Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Schools Using Kids' Phones to Track and Surveil Them

Teachers often lament that phones can be a distraction in classrooms. Some governments have even banned phones outright in schools. But a few school administrations see phones in schools as a benefit because they can help keep track of students more efficiently.

At least 10 schools across the US have installed radio frequency scanners, which pick up on the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals from students' phones and track them with accuracy down to about one meter, or just over three feet, said Nadir Ali, CEO of indoor data tracking company Inpixon.

His company has been in talks with other school districts, and a few schools in the Middle East are also considering the product... more

Bathroom Spycam'er Gives GoPro A Whole New Meaning

A New Jersey teen's recent routine visit to a bookstore turned into a horrible nightmare when someone filmed her while she was inside a bathroom stall, according to prosecutors. 

Juan Mejia, 44, of Paterson was arrested on Wednesday at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Clifton after he secretly videotaped two separate women who were using the bathroom stalls, according to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.

The incident happened when her teen daughter said she had to use the bathroom. So, Delaney said, she went upstairs to help her own mother find a book.
Shortly after getting upstairs, Delaney said, her phone "started going off like crazy."

It was her daughter "texting me that someone in the stall next to her was filming her with a GoPro, that she was scared, and to please find someone and help her," Delaney wrote.

Barnes & Noble issued a statement, saying the company was "disturbed" to learn of the incident... more

"Disturbed" is not the right response. Every business offering toilet, shower and/or changing facilities needs this.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ultrasonic Bracelet Claims to Jam Eavesdropping Microphones

Spying isn’t the same as it was in the old days. Today, an inconspicuous smart speaker could be recording every word you say in your own home. That threat of invaded privacy will only continue to grow as more microphone-enabled devices are released in the years to come.

That’s why a team of researchers from the University of Chicago has invented a device
to combat it. They created a bracelet that uses ultrasonic signals to jam nearby microphones. Though it isn’t something that most people would need to use on a daily basis it could represent a picture of what jewelry will need to be in the future—both stylish and functional.

The experimental version is quite clunky, looking more like a piece of audio equipment than jewelry. However, that design has a purpose. The bracelet’s array of 24 speakers emit imperceptible ultrasonic signals. To nearby microphones, these signals come across as loud static that effectively drowns out any speech in the vicinity. more

This eavesdropping countermeasure has been around forever. We experimented with it back in the 80's. It's effectiveness can be very iffy, its downsides serious. Read more about it here.

Chief Bugged: Former City Council Candidate Arrested at Meeting

CA - Former City Council candidate James Clinton Davies sentenced to three years probation in eavesdropping case.

The charge stemmed from illegally recording a private conversation he had with Tehachapi Police Chief Kent Kroeger after being invited into the chief's office, and not announcing he was recording or requesting permission to record. more

Frank Anderson, Former Spy Who Supplied Afghan Insurgents, Dies at 78

Frank Anderson, an American spymaster who oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert mission to funnel weapons and other support to Afghan insurgents fighting their Soviet occupiers in the 1980s, died on Jan. 27 in Sarasota, Fla. He was 78.

The cause was a stroke, his wife, Donna Eby Anderson, said. Mr. Anderson lived in Sarasota and had been in hospice care.

During his nearly 27 years with the C.I.A., Mr. Anderson became the ranking American clandestine officer in the Arab world.

He served as Beirut station chief; was promoted to chief of the Near East and South Asia division of the agency’s Directorate of Operations, its covert branch; and directed the agency’s technical services division, a role similar to that of James Bond’s “Q.” more

Soviet Spy Radio - Discovered Buried in Germany

Archaeologists digging for the remains of a Roman villa near the German city of Cologne have found a sophisticated Soviet spy radio that was buried there shortly before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The spy radio (USSR spy radio set - Swift Mark IIIR-394KM, codenamed Strizh) was buried inside a large metal box that was hermetically sealed with a rubber ring and metal screws.

Although the radio's batteries had run down after almost 30 years in the ground, the box hissed with inrushing air when it was opened.

"Everything in the box was carefully encased in wrapping paper — it is a factory-fresh radio," said archaeologist Erich Classen from the Rhineland Regional Association (LVR). more

Collectors and Hams: Time to break out your metal detectors. ~Kevin

Friday, February 14, 2020

Spy Fail: Alleged Huawei Spy Caught Disguised as 'Weihua' Employee

If you're going to steal trade secrets for your employer, you might want to do a little more to hide your identity than simply rearrange the letters of your company's name.

