Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Norway & Germany Call Time Out on Kiddy Smartwatches

Recently, Germany's Federal Network Agency (FNA) called foul on smartwatches that worked as listening devices — specifically those worn by children between the ages of 5 and 12, and used by parents, in particular, to eavesdrop on their kids while at school.

"Piss off."
The German regulating body said that parents would listen in on classes and teachers without consent...

These special watches, work like a baby monitor — allowing someone to tap into the device and listen in to anything happening around it. And people are being asked now to not only keep an eye out for these particular smartwatches — but destroy them, and then send proof back to the FNA....

Germany's not alone in worrying about children's smartwatches. The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) had the same type of reaction a full month before the FNA, issuing a report about security concerns around the devices.

The NCC noted that smartwatches — besides acting as listening devices — can also transmit the location of a child — presumably to parents — but have security flaws which could open that information up easily to others. more 

Glad they didn't have these forearm ankle bracelets when I was a kid. ~Kevin

Revenge Spycam Shooting Gets Shooter Shot

GA - Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke said Thursday a man was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to burglary and spying on his ex-girlfriend.

Cooke said Blake Herman, 35, of Macon broke into his ex-girlfriend's home on Jones Road and planted a camera in her bedroom as revenge for her breaking up with him.

When Herman returned to his ex-girlfriend's home to remove the camera, her brother caught him and shot him thinking Herman was about to pull a gun.

The camera fell out of Herman's pocket during the ordeal, according to Cooke. more

IT Spy Guy Hacks Computer Cameras

MI - A Charlevoix County man from the United Kingdom is in jail and facing more than 40 charges for disturbing, computer-related crimes.

Police say Wayne Tambling got access to several victims’ computers and photographed them naked using the computer’s camera, without them knowing.

“They just noticed some strange things, some coincidences that led them to believe that someone might be spying on them,” Trooper Jeff Mercer, said.

State police say three victims came forward with that eerie feeling...

Tambling works in IT at Wojan Window and Door, the company says they are fully cooperating with police. more

Double Oh Concession

The UK government is going to speed up the way it vets and hires new recruits at its spy agency Government Communications Headquarters, which is responsible for electronic surveillance, after it fell short of hiring targets at the end of the last fiscal year (pdf).

The spy agency has said that it’s losing potential top recruits to huge tech companies because of bumper salaries. GCHQ’s lengthy vetting process, which is backlogged, also doesn’t help...

GCHQ, one of Britain’s three intelligence and security agencies alongside MI5 and MI6, aims to increase headcount by 14% over the next four years to 6,639 people.

This is after it had a shortfall in recruitment of 22% in the fiscal year. The report added that in order to get more recruits through the door, it will have to assign more people to the vetting process. more

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Seoul Trained Trackers, or Party Police Bugged

South Korea - One maintenance office of a Seoul apartment complex is in hot water after it took its investigation into noise complaints one step too far.

According to residents and security personnel, during a recent five-day period, the maintenance office dispatched security guards to investigate the source of excessive noise among suites on floors 9 through 15 in one building. The guards, deployed from midnight to three in the morning on the apartment corridors, were armed with sound amplifying equipment.

“Throughout the course of the investigation, I ended up listening to the conversations of the residents in each suite, even though I didn’t want to,” one security guard said. “Problems of excessive noise should be resolved through legal and appropriate means, but I think that using a sound amplifier that can result in an invasion of privacy is taking things too far.” more

Monday, December 25, 2017

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

You'd better watch out,
You'd better not cry,
You'd better not pout;
I'm telling you why.
Santa Claus is tapping
Your phone.

He's bugging your room,
He's reading your mail,
He's keeping a file
And running a tail.
Santa Claus is tapping
Your phone.

He hears you in the bedroom,
Surveills you out of doors,
And if that doesn't get the goods,
Then he'll use provocateurs.

So–you mustn't assume
That you are secure.
On Christmas Eve
He'll kick in your door.
Santa Claus is tapping
Your phone.

Author unknown

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Espionage Backdoor Installs via Printer-Spoofing Campaign

For many large organizations, emails from corporate printers and scanners are commonplace, and cyber-criminals are finding this vector to be a lucrative host to launch cyber-attacks.

Barracuda Networks has tracked an uptick in attacks through Canon, HP and Epson printer and scanner email attachments of late: Since late November, cyber-criminals have made millions of attempts to infect unsuspecting users by sending impersonated or spoofed emails from these common printer and scanner brands, with attachments that contain malware.

Once unpacked, the malware installs a backdoor on the machine that offers unauthorized access to a victim PC and cyber-espionage capabilities...

Further, indicating a ramsomware-ready aspect, attackers also can change the victim’s wallpaper to display a message of their choice.

Workers should use common sense to avoid the threat: 
  • double-check with the sender if one didn’t know a scanned document was coming; 
  • hovering the mouse over every hyperlink to make sure it’s legitimate; 
  • and simply not clicking if there’s any doubt whatsoever.  more
Example of a fake email.

Fun Spy Facts

Too much training.
The research team behind BBC2 quiz show QI have published a new book of facts and stats. Here are a few...
  • The first editorial assistant to work on the Oxford English Dictionary was sacked for industrial espionage.
  • Secret agents have to be trained to forget their advanced driving courses.
  • The French air force have a squad of golden eagles, trained to hunt down drones.
The QI Christmas Special is on BBC1, Boxing Day, 10pm more

"Hey, kids. Make BIG money in your spare time. Train spies!"

