Monday, August 27, 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Drone Stealers

In what might be the most 2018 news story ever, head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers have erected a tarp near one of their practice facilities.

Why is this news? Well, said tarp is meant to protect the Steelers from being spied on with drones. more

Why Vienna Is the Spy Capital of the World

A former chief in the Austrian intelligence service once told the Telegraph that more than 7,000 spies operated in Vienna, a city of nearly 1.8 million people. It’s “a nice place for spies to live and bring their families,” he added. Although there are many reasons to visit Vienna for tourists and spies alike, Austria’s famous chocolate cake (sachertorte) and the city’s perfectly preserved Habsburg palaces are not the reason intelligence services still flock to the city.

Austria has some of the most relaxed laws on spying of any country in the world and those laws have not been updated since the Austro-Hungarian empire fell, even with two world wars and the Cold War since then. In fact, the only spying activities that are illegal in the country are the kind that directly target Austria. Vienna also hosts one of four headquarters of the United Nations and is home to about 40 other important international organizations that have delegations from all over the world, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). With approximately 320 bilateral and multilateral diplomatic representations operating in Vienna, nearly 4,000 diplomats, and more than 6,000 international officials, Vienna is brimming with information foreign intelligence services want to collect.

But it is in wandering the streets of Vienna that you really start to see why the city lives up to its cloak and dagger history. Vienna’s famous coffee houses have played an important role as meeting places for writers, musicians, artists and philosophers throughout history. At CafĂ© Central in the heart of Vienna, you can dine on Apfelstrudel in the same place where Leo Trostky and Sigmund Freud sat. You can also take advantage of the seemingly endless coffeehouse chatter to meet your sources under the radar and to mask any clandestine conversations you need to have. more hum-a-long

Apple Smacks Down Facebook's VPN Spying App

Back in 2013, Facebook acquired Israel-based Onavo, a small mobile analytics company that offered a virtual private network (VPN) app called Onavo Protect. In general, VPN apps seek to give users greater privacy and control around their data by routing traffic through a secure network. In this case, Onavo Protect started sending all that user data back to the Facebook mothership...

In its ongoing quest to protect user privacy, Apple just told Facebook to pull Onavo Protect from its App Store. more

Business Espionage: Fish Settlement Flounders

National Fish & Seafood and Kathleen A. Scanlon, the former employee the seafood processor is suing for allegedly stealing trade secrets for her new employer, had appeared to be heading for a settlement.

Now, not so much.

The Gloucester-based seafood processor last week amended its complaint against Scanlon, its former head of research and development and quality assurance, and her new employer, Tampa Bay Fisheries, by adding more defendants and more details of the alleged conspiracy and corporate theft.

The complaint accuses Scanlon of spending most of her final days at NFS feverishly downloading company trade secrets and emails onto two portable storage devices, video-recording the clam processing line and "granting Tampa Bay's IT director unauthorized access to NFS' computers through remote access software."

The filing includes screen grabs of text conversations from Scanlon's company-issued smart phone, including one from Scanlon to Paterson that read: "I am on my way will be there in 30 minutes. Feel like I need to go to confession. More like a hypocrite."

It also states that on July 10, Scanlon was observed on video surveillance and by other NFS employees "taking video and photographic recordings of the clam production process, including the machinery and ingredient-mixing processes used in producing NFS' clam products, including its Matlaw's Stuffed Clams."

The next day, according to NFS, Scanlon resigned after more than 20 years with the company. more

Business Espionage: Quote of the Week

"We must recognize that we now live in an era of uneven, ruthless, state-sponsored global competition. Many executives do not understand the totality of the new forces they are forced to deal with." ~T. Casey Fleming  more 

Auction: Apple I on the Block

A piece of computer history that helped launch a trillion dollar company is hitting the auction block.

A fully functioning Apple-1 being auctioned by Boston-based RR Auction in September is one of only 60 or so remaining of the original 200 that were designed and built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976 and 1977...