That's apparently all one Huawei employee spy did to disguise himself during a late-night attempt to steal technology from a U.S. competitor.

Needless to say, it wasn't exactly successful.

This hilarious new detail emerged as part of the United States government's indictment of the Chinese firm on charges of racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets. The indictment lays out how the company sought to steal the intellectual property of six different U.S. tech companies — though not every attempt was particularly sophisticated. more

Thursday, February 13, 2020

AI News: The Farm Bots Are Here... finally

IL - In a research field off Highway 54 last autumn, corn stalks shimmered in rows 40-feet deep. Girish Chowdhary, an agricultural engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, bent to place a small white robot at the edge of a row marked 103. 

 The robot, named TerraSentia, resembled a souped up version of a lawn mower, with all-terrain wheels and a high-resolution camera on each side.

In much the same way that self-driving cars “see” their surroundings, TerraSentia navigates a field by sending out thousands of laser pulses to scan its environment. A few clicks on a tablet were all that were needed to orient the robot at the start of the row before it took off, squeaking slightly as it drove over ruts in the field. more

Farm Bots from 48 years ago,
in your weekend movie,
                      Silent Running...

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wireless Tech to Steal Luxury Cars in Seconds

As they both walked through a dimly lit parking garage, one of the pair of men peered at a black, laptop-sized device inside his messenger bag. Using buttons on its outer case, he flicked through various options on the device's bright LED screen before landing on his choice....

"EvanConnect," one of the men in the video who goes by a pseudonym online, embodies a bridge between digital and physical crime. These devices he sells for thousands of dollars let other people break into and steal high end vehicles. He claims to have had clients in the U.S., UK, Australia, and a number of South American and European countries.

"Honestly I can tell you that I have not stolen a car with technology," Evan told Motherboard. "It's very easy to do but the way I see it: why would I get my hands dirty when I can make money just selling the tools to other people." more

How to Delete Your Personal Information From People-Finder Sites

While some sites might have a link for removing personal information, the actual process could be convoluted.

Spokeo is, perhaps, the simplest. You just find your profile page on the site, go to spokeo.com/optout, and then type (or paste) the link along with your email address so you can confirm.

Others are not as straightforward. At Whitepages, you have to paste the URL to your profile at whitepages.com/suppression_requests, and then type the reason you want to opt-out. After that, you have to provide your phone number—yes, you have to give a data broker your phone number. You then receive a call from a robot, which gives you a verification code you have to type on the website to complete the process.

The ultimate indignity? 411.info actually charges a fee if you want it to remove your info. more

The CIA's Greatest Hit... that we know of so far.

For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.

The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades...

The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.

But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages. more

Talk about your self-licking ice cream cone. 
Profit from selling expensive crypto gear.
Profit by deciphering everything going through it. 
Brilliant! ~Kevin

Thursday, February 6, 2020

US Weapons-Makers Plagued by Industrial Espionage

The U.S. defense industrial base received a "mediocre C" report-card grade as it struggles to stay ahead of adversaries, such as China, that rely on stealing American military secrets to remain competitive, according to a new report from the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA).

 "Vital Signs 2020: The Health and Readiness of the Defense Industrial Base," a data-based report compiled by NDIA and the data analytics firm Govini, analyzed 44 statistical indicators ranging from potential threats to digital systems to surge capacity over the last three years.

The report then graded eight performance areas -- on a scale of 100 -- for an average grade of 77 for 2019. more

Book: Chinese Communist Espionage: An Intelligence Primer

Chinese Communist Espionage: An Intelligence Primer
Chinese espionage hinges on a sophisticated network of spies focused on state-sponsored tech theft, according to a new book that dispels outdated theories of how Beijing collects intelligence around the world.

Why it matters: Old tropes cast all ethnic Chinese as potential amateur spies, a belief which has led to racial profiling. In reality, China's intelligence agencies employ highly trained professionals who operate much like spies from any other country.
Details: Published late last year by the Naval Institute Press, doubles as an explainer of how Chinese espionage works and as a brief encyclopedia of key figures.
  • The book's authors are Peter Mattis, a former CIA counterintelligence analyst, and Matthew Brazil, a former US Army officer and diplomat.
  • Their main message: That Chinese espionage is neither mysterious nor totally different than that practiced by other nations. more

Business Club Teacher Charged in Spy Camera Case

A Wisconsin high school teacher facing federal child pornography charges was charged Wednesday in Minnesota with trying to secretly record students in their Minneapolis hotel rooms on a business club trip.