The UAE is recruiting former CIA and US government officials in a bid to create a professional intelligence body modeled on leading Western agencies.

The Gulf state has long relied on Western countries to build up its intelligence infrastructure, but are now paying big bucks to hire former US intelligence employees to build its spying capabilities.

Details of the training were reviewed by Foreign Policy and show daily seminars, scavenger hunts and training exercises in four-to-six man surveillance teams.

The following weeks provide advanced training on creating undercover identities when attending embassy functions and how to groom intelligence assets...

Former CIA and US government officials are drawn to the promise of a lucrative career, with instructor salaries of up to $1,000 a day funding an extravagant lifestyle, Foreign Policy reported. more

The Catch Santa in the Act App, by Snowden?!?!

Earlier this year, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden met with Jacqueline Moudeina, the first female lawyer in Chad and a legendary human rights advocate... 

Snowden told Moudeina that he was working on an app that could turn a mobile device into a kind of motion sensor in order to notify you when your devices are being tampered with.

The app could also tell you when someone had entered a room without you knowing, if someone had moved your things, or if someone had stormed into your friend’s house in the middle of the night.

Snowden recounted that pivotal conversation in an interview with the Verge. “She got very serious and told me, ‘I need this. I need this now. There’s so many people around us who need this.’”

Haven, announced today, is an app that does just that. Installed on a cheap burner Android device, Haven sends notifications to your personal, main phone in the event that your laptop has been tampered with.

If you leave your laptop at home or at an office or in a hotel room, you can place your Haven phone on top of the laptop, and when Haven detects motion, light, or movement — essentially, anything that might be someone messing with your stuff — it logs what happened. It takes photos, records sound, even takes down changes in light or acceleration, and then sends notifications to your main phone.

None of this logging is stored in the cloud, and the notifications you receive on your main phone are end-to-end encrypted over Signal. more

NJ Spycam'er Gets Slammer

A Williamstown, New Jersey, man was sentenced to 180 months in prison for receiving images and videos of child sexual abuse and for producing child pornography using a hidden camera in his bathroom, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced. more

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

TSCM - A Prudent Business Practice - Misunderstood by the Press

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency used public money to have his office swept for hidden listening devices and bought sophisticated biometric locks for additional security.

The spending items, totaling nearly $9,000, are among a string of increased counter-surveillance precautions taken by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended the spending. "Administrator Pruitt has received an unprecedented amount of threats against him...

Wilcox said that under the Obama administration, then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also had her office swept for listening devices. more

Conducting Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) is an integral part of any competent information security program. 

It is a common, albeit subtle, business practice in the private sector, and an absolute requirement in governments worldwide. 

The cost of a strategic information loss via undiscovered electronic surveillance makes proactive TSCM inspections look like pocket change cheap insurance. However, unlike insurance, TSCM inspections can prevent the loss.  

Visit to learn more. ~Kevin

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hollywood Has Always Played by a Different Set of Rules

Terry Crews is alleging that he and his family are the victims of a plot to "track" and "possibly bug" them, the actor and Time Magazine Silence Breaker posted on Twitter.

"My assailant Adam Venit is the founding partner at @WME, a corporation worth over $8 billion. I believe my family is being tracked and possibly bugged," he wrote as part of a series of tweets.

Crews also claims that someone possibly hacked into his son's computer. more

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Video Voyeurism: Carnival Cruise's Botched Investigation

A Florida family was shocked to discover a camera hidden among wires in their Carnival Cruise Line cabin. 

Click to enlarge.
The Pensacola couple, along with their 10-year-old son, found the device while searching undusted areas of the room after the father suffered an allergy attack during the second night of their journey from Mobile, Al., to Mexico, the Miami New Times reported.

According to the father, who was not identified by name, the camera was placed behind a TV in their room. The lens was sticking out a bit, pointing directly at the bed.

The man claimed the device was "warm to the touch" and appeared to have an antenna, which leads him to believe it may have been transmitting information to a third party. more

The couple reported the presence of the camera and transmitter in their cabin to the cruise ship’s security department. One of Carnival’s security personnel arrived in their cabin. He disconnected and removed the camera and transmitter with no gloves on and did not attempt to secure the room. In the video below, you can hear the passenger asking the officer why he was not wearing gloves.

The passenger thereafter communicated with the security staff to obtain an update. According to the passengers, the Carnival security personnel confirmed that the camera and transmitter: (1) were operational; (2) were typically the type of devices used on video drones: and (3) the transmitter was a long range device. To the passenger's knowledge, Carnival did not promptly report the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). more

This is a cautionary tale. Video voyeurism can happen to any business which offers hospitality, restrooms, changing rooms, shower areas, etc., to customers, visitors or employees. 

Handling the situation properly when it arises is important, and easy to do. Visit to learn how. Mishandling an incident, or sweeping it under the rug, will likely result in expensive litigation. Litigation you will likely lose.

Are Google and Amazon Patently Eavesdropping?

Patent applications from Amazon and Google revealed how their Alexa and Voice Assistant powered smart speakers are 'spying' on you.
The findings were published in a report created by Santa Monica, California based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog.

