Ice Cream Cone?

(Note: Garda = Police)
Ireland - The British consultancy firm which carried out a security sweep of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission's headquarters offered to sell gardai equipment similar to one of the devices at the centre of the 'bugging' saga.

Officials from the Verrimus firm met garda technical experts while they were in Dublin for the sweep.

They brought with them the "international mobile subscriber identifier (IMSI) catcher" device which, in an ironic twist, was similar to one that created the third and most "credible threat" to the security of the Ombudsman's offices. (more)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

High-Stakes Espionage in the Corn Field

(Long but interesting. Proves no business is immune to business espionage.)

Stealing trade secrets has been a part of the business and international scene for a long time. I suspect such activity has made some people very rich when they don’t get caught and some lawyers very rich when they do...

Military secrets, medical research, computer technology, certain oatmeal raisin cookie recipes... it’s understandable why some people, companies or countries might be tempted by any of these. The payday would be huge.

Agriculture has not been immune to incidents of unethical business activity... (more)

Security Director Alert - Toss Away Bugs - Now $21.97 on eBay

Want to know if eavesdropping has occurred in your organization? 
These days, your chances of knowing has skyrocketed. Here's why...

Electronic eavesdropping devices have become:
• so inexpensive, 
• so easily available, 
that they are now throw-away objects. 

Eavesdroppers don't have to risk discovery by replacing batteries or retrieving them. Just toss one behind the bookcase, or into a lighting cove once a week.

Bonus For You - Since many of today's eavesdropping devices are not being serviced or retrieved, the evidence is left there waiting for you (or me) to find it! Knowing you are having your pockets picked is valuable knowledge, and the first step in putting an end to it.

Example of a bug being sold on eBay today... ($21.97 - FREE shipping)

"With 2 FREE batteries!!  
Each battery should give you around 40 hours of use!

This IS the smallest bug on ebay measuring just 22mm diameter (plus a little extra for the protruding microphone and rear) x only 11mm thick and THIS IS WITH A BATTERY INSTALLED!!! This tiny transmitter runs off a small coin cell and the measurements given above include the cell holder!

The quality small electret microphone will pick up the smallest of sounds and transmit them to your radio with crystal clear reproduction. Only quality surface mount components have been used on a professionally designed circuit board. The copper of the board has been coated to prevent corrosion - this is NOT a cheap homemade item like others are offering!" (more)

P.S. We have the technology to find these bugs even after the battery is depleted.

FutureWatch: When Light Bulbs Become Eyeballs

Visitors to Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport may notice the bright, clean lighting that now blankets the cavernous interior, courtesy of 171 recently installed LED fixtures. But they probably will not realize that the light fixtures are the backbone of a system that is watching them. 

Using an array of sensors and eight video cameras around the terminal, the light fixtures are part of a new wireless network that collects and feeds data into software that can spot long lines, recognize license plates and even identify suspicious activity, sending alerts to the appropriate staff...

Fred H. Cate, director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University, described the potential for misuse as “terrifying.” ...

The light fixtures are outfitted with special chips and connect to sensors, cameras and one another over a wireless network. Data that is collected — say, a particular car pulling up to the terminal — can then be mined and analyzed for a broad range of applications...

“No one really wanted the smartphone 20 years ago because they didn’t know they could have it,” said Fred Maxik, founder and chief technology officer of Lighting Science Group, which manufactures LEDs. “And I think the same is true of lighting today: No one knows what lighting is going to be capable of.” (more)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Crowdpilot - Eavesdropping in a Back Seat Driver Sort of Way

Late last week–just in time for Valentine’s Day–artist and software developer Lauren McCarthy launched Crowdpilot, an iOS app designed to let anyone invite friends and strangers to listen in on a live audio stream of a private conversation and offer text-based advice and encouragement. 

“Crowdpilot lets you crowdsource your conversations by inviting a group of people to listen in and give you suggestions in real time,” says McCarthy. “I see the possibility of having this networked hivemind that weighs in on your decisions, like having a ‘wingman’ in a bar.”

Just launch the app, choose from an array of conversation types including “date,” “argument,” “meeting,” or “family gathering,” and choose who you want to listen in. ... 

McCarthy strongly suggests that anyone using the app warn all participants in a conversation Crowdpilot’s crowd will be listening in. (Sure, Lauren.)

