Thursday, March 26, 2015

Air-Gapped Computer Hack

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have discovered a new method to breach air-gapped computer systems called “BitWhisper” which enables two-way communications between adjacent, unconnected PC computers using heat.

The research, conducted by Mordechai Guri, Ph.D. is part of an ongoing focus on air-gap security at the BGU Cyber Security Research Center. Computers and networks are air-gapped when they need to be kept highly secure and isolated from unsecured networks, such as the public Internet or an unsecured local area network. Typically, air-gapped computers are used in financial transactions, mission critical tasks or military applications.

According to the researchers, “The scenario is prevalent in many organizations where there are two computers on a single desk, one connected to the internal network and the other one connected to the Internet. BitWhisper can be used to steal small chunks of data (e.g. passwords) and for command and control." View BitWhisper video demo. more

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Is there a phone number I can call to see if my phone is tapped?"

I read this on a private detectives' news group this week... "Does anyone remember the phone number which can be called to determine if a phone is bugged? I can't find it now that I have a use for it." 

One of the answers this gentleman received, "" I visited the link and had a good laugh reading the posts.

From a non-technical perspective, just looking at it logically, the answer is obviously, NO. If there were a number, everyone would be using it and covert wiretapping would be impossible.

From a technical perspective the answer is obviously, NO. There are a multitude of ways to bug or wiretap phones, many of which do not affect the electrical characteristics of the phone.
  • So, why does this urban legend persist? 
  • Is there a shred of truth in it? 
  • When did it start?
I first heard the rumor in the 1970's, and yes, there is a shred of truth to it.

1. There was one telephone bugging device called the Telecommand, and its variants Infinity Transmitter and Harmonica Bug. Generally speaking, these were audio room bugs, which could either built into the phone or attached to the line somewhere near the phone. They were activated by a tone sent up the line by the eavesdropper.

2. The phone company, at the time, had test numbers used by their techs. One of these test numbers produced a sweeping tone from low frequency to high frequency. Back in the early 1970's some of the sweep tone numbers were 212-324-0707, 213-615-0003, 213-277-9291, 213-783-0001, 202-560-9944.

Time to put 1 & 2 together...

If your phone or line was bugged by this specific type of eavesdropping device, AND you called the sweep tone test number from your phone, you MIGHT be able to detect that you activated the bug. Most of the professional TSCM telephone testers of this era had sweep tone testers built into them. The party ended when the phone company migrated from analog to digital (SS7) switching beginning in the mid-to-late 1970s.

With digital switching the ringtone the caller hears is not coming from the phone, but rather from the phone company switch. There is no audio path to the phone until it is answered. So, trying to send a tone up the line before the phone is answered is futile. Some versions of the bug tried to overcome this death knell by letting the call be answered, and then sending the tone as the person was hanging up, thus its name, Keepalive.

Tip: If you have eavesdropping and wiretapping questions, please, contact a qualified specialist with a good reputation. There are plenty of us around.  ~Kevin

P.S. Another phone number urban legend...  
If you think your phone is tapped dial this # to find out: 101073217709889664
An automated voice will then repeat your phone number followed by an "8" then nine "0's" and a number. If the last number is 1, 2, or 3 your phone is NOT tapped if it is larger than 3 then you have a problem.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Union Claims Zoo Eavesdropped - Weasle Dance at 11

CA - Allegations that upper management at the San Francisco Zoo eavesdropped on employees using a radio communication system as a bugging device has union teamsters demanding the zoo uphold their employees' right to privacy.

According to Teamsters Local Union 856 representative Tim Jenkins, the San Francisco Zoo's executive director Tanya Peterson and its vice president of operations Robert Icard both have radios equipped with spyware giving them the capability to listen in on zoo employees' private conversations without their knowledge.  more video

Viet Hong Spyware Brains Head to Court

Hanoi prosecutors said they will take seven people of a technology firm to court for developing and selling a mobile application that allowed users to spy on more than 14,000 phones from 2013 to 2014.