The study warns of an Orwellian future in which the gadgets eavesdrop on everything from confidential conversations to your toilet flushing habits...

The study found that digital assistants can be 'awake' even when users think they aren't listening...

In fact, the devices listen all the time they are turned on – and Amazon has envisioned Alexa using that information to build profiles on anyone in the room to sell them goods. more

Letter Accuses Uber of Corporate Espionage and Wiretapping

The legal battle between Uber the ride-hailing behemoth and Waymo the self-driving unit of Alphabet reached a pivotal point this week as the Judge presiding over the case released a letter based on the account of a former employee at Uber.

The letter alleged that a division with Uber has been responsible for carrying out acts such as theft of trade secrets, corporate espionage, bribery of officials in foreign countries, and different types of unlawful surveillance.

The letter, given the name “Jacobs Letter,” was authored by an attorney who represents Richard Jacobs, a former employee at Uber who held the position of global intelligence manager prior to his firing last April.

In the highly detailed account accusations are leveled of systematic illegal activities inside the Strategic Services Group (SSG) of Uber, which allegedly sought out the trade secrets of other companies through data collection and eavesdropping. more

Quote from the letter...
Uber’s Marketplace Analytics team…fraudulently impersonates riders and drivers on competitor platforms, hacks into competitor networks, and conducts unlawful wiretapping. more 

Another version of the story...
Uber illegally recorded phone calls and wiretapped the phones of executives at rival companies in a global “intelligence gathering” operation that went on for years, a former employee has alleged.

In a 37-page letter made public in federal court on Friday, Richard Jacobs, a former security employee with the ride-hailing service, alleges Uber set up internal teams whose sole purpose was to spy on competitors. “Uber has engaged, and continues to engage, in illegal intelligence gathering on a global scale,” Jacobs wrote, according to The New York Times.

The teams allegedly infiltrated chat rooms, impersonated drivers of rival companies, and placed surveillance on executives of those companies, including by illegally recording phone calls, the letter claims.

Jacobs’ allegations stem from a trade secrets case against Uber filed by Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving unit, which says Uber stole information about autonomous driving technology. more

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

For One Family - A New Christmas Gift Rule

Op-ed, NYT opinion
Click to enlarge.

During the holiday season, my husband and I tend to offer suggestions to those who are generous enough to insist on buying presents for our kids.

Things like “Don’t spend more than $50” and “No guns.” Or, for those with whom we can be comfortably blunt, “Just cash, please....

This year we’re adding a new rule to our list: No toys that can spy. The idea: to keep seemingly innocuous internet-connected devices that may compromise our privacy and security out of our home and especially out of our children’s hands. more

• CBS video report on holiday toys that can spy.

• All the cool gifts are made for spying on you.

FutureWatch: That Photo Can Now Be Traced to Your Phone

A University at Buffalo-led team of researchers has discovered how to identify smartphones by examining just one photo taken by the device.

The advancement opens the possibility of using smartphones—instead of body parts—as a form of identification to deter cybercrime.

"Like snowflakes, no two smartphones are the same. Each device, regardless of the manufacturer or make, can be identified through a pattern of microscopic imaging flaws that are present in every picture they take," says Kui Ren, the study's lead author. "It's kind of like matching bullets to a gun, only we're matching photos to a smartphone camera." 

The new technology, to be presented in February at the 2018 Network and Distributed Systems Security Conference in California, is not yet available to the public. However, it could become part of the authentication process—like PIN numbers and passwords—that customers complete at cash registers, ATMs and during online transactions. more

Security Director Alert: HP Laptops with Hidden Keyloggers

Researcher Michael Myng found a deactivated keylogger in a piece of software found on over 460 HP laptop models. A full list of affected laptops is here. The keylogger is deactivated by default but could represent a privacy concern if an attacker has physical access to the computer...

The bottom line? Update your HP laptop as soon as possible. If you are on HP’s list of affected laptops you can download the fix heremore

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

33 Years Late, or You'll Never be a Stranger Here

China has been building what it calls "the world's biggest camera surveillance network".

Across the country, 170 million CCTV cameras are already in place and an estimated 400 million new ones will be installed in the next three years.

Many of the cameras are fitted with artificial intelligence, including facial recognition technology. The BBC's John Sudworth has been given rare access to one of the new hi-tech police control rooms. excellent video demo

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mickey With the Big Ears - RIP

Mickey Gurdus was always a good listener.

Click to enlarge
For decades he commanded a battery of shortwave and FM radios, UHF and VHF receivers, tape recorders and other devices from a swivel chair in his Tel Aviv apartment, all to intercept and record foreign news broadcasts, secret satellite transmissions, confidential military messages and diplomatic conversations.

He was no vicarious eavesdropper, however. Mr. Gurdus listened for a living.

He monitored the airwaves for the state-run Israel Radio and tipped his editors — and, sometimes, intelligence agents — to hijackings, invasions and revolutions. In one instance he intercepted a telephone call between the White House and Air Force One. more

Amazingly, there was a time when anyone could eavesdrop on the radio-telephone calls from Air Force One. All one needed was a radio which could receive shortwave and/or frequencies around 409 MHz. More detailed instructions are still floating around the net. These days, communications are encrypted, and are mostly routed via satellite. ~Kevin

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Seminar in Information Security and Cryptography

Seminar in Information Security and Cryptography
Zurich Switzerland, June 11-13, 2018

Lecturers: Prof. David Basin and Prof. Ueli Maurer, ETH Zurich

Information Security and Cryptography. A full description of the seminar, including all topics covered, is available at

This seminar provides an in-depth coverage of Information Security and Cryptography. Concepts are explained in a way understandable to a wide audience, as well as mathematical, algorithmic, protocol-specific, and system-oriented aspects. The topics covered include cryptography and its foundations, system and network security, PKIs and key management, authentication and access control, privacy and data protection, and advanced topics in cryptography.

