Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Spying Using Acoustic Imaging Via Smart Devices

A team of student hackers have demonstrated a method for using music to turn smart devices into tools for spying. The system is based on sonar, and embeds an inaudible signal into songs played on a smartphone or TV. The system can then use the device’s microphone to listen to how the signal bounces, and track the movements of anyone near the audio source.

The University of Washington research team behind the technology, known as CovertBand, tested it using a 42-inch Sharp TV in five different Seattle homes.

They found that the method is able to track the physical movements of multiple people to within 18 centimeters of accuracy, and even differentiate between particular gestures and motions. The tech can also track people, though less accurately, through walls.

They also demonstrated that listeners couldn’t distinguish between songs containing the hidden sonar signals, and those without it. ...and all CovertBand needs to work is a speaker and a microphone. more

Smartphone Replacement Parts as Spies

If cracking your smartphone’s touchscreen wasn’t bad enough, researchers have found out a new security threat that might emerge out following the replacement of your touch screen as it has been found out that the replaced units might contain hardware that could hijack a device. 

A paper presented by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of Negev, Israel, at the 2017 Usenix Workshop on Offensive Technologies, shows how smartphone replacement units can be a security risk for the user.

Click to enlarge.
According to the researchers, devices with cracked touchscreens or even other damaged components are prone to security risks as the replaced parts installed by a repair shop might contain additional hardware that can hijack the device and track usage, log keystrokes, install other malicious apps, access files and more. more

Dude, No Kid Uses a Landline Phone Anymore

MI - A heads up for parents! 

Cue theme music.
You might not know it, but you could end up in jail for eavesdropping on your child's conversations from a landline phone.

So many parents might pick up another line in the house to see who their child is talking to, but listening in on a call is a felony punishable by up to two years behind bars and a $2,000 fine.

However, a Republican lawmaker wants to change that. State Representative Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Township), introduced a bill last week that would give parents exemption from the eavesdropping law. more 

Idea! How about a law against loitering in phone booths.

So You Named Your Robot Bedmate, Mata Hari. Cute.

At the Hack in the Box security conference later this week in Singapore,

Argentinian security researchers Lucas Apa and Cesar Cerrudo plan to demonstrate hacker attacks they developed against three popular robots: the humanoid domestic robots known as the Alpha2 and NAO, as well as a larger, industrial-focused robotic arm sold by Universal Robots.

The duo plan to show that they can hack those machines to either change critical safety settings or, in the case of the two smaller bots, send them whatever commands they choose, turning them into surveillance devices that silently transmit audio and video to a remote spy.

"They can move, they can hear, they can see," says Cesar Cerrudo, the chief technology officer of IOActive, where both of the researchers work. Those features could soon make robots at least as tempting a target for spies and saboteurs as traditional computers or smartphones, he argues. "If you hack one of these things, the threat is bigger."...

Privacy invasion presents a more realistic worry... domestic robots contain mobile cameras and microphones whose data a spy could not only intercept, but manipulate and move at will around a target's house.  more

Friday, August 18, 2017

Do Bug Detecting Gadgets Work? Let's Ask an Ex-Police Chief

CA - A judge set bond at $100,000 on Friday for former La Joya police Chief Geovani Hernandez, who’s accused of accepting cash to provide security for drug shipments... When agents arrested Hernandez, they found a “bug detector” designed to reveal hidden recording devices and prevent electronic surveillance. more

TSCM News: All Blacks Bugging Case Settled

Australia - Adrian Gard, the security consultant at the centre of the All Blacks bugging case, had his public mischief charge dismissed by a Sydney court on Friday.

Gard was accused of making a false statement to police about a listening device found in the All Blacks’ hotel meeting room before the August 2016 match against Australia in Sydney.

The magistrate was unable to rule out that someone else could have planted the bug.

Gard was found guilty of a second charge relating to carrying out a security operation without a license.

The matter, dubbed “bug-gate”, caused much friction between the Australian and New Zealand Rugby unions when it was revealed last year. more

Moral of the story... This all could have been avoided if the All Blacks spent the money to hire a real, reputable (and licensed) technical security consultant. ~Kevin

PI Alert: New NY Law Reduces Surveillance Opportunities

Spying on your neighbor's backyard barbecue with video surveillance is now illegal in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill cracking down on the unauthorized invasion of privacy by video surveillance in the backyard... Unlawful surveillance was made a crime in 2003, but it only applied to places where there's an expectation of privacy like bathrooms and dressing rooms. more

PS - Law enforcement surveillance is exempted under the new law.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Spycam Darwin Award of the Week - The Creepy Kid

Jeremy Gabrysch put up a camera in their living room because his kid kept getting up in the middle of the night to watch TV.

The kid was not to be deterred, even if he didn't quite understand how a wide-angle lens works. more

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Good Spy News - Mom Bugs Kids... but not the way our moms did it.

California law makes it a crime to record someone’s conversation secretly, with a few exceptions — and one of them, a state appeals court says, allows a parent to use a hidden cell phone to record her child’s talks with a babysitter suspected of abuse.

A mother’s recording led to the conviction of a 12-year-old babysitter for molesting his 4-year-old cousin. The defense lawyer argued that the recording was illegal because neither of the speakers had consented.

But the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno said Monday that a parent who reasonably fears harm to her child, particularly a young child, can consent to a secret recording on the child’s behalf. State law normally requires the consent of both parties to a conversation, but allows consent by one person who reasonably suspects the other of a serious crime. more

SCIFs Go Corporate

With cybersecurity threats on the rise, the private sector is taking a cue from national security protocol to protect corporate secrets, investing in highly protected SCIFs, or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities.

What happens in a SCIF stays in a SCIF—and has ever since the concept of the “war room” originated during World War II. ...

