Monday, September 30, 2013

Israeli security service arrests 'Iranian spy'

Dual nationality Belgian-Iranian businessman Ali Mansouri accused of receiving $1m fee to spy on Israeli and Western targets

Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service arrested a Belgian citizen of Iranian origin on Sunday, after it claimed he was spying on the country disguised as a window and roofing salesman.

The announcement coincides with a trip by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the US aimed at casting doubt on Iran’s recent positive interactions with the West, although Shin Bet denied there was a link. Netanyahu will visit the White House on Monday, and address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
According to Shin Bet, 58-year-old businessman Ali Mansouri has admitted to interrogators that he was recruited last year by Quds Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite unit. The security service claims he was sent to Israel to set up business ties as a cover for spying on Israeli and Western targets, and to “harm Israeli and Western interests” for an alleged fee of $1 million.
The Belgian-Iranian man entered Israel on 6 September with a Belgian passport, under the name Alex Mans. He was arrested five days later at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, as he was about to board a European flight.  In his possession were photographs that Israel say are of “interest [to] Iranian intelligence.“
The photographs include the cafe next to the US Embassy, a rooftop view of the embassy taken from a nearby building, and the baggage claim hall of the airport. Another shows him posing on the Tel Aviv seaside boardwalk clutching a map. 

Listening devices found at future defence HQ

OTTAWA — Workers preparing the former Nortel complex as the new home for the Department of National Defence have discovered electronic eavesdropping devices, prompting new fears about the security of the facility.

It’s not clear whether the devices were recently planted or left over from an industrial espionage operation when Nortel occupied the complex.

Asked for details about the listening devices and whether they were still functioning, the DND responded with a statement to the Citizen that it takes security at its installations seriously.

“The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces cannot provide any information regarding specific measures and tests undertaken to secure a location or facility for reasons of national security,” noted an email from DND spokeswoman Carole Brown. “The DND/CAF must maintain a safe and secure environment at all of its facilities, in order to maintain Canada’s security posture at home and abroad.”

Recently released DND documents, however, indicate that concerns about the security surrounding the former Nortel campus at 3500 Carling Ave. were raised last year.

A briefing document for then Defence Minister Peter MacKay warned that the public announcement the DND was moving into the complex before it could be properly secured created a major problem. “This not only raises the level of difficulty of verifying appropriate security safeguards in the future, it will probably dramatically increase security costs and cause delays to reach full operational capability,” MacKay was told in April 2012 by Canadian Forces security officers.

The briefing note was released under the Access to Information law.

Friday, September 27, 2013

U.S. internal watchdog finds NSA workers spied on significant others

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least a dozen U.S. National Security Agency employees have abused secret surveillance programs in the past decade, most often to spy on their significant others, according to the latest findings of the agency's internal watchdog.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee's top Republican, Charles Grassley, NSA Inspector General George Ellard outlined 12 instances of "intentional misuse" of the agency's intelligence gathering programs since January 1, 2003.
Grassley had asked the NSA internal watchdog to report on "intentional and wilful" abuse of the NSA surveillance authority as public concerns mount over the vast scope of the U.S. government's spying program.
The agency's operations have come under intense scrutiny since disclosures this spring by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the U.S. government collects far more Internet and telephone data than previously publicly known.
Many members of Congress and administration officials staunchly defend the NSA surveillance programs as a critical defence tool against terrorist attacks, but privacy advocates say the spying agency's authority has grown to be too sweeping.
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the reported incidents of NSA employees' violations of the law are likely "the tip of the iceberg" of lax data safeguards, but that the laws guiding the NSA's spying authority in the first place are a bigger issue.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ex-employee of bra tycoon Michelle Mone claims office was bugged

A senior employee of bra tycoon Michelle Mone walked out after discovering his office had been bugged, an employment tribunal heard.