The seminar takes place in Zurich, Switzerland. The lectures and all course material are in English.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Hedy Lamarr - The Spread Spectrum Lady

“Bombshell” (Alexandra Dean’s timely documentary) explores, Lamarr, in collaboration with avant-garde composer George Antheil, of all people, came up with a way to ensure secure radio signals, a frequency-hopping technology that has been called the basis for such up-to-date innovations as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.
Though one of the most recognized faces in the world, Lamarr, executive producer Susan Sarandon has said, “was never seen for who she was.”
Yet what makes “Bombshell” intriguing is not just Lamarr’s gift for invention, it’s also what a fiery individualist she was, someone who had no regrets about her eventful life (”You learn from everything”), not even its racy, tabloid elements. more

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Russia Accuses Pepsi of Espionage - “Gotta Have It” / ”Chill Out”

A Russian state watchdog is accusing U.S. soda giant Pepsi of espionage, after receiving word that the soft drinks company had a copy of an internal agency document that was apparently never sent out.

Russia’s Rosselkhoznadzor, the Kremlin’s watchog specializing in agricultural products, released a statement alleging that Pepsi Co. orchestrated a cyber attack on its database to obtain a copy of an industry document, intended only for the watchdog's consumption. The statement, released on Monday, reveals nothing about the document’s contents.

The watchdog claims that the company cited the document during a union meeting with Rosselkhoznadzor. more

PepsiCo denied the accusations

Guests Keep Finding Spycams in their Airbnb Bedrooms

An Airbnb guest discovered a hidden camera inside his rental property in another disturbing example of the service's users being spied upon.

Jason Scott, an internet activist from the US, tweeted pictures of what he claims was a spy camera hidden in a burglar alarm motion sensor. Scott says he was sent the images by a concerned friend who found the item during a recent stay in an Airbnb property.

According to Scott, the device was an IP camera that was likely connected to the internet and used for surveillance

He wrote: "In "oh, that's a thing now" news, a colleague of mine thought it odd that there was a single "motion detector" in his AirBNB in the bedroom and voila, it's an IP camera connected to the web. (He left at 3am, reported, host is suspended, colleague got refund.)" more

Extra Credit Reading:
 Education is the best prevention against becoming a victim of spy cameras.

Eavesdropping App Lawsuit Allowed to Proceed

A federal judge denied the Golden State Warriors’ motion to dismiss an amended lawsuit 
alleging that the NBA champions recorded private conversations through their mobile app.

Jeffrey White, a judge for the Northern District of California, originally dismissed the class action complaint, which was filed by New York resident LaTisha Satchell last year, but ruled recently that the revised suit can proceed against the Warriors and beacon-technology company Signal360 for a possible violation of the Wiretap Act. more

DIY PI - What could possibly go wrong?

PI - Two school employees in Monroe County could face wiretapping charges.

A grand jury is recommending charges against Joshua Krebs and Alex Sterenchok.

Krebs is the supervisor of support staff and Sterenchok is the technology supervisor for the Pleasant Valley School District.

Both are accused of setting up a camera in April of 2016 in a break room at Pleasant Valley Elementary School to see if they could catch a janitor not doing his job.
Teachers and other staff members argue their privacy was being violated. more

Monday, December 4, 2017

After Seven Years of Hacking an Indictment - Will it Make a Difference?

Federal prosecutors indicted three Chinese nationals last week. It accusing them of hacking over the past seven years into at least three multinational corporations.

reported this is for last week and was kind enough to ask my opinion for background.


China warned it would retaliate if the US pressed the issue. And that was pretty much that.

Which is the way Kevin Murray, director at Murray Associates, a counter espionage consultancy, sees this case playing out. Does the indictment mean anything significant will happen? “No,” he said, offering a brief history lesson.
Go back 1,000 years, remembering that the Chinese invented things like silk, gunpowder, paper. All this intellectual property was stolen from them. At that time, the law in China was that if you engaged in it, that was your life. But it still got stolen. So now they’re getting back at us. And we’re trying to replicate what they did by punishing the criminal. Is it going to help? No.
Murray said if those responsible for protecting IP faced charges, “then you’d see some changes.” more

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

When Do People Use Keystroke Loggers Legally

According to
  • Employers monitoring of company computers used by employees to ensure they are working as required and to prevent fraud and other criminal activities.
  • Parents monitoring the use of computers for children below 18 years.
  • Companies monitoring use of company resources like internet.
  • Collection of forensic evidence from the computers being monitored for security reasons with a legitimate investigation cause. more

Intelligence Bureau to Soldiers – Delete These Apps

India - In a fresh advisory issued to the troops posted at the international border, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has warned that China could be collecting vital information about the Indian security installations through its popular mobile phone apps and devices...