Private companies are increasingly seeing the benefits too—especially those working in fields whose success is dependent on continually out-innovating their competitors. “The rooms can be used in many ways once built, from proposal writing and strategy sessions, to hands-on R&D and product testing,” says Gordon. “They can even be portable. But they all give companies piece of mind that work and discussions taking place inside the room are completely confidential.” more

Can't afford a SCIF (they're expensive), use a TSCM team to conduct pre-meeting inspections. If you can afford a SCIF (sweet), use a TSCM team to re-certify it's integrity against eavesdropping. SCIF effectiveness tends to decay with age and use. ~Kevin

Security Director Alert #857 - Coordinated Hotel Wi-Fi Spying

Mention this to your traveling executives. Reinforce VPN usage.
Russian hackers who infiltrated the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee in the US are now focusing on the wifi networks of European hotels to spy on guests in a “chilling” cyberoperation.

The state-sponsored Fancy Bear group infected the networks of luxury hotels in at least seven European countries and one Middle Eastern country last month, researchers say. FireEye, the US cybersecurity company that discovered the attacks, said the hotels were in capital cities and belonged to international chains that diplomats, business leaders and wealthy travelers would use. more

A TSCM Cautionary Tale - The All Blacks Affair

Background... A security consultant for the All Blacks rugby team announces he found a bug in a meeting room chair seat cushion. The arrest. And now, the trial...

An upholsterer called as a witness in the All Blacks bugging trial told a Sydney court he didn’t find any evidence of “tampering” or “reupholstering” when he inspected a chair allegedly used to conceal a listening device in the lead up to the Bledisloe Cup.

All Blacks security consultant Adrian Gard has denied making up claims he found the bug concealed in a chair in the All Blacks’ meeting room at the InterContinental Hotel in Double Bay in August 2016.

Mr Gard has pleaded not guilty to making a false representation resulting in a police investigation into the bug...

All Blacks team manager Darren Shand told the court last week Mr Gard on August 15, 2016, showed him two chairs which he claimed had given off abnormal readings during a bug sweep in the meeting room. Mr Shand said he could see what looked like a listening device. more

Why should you care?
• Not all TSCM "experts" are honest. (I'm shocked!)

• Reputation and experience matters.
• Ignore the smooth talk. Check references thoroughly, before letting them in.


This just in... The bugging device found in a chair in the All Blacks' Sydney hotel is sold at a chain of spy stores, a court has heard. Technician Mark Muratore told Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday the FM transmitter powered by a nine-volt battery was sold at the Oz Spy chain of stores and on eBay. Mr Muratore told the court about 80 of the FM transmitter devices, known as the RBFM600, were sold each year on eBay and at Oz Spy for $120 (≈$95 usd) each.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This Month in the Internet Disaster Incidents of Things (IDIoT)

Instant Lockdown...
Hundreds of Internet-connected locks became inoperable last week after a faulty software update caused them to experience a fatal system error, manufacturer LockState said. The incident is the latest reminder that the so-called Internet of Things—in which locks, thermostats, and other everyday appliances are embedded with small Internet-connected computers—often provide as many annoyances as they do conveniences. more
Fish Tank Phishing...
The hackers attempted to acquire data from a North American casino by using an Internet-connected fish tank, according to a report released Thursday by cybersecurity firm Darktrace.

The fish tank had sensors connected to a PC that regulated the temperature, food and cleanliness of the tank.“Somebody got into the fish tank and used it to move around into other areas (of the network) and sent out data,” said Justin Fier, Darktrace’s director of cyber intelligence. more
Flatline Surfing
Over a third of IoT medical device organizations suffer security incidents... Many medical devices are not built with cybersecurity in mind, yet a survey by Deloitte Cyber Risk Services of over 370 professionals organizations operating in the medical device/IoT arena shows that 36.5 percent have suffered a cyber security incident in the past year. more
Wait! What? You mean they are not secure!?!?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a $750k investment to develop a solution which bolsters the security of IoT disaster sensors. more
This Really Sucks
iRobot, the company that makes the adorable Roomba robots that trundle around your home sucking up everything in their path, has revealed its plans to sell maps of living rooms to the world's biggest tech companies. more
Car Wash Crazies
A group of security researchers have exposed the vulnerabilities in automatic car washes and proved just how easy it can be for hackers to target an internet-connected, drive-through car wash and damage vehicles. Their findings showed an attacker could easily manipulate bay doors to trap or strike vehicles in the car wash. Their findings showed an attacker could easily manipulate bay doors to trap or strike vehicles in the car wash. Hackers could also potentially control the mechanical arms inside the car wash, releasing powerful streams of water at a vehicle’s doors to prevent passengers from leaving. more
IoT Army MIA
In a competition between 24 skilled cyber amateurs, IoT connected soldiers were hit by a sophisticated mock cyber attack. ...designed to secretly intercept and control communications, resulting in a loss of contact with the unit of soldiers. more
Security Camera Insecurity times Millions
A flaw in a widely-used code library known as gSOAP has exposed millions of IoT devices, such as security cameras, to a remote attack. Researchers at IoT security firm Senrio discovered the Devil's Ivy flaw, a stack buffer overflow bug, while probing the remote configuration services of the M3004 dome camera from Axis Communications... Axis Communications confirmed that 249 of its 251 surveillance camera models were affected by the flaw. more
Alexa. My Wife Never Listens. Will You?
Every good paranoiac sees an always-listening device like an Amazon Echo as a potential spy sitting in plain sight. Now one security researcher has shown exactly how fine the line is between countertop computer and surveillance tool. With just a few minutes of hands-on time, a hacker could turn an Echo into a personal eavesdropping microphone without leaving any physical trace. more
FutureWatch - Soon ALL organizations will need a good Technical Security Consultant on-call. Periodically checking for new unintentional (and intentional) security vulnerabilities is their specialty. ~Kevin

Researchers: 'Stingray' Detector Apps - Not 100% Effective

Academic researchers at Oxford University and the Technical University of Berlin found that several leading Android apps designed to detect when a phone connects to a fake cell site, known as a "stingray," can be easily bypassed, allowing the stingray owner to eavesdrop on calls, intercept messages, and track the precise location of a phone.