The Apple 1 originally sold for about $666. It could get $300,000 or more at auction. more

Thursday, August 23, 2018

2018 ERII Annual Counterespionage Conference Espionage Research Institute International (ERII)

ERII today announced registration for the 2018 Annual ERII Counterespionage Conference, a gathering of worldwide technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM), counterintelligence and counterespionage professionals, is now open to ERII members and non-members. The conference will be held September 20-22, 2018, at the Embassy Suites Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. Three-day, two-day and single-day conference tickets are available to ERII members and non-members. Special government ticket pricing is also available. more

Sperm Bank Espionage Case Moves Forward

Who are these sperm bank spies, and what secrets are they accused of stealing?

The area of assisted reproductive technology doesn’t just involve difficult family law questions. It also involves intrigue! Did you know that sperm banks have trade secrets that are closely guarded? Apparently, they do. And they are now the subject of a fierce lawsuit between Seattle Sperm Bank and Cryobank America.

Earlier this month, a Washington federal court made a ruling in the case, in which it denied in part, and granted in part, Cryobank America’s motion to dismiss. The court granted the motion to dismiss on a vague claim of unfair competition under Washington law. But it denied the motion — and let the lawsuit proceed, in other words — on two other claims: a federal claim under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, and a state claim under the Washington Uniform Trade Secrets Act. more

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Salted Peanuts: Spy News Clips

Denny Hatch: All your emails are being stolen and sold all over the world. (a must read) more
---Israel-based Bosco, an app that lets parents monitor their children’s smartphone activities, has raised $4 million in a Series A funding round... more
A woman’s encounter with a man accused of spying on her 12-year-old daughter is going viral. Salt Lake City police arrested 36-year-old Jorge Leon-Alfaro, Saturday, after witnesses said he tried to record the girl from an adjacent dressing room stall inside the Rue 21 store at Brickyard Plaza. The girl’s mother tracked the man down and recorded her comments toward him as she waited for police to arrive. more
Israeli researchers attached a surveillance device onto a seagull's leg in order to track its route. During its flight, the innocent bird landed in Tripoli where locals caught it and transferred the bird to the authorities on suspicion of spying for Israel; The ornithologist who attached the device: 'Let the bird live and set it free.' more
Ufologist Scott Waring has published photographs of a UFO spying on deer peacefully grazing. An interesting phenomenon happened in the U.S. in Mississippi. more
SC - An upstate couple is under investigation after Greenville County Deputies say a camera was discovered in a room they rent out to the public through Airbnb. more
Scotland - Scientists eavesdrop on disappearing sea trout. They have positioned a total of 40 acoustic receivers at various locations around Loch Laxford, near Scourie, on the far north-west coast. more
Austria’s far-right ordered a raid on its own intelligence service. Now allies are freezing the country out. more
Mozilla has removed 23 Firefox add-ons that spy on user activity. more
WA - A judge has awarded a couple $1 million in damages after they sued a former lifeguard and city employee who admitted to videotaping women while they used a staff changing area at an aquatic center. more
South Korean woman given rare jail term for spycam crime. more 
Secretly filming women in motel rooms or toilet stalls to upload online is a multimillion-dollar business operation in Korea. more
Study from Vanderbilt professor finds Google tracking is even creepier than you thought. more
It is remarkably easy to buy “Spy Pens” if you were inclined to record secret conversations at the White House. more (but you knew that :)

Hollywood Spy News

Let’s get this out of the way first.
As a title, The Spy Who Dumped Me suggests a parody of The Spy Who Loved Me, one of Roger Moore’s outings as James Bond. However, those expectations are misplaced. The Spy Who Dumped Me has little to do with Ian Fleming’s creation or his cinematic representations. Instead, this film is about an ordinary woman whose ex is, well, a spy. more trailer
Aston Martin is creating a limited edition version of the definitive James Bond car, the 1964 Aston Martin DB5. 