The IB advisory contains a list of about 42 popular Chinese apps, including: WeChat, Truecaller, Weibo, UC Browser and UC News, which pose a grave threat to India's security. more

Serious Mac Security Flaw - Simple Temporary Fix

A serious security flaw in mac OS High Sierra has been discovered.

It allows anyone to access high level security areas on an iMac or MacBook without the need for a password.

Apple has warned Mac users after a serious macOS High Sierra root bug was discovered and ahead of a fix being released you can take these steps to protect your iMac and MacBook immediately.

Apple said: “We are working on a software update to address this issue." In the meantime, setting a root password prevents unauthorized access to your Mac.

To enable the Root User and set a password, please follow the instructions here. 

If a Root User is already enabled, to ensure a blank password is not set, please follow the instructions from the ‘Change the root password’ section. more

Apple issues the software update. more

Industrial Espionage – Uber Spy Team – Former CIA Agents

A former Uber security manager says an espionage team inside the ride-hailing service used former CIA agents to help the company spy on its rivals overseas.

The testimony in a San Francisco courtroom Tuesday comes amid revelations that federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that Uber deployed an espionage team to plunder trade secrets from its rivals. That has triggered a delay in a high-profile federal trial over whether the beleaguered ride-hailing service stole self-driving car technology from a Google spinoff.

Under questioning, Richard Jacobs, Uber's manager of global intelligence, said that Uber hired several contractors that employed former CIA agents to help the ride-hailing service infiltrate its rivals' computers. Jacobs said the surveillance occurred overseas. more

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Netflix Documentary - The Motel Owner Who Spied on Guests

 But first... A bit of history.

A pair of filmmakers thought they’d be capturing celebrated writer Gay Talese taking a literary victory lap in their new documentary. Instead, they got something more like a journalistic car crash.

In the intriguing and thoughtful “Voyeur,” Myles Kane and Josh Koury explore the 30-year relationship between Gerald Foos, a former Colorado motel owner who spied on his guests, and Talese, known for his novelistic profiles and bespoke suits.

The Netflix film, which debuts Friday, follows Talese as he reports and writes about his creepy friend for the 2016 book, “The Voyeur’s Motel,” only to see the story fall apart after publication when Foos’ account unravels...

Talese and Foos first connected in 1980 when the motel owner sent the journalist a letter hoping he would share his story of secretly watching guests for years through ceiling vents — in the interest of science, of course. more

Artifical Intelligence for Smartphones Catches Shoulder Surfers

Video Google researchers claim to have developed an "electronic screen protector" that can alert you when nosy parkers are looking over your shoulder at your phone.

Essentially, it's machine-learning-powered software that can use the front-facing camera on a smartphone to pick out faces, identify anyone who isn't the owner, and if they are gazing at the screen, alert the user that there's someone behind them snooping on their texts or web browsing, and so on, all in real time.

The Googlers' work on this technique – which appears to be just an academic project at this stage rather than an upcoming feature – will be presented at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference next week in California. more

Sony and a few other companies were working on this about seven years ago. (see the patent)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

KRACK Attack Leaves WPA2 WiFi Encryption Hacked - Do this...

The video below explains Key Reinstallation Attacks (aka KRACK), for the technically curious. 

The short story is your communications privacy over WiFi is at risk. This includes your:
  • emails, 
  • texts,
  • photos,
  • log-in ID's and passwords, 
  • credit card numbers, 
  • and even your communications to websites which normally use https:// encryption. 
In short, anything you assume is encrypted is up for grabs.

  • Update your system software to the latest version. This includes all your devices which use WiFi.)
  • Update software on WiFi appearance points (APs) which implement the standard 802.11r (a.k.a. Fast-BSS Transition). This affects business WiFi more than residential WiFi.
  •  Upon connecting to a website make sure you see https:// and the locked symbol. 
Check here for additional information about KRACK solutions.

Risk Levels
Your risk of being a victim is highest whenever you use a public WiFi system. Risk is also high in densely populated areas.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Spy Plants, or Mr. Potato Head Goes to Washington

DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) is hosting a Proposers Day to provide information to potential proposers on the objectives of the upcoming Advanced Plant Technologies program.

The program aims to control and direct plant physiology to detect chemical, biological, radiological, and/or nuclear threats, as well as electromagnetic signals.

Plant sensors developed under the program will sense specific stimuli and report these signals with a remotely recognized phenotype detectable by existing hardware platforms. more

The Proposers Day will be held on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, from 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM ET at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel, Arlington, VA 22203; potential proposers also have the option of participating via webcast. Advance registration is required. The registration deadline to attend in person is Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 12:00 PM ET, and the deadline for the webcast is Monday, December 11, 2017, at 12:00 PM ET. Please register at: There will be no on-site registration.

Extra Credit: Robot-Plant Biohybrids Growing in European Laboratories

Buy an App - Bug a Phone

Commercial spying apps for Android devices are being openly advertised on Google and – upon installation – can be used to snoop on text messages, calls and Facebook chats.

While they are advertised as a way for parents to keep track of their children, or businesses to watch employees, experts warn they could be used for more nefarious – potentially illegal – purposes. According to security firm Kaspersky Lab, the popularity of such services is spiking.

Now, there is often no need for the dark web or sophisticated hacking attacks – surveillance software can be quickly discovered with a simple Google search and purchased online for well under £100 ($133.00)...