Scott Kilday, 35, said he was left "horrified" on finding a listening device hidden within artificial flowers.
It came shortly after he was asked to resign from his post as a director at Miss Mone's MJM International company based in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire.
Mr Kilday was later allegedly told the bug had been planted for "business strategic reasons".
Mr Kilday made the accusations on the first day of his employment tribunal in which he is claiming unfair dismissal against MJM.
The hearing in Glasgow was told how matters became "difficult" within the lingerie company after Miss Mone split with her husband and business partner Michael in December 2011.
Mr Kilday said: "It all became a bit disjointed and basically there came a time Michelle and Michael could not sit in the room together.
"With both being majority shareholders it was very difficult to get any decision made, which ultimately was the fall of the business."
Mr Mone eventually left MJM days before another company - MAS Holdings - bought into the business in February this year.
Mr Kilday, of Glasgow, said that around the same time Miss Mone asked him to resign as a director.
He told the tribunal: "She said that MAS had asked for me to resign as director for the sale of the company to go through.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

'Spies taped Diana's crash and bugged her phone'

A key UK security industry source who served in the military told the Sunday Express that GCHQ remotely switched on recorder modes right up to the moment the couple took their fatal Paris car trip.
If made public, the phone recordings could help throw light on sensational claims by former SAS serviceman ­Soldier N that Diana was murdered by an SAS assassination squad.
The bugging claim came as a separate Sunday Express investigation revealed that film footage of Diana’s last hours was “kept secret”. An exhaustive inquiry in the French cap­ital has confirmed the existence of CCTV records of the night Diana died in August 1997.

Many belong to private companies who used France’s strict privacy laws to avoid having to hand them over to the police.

Just as crucially, a key traffic camera overlooking the scene of the crash in the Alma Tunnel was said to be switched off or malfunctioning.

However, one operator contacted 16 years on said: “Images would have been available if people wanted them to be. The truth is that every excuse poss­ible was made to make sure that live film could be kept secret.

“This suited lots of powerful people, especially those who wanted to dismiss the crash as a simple traffic accident.”

The operator, who asked not to be identified because he “fears for my safety”, said he was convinced that all available film was “rounded up and hidden or destroyed”.

Military sources have claimed Diana’s driver, Henri Paul, was blinded with an intense flash of light forcing him to lose control of their Mercedes on an underpass after leaving the Ritz hotel.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Americans More Concerned About Being Hacked Than Spied On

A new study from the Pew Research Center‘s Internet and American Life Project finds that more than half of Americans are concerned about being watched by their government, but nearly 90 percent of those living in the states are more concerned with facing a hacker attack or losing their money online.
Many have used services to conceal their identity or create alternate identities to avoid being tracked by companies and pitched to or even stolen by cyber criminals. Americans’ biggest concern, according to Pew study, is the theft of their money or information. The government’s domestic spying program, Prism, has yet to inspire Americans to move in the same way they already have to protect themselves from hackers and criminals.
Many of those who responded to Pew’s survey reported having their social network account compromised, being stalked online, losing money or having their reputation ruined. Overall, Pew’s research found that 59 percent of Americans are pessimistic about being able to go completely anonymous online. Only 37 percent, then, believe one can navigate the web without being traced.
Americans are using various methods to surf anonymously, or at least get as close as they can to doing so. Some start small and erase their browser history and cookies before logging off to keep some companies from tracking them online. Others have opted for the various Do Not Track (DNT) methods available to them through their web browsers.
Over a third of those who take these steps say they do so primarily to keep their information out of the hands of hackers or those who might want to steal their identity. Another 28 percent, however, said they’re trying to skirt the annoying ads which pop up online.
Of those polled, 36 percent said they preferred using a different name when interacting with websites, and 21 percent said they had asked someone to take down pictures of themselves. There were even some respondents who said they browsed on public computers but gave websites inaccurate information about themselves.

Wikileaks SpyFiles Show Surveillance Industry ‘Thriving Unchecked’

Wikileaks has released a fresh trove of files on the surveillance industry, raising concerns about an “unchecked” market where Western companies are selling Trojans and other spying kit to repressive regimes for vast sums of money.