Viet Hong Technology Company’s Deputy Director Nguyen Viet Hung and six employees will stand trial on charges of “illegally using information gained from computer, internet and telecommunication networks.”

The crime is punishable by a jail term of up seven years and an additional fine of up to VND200 million (US$9,300).

According to the case file, Hung, 41, hired Le Thanh Lam to write the spying app called “Ptracker”. more

Florida Working on a Drone Law

FL - A law that would make it illegal to use a drone to spy on your family is moving through the Florida Legislature right now.

Under the proposed law, the government and police would be forbidden from using drones for surveillance, and so would everyday people like your neighbors.

The ban would only apply to private property and only to places where someone has "a reasonable expectation of privacy." more

Security Director Alert - Cisco VoIP Phone Eavesdropping Vulnerability

Cisco is warning customers about several vulnerabilities in some of its IP phones that can allow an attacker to listen in on users’ conversations. The bug affects the Cisco SPA 300 and 500 Series IP phones.

Cisco had confirmed the vulnerabilities, which were discovered by Chris Watts, a researcher at Tech Analysis in Australia, and is working on a new version of the firmware to fix the bugs.

“A vulnerability in the firmware of the Cisco Small Business SPA 300 and 500 series IP phones could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to listen to the audio stream of an IP phone,” Cisco said in its advisory.

“The vulnerability is due to improper authentication settings in the default configuration. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted XML request to the affected device. An exploit could allow the attacker to listen to a remote audio stream or make phone calls remotely.”

...The fix for the bug is not yet available, but Cisco said it is preparing one. more

CSIS Sends 6-year-old Boy Tips on How to Become a Spy

Canada - When six-year-old Jacob St. Jean found out that secret agents weren't just the stuff of stories, he asked his mom, Erin, to help him track down some real spies.

The pair wrote a letter to CSIS, asking if Canada's spy agency would set up a club for kids.

For four months, Jacob checked the mail daily, only to be disappointed...

Then, earlier this week, Jacob received a mysterious package in the mail — and an apology for the delayed response — from the B.C. regional director of CSIS. more

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Security Director Alert - iPhone Password Crack

We recently became aware of a device known as an IP Box that was being used in the phone repair markets to bruteforce the iOS screenlock. This obviously has huge security implications and naturally it was something we wanted to investigate and validate. For as little as £200 we were able to acquire one of these devices and put it to work.

Although we’re still analyzing the device it appears to be relatively simple in that it simulates the PIN entry over the USB connection and sequentially bruteforces every possible PIN combination. That in itself is not unsurprising and has been known for some time. What is surprising however is that this still works even with the “Erase data after 10 attempts” configuration setting enabled. Our initial analysis indicates that the IP Box is able to bypass this restriction by connecting directly to the iPhone’s power source and aggressively cutting the power after each failed PIN attempt, but before the attempt has been synchronized to flash memory. As such, each PIN entry takes approximately 40 seconds, meaning that it would take up to ~111 hours to bruteforce a 4 digit PIN.

...our advice to all is ensure you have a sufficiently complex password applied to your device rather than a PIN. more

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


NYC - A rogue auxiliary cop hacked into an NYPD database for confidential information about traffic accidents, then contacted the victims posing as an ambulance-chasing lawyer, federal authorities said Tuesday.

"Mr. Katz will see you, as soon as you put on this neck brace."
Yehuda Katz devised an elaborate scheme inside the 70th Precinct station house in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he was not only able to access law enforcement databases from a remote location, but also installed a hidden camera in a cable TV box in the traffic safety office to make sure he wouldn’t be found out...

Investigators found an electronic device connected to the computer had been logging into the NYPD database using the passwords of three cops on their days off.

The surveillance camera had the capability to broadcast a live image of the office to the Internet. Investigators suspect Katz would activate the device from a remote location to make sure no one was using the computer so he could log into the database. more

Monday, March 16, 2015

Canadians Concerned About Bill C-51's Surveillance Powers

Canadians should be “spooked” by the enhanced powers spies are going to get, says a national security expert.

Agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will not just be capable of eavesdropping and opening other people’s mail, according to Reg Whitaker.

The Vancouver Island-based academic and author of The End of Privacy: How Total Surveillance is Becoming a Reality said they’ll be able to do pretty much everything, short of murder, torture, sexual assault, and obstruction of justice.

That’s care of Bill C-51, the federal Liberal party-backed anti-terrorism bill introduced by the Conservatives in Parliament.

“The way that legislation is drawn up, anything,” Whitaker told the Straight in a phone interview. “I mean, it’s open ended. It’s a blank cheque.” more

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lawyer Asks Judge to Rule... Wiretapper was a Party to the Calls

NJ - A top official at a New Jersey jail has been convicted of illegal wiretapping.

Hudson County Correctional Facility Deputy Director Kirk Eady was convicted Friday of the only charge he faced.

Authorities say he used a website to intercept and record at least a dozen telephone calls of other employees and another person who were critical of his work performance.

The 46-year-old Eady, of East Brunswick, scheduled to be sentenced on July 8. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. 

His lawyer has asked a judge to rule that Eady was actually a party to the phone calls and not breaking the law. more

BlackBerry's SecuTABLET

BlackBerry is returning to its core expertise in mobile phones — security — as it was known half-a-decade ago.
In its efforts to stage back in the lost ground of mobile market, the Canada-based company said its new high-security tablet based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 would extend its secure mobile services developed in partnership with IBM and Samsung.

Called the SecuTABLET, the device was presented by its Secusmart unit at the CeBIT 2015 in Germany, BlackBerry said the new mobile brings forth once again its core strength on secure connections for government and big businesses, In fact a decade ago, BlackBerry ruled the world of secrecy with its encrypted e-mail message facility that became a headache for many governments used to swooping on big business conglomerates. more

He Wiretapped His Way Into Her Heart

AR - A little wiretapping and a less than harmonious conversation with another man were the catalyst for romance in 1986 for Beth Guerin and the office telephone installation tech.

He had certainly noticed her. The really cute girl who was answering phones part time in the doctor's office? Yes, 19-year-old Darrin Adcock had noticed her. He was doing a job for a small telecommunications company in Hot Springs, and he likely would have left without exchanging a word with her had he not made a small mistake first.

"I had my test set and I accidentally clicked onto the line that she was on. And I listened. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I did," Darrin says. "I really didn't mean to do that, but in doing so I heard her talking to her then-boyfriend and realized her and her boyfriend were not getting along and I thought, 'Well, this is kind of neat.'" more

Corporate Espionage: CBI Names PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Suspect

India - The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday named consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers as a suspect in the corporate espionage case...

The Delhi Police had earlier last month arrested two more persons - one from the UPSC and the other from the Environment Ministry - broadening its probe into the corporate espionage case.

They were held for leaking sensitive documents to energy consultant Lokesh Sharma.

Around 17 people, including government employees, energy consultants and senior executives of top energy companies, have been arrested so far by the Delhi Police. more

Friday, March 13, 2015

Business Espionage: The Cruffin Caper (and 230 other recipes swiped)

It takes three days to make a cruffin, a muffin-croissant hybrid that is the signature of Ry Stephen, a 28-year-old pastry chef. His shop, Mr Holmes Bakehouse, has been open three months and inspired a wild following, with customers lining up early to buy the ice-cream-cone-shaped cruffins, which reliably sell out before the line is gone...

Now, the tempting sweet may have inspired a crime. Overnight last week, a thief stole the recipe for cruffins, and Mr. Stephen’s 230 other recipes, from binders in the bakery’s kitchen. Nothing else in the store was touched: not money, valuable baking equipment, an iPad or other computers...

Mr. Stephen does not think it was an inside job. He said he trusts his employees and has told them, “You can have any recipe you want, provided you know how to execute it.” Plus a new surveillance system had been installed, but was not yet operational, although the employees did not know that. more

This is a cautionary tale with important points for your business...