The researchers found that the top five stingray detection apps in the Google Play app store -- SnoopSnitch, Cell Spy Catcher, GSM Spy Finder, Darshak, and AIMSICD -- failed on at least one count to alert the phone owner when their device has connected to a fake cell site...

The paper was released Monday ahead of a presentation at the Usenix Woot conference in Vancouver, Canada. more

Friday, August 11, 2017

Security Director Alert # 522 - Spying USB Power Plugs & Charging Cables

Freely for sale on Amazon's marketplace, and plenty of other online stores, are USB and iPhone cables that can be used to listen to your phone calls and track your location.

When these cables are connected to a power source they can use a SIM card to connect to a mobile network. The hardware is unsophisticated but can send both audio and very coarse location data to a third-party...

A more worrying feature is the ability of the cable to detect sound over a certain threshold and then call a pre-programmed number. Once it has done this is relays the sound near it, be that a phone call or conversation, and allows a third-party to listen in.

Not only are there cables that do this, there are also USB power adaptors for your wall outlet that have the same SIM functionality.

Cables and power adapters like this should also be something of a worry to firms that need their security too, they may well not be noticed by security checks and could be responsible for a lot of sensitive information walking out the front door. more

Best Practice: Include the inspection of cables and charging blocks as part of your TSCM inspections.

The Cuban "Acoustic Attack" - Eavesdropping, TSCM, or Other?

The FBI is reportedly investigating who was behind an “acoustic attack” that inflicted at least two staffers of the U.S. Embassy in Havana with sudden hearing loss. Washington expelled two Cuban diplomats earlier this year in response to the incident, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

The Cuban foreign ministry said it was investigating the allegations.

Citing officials familiar with the investigation, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that embassy staff in Havana began suffering from hearing loss in the fall of 2016. U.S. officials later concluded that a device operating outside the range of audible sound has been installed inside or near diplomatic residences in Havana. more

Media speculation as to what and who is rampant. 

Some what theories, which the media has missed, include: 
• An ultrasonic bugging device (an eavesdropping attack).
• An ultrasonic room flooding device (an eavesdropping countermeasure). 

If either of these were incompetently programmed–thus producing a higher than safe level of audio power output–people would experience hearing loss and other sickness symptoms (headache, nausea, disorientation, etc.).

As to who... A bugging device could be planted by anyone, not just the Cubans. An ultrasonic room flooding device would be placed by whoever has control of the room, in an effort to deter electronic eavesdropping attempts — mixing differing frequencies of ultrasound has a detrimental effect on microphones. This is a rarely used Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) tactic due to the fine balance between effectiveness and dangerousness. It zaps hearing aids, too.

An "acoustic attack" just to cause intentional harm seems unlikely. The results of the investigation should be interesting, if they see the light of day. Ultra-unlikely. ~Kevin

Now Available at Your Favorite Android App Store...

Hackers have flooded Android app stores, including the official Google Play store, with over 1,000 spyware apps, which have the capability to monitor almost every action on an infected device.

Dubbed SonicSpy, the malware can silently record calls and audio, take photos, make calls, send text messages to numbers specified by the attackers, and monitor calls logs, contacts, and information about wi-fi access points.

In total, SonicSpy can be ordered to remotely perform 73 different commands and its suspected to be the work of malware developers in Iraq. more  Antidote: SpyWarn 2.0

Surveillance Feeds Become Reality TV & Movie

They may be blocked from watching YouTube, but China’s 751 million internet users can binge on real-time video streams of yoga studios, swimming lessons, alpaca ranches and thousands of other scenes captured by surveillance cameras.

Much of what’s available would be unthinkable in the West...

In China, however, surveillance is both pervasive and widely accepted. And that’s the subject of a new film by one of China’s best-known contemporary artists.

In “Dragonfly Eyes,” director Xu Bing uses real surveillance footage to tell the story of an ill-fated romance between a young woman who works on a dairy farm and a technician who watches her through the farm’s surveillance system. Mr. Xu believes it’s the first full-length fiction film to be made entirely with surveillance footage. 

Creating “Dragonfly Eyes” convinced Mr. Xu of the prescience of “The Truman Show,” the 1998 satire starring Jim Carrey as a man whose every moment is telecast live without his knowledge, the director said.

“The entire world has become a gigantic film studio,” he said. more sing-a-long

Friday, August 4, 2017

Drone Over Your Home? It’s the Insurance Inspector

When Melinda Roberts found shingles in her front yard after a storm, her insurer didn’t dispatch a claims adjuster to investigate. It sent a drone.

The unmanned aircraft hovered above Ms. Roberts’ three-bedroom Birmingham, Ala., home and snapped photos of her roof. About a week later a check from Liberty Mutual Insurance arrived to cover repairs.

“It took a lot less time than I was expecting,” Ms. Roberts said.

Drones, photo-taking apps and artificial intelligence are accelerating what has long been a clunky, time-consuming experience: the auto or home-insurance claim. more

Electronic Eavesdropping & Wiretapping: Two More Reasons Businesses Need TSCM Inspections

There are two different types of wiretapping threats that can harm startups and established businesses alike -- especially if they house proprietary, confidential information.

When espionage hits. It feels like this.
First, there's government wiretapping. You might assume the simplest way to eliminate this threat is to abide by the law, but you’d be forgetting that, aside from the U.S. government, there are plenty of countries that have proven they’re willing to use Big Brother-style surveillance tactics to compromise private companies. If you work with an opposition party or in a sensitive industry in another country, your client’s government might target your business. 

Then, there's old-fashioned corporate espionage. If a competing company is desperate to get an edge over your business, it may use wiretapping to steal your information or otherwise compromise your company to gain an advantage. more

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Murray's TSCM Tip # 623 - Hiding in Plain Sight - The USB Microphone

USB microphones have many legitimate uses, students recording lectures, for example. Much more sensitive than a laptop's built-in microphone, they are perfect for that application. They also make eavesdropping on co-workers very easy.

