Tag Archives | Spying

WikiLeaks Releases Spyware Firm Videos That Show How to Hack Email, Skype, WiFi

Wikipedia Spy FilesKim Zetter writes on WIRED’s Threat Level:

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.

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Britain’s GCHQ Recruiting Spies With Online Puzzle

Think you’ve got the chops to be a spy? John Burns reveals a way to apply in the New York Times:

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.

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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.

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Carrier IQ: The Rootkit Tracking Everything You Do On Your Phone

carrierIf 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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German Government Spyware Transforms Citizen’s Computers Into ‘Big Brother’-Type Surveillance Devices

CCCDiscovered by the Chaos Computer Club, reports GlobalPost:

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.

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Facebook Tracks You Even After Logging Out

fbtimelinemain-420x0 Sometimes you’re being followed when you think you’re alone. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

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.

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Did A Sex Tape Create an Al-Qaeda Spy?

Al-Qaeda Sex Tape?Adam Rawnsley asks on the always intriguing WIRED’s Danger Room:

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the spying book: Tempt a guy with sex; record him in a compromising position, and then blackmail him into working for you. According to a new file released by WikiLeaks, that’s exactly what happened to one inmate there. But be wary of this espionage tale. As with a lot of Gitmo detainee accounts, the detainee’s history of trying to please interrogators and his experience being tortured make it difficult to say for sure what really happened.

Abd Al Rahim Abdul Raza Janko told interrogators at Guantanamo Bay that his journey into an al-Qaida guest house began with blackmail while he was studying Islamic law and Arabic literature in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He claimed Prince Fisal Sudid Qasmi invited him to hang out with his college friends at a local hotel. When he arrived, he said a raging sex party was already in progress and he promptly took part in it.

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The CIA’s Six Oldest Secret Documents

Don’t get too excited, but the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has decided to unveil what it terms “the United States Government’s six oldest classified documents, dating from 1917 and 1918.” They mostly have to do with secret ink formulae and while the processes may have been a big deal a century ago, your local spy store will have cooler stuff today.

CIA doc

Here’s what the Agency has to say:

These documents, which describe secret writing techniques and are housed at the National Archives, are believed to be the only remaining classified documents from the World War I era. Documents describing secret writing fall under the CIA’s purview to declassify.

“These documents remained classified for nearly a century until recent advancements in technology made it possible to release them,” CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said. “When historical information is no longer sensitive, we take seriously our responsibility to share it with the American people.”

One document outlines the chemicals and techniques necessary for developing certain types of secret writing ink and a method for opening sealed letters without detection.

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Government To Declassify Historical Images From Spy Satellites

1279aThe public will at last get a glimpse at our government’s secretive, Cold War-era version of Google Earth. Secrecy News reports:

Millions of feet of film of historical imagery from intelligence satellites may be declassified this year, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) said.

“The NGA is anticipating the potential declassification of significant amounts of film-based imagery… in 2011,” according to an NGA announcement that solicited contractor interest in converting the declassified film into digital format.

For planning purposes, the NGA told potential contractors to assume the need to digitize “approximately 4 million linear feet of film up to approximately 7 inches in width.” The imagery is “stored on 500 foot spools, with many frames up to several feet in length.” A nominal start date of October 1, 2011 was specified for the digitization project.

The declassification of historical intelligence satellite imagery has been largely dormant for many years. President Clinton’s 1995 executive order 12951 promised a periodic review of classified imagery “with the objective of making available to the public as much imagery as possible consistent with the interests of national defense and foreign policy.” In particular, a review of obsolete film-return systems, such as the KH-8 GAMBIT and the KH-9 HEXAGON, was to be completed within five years.

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