Thursday, August 25, 2016

This malware sold to governments could help them spy on iPhones...

Many people assume their iPhones are secure, but new research sent Apple scrambling to fix vulnerabilities that left users at risk.
Spyware relying on three previously unknown, or “zero-day,” flaws in Apple’s iOS mobile operating system for years made it possible for governments to take over victims' phones by tricking them into clicking on a link in a text message, according to new reports from Lookout, a cybersecurity firm that looks for security holes in mobile products, and Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.
"This is the most sophisticated bad actor we have ever seen targeting mobile phones out in the wild," said Mike Murray, vice president of security research at Lookout.
The malware, which the researchers said came from an Israeli company called NSO Group that was bought by the U.S. private equity firm Francisco Partners in 2014, was used to target journalists and activists in some cases, according to Citizen Lab, a group focused on the intersection of technology and information security.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Spy gadgets aren’t about exploding cigarettes anymore...

James Bond and Mission: Impossible (the original TV show and the movies) have colored the way we think of spy tech. Watching old spy movies, one would think intelligence gathering hinged on cigarette rocket launchers, courtesy of Q Branch, or impossibly lifelike masks.

And that’s not completely wrong — if a bit overboard. Intelligence tools are often subtle and creative. But modern intelligence gathering is simultaneously less gaudy and far more effective than what’s seen on the screen.

This was readily apparent at the 2016 Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems (DoDIIS) Worldwide conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 1-3, where officials from DoD, the intelligence community and the private sector gathered to share the latest in intelligence tech.

Conference Coverage: DoDIIS Worldwide 2016

Instead of “spy gadgets” seen in the movies, modern intelligence tools are more about processing large amounts of data in real- or near-real-time to give operatives on the ground as much information as possible during missions.

For the CIA, this change has been a natural response to a shift in the way intelligence is gathered, according to Sean Roche, the agency’s associate deputy director for digital innovation.

These days, open source intelligence — information gathered by culling publicly available sources — “is as valuable and more valuable everyday as the information we get clandestinely. The old story is that open source was always doing good things. But unless a paper was marked ‘top secret,’ it didn’t seem to have the same weight. We know that not to be true today.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Registration Open for 2016 Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) Annual Counterespionage Conference

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Aug. 4, 2016 - PRLog -- ERII today announced registration is open for the2016 Annual ERII Counterespionage Conference, an annual gathering of worldwide technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM), counterintelligence and counterespionage professionals.
The conference will be held September 9-11, 2016, at the Embassy Suites Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. ERII membership 3-day conference tickets are offered at a $200 discount as compared to non-member tickets through August 9, 2016 only. Single-day conference tickets are also available for ERII members and non-members.

Prior to the conference, Professional Development TSCM Group will provide two Kestrel TSCM Software training sessions. A Basic Operator Training session for government, government contractors & military will be held on September 6, 2016. On September 7-8, 2016 an Advanced Operator Certification class will be offered for ERII Members and select attendees.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Judge blasts FBI for bugging courthouse..

The FBI violated the Fourth Amendment by recording more than 200 hours of conversation at the entrance to a county courthouse in the Bay Area, a federal judge has ruled.

Federal agents planted the concealed microphones around the San Mateo County Courthouse in 2009 and 2010 as part of an investigation into alleged bid-rigging at public auctions for foreclosed homes. In November, lawyers representing five defendants filed a motion arguing that the tactic was unconstitutional, since the Fourth Amendment bans unreasonable searches.

"The government utterly failed to justify a warrantless electronic surveillance that recorded private conversations spoken in hushed tones by judges, attorneys, and court staff entering and exiting a courthouse," US District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in an order (PDF) published yesterday. "Even putting aside the sensitive nature of the location here, Defendants have established that they believed their conversations were private and they took reasonable steps to thwart eavesdroppers."

Breyer concluded that the disputed evidence must be suppressed. At a hearing next week, he'll consider whether the recordings tainted the rest of the prosecution's case.

Read more here.