One company, FlexiSpy, was even advertising 20% off its services for 2017's Black Friday. more

There is also an app to detect this.

EU: Spying Technology Export Control

EU lawmakers overwhelmingly backed plans on Thursday to control exports of devices to intercept mobile phone calls, hack computers or circumvent passwords that could be used by foreign states to suppress political opponents or activists...

The EU has felt that spyware or malware and telecom of Internet surveillance technologies are increasingly threatening security and human rights and proposed a modernization of its export control system to cover cyber-surveillance. more

Meanwhile, on Alibaba.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Netflix Spy Movies for the Holiday Weekend

Click for the trailers...
  1. Spy Hard
  2. The Spy Who Went Into the Cold
  3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  4. Inglourious Basterds
  5. Burn After Reading
  6. The Debt
  7. XXX
  8. and elsewhere for a few cents more one of my favorites... Top Secret
For some interesting real-life business espionage shorts, visit

Check Your Local Laws Before Recording

PA - A Franklin County jury took just seven minutes to return a guilty verdict against Chambersburg man William Alexander Himchak III on felony counts of illegal wiretapping. Himchak, 50, recorded two phone calls with tax officials, then posted them online, violating the wiretap act laws that require both people to consent to a recording before the recording has started. more

Spybuster Tip #105: In the United States, federal law requires that only one party to a conversation has to consent to the recording of the conversation. Some states, however, require two parties (meaning ALL parties) need to consent. Pennsylvania is a two party state. You can discover what the legal requirements are in your state here

If you are concerned your office is bugged visit

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Google Android Tracking You - Bad News / Good News / Bad News

Bad News...
Your phone knows where you are at pretty much all times. This is no surprise—that's part of the appeal. But while there are options to disable GPS and Location Services in the settings of Android phones, this won't stop Google from knowing where you are. Short of turning off your phone, there's actually no real way.

New details about the length to which Google tracks Android phones surfaced today from Quartz, which reports that Android phones will track your location even if you disable location services and even if you aren't logged into the phone...

Good News...
The practical effect of this is that, so long as your Android phone is on and not inside a Faraday cage, your location data is being communicated. Google told Quartz that this practice has existed for 11 months, but that the information was never stored or used and furthermore that the process will now be ended.

Bad News...
While the practice is just generally creepy, it also can have profound legal implications. Loose restrictions allow law enforcement in many states to obtain cell tower location information without a warrant until an upcoming Supreme Court case will ultimately decide if this will remain legal. In the meantime, there's nothing much to do besides be aware of how much and how easily your phone may be tracking you. If you really want privacy, you'll just have to turn the thing all the way off. more

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Voyeur Hides Spycam in Starbucks Toilet

A hidden camera recorded customers using the toilet in a branch of Starbucks for up to a month. 

The small device was found in the ceiling of the coffee shop close to the headquarters of MI6 in south London.

Police believe the camera was planted by a voyeur who apparently captured himself on film in the process.

It had recorded several video files of members of the public using the only customer toilet at the store in Vauxhall, detectives revealed.

They believe the camera had been installed for a maximum of four weeks "for the purpose of voyeurism".
 It was seized by police after a member of the public discovered it in a ceiling grate. more

It is surprising how many spycam'ers are caught because they captured themselves during the installation. This guy gets our Darwin Award. 

Spybusters Tip #361: Do-it-yourself Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) for spy cameras by "members of the public" can be very effective. One just needs to know where to look, and what to look for. Learning the wheres and whats is easy. Check here for more information.

Video voyeurism is a foreseeable issue. Any business offering customers, visitors, and employees access to expectation of privacy areas (restrooms, changing areas, showers, etc.) has a duty of care to protect them against spycams.

Spybuster Tip #362: Management, train your security and facilities personnel how to conduct and document due diligence video voyeurism inspections to detect spycams on a regular basis. Just think of the legal fees, and PR damage this will save you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Patek Philippe Wiretapping Device

Patek Philippe is known for making some of the highest quality (and most expensive) watches in the world. But at some point, it also turned out an unexpected device: a wiretapping machine.

Auction Page
One of the lots in Antiquorum’s recent watch auction in Geneva was the Patek Philippe ZL 4 N and ZG 4, two desktop modules which the listing describe as “a fine and very rare, electronic wiretapping device and clock used by the Swiss police.” Hodinkee’s Jack Forster points out that it looks not unlike a clock synchronizing apparatus: the higher unit could be used to set the time, while the lower one has plugins for four coordinating timepieces.