1. Secure your proprietary information and business secrets. Keeping them in your "locked" office, on a shelf, where everyone knows where they are, is not adequate.

2. Use top notch security to protect your business secrets. Hire an independent security consultant to assist you with this. Periodically double-check to make sure your security systems are 100% operational.

Expect to see cruffins everywhere, soon.

Tea - the "greatest single act of corporate espionage in history."

The Scottish Spy Who Stole China's Tea Empire

Robert Fortune
In the mid-19th century, Britain was an almost unchallenged empire. It controlled about a fifth of the world's surface, and yet its weakness had everything to do with tiny leaves soaked in hot water: tea. By 1800, it was easily the most popular drink among Britons.

The problem? All the tea in the world came from China, and Britain couldn't control the quality or the price. So around 1850, a group of British businessmen set out to create a tea industry in a place they did control: India.

For All the Tea In China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History is writer Sarah Rose's account of the effort to control the tea market, what she calls the "greatest single act of corporate espionage in history." more

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Barbie Learns How to Talk. (It only took her 50 years.)

In a recent demonstration of its Internet-connected doll, Hello Barbie, a Mattel spokesperson greeted the souped-up version of the iconic doll by saying, “Welcome to New York, Barbie.”

Thanks to voice-recognition technology, Barbie was able to analyze that remark and give a relevant, conversational response: “I love New York! Don’t you? Tell me, what’s your favorite part about the city? The food, fashion or the sights?”

The company promises that the software will enable the doll “to listen and learn each girl’s preferences and then adapt to those accordingly.”

The interactive doll is slated to hit shelves in the fall, and Mattel is likely hoping it will help revive sinking sales of its flagship brand.

But a children’s privacy advocacy group is calling for the company to cease production of the toy, saying Hello Barbie might more accurately be called "eavesdropping" Barbie. Because the doll works by recording children’s speech with an embedded microphone and then sending that data over the Web, these advocates call the technology “creepy” and say it could leave children vulnerable to stealth advertising tactics. On Wednesday, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a petition urging Mattel to keep the doll from hitting store shelves. more

"Well, gag me with a spoon!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Defense Against the Spy - 1967 CIA Training Film

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) presents a case study of devices that were used for espionage purposes during the 1960's.

Security Director Alert - Time to Update Your BYOD Policy (You do have one don't you?)

According to Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Security Labs, around 16 million mobile devices are already infected by malicious software designed to spy on users and steal confidential data.

This form of malware is capable of tracking the phone and its owner’s location, monitoring ingoing and outgoing calls, text messages and emails, as well as tracking web browsers.

Cyber-criminals are now targeting Android devices with infection rates for Android and Windows devices estimated to be split 50/50.

Many multinational firms, however, still employ an unmonitored bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. This frequently means key staff are connecting to the corporate communications network via unsecured smartphones. It has also led to a situation where staff access social networking sites and audio/visual entertainment of all kinds, exposing them to a growing number of malware attacks. more

Spycams and Wiretaps - Motives for Murder

PA - A man has shot his neighbor eight times - leaving her in critical condition - and taken his own life after accusing her of wiretapping his apartment in a years-long rift.

Steven Outlaw, 51, confronted his downstairs neighbor, 46-year-old Mary Pitts-Devine, in the first-floor hallway of their West Philadelphia building just before 11am on Sunday, WPVI reported.

He shot at her 10 times, hitting her with eight bullets and leaving her in critical condition.

Outlaw then went to his second-floor apartment and shot himself dead, police said.

The shooting came after a simmering argument over whether Pitts-Devine was wiretapping the telephone lines of Outlaw's apartment, reported...

He had also written down accusations that she was spying on him with video cameras, according to the channel. more

Friday, March 6, 2015

FutureWatch - FM Bugs Are So Arco - Coming Soon... Bugs with Pluck

For the first time in history, a prototype radio has been created that is claimed to be completely digital, generating high-frequency radio waves purely through the use of integrated circuits and a set of patented algorithms without using conventional analog radio circuits in any way whatsoever. This breakthrough technology promises to vastly improve the wireless communications capabilities of everything from 5G mobile technology to the multitude devices aimed at supporting the Internet of Things.