In collaboration with James Bond film producer EON Productions, the automaker will build 25 "Goldfinger DB5s," with a straight-six, 282 horsepower, 3,995cc motor that will allow a top speed of 145 mph and 0 to 60 time of 7.1 seconds.

It will even sport the famous revolving license plate and other gadgets, built by Oscar-winning James Bond effects supervisor Chris Corbould. ...if you can find a spare £2.75 million ($3.5 million) plus tax between the couch cushions, you can have one of your own. more & more
"Mile 22 a fast-paced spy thriller." more trailer
Danny Boyle no longer directing James Bond 25, due to 'creative differences'. Sadly, it looks like Daniel Craig's James Bond will need to find another director. more

The Line between Security and Privacy can be a Thin One

At the Zelzate Psychiatric Centre, patients’ conversations in the most secure wing are often eavesdropped. The issue emerges from a report by the Flemish Care Inspectorate, echoed by De Morgen, on Tuesday. Conversations with loved ones, mediators and lawyers are monitored in this way... Various sources instanced surveillance cameras and recordings in private rooms, where patients meet their families... The report stipulates, “Conversations between patients and visitors can be eavesdropped and routinely are.more

Throwing Money at Cyber Security Solutions is a False Economy

Andy Miles via Finextra...
With the option to wield large budgets in the fight against cyber crime there is, however, a tendency for financial service IT leaders to be drawn to the latest, shiniest technology solution of the moment...

What needs real investment, and not necessarily in cash terms is the trinity of People, Process and Technology (PPT). A security vulnerability can appear in any element of the business and a holistic approach that covers all colleagues and operations is vital for a good active defensive strategy.

Technology cannot answer all issues and won’t always work together with the culture and processes already instilled in an organization.

That is why it is so important to have a holistic approach that encompasses a security-first culture, enables constant review of processes and understands the importance of investment in technologies that evolve to combat emerging vulnerabilities and threats. more

Friday, August 10, 2018

Corporate Espionage: GM Skunks Ford

When you think of corporate espionage, you think of documents exchanging hands in dark parking garages, or hackers breaking into company mainframes. But GM is better than all that, and instead opted to walk in the front door in their attempts to best the Ford F-150, the best-selling truck in America. That meant GM engineers joining public factory tours of Ford’s Dearborn plant.

The engineers studied Ford’s production methods and said, yeah, we can do better. ... armed with stopwatches and trained eyes, the GM engineers believed they saw problems.

“They had a real hard time getting those doors to fit,” Tim Herrick, the executive chief engineer for GM truck programs told Reuters. His team did more intelligence gathering. They bought and tore apart Ford F-series doors sold as repair parts. Their conclusion... more

The idea of giving plant tours ended years ago, just for this reason. It has been 32 years since you could watch a freakin' corn flake being made. If you give plant tours, STOP. ~Kevin

1986 - "They have stopped the public tours at the Kellogg Company...
The company says it had no choice. Spies from rival manufacturers were sneaking in with the tourists, it said. In fact, according to Joseph M. Stewart, a vice president, engineers from a foreign competitor took the tour 20 times before setting up a rival manufacturing operation." more

Eavesdropping and Wiretapping History

In July 1956, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Endowment (PBAE) commissioned a comprehensive study of "wiretapping practices, laws, devices, and techniques" in the United States. At the time, Pennsylvania was one of several jurisdictions in the country without a statute regulating eavesdropping. Members of the PBAE's Board believed that a nationwide fact-finding mission had the potential to help state lawmakers establish effective policies for police agencies and private citizens. The man appointed to direct the study was Samuel Dash, a prominent Philadelphia prosecutor whose stint as the city's District Attorney had given him a first-hand look at eavesdropping abuses on both sides of the law. Two decades later, while serving as Chief Counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee, Dash would see many of those abuses come full circle...

