Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Take a Preventive Approach to TSCM?

All too often corporations or individuals hire a professional Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) or "bug sweep" service provider only after they have a strong suspicion they are a victim of illegal eavesdropping. While it may seem like a logical approach to verify your suspicions first, the choice to delay can be an irresponsible and costly choice. Every minute an illegal eavesdropper maintains access to your information is valuable to the eavesdropper -- and costly to you. The longer you wait, the more opportunity the eavesdropper has to gather enough competition sensitive, company proprietary or damaging personal information to cause your company, or you, irreparable harm.

Read more here...

Friday, February 25, 2011

150,000 Chinese cell phones bugged

Note: Think your cell phone is safe from eavesdropping? Think again...
A new cell phone program, X Undercover, allows people to hack smart phones, and its being marketed mainly to married women

You might be thinking cross-border, James Bond-type shenanigans after reading about 150,000 Chinese cell phone being bugged, but it turns out the latest cell phone virus -- X Undercover -- is catering to Chinese wives who want to check up on their husbands.

On Wednesday, the Beijing Times broke the story that the computer virus has infected over 150,000 smart phones in China, allowing hackers to remotely monitor calls.

The phone forces the target smart phone to use three-way calling -- unbeknown to the two callers -- to allow the perpetrator to monitor and copy conversations and text messages.

X Undercover can also secretly video the phone's owner as well as pinpoint the user's location with the phone's GPS system.

The virus doesn’t come cheap. ChinaDaily reports that it’s sold online for RMB 3,000 a pop, with marketing -- yes, even viruses have marketing these days -- to Chinese women (and men) who believe their spouses are cheating.

Although the virus is still available online, bugging and monitoring personal information is against the law in China, according to mobile security experts quoted in ChinaDaily.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tools of Tradecraft: The CIA’s Historic Spy Kit


Whenever James Bond needed a nifty device to snap a surreptitious surveillance picture or escape the gilded clutches of Auric Goldfinger, he could count on the ingenious minds in the Secret Service's Q Division to devise a solution. Real-world Bonds working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and its precursor the Office of Strategic Services, could turn to the Office of Research and Development for similar tradecraft tools.

From mosquito drones to couture cameras, the CIA had its agents' needs covered. Some of these devices are now displayed in the CIA's museum, located at the agency's Langley, Virginia, headquarters.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Government cyber-crime report just sales puffery

You might recall that last week, consultant firm Detica produced a report on the overall cost of cyber-crime in the UK, in conjunction with the government Office of Cyber Security.

The damage of which was calculated to be £27 billion per year lopped off the British economy, a rather staggering figure to claim. Of course, it’s very difficult to quantify these sort of measurements.

A professor from the London School of Economics was certainly unimpressed with this estimation, and pointed out an interesting fact – that Detica is owned by BAE Systems, and the whole report was a “sales promotion exercise” on behalf of the latter.

Peter Sommer told ComputerWeekly: “The whole report has been orientated to areas in which BAE can offer its facilities and services.”

He noted that entire swathes of cyber-crime offences were discarded by the report, with child pornography perhaps the biggest problem area which was ignored.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Boxes of child porn, surveillance video removed from salon owner's home

MALDEN, MO (KFVS) - Investigators carried out boxes of surveillance video, porn, and child porn from a Malden man's home and business Monday morning.

Malden Police Chief Jarrett Bullock says this is the largest child porn bust in Malden's history and possibly in the state of the Missouri.

Joseph Layland Jr., 36 faces 10 charges after police found surveillance video of customers in a tanning booth at his tanning salon and child porn.

Layland Jr. is charged with four counts of the Class B felony of possession of child pornography, and six counts of the Class D felony of invasion of privacy.

Class B felonies can carry a sentence of five to 15 years. Class D felonies can carry four years each.


Brits Say Cybercrime Costs Billions

Cybercrime is leeching the U.K. economy of a terrifying £27 billion ($43.5 billion) every year according to a new estimate published by the government.

The headline number put out by the Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance and consultancy Detica includes a £21 billion cost to business, of which £9.2 billion results from theft of intellectual property (IP) and £7.6 billion from industrial espionage.

Extortion against U.K. companies accounts for another £2.2 billion, the loss of customer data £1 billion, with £2.2 billion racked up in 'fiscal' fraud against the government itself.

Conventional cyberfraud against ordinary citizens is reckoned to be £3.1 billion in total, comprising £1.7 billion from identity theft and another £1.4 billion from online scams. Fake anti-virus scams alone accounts for £30 million of useless software sold to citizens.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Bird Bond: 'Nano Hummingbird' Drone Takes Spying to the Sky

This drone gives new meaning to "bird watching."