Although it’s possible to run Crowdpilot on your iPhone with the screen turned off, it can’t run in the background, reducing the app’s potential as a stealth spy tool. (Screen turned off should suffice for most spies.) (more)

FutureWatch: Covert remote coaching during business negotiations?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Off Topic Moment of Zen

No cat has two tails.
Every cat has one tail more than no cat.
Therefore every cat has three tails.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Maryland Bill Would Shut Down NSA Spy Center

MD - A group of legislators in Maryland has introduced legislation that would deny state support to federal agencies engaged in warrantless electronic surveillance in a move aimed at curtailing the National Security Agency's power to monitor and track citizens.

Eight Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates last week introduced the "Fourth Amendment Protection Act," which would deny the NSA "material support, participation or assistance in any form” from the state, its political subdivisions or companies with state contracts, US News reported.

The bill would deprive NSA's headquarters in Ft. Meade, Md., water and electricity carried over public utilities, prohibit the use of evidence gathered by the agency in state courts and prevent state universities from partnering with the NSA on research, according to the report. (more)

Tennessee proposed the same thing last month. (more)

Ol' McDonnell Had a Drone

IL - In January a UPS truck pulled up to the farm of Bill McDonnell north of Ottawa.

McDonnell’s order had come through. It was a brand new Phantom 2 drone, a four-rotor, remote-controlled quad-copter with a camera.

“It’s something I’ve been researching for the past year to see how we can integrate this into our farming operation,” McDonnell said.

Like many cutting-edge technologies in the United States, drones have crossed over from military to domestic use. Military drones appear like airplanes and are used to explore and survey landscapes or deliver missiles and bombs. Domestic drones look more like hobby helicopters and carry small cameras...

This coming season McDonnell plans to survey his corn and soybeans with his Phantom. (more)

The Littlest Eavesdropper

A new computer chip invented by researchers from Columbia University allows scientists to "listen in" on bacteria, as they exchange information between individual cells. Integrated circuit (IC) technology allows biologists to record images from the bacteria, as well as "listen in" to what they are saying. (more)

...and, on the other end of the spectrum...

Scientists can now spy on whales from space.
There are two ways of looking at this story. One is as a triumph of new technology: Using high-resolution satellites, scientists can identify and track whales without disturbing them in any way. The other is as a tale of space voyeurism: Scientists are spying on whales from the sky. And not just spying on whales — spying on whales while there was a good chance the whales were doing it. (more)

DIY Surveillance - Home Brew Vehicle Tracker (Cheap)

• Grab an old cell phone (make sure it has GPS).
• Turn on its Internet access.
• Tweak the settings. Presumably, you're only going to use this for vehicle tracking. Set the ringer volume to 0 and mute the keypad.
• Next step is choosing a tracking/mapping service. InstaMapper (free) or AccuTracking (about $6/month)
• The final step is the trickiest. For real 24/7 tracking, you'll need to hardwire the phone to your car's battery. (more)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Covert Animal Cruelty Videos Induced Gags - Result... Ag Gag Bill No Gag

ID - Milk producers convinced state senators Tuesday to back a bill aiming to halt spying on their operations, a measure prompted by animal activists who captured cruelty at a southern Idaho dairy on film in July 2012.

The Agricultural Affairs Committee voted to back what proponents called an "agricultural security measure" — and what foes branded a heavy-handed and punitive response to groups seeking to expose horrendous abuses.

The industry-backed bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote. A Democrat, Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking of Boise, opposed the measure.

The legislation would put people who surreptitiously enter and record agricultural operations in jail for up to a year and slap them with a $5,000 fine. It would criminalize obtaining records from dairies or other agricultural operations by force or misrepresentation, as well as lying on a farm's employment application. (more)

Muckracking used to prompt decent laws...
Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. (September 20, 1878 – November 25, 1968), was an American author who wrote close to one hundred books in many genres. He achieved popularity in the first half of the twentieth century, acquiring particular fame for his classic muckraking novel, The Jungle (1906). It exposed conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act.[1] (more)

Dutch Minister Admits Lying on Eavesdropping

Netherlands - A Dutch cabinet minister faced calls to quit on Tuesday after admitting he wrongly told parliament that 1.8 million telecommunications intercepts had been collected by the US National Security Agency, rather than the Dutch spy service.

The departure of Internal Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk would come at a bad time for Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government. It is polling near its lowest level since taking power in November 2012...

Plasterk wrote on Monday in a letter to parliament that it was the Dutch intelligence service, not the NSA, that had collected the so-called metadata. (more)

But we already knew this seven years ago. (more
And again last year. (more)

The Dutch branch of British telecom company Vodafone has taken a stand on privacy by asking various Dutch ministries for permission to disclose the number of demands it receives for wiretapping, the telecom company announced in a statement Wednesday.

"We want to invest in a healthy ICT future by providing information to our costumers about what we do with data," Vodafone wrote in the statement. 