The result of Dash's efforts was The Eavesdroppers, a 483-page report co-authored with Knowlton and Schwartz.  Rutgers University Press published it as a standalone volume in 1959.   The book uncovered a wide range of privacy infringements on the part of state authorities and private citizens, a much bigger story than the PBAE had anticipated. more (long, in-depth and very interesting) 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

TSCM is Technical Surveillance Countermeasures - Beware of Imitations

TSCM from the Yellow Pages.

TSCM from IBM.

TSCM live from New York.

TSCM from the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (, or here.

Facial Recognition Technology – Not Ready for PRIME Time’s facial recognition tools incorrectly identified Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and 27 other members of Congress as people arrested for a crime during a test commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, the watchdog said Thursday...Amazon’s so-called Rekognition technology — already in use at law-enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando — is hampered by inaccuracies... more

Security Scrapbook Flashback to 2008.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cree CEO: 'All technology companies' face espionage

Cree CEO Gregg Lowe said Tuesday that “all technology companies face the same thing” when it comes to the need to protect trade secrets.

“Every day, they are making changes to help protect and secure their technology and I think we’re no different than anybody else,” he said at Triangle Business Journal's Power Breakfast at PNC Arena.

“I think all companies face these challenges. You’ve got technology, you’ve got capability and people want to come after it.

A former Cree employee, Coy Bell, is alleged to have stolen trade secrets worth millions by downloading classified files onto an SD card, according to a report. more

Samsung's Galaxy S7 Alert - Meltdown

Samsung's Galaxy S7 smartphones have a security flaw that could allow hackers to spy on tens of millions of users.

The smartphone, owned by more than 30 million people, contains a compromised microchip which would enable cybercriminals to exploit a flaw called Meltdown.

Meltdown was uncovered earlier this year and only affects chips designed by Intel. It is believed to have existed in devices dating back 20 years, but was disclosed to chip makers Intel, ARM and AMD in 2017.

Potentially, it could allow hackers to bypass the barrier in hardware between applications and a computer’s memory, allowing them to steal passwords. more

Dearest, I am formerly Spy Chief of Nigeria and need your assistance to move...

Nigeria's head of the intelligence service has been fired after security services staged a brief "takeover" of parliament in the capital Abuja, at a time when President Muhammadu Buhari is out of the country.

Hooded armed men from the police and Department of State Service (DSS) blocked access to the two chambers - the Senate and House of Representatives - on Tuesday morning, preventing lawmakers, workers, journalists and other visitors from entering. more

The War Against Tiny Spy Cameras in South Korea - TSCM Police Activity

In response to a growing outcry, teams organized by the police have sprung into action. Armed with infrared scanners that can spot a lens and devices that detect electrical charges, they spend hours hunting for cameras* installed by peeping Toms in changing rooms and public bathrooms...

Although concerns about spy cams and illicit filming are far from new in South Korea — the activity was dubbed “molka” years ago — the problem appears to be growing. The number of suspected perpetrators identified by police rose from 1,354 in 2011 to 5,363 in 2017; more than 95 percent were men... 

Police identified more than 26,000 victims of illicit filming between 2012 and 2016, over 80 percent of them female. But many never find out they are victims: The real number “would be 10 times higher than the police figure” if the full extent were known, said Oh Yoon-sung, a criminology professor at Soon­chunhyang University... more

* 20% off.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Anatomy of a Bankruptcy

CA - The Gardena-based parent company of the retail chains Fallas and Anna’s Linens said Monday it filed for bankruptcy reorganization and plans to close 74 of its 344 stores. National Stores Inc., a family-owned firm, operates in 22 states and Puerto Rico...

National Stores said the bankruptcy filing was due to certain under-performing stores and severe weather in various regions that hurt sales.

In addition, the company suffered a data breach in the second half of last year in which some customers’ payment-card information was exposed at dozens of stores, and as a result “access to operating funds diminished” for the company, National Stores said. more

Three reasons for the failure, in the order stated:
  1. Under-performing stores.
  2. Severe weather.
  3. Data breach diminished operating funds.
Number One is manageable. 
Number Two is vague. 
Number Three is a killer.
The list should be reversed, to show order of importance order.