The Plausible Deniability Bonus... Hey, it's not a bug. It's a legitimate piece of office equipment.

If you see one of these in a laptop, always assume it is recording. Some USB microphones have a red tally light, but a dot of black paint (or a piece of electrical tape) can cripple that tip-off. 

From the seller...
"This microphone is capable of picking up all of the sounds in large room (range of approximately 80 feet) or it can pick up small area its up to you, because you control the amplifier power! It's small size makes it perfect for situations where you don't want to draw attention to the fact that you are recording audio right into your computer."

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Security Researchers: Amazon Echo Can be Turned Into a Spying Device

Security researchers have recently shown that the popular Amazon Echo speaker can be hacked to eavesdrop on conversations without permission.

Security firm MWR InfoSecurity claims it was able to exploit a vulnerability which turns the Alexa-fueled device into a “wiretap” without altering its standard functionalities.

But before you get all alarmed, let us tell you the vulnerability was found to affect only 2015 and 2016 versions of the Amazon Echo. On top of that, in order to successfully hack the speaker, a hacker would need to have physical access to it. So you might want to lock your Amazon Echo away when your computer wiz cousin comes over for a visit. more

Monday, July 24, 2017

National Private Investigator Day - Birthday of Eugene Francois Vidocq

Today, July 24, marks National Private Investigator (PI) Day. National PI Day is a time dedicated to celebrate the contributions of licensed Private Investigators. It also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the value of professional Private Investigators to the public. After all, Private Investigators provide a fundamental and vital role in society today.

The July 24 holiday commemorates the birth year of Eugene Francois Vidocq, the very first Private Investigator who founded the first known detective agency in 1833. Vidocq’s birthday is on July 24. His legendary reputation is credited greatly with shaping the way law enforcement and investigations are carried out today.

More than 80,000 Private Investigator professionals across the United States will observe the holiday. These professional in the United States will also be joined by their international Private Investigator colleagues. Today, we say THANK YOU to all those who have made the commitment to serve as a Private Investigators.

Professional Private Investigators often find themselves working with attorneys, families, law enforcement officials, insurance companies, business owners and others. Their scope of services can vary greatly, but can include conducting background checks, finding missing persons, reuniting families, preventing fraud and abuse, and more. more

Sunday, July 23, 2017

OSS 75th Anniversary - Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Office of Strategic Services, an espionage unit that was crucial in winning World War II. And in time with the occasion, the agency is being awarded one of the nation’s highest civilian honors — Congressional Gold Medal. 

Before there was the CIA there was the OSS. The Office of Strategic Services was the predecessor to CIA and U.S. Special Operations Command that includes the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets.

The agency was created after the attack on Pearl Harbor and when it became apparent that Hitler was a threat to the world.

“The actual date is June 13th, 1942 when President Roosevelt signed the executive order 69 that created the OSS and named then Col. Donovan as its director. [Donovan] eventually became a two-star general,” said Charles Pinck, president of the OSS Society. Pinck’s father was part of the OSS who went behind enemy lines in China, which was occupied by the Japanese...

“They were out of the box thinkers. They were daring, they were extraordinary,” said Patrick O’Donnell, author of four books on the OSS and an expert on special operations history. more

Extra Credit - Spy Gadgets of World War II

Business Espionage: Half of German Firms Hit by Spying Last Two Years

More than half the companies in Germany have been hit by spying, sabotage or data theft in the last two years, the German IT industry association Bitkom said...

Some 53 per cent of companies in Germany have been victims of industrial espionage, sabotage or data theft in the last two years, Bitkom found – up from 51 per cent in a 2015 study...

Arne Schoenbohm, president of Germany’s BSI federal cyber agency, said many big companies and especially those operating critical infrastructure were generally well-prepared for cyber attacks. But many smaller and medium-sized companies did not take the threat seriously enough, he said...

Some 62 per cent of companies affected found those behind the attacks were either current or former employees. Forty-one per cent blamed competitors, customers, suppliers or service providers for the attacks, Bitkom said...

The BSI urged companies in Europe’s largest economy to make information security a top priority... more

Spy House for Sale

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey home that has been vacant since the FBI arrested a family of undercover Russian spies living there is heading for sale.

Vladimir and Lydia Guryev lived in the home in Montclair under the names Richard and Cynthia Murphy before they were arrested in 2010 along with eight other spies accused of leading double lives, complete with false passports, secret code words, fake names, invisible ink and encrypted radio.

The parents of two young daughters had pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign country and were deported to Russia in exchange for four people convicted of betraying Moscow to the West being let out of prison there.

Their story partially inspired the FX drama “The Americans,” about two undercover Russian spies that live in the U.S. with two young children. more

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Case for Corporate Counterintelligence

Excellent article explaining why corporations need a Counterintelligence Program. Make sure your program is holistic. Round it out by adding in Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM), and technical information security elements. 

Q: I am trying to garner support for creating a corporate counterintelligence (CI) program within our security organization; we are an international company with people and facilities in multiple countries. What does a “good” corporate CI program look like?

A: ...For its lifeblood, does your organization rely on: Patented or copyrighted products? Trade secrets? Proprietary information, technology, services or processes? Are supply chain vendors/subcontractors hired to support any of those areas? Is research and development a core capability? Does your organization provide goods or services not provided by anyone else? Are foreign nationals employed in the organization (domestically or internationally)? Are US citizen employees assigned to facilities outside the US? If you answered yes to any of these, then your organization is a viable candidate for a dedicated CI program... more

Eavesdropping Comes Out of the Closet – Gets Job as Reality Show

There are some people who love to eavesdrop — they can't help themselves. Then there are others who not only love to listen in, but also have a strong case of schadenfreude and take pleasure in the hardship of others. For these special individuals, there's a podcast that will be their newest obsession: Where Should We Begin.

Couples therapist and author Esther Perel hosts this addictive series, and it's better than reality TV, because you know these drama-filled conversations aren't scripted. During each session, strangers can listen in on private therapy sessions with the psychologist from Belgian. Although the names and identifying characteristics are left out, everything else is fair game in the episodes. more

Amazing $1.00 Gadget for Savvy Investigators

I recently came across this gadget on eBay.