Tech company AeroVironment has announced that the unmanned, “hummingbird–like” aircraft it's been working on since 2006 has achieved its prescribed goals. The Nano Hummingbird, developed for DARPA, the Pentagon's research arm, has both whimsy and espionage potential. Flying via remote control at something like 11 miles per hour, the drone wouldn't be able to keep up with the living and breathing hummingbird. But then, real hummingbirds don't have cameras. Check out the video below. More...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The spying game: Firms losing billions

Networks of foreign spies are regularly uncovered and Wikileaks continues to release embarrassing documents.

(Listening devices are so small, they are easy to conceal in a room

Bugging a room is the stuff of legend in old black-and-white movies, although in reality, it is still the most popular way of surreptitiously obtaining information.

There is no law in the UK which says a room cannot be bugged, but there are stringent laws relating to what can and cannot be used. "In the UK, we cannot have CS spray because we cannot harm attackers," she notes, "Whereas in many US states, you can walk in and buy a gun, yet cannot buy a bug or a camera with audio."Anything using a frequency such as UHF or VHF needs a license according to the Wireless and Telegraphy Act.

"Our UHF listening devices are strictly for customers who live outside the EU and they have to sign a declaration," Mrs King explains.

The most common form of listening devices utilises a Sim card and GSM frequencies, as used in ordinary mobile telephones.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hackers Reveal Offers to Spy on Corporate Rivals
WASHINGTON — A fight between a group of pro-WikiLeaks hackers and a California-based Internet security business has opened a window onto the secretive world of private companies that offer to help corporations investigate and discredit their critics.

This week, hackers said they had penetrated the computers of HBGary Federal, a security company that sells investigative services to corporations, and posted tens of thousands of what appear to be its internal company e-mails on the Internet.

The documents appear to include pitches for unseemly ways to undermine adversaries of Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, like doing background research on their critics and then distributing fake documents to embarrass them.

The bank and the chamber do not appear to have directly solicited the spylike services of HBGary Federal. Rather, HBGary Federal offered to do the work for Hunton & Williams, a corporate law firm that has represented them.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chinese Hackers Target Western Oil Companies

A US security firm has declared that China-based hackers have effected illegal entry to the computers of oil companies in the US, Taiwan, Kazakhstan and elsewhere. The report, released on Thursday by McAfee, says hackers purloined sensitive information concerning bidding, operations, and finance for oil fields. No companies were named.

Attacks commenced in 2009. Experts rate China as the hub of internet crime, including sophisticated industrial espionage against major companies.

China’s government has denied involvement, but a cyber-attack on the British Foreign Office was recently attributed to it. An email received by three personnel claimed to relate to an upcoming visit to the region, and appeared utterly innocent, but a document was attached which contained computer code that would have adversely affected any machine that opened it. Systems identified the threat. Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was the work of “a hostile state intelligence agency,” which intelligence sources say is China.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Spies at Work Know Where to Find Your Secrets

“A mental health specialist recommended that the Army private accused of leaking classified material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks not be deployed to Iraq, but his immediate commanders sent him anyway.”

That’s according to the Washington Post, which noted that the soldier, Bradley Manning, was allegedly storing classified material on an unclassified server, had been demoted for assault, and was acting so erratically that his master sergeant disabled his weapon. So why did this man have a security clearance, and what was he doing in a war zone with access to State Department cables unrelated to his job?

Before you call the Army stupid and forget it, why does your mailroom clerk have unrestricted access to everything on your company’s server, including corporate secrets, or your clients’ merger plans and bid data? And why was a Ford Motor Co. engineer allegedly able to steal thousands of sensitive documents that had nothing to do with his job? Poor information security isn’t just a government problem.

Economic espionage is intensifying. The foreign intelligence services of China, Russia, Iran and other countries are after our technology, and most of what they want is in the electronic-information systems of private companies -- and the law and accounting firms that work for them.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Art Professor to Remove "Third Eye" Camera From Head

Not everyone is cutout to be an "Eye Spy"...;)
Artist had a camera installed on the back of his head for a performance project

A New York City professor's controversial art project is becoming quite a headache - literally.

Wafaa Bilal, an assistant arts professor at New York University, needed to remove the camera he had installed into the back of his head earlier this month because his body rejected the foreign object.

One of the three titanium posts holding his "third eye" was removed by surgery this Friday, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports, forcing him to find other means to continue with his photography project for a museum in Qatar.

"I'm determined to continue with it," Bilal told the Chronicle about "3rdi" which is described on his website as "a statement on surveillance, the mundane and the things we leave behind."


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

House Fails to Extend Patriot Act Spy Powers

The House failed to extend three key expiring provisions of the Patriot Act on Tuesday, elements granting the government broad and nearly unchecked surveillance power on its own public.

The act was hastily adopted six weeks after the 2001 terror attacks. Three measures of the act are set to expire at month’s end, and the House’s lack of a two-thirds vote on Tuesday failed to move the sunsetting deadline to Dec. 8, as proposed. The vote was 277-148.

