For more than a decade they toiled in the strange, boxy-looking building on the hill above the municipal airport, the building with no windows (except in the cafeteria), the building filled with secrets. They wore protective white jumpsuits, and had to walk through air-shower chambers before entering the sanitized "cleanroom" where the equipment was stored. They spoke in code. Few knew the true identity of "the customer" they met in a smoke-filled, wood-paneled conference room where the phone lines were scrambled. When they traveled, they sometimes used false names. At one point in the 1970s there were more than 1,000 people in the Danbury area working on The Secret...
Tag Archives | Spying
Airborne bugs equipped with sensors, microphones, and cameras will one day go wherever people cannot. Science Daily reports:
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Research conducted at the University of Michigan College of Engineering may lead to the use of insects to monitor hazardous situations before sending in humans.
“Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack,” Professor Khalil Najafi said. “We could then send these ‘bugged’ bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go.”
The principal idea is to harvest the insect’s biological energy from either its body heat or movements. The device converts the kinetic energy from wing movements of the insect into electricity, thus prolonging the battery life. The battery can be used to power small sensors implanted on the insect (such as a small camera, a microphone or a gas sensor) in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.
No word on how much fun undercover officers did or didn’t have during their infiltration of Occupy Los Angeles in search of terrorists. Reuters reports:
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Undercover police officers infiltrated Occupy LA’s tent city last month to spy on people they suspected of stockpiling human waste and crude weapons for resisting an eventual eviction, police and city government sources said.
Authorities also used security cameras mounted outside City Hall, where the camp was located, and monitored publicly available Internet chatter and video on social-networking sites such as Twitter, sources said.
They insisted that covert surveillance of the camp was aimed not at anti-Wall Street activists exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression but at those they considered anti-government extremists bent on violence. Civil liberties advocates said they were troubled by law enforcement’s infiltration of peaceful demonstrations, although the LAPD’s undercover efforts were not unique.
In the end, nearly 300 Los Angeles demonstrators were arrested the night police raided their encampment, nearly all for defying orders to leave but with little violence.
What better way to sell your wares than to produce a marketing video showing exactly how your product works? Even if that product is spyware, marketed to oppressive regimes. WikiLeaks, as part of its Spy Files trove of documents, released on Thursday a series of videos from Gamma International, a UK-based firm that markets the Finfisher spyware. The video shows how the company’s product can be used to sniff WiFi networks from a hotel lobby, hack computers and cell phones, or intercept Skype communications and siphon encryption passwords.
Think you’ve got the chops to be a spy? John Burns reveals a way to apply in the New York Times:
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According to traffic on Twitter, Facebook and scores of other Web sites, at least 50 people have solved the puzzle since it was posted unobtrusively last month. To all but practiced cryptographers, it looks baffling: a rectangular display of 160 letters and numbers, grouped in twos in blue against a black background, under the overline, “Can you crack it?” Beneath it, a digital clock ticks down the seconds left until the competition closes.
The agency that posted the puzzle at www.canyoucrackit.co.uk is one of the oldest, and, espionage experts say, most successful eavesdropping organizations anywhere, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, located in a vast doughnut-shaped building surrounded by huge satellite dishes in parkland near Cheltenham, 120 miles west of London.
Helped by a hand-in-glove relationship with its American counterpart, the National Security Agency, which provides access to data downloaded from a pervasive network of American spy satellites, GCHQ can hack into phone calls, e-mails and computers virtually anywhere in the world.
If you use an Android or Blackberry phone, likely it houses a piece of hidden software which logs the content of your text messages, web searches, and other activities, and transmits the information back to company headquarters. Lifehacker reports on the unfolding Carrier IQ scandal:
Android developer Trevor Eckhart last week released information and started an uproar about a widespread rootkit, called Carrier IQ, that’s capable of logging everything you do and comes preinstalled on a ton of smartphones-including various Androids, Nokia phones, and BlackBerrys.
Last week, 25-year old Eckhart discovered a hidden application on some mobile phones that had the ability to log anything and everything on your device—from location to web searches to the content of your text messages. The program is called Carrier IQ, and unlike the
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The use of so-called “Trojan horse” software by authorities in a number of German states came to light after the Computer Chaos Club, a hacker group, published details of their examination of spyware planted on a laptop in Bavaria.
It found that the software — developed by a private company called DigiTask for the Bavarian police — was capable of much more than just monitoring internet phone calls. It could take screenshots, remotely add files and control a computer’s microphone or webcam to monitor the person’s home. However, the authorities insist that they did not deploy these functions. Investigations are ongoing.
Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with British computer security firm Sophos, which also analyzed the software, said that the spyware could “automatically update itself over the internet, so new functionality can be added. It can be used to install new software onto the computer, so people could actually alter the contents of a suspect’s hard drive.”
The scandal has led politicians and security experts to look at whether the country’s already stringent privacy laws need firming up.
Sometimes you’re being followed when you think you’re alone. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
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An Australian technologist has caused a global stir after discovering Facebook tracks the websites its users visit even when they are logged out of the social networking site.
In alarming new revelations, Wollongong-based Nik Cubrilovic conducted tests, which revealed that when you log out of Facebook, rather than deleting its tracking cookies, the site merely modifies them, maintaining account information and other unique tokens that can be used to identify you.
Whenever you visit a web page that contains a Facebook button or widget, your browser is still sending details of your movements back to Facebook, Cubrilovic says.
“Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit,” Cubrilovic wrote in a blog post.
He backed up his claims with detailed technical information. His post was picked up by technology news sites around the world but Facebook has yet to provide a response to Fairfax Media and others.