Hennepin County prosecutors charged David Kruchten, 37, of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, with three felony counts of interfering with the privacy of a minor under 18.

Kruchten is a teacher at Madison East High School and was chaperoning students on a trip to Minneapolis in December. Authorities allege Kruchtenhid cameras in a smoke detector and two air fresheners planted in students’ hotel bathrooms at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis....

The automatic air fresheners and a smoke detector were “oriented to face toward the toilet and shower area. One of the victims noticed an air freshener on her bathroom counter and went to press a button that she believed would activate the spray. When she pressed it, the device opened up to reveal the inner workers of a surveillance camera and other related electronics,” the complaint said.  more  find spycams yourself  sing-a-long

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

In the Era of Hacking, Bugs Remain a Critical Espionage Threat

via Scott Stewart, Vice President Tactical Analysis at Stratfor

  • While cyberattacks offer a powerful means for corporate surveillance, it is important to remember that it is just one option in the espionage toolbox.
  • Some information, such as in-person conversations, cannot be obtained through hacks and thus require the use of other tools, such as human intelligence collection insiders or covert audio and video recorders and transmitters (bugs).
  • Today, bugs are cheaper, smaller and easier to obtain than ever — and the number being deployed and discovered is vastly under-reported, masking the true scope of the threat.
  • Therefore, in order to adequately combat corporate espionage, organizations must also implement security measures to protect against bugging. more

Brazen B&E to Plant Spy TV

NY - State Police have arrested a Town of Moreau man for breaking into a home and hiding a recording device in a bedroom.

State Police in Wilton arrested 39-year-old Todd D. Derush. Police say Derush unlawfully entered the home of the victim and hid a recording device in their bedroom. Derush's actions were in violation of a full stay away order of protection barring Derush from being on the property, according to State Police. more

Spies in the Skys

From 1957, when he first started working on the project, until 2011 when it was declassified, Dave McDowell was sworn to secrecy.

But now, the results of this once top-secret Kodak program is on full display at the Strasenburg Planetarium.

“Awe” is how McDowell described what he felt standing in front of the exhibit. “It’s something we designed and built in Rochester, and this one didn’t fly in space, but 48 others exactly like it did.”

The top-secret project was the optical system for Gambit-1, a national reconnaissance satellite. Kodak engineers designed and built what was essentially a large camera encased in a capsule. It was a revolutionary technology at that time, and it played a significant role in U.S. national security in the Cold War era. more


On January 20, something rather strange happened in orbit. A Russian satellite suddenly maneuvered itself so that it was closely shadowing a US spy satellite.

The pair are now less than 186 miles (300 kilometers) apart—a short distance when it comes to space. While we don’t know for sure what’s going on, the Russian satellite’s actions strongly suggest it is there to spy on the US one—and there is very little the US can do about it. more

Monday, February 3, 2020

How to Turn a Tesla Into a Surveillance Station

Truman Kain, senior information security analyst at Tevora, has developed a new device called the Surveillance Detection Scout. As Wired describes it, the DIY computer plugs into the dashboard USB port of a Tesla Model S, 3 or X and uses the car’s built-in cameras to read license plates and faces to alert the driver if someone is following them.

“It turns your Tesla into an AI-powered surveillance station,” Kain told the magazine. “It’s meant to be another set of eyes, to help out and tell you it’s seen a license plate following you over multiple days, or even multiple turns of a single trip.” more

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Encryption Using Palindrome Number (Never odd or even.)

Posted in honor of this special day*

This paper provides a technique for message security in which palindrome number is used for encryption message. Colour is important in authentication process as it acts as a password. Using this technique message can be protected from on-line cyber crime and accessible to an authorized individual when required.  more

Who cares? The important thing is this historical date... 

*Palindrome Day... for the first time in 909 years! Wow, yet another palindrome!

Here in the U.S., it is also a trifecta: Palindrome Day, Groundhog Day and Superbowl Sunday.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

FutureWatch: You've Probably Been Photo-Napped by an App

Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared.

The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants...

The computer code underlying its app, analyzed by The New York Times, includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses; users would potentially be able to identify every person they saw...

Searching someone by face could become as easy as Googling a name. Strangers would be able to listen in on sensitive conversations, take photos of the participants and know personal secrets. Someone walking down the street would be immediately identifiable — and his or her home address would be only a few clicks away. It would herald the end of public anonymity. more

Quote of the Month

“Absent a very strong federal privacy law, we’re all screwed.”
—Al Gidari, a privacy professor at Stanford Law School.
(via The New York Times article above)