The significance of this new technology cannot be overstated: Every aspect of radio frequency generation is said to be created using a string of digital bits, and nothing else. There are no analog circuits, no filters, no chokes, none of the traditional circuitry and components expected in a radio transmitter. Consisting of a mere handful of components, including a couple of integrated circuits, an antenna, and not much else, the transmitter – dubbed Pizzicato – promises to change the face of wireless transmission.

Created by Cambridge Consultants, the initial trials of the Pizzicato have been claimed to show that it has fully met all the expectations of its myriad performance requirements. But more than this, the Pizzicato has brought bulky radio circuits down to microprocessor levels, with the promise of even smaller, more efficient uses of the technology in future. more

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Short History of Wiretapping

Wiretapping has been around almost since the invention of the telegraph. 

Union and Confederate soldiers intercepted one another’s telegraph wires during the Civil War, scraping off a small piece of insulation and splicing their own line to the enemy’s. 

Later, private detectives spied for clients. The use of a wiretap in a Connecticut divorce case in the 1880s led that state to ban the practice in 1889. News services stole one another’s articles. The use of a wiretap to convey false cotton prices in London, a plot aimed at stock speculators, set off a panic in New Orleans in 1899.

But in the postwar 19th century, much wiretapping of telegraphs and, later, telephones was carried out by crooks trying to cheat other crooks.

Workplace Video Voyeurism - Domino’s Falls This Time

NY - An alleged voyeuristic Domino’s worker was arrested after a young woman noticed something odd in the employee bathroom, according to the Nassau County Police Department.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a 20-year-old female employee at the 935 Front Street Domino’s in Uniondale took a break to use the bathroom.

Murray Associates composite photo.
The coat rack inside the facility caught her eye, however — specifically, a cell phone peeking out of a jacket pocket. She notified the manager, and her manager dialed 911. The jacket, according to police, belonged to the woman’s co-worker, 19-year-old Jonathan Parra.

Along with footage of the young woman, an investigation revealed images of a 51-year-old man using the bathroom as well.

Parra faces two counts of unlawful surveillance and will be arraigned Tuesday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Spying With a Drone May Become a Criminal Offense in CO

Colorado lawmakers want to criminalize the use of drones when they’re used to monitor someone without their consent.

The proposal up for a House committee vote Tuesday would make it a crime of first-degree trespassing to take images of someone when they have an expectation of privacy. Drone users could also be charged with harassment if they use the technology to monitor someone’s movements.

“As technology moves forward, our privacy is becoming more dear to us,” said the bill sponsor, Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton.

Lawrence’s bill is not just about drones, but “any type of electronic surveillance when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Get your (novelty) drone hunting license here. I have one.

Yet More Invisibility Eyeglasses

This year, AVG will reveal a set of concept invisibility glasses at Pepcom in Barcelona before Mobile World Congress. 

What are invisibility glasses?

Developed by AVG Innovation Labs, the glasses help protect your visual identity in the digital age.

Through a mixture of technology and specialist materials, privacy wearables such as invisibility glasses can make it difficult for cameras or other facial recognition technologies to get a clear view of your identity.

...there are generally two different methods of combating unwanted facial recognition:

Infrared Light
The idea is to place infrared LEDs inserted around the eyes and the nose areas. Since the infrared lights are completely invisible to human eyes, they are only detectable by cameras which are sensitive to the wavelengths of these LEDs. They claim to break face detection when the lights are on.

In this example we show how infrared can be used to avoid Facebook’s facial recognition technology.

Retro-reflective Materials
These specialist materials help maintain your privacy at the moment that the image is actually taken.

PS - This is a proof-of-concept project. Not for sale. However, you can make your own.
Other glasses.

Note: Many cell phone cameras have infrared cutoff filters built into their lenses... and you can bet law enforcement facial recognition systems do too.