It's a Bluetooth wireless remote control for smartphones (iOS & Android). Basically made for the selfie crowd, investigators will find applications for it as well. Not bad for a buck.

It comes with a battery. No instructions needed. Just flip the side switch, and pair it with your phone.

You can now be up to 30 feet away from your phone and snap photos, or take movies.

How can you go wrong for $1.00? Did I mention shipping was FREE! The catch... it will take about a month to arrive. Mine came from Thailand, probably via message in a bottle.

Need one quicker, a California ebay'er has them for $4.20, Free shipping.

Yet Another Caught on Open Microphone

Off-topic comments between OJ Simpson and his lawyer were caught on a hot mic as the parole board returned to tell him their decision. 

Among the things discussed were cookies, ice cream, President Donald Trump and former Associated Press Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch, who covered Simpson’s double murder trial.

“My best to my favorite lady, you know who I’m speaking of,” he said. “Tell her I wanted to call her but I don’t call anybody from here other than my family.” more

People are caught on open microphones quite often.
Rule #1 - If you see a microphone assume it is on. Watch what you say.

Rule #2 - If you don't see a microphone, don't assume one is not there and listening. Watch what you say, until you have had the area swept by a competent Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) team.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

How to Get Away with Spying for the Enemy

If you like real-life, bizarre, spy stories, this may really interest you.

How does someone get away with helping a foreign adversary? We dig into the gonzo story of an American acquitted of spying for the Soviets—even after he confessed to it.

The founder of an investment firm in Hawaii, Rewald lived like a Master of the Universe, traveling the world, driving expensive cars, staying in expensive hotels and throwing expensive parties.

Smith, by contrast, was a Mormon who lived in Utah with his wife and four children. A former case officer in intelligence with the United States Army, he had resigned from his job at the start of the 1980s to spend more time with his family. Smith sought to make a new life for himself as an entrepreneur; when VHS tapes were still cutting-edge, he began a service to make video diaries and testimonials for families to pass down from one generation to the next.

The common thread between Reward and Smith was espionage... more

Yet Another Caught on Open Microphone

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu caught on microphone slamming EU in Budapest...
Conference organizers quickly cut his microphone when they realized his closed-door comments were broadcast... Netanyahu was inadvertently picked up by a live microphone on Wednesday calling the European Union "crazy" and admitting to missile strikes in Syria... After a few minutes it became clear that journalists could hear the comments and the sound was cut. more

People are caught on open microphones quite often.
Rule #1 - If you see a microphone assume it is on. Watch what you say.

Rule #2 - If you don't see a microphone, don't assume one is not there and listening. Watch what you say, until you have had the area swept by a competent Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) team.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Information Security's Curse - The Ostrich Effect

A new study by OneLogin has revealed that a large proportion of businesses fail to adequately protect their networks from the potential threat posed by ex-employees.

The firm surveyed more than 600 IT decision-makers in the UK and found respondents were aware that over half (58%) of former employees are still able to access corporate networks even after they’ve left a company...

“Our study suggests that many businesses are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to this basic, but significant, threat to valuable data, revenue and brand image,” said Alvaro Hoyos, chief information security officer at OneLogin. more

Corporate Espionage in Mining

Shark Tanked

UK - A former champion boxer has been jailed after bugging his ex-girlfriend's phone during a campaign to 'control' her.

Ronnie 'The Shark' Clark installed spyware on a phone he bought former partner Rebecca Graham and sent her menacing messages, a court heard.

The 32-year-old was jailed for nine months at Teesside Crown Court after he was convicted of the new offence of 'controlling or coercive behaviour'...

He used the phone software to monitor who she was exchanging messages with and threatened to kill a man she was in touch with, The Dundee Courier reported.

A family member of Clark's also messaged Miss Graham telling her 'you know what he's capable of' and 'he's not scared of killing people'. more

Business Espionage: Hotel Wars

When it comes to appealing to Millennials — of which there are now 75.4 million in the United States alone — hotel companies are doing all they can to launch wallet-friendly, yet still-stylish accommodations that emphasize such features as co-working spaces, communal stadium seating, artisanal goods, and craft beers.

...now, one U.S. hotel company is suing another in an effort to either protect its intellectual property rights...

On July 12, Red Lion Hotels filed a lawsuit against Hard Rock International for “trade dress infringement, injury to business reputation, and unfair competition.”

Red Lion alleges that Hard Rock’s newest hotel brand, Reverb, is a carbon copy of its own Hotel RL brand, which it launched in October 2014 and currently has seven properties throughout the United States...

Red Lion, however, alleges that these similarities aren’t just the result of a shared effort to appeal to Millennials; it’s the fact that Red Lion and Hard Rock hired the same hotel consulting group to develop their respective brands...

This isn’t the first time a hotel company has accused a competitor of intellectual property theft. Starwood Hotels & Resorts sued Hilton in 2009, alleging that two of its former executives who joined Hilton had conspired to steal secrets from W Hotels to help Hilton create its own version of W, to be called Denizen.

Hilton later paid Starwood $75 million to settle civil charges of corporate espionage, and agreed not to launch or acquire a lifestyle brand like Denizen for two years. more

Friday, July 14, 2017

This week in SpyCam News: A Spy Watch Case Within a Case, and more...