But with all the testing, research, and verification that goes into high-end auctions (the units sold for CHF 11,250, about $11,366 at current exchange), this thing probably was used for what Antiquorum says it was: to listen in on the conversations of whoever was committing high crime in the world’s most famous neutral nation. As for having the Patek Philippe name attached, well, at least the Swiss police could count on knowing exactly what time any espionage they overheard was going to occur. more

Additional Information from a 2009 auction...
Description: Two Patek Philippe Master Clocks A. Electronic Master Clock Patek Philippe, Genève, Model L4031. Made circa 1975. Very fine, Electronic Center Seconds Master Clock. B. Digital Time Display Master Clock Patek Philippe, No. 841637 & No. 851900, Model ZG 4 & ZL 4. Made in the 1970s. Fine and rare, electric 110/220v aluminium and blue coated LED digital master clock display with day and month indication and control unit. To be sold without reserve C. Rectangular with two handles, wood-effect sides. D. Black with Arabic numerals, outer minute divisions, outer Arabic fivesecond numerals and divisions, brushed fascia with buttons for adjusting the 1/10 and 1/1000 seconds. White baton hands. M. Electronic, a very powerful Master Clock System capable of controlling an almost unlimited number of "slave" clocks and can be regulated to 1/1000th of a second. Dial and case signed. more

Now Playing - The Science Behind Spying

The Science Behind Spying is a 1960's documentary to educate viewers on the past history of the US and how spying played a role in it. more
Runtime: 50 minutes, Amazon Prime

Corporate Espionage: Beware the Cupid Spy

Between oversharing about their job and workplace with dating matches and divulging trade secrets, 25% of business leaders using dating apps may be accidentally threatening their workplace's security, according to new research from Kaspersky Lab...

Of those using dating apps, 19% of business leaders have had their device infected via a dating app, including malware, spyware, or ransomware...

The work-related bragging can lead to infected devices and corporate espionage if trade secrets fall into the wrong hands, the report said. If malware allows a match access to a work device, the attacker may have access to work documents stored on that device. more sing-a-long

Monday, November 20, 2017

Foreign Agent Man

A new report by a U.S. government panel has called for staff members of Chinese state-run media groups in the U.S. to be made to register as foreign agents.

The U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission alleged Wednesday that journalists at some Chinese media organizations engage in spying activities, feeding information back to the Chinese government.

The report comes just days after the production company behind the American version of the Russian state-funded network RT officially filed as a foreign agent following pressure from the Department of Justice. more

The concerns are justified. I've seen proof. ~Kevin

Wiretapper's "Suicide" - Update

Greek officials did not adequately investigate the death of a telephone company executive found hanging in his apartment a day before lawmakers and the prime minister learned their cellphones had been tapped, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday.

Costas Tsalikidis, a Vodafone Greece executive, was found hanging in his Athens apartment...

An investigation into the wiretaps revealed another telecom had planted spyware into Vodafone’s equipment, and that Tsalikidis had allowed the spyware’s placement and met regularly with the other telecom. The wiretaps went live in June 2004 and were removed a day before Tsalikidis’ death.

Tsalikidis’ family refused to accept the man had taken his own life and hired their own investigators, who uncovered several inconsistencies to the suicide theory.
  • a lack of injuries common during hanging, contradictions as to the rope marks on Tsalikidis’ neck,
  • and an extremely complex sailing knot used for the noose that would have been quite impossible given Tsalikidis’ complete lack of sailing experience...
Investigators ... did find...
  • Tsalikidis’ hyoid bone was broken – an indication he’d been strangled. 
  • Tsalikidis’ personality was not compatible with a suicide profile...
The court ordered the Greek government to pay Tsalikidis’ family $59,000 in damages.

After years of investigating, the Greek government issued an international arrest warrant for a CIA official they believe was at the heart of the wiretapping affair while he was stationed in Athens. more

Remember The Fugs?

Quote of the Week – Bob Woodward on J. Edgar Hoover

"FBI director J. Edgar Hoover didn’t object to Nixon’s wiretapping because it was illegal, he objected because wiretapping was his job!" — legendary journalist Bob Woodward, who spoke Thursday night to a packed house at the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Corporate Espionage: Spies Have a Deep Black Bag of Tricks

A Toronto-based private equity firm is alleging that its employees were targeted in a covert corporate espionage operation involving an agency with operations in London, Paris and Tel Aviv staffed by former members of the Israeli Defense Force and former agents of intelligence agency Mossad.

The agency cited in court documents filed by West Face Capital Inc. is Black Cube, the same one reportedly retained on behalf of former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to investigate women who had accused him of sexual misconduct...

Some, including the former general counsel of West Face, were wined and dined, and flown to England on the false pretense that they were being courted for employment with international companies, the court documents allege...

The court documents filed by West Face Wednesday say different approaches were used for each employee or former employee approached, but that there were common elements, including “using false businesses, websites, identities, LinkedIn profiles, and business cards.more

Wiretapper's "Suicide" Revisited for Foul Play

An appeals court prosecutor in Athens has asked to see the case file concerning the death of a telecoms engineer in 2005 shortly before the outbreak of a scandal involving the wiretapping of Greece’s political leadership...

The decision to revisit the case came after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) deemed on Thursday that Greece had failed to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of former Vodafone employee Costas Tsalikidis, 38, who was found hanged in his apartment.

The investigating prosecutor at the time, Ioannis Diotis, had ruled out foul play, concluding that Tsalikidis had committed suicide.

Tsalikidis’s death occurred the day after the spyware planted in Vodafone’s network was removed...

The spyware diverted phone conversations made by Vodafone’s subscribers to 14 “shadow” pay-as-you-go mobile phones, allowing calls to be monitored. more sing-a-long

Spy Store Helps You Be Big Brother

You're not paranoid: Someone may be watching you. Friday's opening of's first New Jersey store, on Route 23, is the proof.

The new location specializes in covert surveillance. Got an overbearing boss? They'll sell you a pen that will secretly record him. Suspect your neighbors are stealing your packages? Owner Grant Huber can sell you a camera and tell you where to hide it so no one suspects...