"But if you really want to boost consumer confidence, the government should be more transparent," Vodafone added.

Wiretap Conviction Overturned for Founder of

NH - The state's highest court has reversed the wiretapping convictions of the founder of a police watchdog group who secretly recorded conversations with Manchester police and school officials. (more)

Business Eavesdropping: Bugged Bra Company Employee Going for Bust

Scotland - A former employee of Ultimo bra tycoon Michelle Mone's company is suing for constructive dismissal after claiming the resignation of a director left him with an increased workload and some of his conversations were bugged.

Hugh McGinley is demanding compensation at a Glasgow employment tribunal for loss of earnings after he resigned from MJM International in March last year.

Mr Kilday's bugging has been accepted by MJM, which is now known as Ultimo Brands International, but lawyers claim they were recording his conversations with operations director Scott Kilday because they feared he was betraying company secrets. (more)

Monday, February 10, 2014

2007 and Still Smokin'

Researchers have uncovered a sophisticated cyber spying operation that has been alive since at least 2007 and uses techniques and code that surpass any nation-state spyware previously spotted in the wild.

The attack, dubbed “The Mask” by the researchers at Kaspersky Lab in Russia who discovered it, targeted government agencies and diplomatic offices and embassies, before it was dismantled last month. It also targeted companies in the oil, gas and energy industries as well as research organizations and activists. Kaspersky uncovered at least 380 victims in more than two dozen countries, with the majority of the targets in Morocco and Brazil.

The attack — possibly from a Spanish-speaking country — used sophisticated malware, rootkit methods and a bootkit to hide and maintain persistence on infected machines. The attackers sought not only to steal documents, but to steal encryption keys, data about a target’s VPN configurations, and Adobe signing keys, which would give the attackers the ability to sign .PDF documents as if they were the owner of the key. (more)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

TSCM Find - Police Ombudsman Headquarters' Conference Room & Wi-Fi Bugged

Ireland - The headquarters of the Garda Ombudsman Commission has reportedly been targeted by a secret bugging operation. 

According to a report in today's Sunday Times, the watchdog's phone and internet were compromised in a highly sophisticated hacking incident...

The spying operation was uncovered when the Ombudsman hired security consultants to investigate whether its office had been bugged.
The investigation found that a phone in a meeting room had been rigged to eavesdrop on confidential conversations.

The room was used to hold case conferences related to investigations being carried out by the commission.

The Wi-Fi network at the Garda Ombudsman office had also been hacked - allowing emails and confidential material to be intercepted. (more)

Mr Shatter has asked the Commission for a report on its decision to hire a British Security company last year to investigate if it had been placed under electronic surveillance.

A source within GSOC has confirmed to RTÉ that the company told it that it had found evidence of electronic surveillance in one of its meeting rooms and that its wi-fi system may have been compromised. (more)

Today's Chinese Espionage Revenge Had Roots in Tea (among other rip-offs)

Darjeeling tea, the Champaigne among teas, owes its genesis to an industrial espionage of epic proportions. Planned by the East India Co and executed by a daring Scot, the early 19th century operation gave the world the thin-bodied, light-colored infusion with a floral aroma that is revered by tea connoisseurs the world over. 

British tea expert Malcolm Ferris-Lay said...

"For nearly 200 years, the East India Co sold opium (derived from Papaver Soniferum) to China and bought tea with the proceeds... in May 1848, Robert Fortune (born in Eldrom village in Berwickshire, Scotland) was approached by East India Co to collect valuable information on tea industry in China.

"Fortune learned Mandarin, shaved his head, adopted a pigtail as worn by Manchus, dressed in local clothes and disguised himself as a Chinese from a distant province. He sneaked into remote areas of Fujian and Jiangsu province, forbidden parts of China. Fortune managed to collect 20,000 plants and seedlings and had then transported it to Kolkata in Wardian cases, small greenhouses which kept the plants healthy due to condensation within the case," Ferris-Lay explained.

These seedlings were planted in Darjeeling and grew into bushes that over the time produced the unique tea. "Many of the teas that Fortune brought back perished. But the knowledge that he brought back from China together with plants were instrumental in what is today a huge flourishing tea industry in India," he said. (more)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Swiss Swatch on Swish Laws in Russia. Neutral. And by the way U.S...

The eccentric chief executive officer of Swatch Group (Nick Hayek), one of the world's top watchmakers, was so incensed by recent allegations of mass U.S. spying that he chastised a top New York official over the matter in a letter late last year... 

Hayek's comments were released this week, along with those from five other companies that responded... (They were asked to take a stance against Russia's recent clampdown on gays ahead of the winter games in Sochi.)