Companies that have previously faced scrutiny from human rights bodies, including British supplier Gamma International, exploit seller VUPEN and Italian organisation HackingTeam, featured heavily in the leaks.
Privacy and security experts told TechWeekEurope the Wikileaks SpyFiles show “studies of, installations in and trips to highly repressive countries” by surveillance suppliers, who are doing business “unchecked”.

British surveillance seller in repressive nations

Gamma was shown to be selling its FinSpy kit, which includes Trojans for infecting mobile and desktop machines, for hundreds of thousands of pounds, working closely with a reseller called Dreamlab. FinSpy support, for instance, cost over €255,000 (£215,000) for one year, according to the document.
The global trade of surveillance technology is estimated to be worth up to $5 billion a year.

Planned EU privacy law no magic bullet against U.S. spying

(Reuters) - Stung by revelations about the scale of U.S. electronic spying, Europe has been itching to show it can protect its citizens from snooping - but planned new privacy legislation risks a head-on collision with U.S. law.
However much European Parliament lawmakers may fume at the leaks from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Europe has a poor record in battles with U.S. justice and intelligence services over its citizens' data.
What is more, the Internet is dominated by the likes of MicrosoftGoogleFacebook and Yahoo! - U.S. companies that will feel more bound by U.S. laws compelling them to give information to their intelligence services.
"It is certainly not up to Europe alone to determine what data can be accessed in the United States," said privacy lawyer Eduardo Ustaran of Field Fisher Waterhouse in London.
For U.S. firms, any new laws drawn up in Brussels are unlikely to take precedence. Lawyers say potential U.S. punishments are more than enough to dissuade companies from complying with European rules.
"What would you prefer: to be slapped by U.S. law or the prospect of a European fine that may never be enforced?" said Mark Watts, an lawyer specializing in IT at Bristows in London.
Documents leaked by Snowden have shown that the U.S. National Security Agency monitors vast quantities of email and telephone data of both Americans and foreigners. Attempting to limit the damage, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that U.S. intelligence-gathering was focused on specific concerns like counter-terrorism, cyber-security and weapons of mass destruction.
But U.S. allies are concerned, and the European Parliament, where more than 750 members represent 500 million citizens across 28 countries, plans to back a tough new privacy law by the end of the year.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

HR puts hidden microphone in coffee vending machines to spy on employees

Bangalore. An IT company, USATech has been accused of spying on its employees by planting miniature microphones in the coffee vending machines installed in the office premises.
The shocking revelation came to light after Ramu Bondeshwar, a maintenance staff spotted a microphone while refilling one of the machines.
It’s a well known fact that coffee vending machines are the gossip points in every company where all kinds of discussions happen. Employees of USATech are blaming company’s higher management for the privacy breach.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hacker pleads guilty to selling FBI 'supercomputer' secrets

A Pennsylvania man affiliated with the Underground Intelligence Agency hacker collective has pleaded guilty in connection to selling access to US Energy Department servers he infiltrated illegally.
Andrew James Miller, 24, pleaded guilty to offering an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent “root” access to the so-called supercomputers at the National Energy research Scientific Computing Center at the Lawrence Berkley National Lab California in exchange for $50,000, according to Wired. Some of the world’s most powerful computers are housed at the research center, where high-end computing power is fostered for Energy department projects. 
Miller, who used the alias “Green” in the online chats, pasted a document confirming he had access to the restricted computers, according to the prosecution. He told the undercover FBI agents that he also had access to computers at Harvard University and the University of California at Davis. He also claimed to have infiltrated servers at Yahoo, American Express, Google, Adobe, and WordPress, among others. 
Another member of the Underground Intelligence Agency, known only as “Intel,” helped authorities piece together the investigation. 
Miller and other members of the conspiracy remotely, surreptitiously, and without authorization, installed ‘backdoors’ onto computer servers and created ‘magic passwords’ that provided ‘root’ access to these compromised servers,” according to the original indictment. “Miller and other members of the conspiracy sold, or otherwise transferred, these ‘magic passwords’ and other stolen login credentials to others, including to an undercover agent from the FBI.” 
He was also accused of bragging to agents of accessing the entire corporate network of RNKTel, a Massachusetts telecommunication firm.