Employees will show buyers how to use all the gadgets they sell. more

Fun fact: Radio Shack employees were not allowed to instruct customers how to spy using their merchandise. For the answer as to why, click here. ~Kevin

Germany to Parents - Destroy Your Child's Smartwatch

Germany's regulatory arm for electricity, gas, telecommunications, post, and railway markets, has issued a ban on smartwatches designed for children over concerns that they can be used by parents to spy on their kids and teachers.

Furthermore, the regulatory office is urging parents to go a step further and physically destroy these smartwatches, should their children own one. The agency has also taken action against several firms that offer smartwatches designed for children.

"Via an app, parents can use such children's watches to listen unnoticed to the child's environment and they are to be regarded as an authorized transmitting system," said Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency. "According to our research, parents' watches are also used to listen to teachers in the classroom." more

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TSCM Security Tip: Check Hotel Ownership

Many hotels, conference centers and resorts are controlled or owned by governments engaging in business espionage. Checking the ownership before booking your off-site meetings and general business travel can significantly reduce your risk of electronic surveillance.

Click for interactive map.
From a New York Times article, Foiling Cyberspies on Business Trips...
Evan Anderson, chief executive of Invnt/IP, a group dedicated to combating nation-sponsored intellectual property theft...said he created a map of Chinese-owned hotels around the world in 2016 and was surprised by how many they were, including some in Silicon Valley where technology companies hold meetings. “Most people don’t realize that an individual Four Seasons hotel, Ritz-Carlton, or many other brands can be owned by a Chinese company with close ties to the Chinese government,” he said.


Checking venue ownership is the first step to reducing the risk of intellectual property theft. The second step is hiring a Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) specialist. They will search for all types of electronic surveillance (i.e., audio bugging, video voyeurism, and data cybersecurity), before and during your stay.

Security directors from Fortune 1000 companies are invited to receive my free Off-Site Meeting Security Checklist — 25 recommendations / 5-page report. ~Kevin

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sports Espionage: Honduras Accuses Australia of Spying by Drone

Honduras accused Australia of spying on their training sessions with a drone on Monday, as tensions heated up ahead of Wednesday's decisive World Cup playoff match.

The Honduran National Football Federation (FENAFUTH) posed 18 seconds of footage of a drone flying above Sydney's Olympic Stadium, where the team trained on Monday after their long flight from central America.

"Australia spied on Honduras's official training session from a drone, causing discomfort among the Honduran team and delegation," FENAFUTH said on its Twitter feed. more

Industrial Espionage “can be done cheaply and at scale”

The admonitions to business travelers headed to other countries should be familiar by now: Keep your laptop with you at all times. Stay off public Wi-Fi networks. Don’t send unencrypted files over the internet...

“There’s a difficult intersection between convenience and security,” said Samantha Ravich, who studies cyber-enabled economic warfare at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security...
The problem of intellectual property theft is not new, but it is now much more widespread. “Placing listening devices in conference rooms, hotels and restaurants is traditional Espionage 101,” Ms. Ravich said. But with tools like tiny inexpensive cameras and microphones or compromised Wi-Fi networks, corporate or state-sponsored industrial espionage “can be done cheaply and at scale,” she said. more

Monday, November 13, 2017

How Pinkerton laid the foundation for the CIA and FBI

Allan Pinkerton, the grandaddy of American private eyes, has a “true detective” story made for the binge-watch era.

Pinkerton (left). Restored image. Click to enlarge.
The organized investigation of suspicious behaviors has evolved in two directions. One is in the case of detective work, dealing with activities that endanger individual citizens. The other, integrally linked avenue is in intelligence, investigating threats to the state.

Flowing out of the same font, the modern incarnation of these entwined investigative avenues are largely the creation of two people.

In Europe, Eugene-Francois Vidocq may be considered the godfather of the former criminal turned secret agent who is largely responsible for the development of the modern, entwined arts of intelligence-gathering and criminal investigation. But stateside, his parallel, no less influential, was Lincoln’s spy master during the Civil War, Allan Pinkerton.

Born to an impoverished family in Glasgow in 1819... more

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Takeaway: Don't Spy on Your Girlfriend's Affair

MI - A 43-year-old man was shot Friday while spying on a woman as she had an affair on Detroit's west side, police said. The man was spying on the 28-year-old woman around 2:20 a.m. in the 12000 block of Winthrop Street when she got caught having an affair, according to officials.

Police said when the man tapped on the window, the woman opened the window and fired shots. The man was shot in the arm, police said. He drove himself about two miles to the 8500 block of Lauder Street, where he called police. more

Friday, November 10, 2017

Economic Espionage: Web of Brain Sucking Spiders

For Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command, one important perspective “is that our adversaries are antagonists,” he said. “Their capabilities are ever increasing.”

At first it was exploitation of data, then disruption and after that destruction. Before it was attacks on networks or a series of networks, now it also is data and critical infrastructure and key resources.

"I think that we are starting to see the trailers [preview] of the future war," Gen. Nakasone warned. Actors that the United States has not thought of, non-nation states, anonymous, proxy adversaries, will have an impact as antagonists against countries, the general predicted. They are not only going after military networks, they are going after the economic might of that nation. “They are going after the key terrain that they know is fundamental to how a country operates.” more