Takeaway... Information security (from IT to TSCM) can make or break any business.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

This Week in Spy News

US - The July arrest and indictment of Maria Butina, a 29-year-old Russian woman accused of being a spy, sent shockwaves through Washington and left the political world wondering where she had come from. Her Instagram page showed a glimpse of what her life looked like in Russia while she was allegedly "laying the groundwork" to move to the United States and conduct high-level espionage on behalf of the Russian government. more

UK- SPY chiefs are to develop futuristic technology that will predict when and where terrorist attacks will take place. They are pumping millions into a project called “Unblinking Eye” to identify and keep watch on people who pose a security threat. A new cutting-edge system will monitor and analyse human behaviour and help security services act before an outrage is committed. It mirrors the sci-fi movie Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, where cops use psychic technology to arrest murderers before they strike. more

US - A suspected Russian spy was employed for more than a decade at the US Embassy in Moscow before being fired last year, a senior administration official tells CNN. The woman, a Russian national, worked for the US Secret Service for years before she came under suspicion during one of the State Department regional security office's routine security reviews in 2016, the official said. The security office found the woman was having regular, unauthorized meetings with the Russian intelligence service, the FSB. more

US - Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office was infiltrated by a Chinese spy who worked as her driver and attended official functions on her behalf for 20 years, according to new reports from Politico and The San Francisco Chronicle.

USB Memory Security - Hand GrenadeUS - An engineer employed by General Electric Co. was arrested by the FBI and charged with using sophisticated techniques to steal digital files on the company's turbine technology to benefit his interest in Chinese companies that compete with GE... The federal criminal complaint says that in 2014, Zheng "downloaded more than 19,000 files from GE's computer network onto an external storage device, believed by GE investigators to have been a personal thumb drive." Federal authorities said that Zheng is a U.S. citizen and also holds citizenship in China. more

S. Korea - The country is in the grip of what's been described as a spy camera epidemic. Hidden cameras capture women - and sometimes men - undressing, going to the toilet, or even in changing rooms in clothing stores, gyms and swimming pools. The videos are posted online on pop-up pornography sites. Activists in Seoul now warn that unless more is done to prevent it, this type of crime is likely to spread to other countries and will prove difficult to stop. more (Too late. It already has.)

US - A local handyman has been charged with spying on his customers’ personal lives by installing hidden cameras in homes where he had done work. Alton police arrested Peter Mugford and charged him with five felony counts of unlawful wiretapping, two counts of burglary, violation of privacy, and stalking... Mugford allegedly used his profession as a contractor/handyman to get access to client homes and place hidden cameras in bedrooms, bathrooms, and other private areas of the home. Mugford would then return to the homes without the owners knowledge or consent to retrieve cameras and footage. more

...and The Hollywood Reports submits its Top 10 Best Spy Comedies list. See if you concur. My pick for #1 is Top Secret.

A Spycam Backlash in South Korea

South Korea - Thousands of women wearing red shirts endured the suffocating heat... to protest against the illegal filming of women...

According to South Korean police, a total of 5,363 hidden camera crimes occurred last year*, and similar crimes are still occurring.

Last month, a high school boy was caught filming in a girl’s restroom. Separately, a man in his 30s who sold 2,845 videos illegally filmed in public restrooms was caught as well...

Hidden camera cases coming up over and over again has forced women to become more cautious about using public restrooms. They have come up with ways to spot hidden cameras, such as filling in any holes they find in restrooms and turning off all the lights in bathrooms to check for camera lights.

The organizers, who asked reporters not to ask demonstrators any questions, let their chants and pickets do the talking.
The first protest of the "Inconvenient Courage" kicked off in May, drawing more than 10,000 protestors. And the second and third protests drew another 15,000 and 18,000, respectively.

Saturday's protests, according to the organizers, nearly quadrupled those numbers. more

* This is only the discovered and reported incidents. Most are never discovered.