Please make me one, Nick.
"As you claim you are an investor with Swatch Group you should be equally preoccupied about what has been publicized lately: the massive collection of data of the NSA worldwide including Switzerland," fumed Hayek, whose first language is not English, in a letter dated December 13.

"Swatch Group is an innovative industrial leader; at the heart of our success are very innovative products," Hayek continued. "The integrity of our confidential information is key to develop successful products. The practices that apparently have become a habit from organizations like the NSA can create huge damage to our company and our shareholders."

"As an investor you should have all interest to speak up loud about such potentially damaging practices coming from the USA," Hayek said.
 (more) (sing-a-long)

Surreptitous Workplace Recording: 2-Party Law Drops Cop

MD - A Baltimore City police officer has agreed to resign his post so charges against him in an illegal phone recording case will be dropped. 

Sgt. Carlos Vila was indicted in August 2012 under the state's wiretapping law after he was accused of illegally recording Baltimore Judge Joan Gordon, who sits in the city's Eastside District Court. Officials said in April 2012, Vila used his cellphone to record an argument he had with Gordon about a warrant.

Aside from the wiretapping charge, Vila was also charged with playing the recordings for his colleagues. Both charges are felonies. (more)

Maryland law requires all parties consent to being recorded. Federal law, which is followed by most states, only requires one party to consent. 

Had this happened in a workplace, in a one-party consent state, the outcome would have been much different.

Corporate Security Directors: If you still don't have a written Covert Recording in the Workplace Policy, call me. You need one. I will help you get started. No charge. No obligation. Not having one leaves you open to a multitude of problems.

State Dept. caught on tape saying ‘F*** the E.U.’; Russian bugging suspected

Two senior American diplomats, thinking their conversation about the Ukraine was secure and private, were caught disparaging the European Union in a phone call that was apparently bugged, and U.S. officials say they strongly suspect Russia of leaking the conversation.

The suspicions were aired Thursday after audio of the call was posted to the Internet...

The White House and State Department stopped just short of directly accusing Russia of surreptitiously recording the call between the top US diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. But both took pains to point out that a Russian government official was the first or among the first to call attention to the audio of the conversation that was posted on YouTube. (more) other not so surprising news...

A Russian government aide who was among the first to post a video online containing a bugged phone call between two U.S. diplomats denied Friday that he or the government played a role in leaking the recording.

Dmitry Loskutov said he was surfing a social networking website on Thursday when he came across the video, in which the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, disparages the European Union. (more)

UPDATE: Ukraine's state security service on Saturday said it was not investigating the bugging of a phone call between U.S. diplomats... (no more)

Friday, February 7, 2014

So ya think your nanny cam is spying on you, ma'am? Here's what ya do...

WA - A Lake City couple believes a burglar hacked into their cloud-based nanny cam and has been using it to monitor when they are and aren't home and possibly record their "private bedroom activities," according to the Seattle Police Department.
For the past two months, the victims have been arriving home to find items disturbed and missing in their apartment...

The victims told officers the system is easily hacked, and they believe someone has been monitoring their camera and knows when they leave the apartment...

Officers encouraged the couple to stop using the nanny cam and to contact building management with their concerns. (more)

Olympic Sized Gaffe - We have surveillance video of hotel showers...

Responding to the western campaign of "deliberate sabotage" in the media, Paul Sonne of WSJ reports, Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak said, "We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day."

(Say What?!?!?!) 

Then an aide whisked Kozak away before he could answer any follow-up questions...

...former NSA operative John Schindler has some counter-surveillance advice for Sochi's shower users...  Shut door and run shower hot for 10 minutes. Clear spot on mirror is the cam. (more)

Click to enlarge.

Totally Invasive Video Surveillance Can Be Good For You

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved a device for use after an incomplete procedure (colonoscopy) that is minimally invasive and can achieve similar imaging results to a colonoscopy. PillCam Colon is a pill-sized camera that is swallowed and passes through a patient's gastrointestinal tract.

The device itself is a pill-sized video camera measuring 12 x 33 mm (0.47 x 1.3 in) that captures color video from both of its ends at 4 or 35 frames per second. An LED provides the necessary illumination for image capture and, once swallowed by the patient, it wirelessly relays footage to a recording device worn by the patient for approximately 10 hours. (more)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Quote of the Day - On retaining privacy...

"It is amazing how lame people are. In today’s world, it is easy to hide. Just unplug." ~MW

The K5 Security Robot - aka Robopanopticop, or R-2 D-brief

Knightscope officials envision its K5 system playing a role in community policing...
“Knightscope’s autonomous technology platform is a fusion of robotics, predictive analytics and collaborative social engagement utilized to predict and prevent crime,” the company states on its website. That means that in addition to sophisticated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the K5 is equipped with analytics enabling it to detect threats to people or property and summon police.