The failure of the bill, sponsored by Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wisconsin), for the time being is likely to give airtime to competing measures in the Senate that would place limited checks on the act’s broad surveillance powers. The White House, meanwhile, said it wanted the expiring measures extended through 2013.

The three expiring Patriot Act provisions are: More...

Monday, February 7, 2011

'We Know Where You Are' Technology

Beware of that smartphone in your hand: It might be telling more about you than you'd like.

While a smartphone has become a communications must-have, offering services such as GPS location, Internet access and more, it's also gathering information about you -- data being marketed by your cellular provider to advertisers and other commercial services.

And that fact came as a shock to most consumers contacted by, who had no idea their cell phone was anything but private.

“I feel violated, that they sell my information without me knowing," said Rupert Prout of Fresno, Calif. "I feel that they shouldn’t have the power and ability to do that.”

“I don’t love the idea of people selling information about me, trying to manipulate what I do in order to make a profit,” agreed Michaela Crib of Fresno, Calif.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Beware China's 'honeytrap' spies

According to intelligence agencies, China is enlisting beautiful women for corporate espionage in the West. How does the dreaded "honeytrap" method work?

According to leaked French intelligence files, China has been employing beautiful female spies — the dreaded "honeytrap" method — and blackmail to steal business secrets from French executives. And it wouldn't be the first time that China has used such tricks to gain access to privileged information. Here, a brief guide: How does the "honeytrap" work?
A beautiful woman wines, dines, and even beds a mark to get information from him, a la many a Bond flick. The French intelligence reports cite a case in which a young Chinese woman slept with a top French researcher at a major pharmaceutical company, a man unaware that she was a spy and that the encounter had been videotaped. "When he was shown the recorded film of the previous night in his hotel room... he proved highly cooperative," says an intelligence official.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hilton Paid Starwood $75 Million in Espionage Settlement

Hilton Worldwide Inc. paid $75 million last year to Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide as part of a settlement agreement in a corporate-espionage lawsuit, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In its earnings statement Thursday, Starwood said it received the money in a corporate settlement in December but didn't identify Hilton. Still, the legal settlement with Hilton was the only one Starwood reached that month.

Both parties reported last year that they had settled the lawsuit but didn't disclose the financial terms of the agreement.

The settlement put to an end a dispute that had rattled the normally staid hotel world. In 2009, Starwood filed a suit that accused Hilton officials of stealing confidential Starwood documents to develop a new boutique-style chain that would appeal to modern tastes.

Terms of the settlement continue a court order that Hilton cease development of its Denizen lifestyle chain and can't start developing a similar brand for two years.

Hilton also must allow a court-appointed monitor to review its marketing and branding materials to assure the company doesn't benefit from the information obtained from Starwood documents.

In December, Hilton Chief Executive Chris Nassetta said in a statement the company is "committed to fair, ethical and robust competition in the marketplace."


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Industrial espionage: Data out of the door

Jin Hanjuan was about to board a flight to Beijing almost four years ago when a random check stopped her in her tracks.

According to court documents and an FBI affidavit filed in an economic espionage case against her, when customs officers at O’Hare airport in Chicago inspected the bags of the 40-year-old software engineer, they found more than 1,000 confidential papers that are alleged to have been stolen from Motorola, the US electronics group for which Ms Jin had worked until two days before the flight.

China catching EU on innovation, amid industrial espionage scandals

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – China is catching up fast with the EU in research and innovation, according to a study published by the European Commission ahead of a meeting of EU leaders on the same issue. But industrial spying scandals in France and the US have painted China's economic ambitions in a disturbing light.

The US and Japan are way ahead of Europe, while China and Brazil are catching up fast with the old continent in the number of patents issued, private and public expenditure dedicated to research and development, and academic research on cutting-edge technologies, the EU's latest "Innovation Union Scoreboard 2010" shows.

Within the EU, Sweden is top, followed closely by Denmark, Finland and Germany. Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania are at the lower end.

"The scoreboard highlights the innovation emergency in Europe," EU commissioner for innovation, research and science, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn said. "If Europe stands still we will see the US disappear into the distance just as we feel emerging nations breathing down our necks."


French warn of Chinese industrial espionage

CHINA is using honey traps and spying interns in industrial espionage, according to leaked French intelligence files.

One report claimed a top French researcher was wined and dined by a Chinese woman and ended up in bed with her.

''When he was shown the recorded film of the previous night in his hotel room … he proved highly co-operative,'' an intelligence official said.

In another case, an unnamed French company realised that a sample of its patented liquid had left the building after a visitor from a Chinese delegation dipped his tie into the liquid to take home a sample.

Companies should do more to protect themselves from prying eyes among the 30,000 Chinese students on internships in France, experts warned.