VA - That case involves the 20 charges of filming a nude person without their consent, seven charges of entering a home under false pretenses, and two charges of possessing marijuana that are pending against former Windor Hills maintenance worker John David Mills, 34, of Montgomery County. Prosecutors say Mills went to women’s apartments, told them their bathroom needed repair, and left behind a spy watch equipped with a hidden video camera. He then returned to collect the watch, amassing a collection of surreptitious videos of residents in their bathrooms. At a hearing in May, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Jensen said that Mills told investigators that the videos had become an addiction and that he had secretly filmed more than 20 people. more
FL - The Citrus County Sheriff's Office says a church employee has been arrested on several charges including video voyeurism. In a press release, deputies say the man was an employee of Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church. He is identified as 36-year-old Chad Robison from Hernando. He worked as a worship director from 2011 to 2017... After investigating, Internet Crimes Against Children Central Florida Task Force found more than 3,000 videos and 350,000 pictures on his laptop featuring young girls performing sex acts with Robison. The laptop also contained videos of young girls using his restroom when they visited his home. more
UK - A trusted school caretaker hid a camera in staff toilets and made secret recordings for his own sexual gratification. Pervert Malcolm Banks had worked at Gosforth Academy, in Newcastle, for over 30 years before he decided to set-up the device and upload the subsequent footage on to his computer... The camera was eventually spotted by two teachers and it was handed to the headteacher before Banks was confronted. more
Canada - Police are seeking a suspect after a woman reported an unknown male allegedly filmed her in the change room of an Oakville community centre July 11. The woman was getting ready to swim at the Iroquois Ridge Community Centre on Glenashton Drive at 7:45 p.m. when the alleged incident occurred, Halton police say. more
AR - A woman told police she caught a man taking video or pictures of her while she was nude in a local gym's tanning booth. Eric Shane Couch, 30, of Hot Springs, has been charged with video voyeurism, a felony... The female victim told police that as she was getting out of a tanning bed and getting dressed, she noticed a cell phone being held over the partitioning wall that separated two tanning booths. more
LA - Bossier City police are investigating a complaint received Monday about an alleged incident of video voyeurism at an Old Navy clothing store. ...according to the complaint, an unidentified man is accused of sliding a mobile phone under a dressing room stall door in an apparent attempt to take photos or video of the 17-year-old girl inside. more
(Sometimes, spycams are good.)
UK - A Bupa carer was caught on a family’s spy cam verbally abusing a dementia patient before twice spraying an aerosol in her MOUTH, a court heard... Betty Boylan’s relatives hid the device inside a television after they found unexplained bruising on the retired nurse when they visited her at the £1,000-a-month care home. Within days they uncovered disturbing footage of carer Bina Begum, 49, lifting the great-gran by her head before throwing her back into her chair. more
Idiocracy is closer than you think... SOLD OUT

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Shops Using Spy Techniques to Monitor Customers' Facial Expressions

New technology being installed by retailers in Europe and the US, and being trialed in the UK, can spot if a customer cannot find a product, read their reaction to an outfit or spot thieves in a bid to keep up with online retailers. 

Shops are using new spy techniques to monitor customers' facial expressions, heart rate and even pupil dilation while they browse the aisles.

Technology installed by one French bookseller is able to detect shoppers' movements and facial expressions and alert staff that they may require assistance.

The technology could save retailers thousands of pounds by ditching the laborious marketing method of interviewing shoppers and focus groups. more

How the Dutch Bugged the Soviet Embassy -- Updated with Excellent Graphics

Our friend in The Netherlands, Dr. Cees Wiebes, has alerted us to some updates on the cryptomuseum.com website.

Click to enlarge.
Backgrounds: Dr. Wiebes is the author of Intelligence and the War in Bosnia: 1992-1995 (Studies in Intelligence History). In researching this book he was granted full access to the top-secret archives of the Dutch services and the still classified UN archives. Foreign intelligence services gave him confidential briefings, and he spoke with more than 100 intelligence officials from various countries.

The Crypto Museum, curated by Paul Reuvers and Marc Simons, is the absolute best virtual site I've seen for information on government eavesdropping and information security countermeasures. Both are self-employed engineers from Eindhoven, a lovely small (but very high-tech) city which I've been to multiple times. Their dedication to preserving this history is only rivaled by the photography and graphics they have been able to obtain for the website. Enjoy...

An update of the Dutch bugging of the Soviet embassy in The Hague: http://www.cryptomuseum.com/covert/cases/nl/ra1958.htm

The various types of Dutch bugs that were used.

New information as regards the Moscow bug:

An interesting overview of all Easy Chair- related affairs:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Spycam News: Former NASCAR Driver Sued for Spying on Ex's

Former NASCAR driver Greg Biffle and Roush Fenway Racing have been sued by Biffle's ex-wife and her mother for allegedly spying on them inside his home in Mooresville, North Carolina, with hidden cameras.

According to WSOC-TV's Allison Latos, Biffle is alleged to have hidden cameras "inside the house, including in the master bedroom, bathroom and in the guest bedroom where Biffle's former mother-in-law stayed."

The suit reportedly alleges Biffle, 47, spied on his ex-wife and ex-mother-in-law with the hidden cameras and showed the tape around. more

Android Malware Steals Data From 40 Apps

A newly uncovered form of Android malware aims to steal data from over 40 popular apps including Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype and Firefox - and the trojan has been actively engaging in in this illicit activity for almost two years.

Dubbed SpyDealer by the Palo Alto Networks researchers who discovered it, the malware harvests vast accounts of personal information about compromised users, including phone numbers, messages, contacts, call history, connected wi-fi information and even the location of the device.

The espionage capabilities of the trojan also enable it to record phone calls and videos, along with surrounding audio and video, take photos with both front and rear cameras, take screenshots of sensitive information and monitor the devices location at all times. more

Goodluck Jonathan's Wife - Claims Repeated Phone Bugging

Nigeria - Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of sending assassins after her. 

Patience also accused the anti-graft agency of bugging her telephone lines, adding that agents of the commission had been sending threatening text messages to her.

The former President’s wife said, “The EFCC and its agents have repeatedly bugged the personal telephones of our client and her relations through its many operatives and has inundated her with numerous threatening calls and text messages.” more

The Great Seal Redux - Former Minister Admits to Installing a Video / Audio Bug

Ghana - The former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, has said that he installed the spying device retrieved from the office of the current Minister, John Peter Amewu...