• Able to scan an area in 270-degree sweeps to photographically map it. 
• Four mid-mounted cameras can scan up to 1,500 license plates per minute
• 5-foot high, 300-lb.
• Equipped with optical character recognition, omnidirectional imaging, thermal imaging, microphones, air quality sensors, ultrasonic and infrared sensors, radar for determining the range, altitude, direction or speed of objects and lidar technology for measuring distance to an object. (more)

Athletes, Beware the Sochi Spy Games

The telecommunications, e-mail and social network presence of athletes and others attending the Olympics will be under intense scrutiny before, during and after the events. These communications will be exploited for competitive advantage, political-economic intelligence, hints of sedition, identity theft and manufacturing future access...

Obfuscation idea.
Athletes can expect to have been profiled from the moment they are named to a team... There may be attempts to entrap or break into a circle of trusted friends or groups. Athlete and their electronics will have already been exposed... Simply visiting Sochi-related websites may be enough to infect a computer with spyware.
During the Games, it is reasonable to assume that all phone calls, e-mail, texts, web browsing, online banking and access to voice mail will be intercepted and exploited. Athletes who hope to take home medals may be taking home something else on their laptop instead...

Strategy discussed in team dressing rooms or over the airwaves will be subject to eavesdropping, whereas team radio communications are also vulnerable to electronic warfare tactics: deception, spoofing, interference or jamming at critical moments during play...

Consider that Russian security services share a cozy relationship with organized crime, who stand to benefit from information collected from the state espionage infrastructure. Consequently, banking and identification information are at also at risk. (more)

Data Spying: Feb. 11 To Become “The Day We Fight Back”

The ACLU, Greenpeace, Reddit, Mozilla and a number of other organizations have banded together to fight back against data spying.

Data spying has become a hot topic in the U.S., ever since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the National Security Agency’s data mining programs... Now a group of organizations and businesses are uniting in an effort to raise awareness about data spying. 

The ACLU, Greenpeace and other organizations have put together the website, letting everyone know that they’re planning to make a big statement on Feb. 11. That’s the date when we will see a bunch of Internet ads protesting the U.S. government’s data spying programs...

According to the site, U.S. Internet users will see banners which urge them to call or email Congress about the data spying issue. (more)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bugging Lawyer Sentenced to Two Years

A former California divorce lawyer who admitted bugging a car was sentenced on Monday to two years in prison for illegal eavesdropping and tax evasion.

Mary Nolan, 62, of Oakland pleaded guilty to charges of evading more than $400,000 in federal taxes and causing her staff to plant a listening device in the vehicle of “N.F.,” identified as a client’s estranged spouse... Nolan gave up her law license and agreed to repay $469,000 in back taxes, according to an FBI press release.

Nolan was among the defendants caught up in the so-called “dirty DUI” scandal in which a private investigator hired alluring women to drink with the husbands of divorce clients at bars. The women would then invite the men to follow them in their cars, and police would be called to investigate a DUI. (more)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spy History: Business Espionage in the 18th Century

UK - Derby and Derbyshire have been known for cutting-edge technology since the early 18th century.

ESPIONAGE was the murky business that kick-started Britain's industrial revolution and made Derby the world's first industrial town.

In the 17th and the first couple of decades of the 18th century, silk woven in Derby could not compete with Italian rivals.

John Lombe traveled to Piedmont (Italy) to find out how the fine-quality silk there was spun.
He made drawings of Italian machinery and smuggled them back to the UK to patent kit that would wind, spin and twist silk.

On his return to England, he arranged for engineer George Sorocold to construct a five-story factory to be powered by water from the Derwent.

Lombe's Mill, viewed across the River Derwent, 18th century.
It was the first operation of its kind in the country and has a strong claim to be the world's first successful use of the factory system. (more)

...and then...

Samuel Slater, an early English-American industrialist known as the "Father of the American Industrial Revolution", the "Father of the American Factory System" and "Slater the Traitor" (in the UK) ...because he brought British textile technology to America with a few modifications fit for America. 

He learned textile machinery as an apprentice to a pioneer in the British industry.

He brought the knowledge to America where he designed the first textile mills, went into business for himself and grew wealthy.

By the end of Slater's life he owned thirteen spinning mills and had established tenant farms and towns around his textile mills such as Slatersville, Rhode Island.
Guess where Sam was born...

Derbyshire, England June 9, 1768. (more)