According to him, the hue and cry over the incident was not necessary as the device was not even fully installed... (it appears fully installed)

The device was planted in the huge Coat of Arms plaque hanging in the far left corner of the Minister’s office.

The device included a camera, a storage unit and another device suspected to be a transmitter. It was neatly housed in a black metal box and used batteries.* more

* This description is not totally accurate, based on what's seen in the photo. 
For more on the original Great Seal Bug click here

It has emerged that, the secret audiovisual recording device planted at the Lands and Natural Resource Minister’s office was discovered by an Israeli national and not National Security operatives as widely speculated.

According to the Public Relations Officer of the Lands Ministry, Abraham Otabil, the Israeli national [name withheld], who had called on the minister to discuss some private matters when he surprisingly detected the ‘spying’ gadget...

He added that, the detective and his team discovered the bugged device after a brief inspection was carried out at the office. Though the said Israeli national, could not tell the minister how long the device had been planted, National Security operatives were alerted to pick up the matter for further investigations. more

Following the bugging of the office of the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources by a former minister under the out-gone National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration – Inusah Fuseini, the Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has suggested to all ministers and deputy ministers in the current regime to have their offices screened and swept by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

He said personally, he was going to ask the security agencies to also screen and sweep his office. more

The Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, has admitted bugging the office and vehicle of the current acting Chief Executive of the National Youth Authority, Mr Emmanuel Asigiri. more

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Security Director Alert: Satellite Phone Encryption Cracked

Chinese researchers have discovered a way to rapidly decrypt satellite phone communications -- within a fraction of a second in some cases.

The paper, published this week, expands on previous research by German academics in 2012 by rapidly speeding up the attack and showing that the encryption used in popular Inmarsat satellite phones can be cracked in "real time."

Using their proposed inversion attack thousands of time on a 3.3GHz satellite stream, the researchers were able to reduce the search space for the 64-bit encryption key, effectively making the decryption key easier to find.

The end result was that encrypted data could be cracked in a fraction of a second. more

Surveillance Robots Share and Interpret Images

A new system that allows a team of robots to share and interpret information as they move around could enable these same robots to relieve humans of dangerous jobs such as disposing of landmines, cleaning up after a nuclear meltdown or surveying the damage after a flood or hurricane. 

Seeing the same area from many points of view could be confusing to a human, but a computer can manage it and combine all the information to build a "model" of the scene and track objects and people from place to place.

Researchers from Cornell University have developed the system, which would allow robots to conduct surveillance as a single entity with many eyes.

"Once you have robots that cooperate, you can do all sorts of things," said Kilian Weinberger, associate professor of computer science...

The researchers plan to test their system on the Cornell campus, using research robots to "surveil" crowded areas while drawing on an overview from existing webcams. Their work might lead to incorporating the new technology into campus security. more

Things to Come...

The Espionage What Goes Around...

China fears cyberattacks because it is creating cutting-edge technology that others will want to steal, says its envoy to Canada (Lu Shaye), a rebuttal of the widely held view that the country is a leader in internet espionage.

Canada and China recently agreed to stop state-sponsored hacking of each other’s trade secrets and business information, but experts say the deal is unverifiable and potentially meaningless...

“China is technically advanced now and we are afraid that our things will be stolen by others,” Lu said through a translator in an interview with The Canadian Press.

China’s innovators are making great strides in quantum communications, supercomputing, and other information technology, he continued.

Last year, China launched a large satellite to support quantum communications, which New Scientist magazine describes as “a form of secure communication in which the laws of quantum mechanics prevent eavesdroppers from snooping in.” more

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Bootlegger, the Wiretap, and the Beginning of Privacy

Nearly a century before a U.S. President accused his predecessor of ordering a “tapp” on his private telephone line, and before he tweeted a warning to the head of the F.B.I. that he had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations,” a professional spy, armed with a pack of cigarettes and an earpiece, hid in the basement of the Henry Building, in downtown Seattle, catching crackling bits of words being spoken miles away.

Richard Fryant had worked as a wiretapper for the New York Telephone Company, tasked with eavesdropping on his own colleagues, and now took freelance assignments in the Queen City.

On this occasion, he was seeking dirt on Seattle’s corrupt mayor—who was suspected of having ties to Roy Olmstead, a local bootlegger—for a political rival. At the behest of his client, Fryant rigged micro-wires to a certain exchange, ELliott-6785, and began to listen.

“They got that load,” one man said, breathing heavily.

“The hell they did—who?” asked another.

“The federals.”

The men speaking on ELliott-6785 hung up, but the conversation had only just begun... more

Roy Olmstead kicked off a long, twisted, legal trail of litigation, decisions and laws regarding electronic surveillance. It's a trail that hasn't ended yet.

Quote of the Week

"There are no hackers; there are only spies," ~ Eric O'Neill

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Without Spies There May Have Been No 'Fourth of July'

By Nina Strochlic, for National Geographic magazine.

In 1777, the American colonies were badly losing their fight for independence from Great Britain. The British Army had captured New York City’s crucial port. Expecting further advances, the Continental Congress was evacuated from Philadelphia. It seemed that the war was lost.
Then George Washington, then Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, wrote a letter that changed the course of the war.

Washington was desperate to discover what was happening inside New York, but military scouts couldn’t get close enough. The general needed someone to penetrate enemy lines, but when he asked for volunteers, few of his troops raised their hands.

“Spying wasn’t seen as gentlemanly,” says Vince Houghton, resident historian at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

Finally, a young army captain named Nathan Hale volunteered for the dangerous assignment. He was caught a week later and hanged, the first known American spy to be executed on the job. (He’s memorialized with a statue outside CIA headquarters.)

Washington realized that the mission was too big for untrained volunteers, so he set about building an espionage organization.

John Jay, later the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, had been running counterintelligence as head of the New York State Committee and Commission for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies. One of Jay’s operatives, a merchant named Nathaniel Sackett, had experience in secret writing and codes. 

In February 1777, Washington wrote a letter to Sackett in which he offered him $50 a month—out of his own pocket—to establish the first formal apparatus for the “advantage of obtaining the earliest and best Intelligence of the designs of the Enemy.” “Without the organization that Sackett set up, it would have been very difficult for us to win the war,” says Houghton. “We had a ragtag army and [the British] had the greatest army, greatest navy, and greatest economy in the world. We had no real business winning this war.”

But America’s spy service got off to an inglorious start. Most of Sackett’s agents failed at their jobs—including Sackett himself, who was fired after just six months.

Fortunately for the infant nation, Sackett’s replacement, 26-year-old Benjamin Tallmadge, created what is considered one of America’s greatest espionage operations: the Culper Spy Ring. Comprised of childhood friends from Long Island, the group included a shop owner inside New York City who gathered information, a traveling trader who smuggled it out of the city, and a whale boat captain who delivered it to Washington’s camp.

Employing the tools and tricks of the 18th-century spy trade—hiding secret messages in hollow feather quills, using “dead drops” to transport letters—the Culper operatives unmasked enemy spies, busted a money counterfeiting plan, and stopped the British from sabotaging a French aid mission to the colonies.

After important letters were lost during an enemy raid, Tallmadge invented a “numerical dictionary” code that matched 763 cities, names, and words to numbers. (Washington’s code name was Agent 711.) Washington also asked physician James Jay (brother to John) to invent an invisible ink that could be revealed only with another chemical and would “relieve the fears of such persons as may be entrusted in its conveyance.

Washington’s espionage experiment paid off. In 1781 the British surrendered, thanks in part to the intelligence gathered by the Culper Ring and their networks. “Washington didn’t really out-fight the British. He simply out-spied us,” a British intelligence officer allegedly said after the war.

None of the Culper spies were ever caught, and even Washington himself never learned exactly who was in the group. The ring’s very existence wasn’t discovered until the 1900s, and to this day no one knows for certain how many members it had.

After the war Washington asked Congress to reimburse him $17,000—nearly half a million dollars today—for his espionage expenses. The lawmakers obliged.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Weiwei - All Leave Hansel & Gretel Digital Breadcrumbs

The Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei is nothing if not connected. All through the introductory remarks at the press preview for Hansel & Gretel, the giant art installation about electronic surveillance at the Park Avenue Armory in New York (open through August 6), Ai was busy on his phone...

Hansel & Gretel—the latest in the Armory’s series of huge Drill Hall extravaganzas, whose title indicates that we all leave breadcrumb trails, whether we want to or not—is another collaboration among Mr. Ai and Mssrs. Herzog and de Meuron...

Part 1 of this technology-rich dystopian spectacle occupies the whole of the darkened 55,000-square-foot Drill Hall, which the audience enters not from the Armory’s grand, staircased main entrance, but through an inconspicuous rear door on Lexington Avenue.

Once inside, visitors make their way through almost pitchblack corridors to a ramp that takes them up a few feet to the main attraction: a floor on which are projected their surveilled overhead images, which follow them around like digital puppy dogs.

The images come from dozens of overhead cameras, not the tethered drones buzzing around overhead. The phenomenon undoubtedly inspires awe in a few... The Drill Hall gizmopalooza gives everyone a visceral experience of what it’s like to be watched by unseen forces... more

Spycam News: Docs Know What's Up

The National Healthcare Professionals Association of South Africa has filed papers in the Pretoria High Court

accusing 19 medical aid schemes of spying on doctors and sneaking hidden cameras into their consulting rooms...

The lawsuit specifically named Discovery, stating that the scheme has sent spies and private investigators with concealed video cameras and recording equipment into private consultation rooms without consent. more

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Where Smartphones Became Spyware Piñatas

A spying scandal in Mexico widened after it was confirmed by experts that several of the country’s top opposition leaders — along with journalists and human rights advocates — were targeted by high-tech spyware exclusively sold to governments.

The Internet watchdog group Citizen Lab exposed the scandal (in June) in a report that showed that spyware known as Pegasus had been used in recent years to infiltrate the cellphones of 12 prominent journalists and rights activists, all of whom had been critical of the Mexican government...

The victims received messages with links to the malware, which, when activated, allows outsiders to remotely access a phone’s data as well as activate its camera and microphone. more

Business Espionage Cautionary Tale - Bugs, Taps and Now... Drones

Australia - An international drug syndicate used drones to conduct counter-surveillance on police...

"During the investigation phase, this syndicate has used aerial drones to conduct counter-surveillance on police activity," Commander Beveridge said.

"The syndicate was using a drone when they were holding their meetings, to conduct counter-surveillance, to see if anyone, like law enforcement, was watching...

"It did cause the surveillance staff to initiate procedures and methodologies to defeat it. "These syndicates are getting a lot more sophisticated, and so are we. We've just got to be awake to it." more

Murray Associates Industrial Espionage Takeaway Points:
• Even with an upper floor office you are no longer immune to optical surveillance.

• If you have window blinds, use them.
• Make sure computer screens and whiteboards don't face windows.
• Institute a clear desk policy.
• If you see a drone, don't assume it's some hobbyist playing. Take a photo or movie for evidence.
• Be alert. A drone in your parking lot can grab all license plate numbers in a minute. (One of the first warning signs of an espionage attack.)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

FutureWatch: Is Privacy the New Luxury?

There is nothing more luxurious than your own private island.

A secluded space, which is owned only by you. Private islands are the definition of privacy, security, peace, tranquility and an extraordinary lifestyle. There are only a handful of people in the world who have the opportunity to provide themselves and their family with the exclusive privacy and seclusion.

Enjoy it while you can...

Sea level rise accelerated by the melting of glaciers due to rising global temperatures has put many island nations on high alert, as their very survival hangs in the balance.

NASA researchers recently predicted that we are currently "locked into at least three feet of sea level rise, and probably more" by the end of the century.

Specifically, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change listed the "Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Cook Islands (in the Pacific Ocean); Antigua and Nevis (in the Caribbean Sea); and the Maldives (in the Indian Ocean)," as the most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change. more