Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Former Akamai employee pleads guilty in espionage case

A Brookline man who worked in the finance department at Akamai Technologies Inc. has pleaded guilty to foreign economic espionage as part of an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.

According to U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Elliot Doxer, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper to one count of economic espionage for providing trade secrets to an undercover federal agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer. According to Ortiz, this was only the eighth prosecution in the U.S. under the charge of foreign economic espionage.

As part of the plea agreement, a charge of wire fraud was dismissed. Doxer, facing a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, will be sentenced on Nov. 30.

Doxer stipulated to a statement of fact that in 2006 he emailed the Israeli consulate in Boston saying that as an employee in Akamai’s finance department he was willing to provide information that might help Israel, and later saying that he wanted to help “our homeland in our war against our enemies.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Naked eye: hidden cameras more common than you think?

Note: This just in from our ERI Associate & Friend from down under, Julian Claxton, Counter Surveillance Expert & Director of Jayde Consulting. Congrats Julian! Job well done!

Hidden cameras in change rooms and toilets are far more common than people realise and advances in technology have made them so small that they are virtually impossible to detect, a Sydney counter-surveillance expert said.

Organisations are typically oblivious to the presence of hidden cameras and, on the odd occasions they do find them, are reluctant to come forward to police for fear of reputational damage, said Julian Claxton, a surveillance expert whose company, Jayde Consulting, conducts sweeps for recording devices.

Just this year, Claxton has investigated two instances in Sydney, one involving a hidden camera in the change room of a Sydney private school and another involving a camera placed in the toilet of a building in Haymarket.

"Two or three inquiries a year where devices have been found is quite significant … in this business you would be lucky to find something 1 or 2 per cent of the time," said Claxton, estimating he saw only 10 per cent of the reported cases in Sydney.

"We believe that there's a lot more going on that's not being picked up."


Note: By the way, when was the last time your organization requested a sweep for electronic eavesdropping devices? Not Sure? Contact me, I can help. ~JDL

Monday, August 29, 2011

Appeals Court to Weigh NSA Dragnet Surveillance

Whether the federal government and the nation’s telecommunication companies can be held accountable for allegedly funneling every American’s electronic communication to the National Security Agency without warrants is the subject of oral arguments scheduled for a federal appeals court Wednesday.

At issue is a Jan. 31, 2006 lawsuit, and others that followed, alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures. The cases, about three dozen which will be consolidated into two oral arguments, have been thrown out of court on a variety of grounds, chiefly the government’s claim that the lawsuits would expose state secrets, and a 2008 law that immunized the nation’s telcos from such lawsuits.

Nearly six years later, the merits of the lawsuits have never been addressed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which brought the leading cases, appealed, and contends that the litigation should never have been dismissed.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Engineers convicted in Goodyear corporate espionage case

A US federal judge has sentenced two former Wyko engineers to four years probation and 150 hours of community service after they were convicted of convicted of stealing trade secrets from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in a corporate espionage case that first surfaced in 2009.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, federal prosecutors had wanted US district court judge Thomas W. Phillips to give Clark Alan Roberts and Sean Edward Howley at least 10 months in prison, but their lack of previous convictions and “ample” family and community support reportedly won out.

A jury found Roberts and Howley each guilty in December on 10-counts alleging they conspired to steal and use trade secrets. Roberts and Howley, who were employees of Wyko Tire Technology Inc. at the time, had been accused of visiting Goodyear’s Topeka, Kansas plant in 2007 so Howley could use his camera phone to take pictures OTR tyre production procedures.

During the trial Tom Frey, a consultant for Goodyear and a former Goodyear manager, had estimated it cost $520,000 to develop the design drawings for the equipment the defendants were convicted of photographing and that Goodyear made $17 million in 2007 from the sale of tyres that machine produces. However Judge Phillips rejected Frey as a witness and noted that he was not employed by Goodyear and had not produced documentation to verify these figures.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Raleigh Spy Conference, Day one
Thursday August 25

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Final registration at NC Museum of History.

9:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Opening address by Michael Sulick, former Director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service entitled “Illegals: An Historic Perspective”.

10:30 AM - 11:45 AM
British intelligence expert and author Nigel West on “Glimpses of Soviet Illegal Networks During the Cold War”.


1:15 PM - 2:30 PM
Dan Mulvenna,
retired intelligence, officer Royal Canadian Mounted Police on “Russian Intelligence Services’ Illegals In Canada: Pipeline To The US, UK and Europe”.

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Brian Kelley,
former CIA officer, lecturer and close advisor to the Raleigh Spy Conference, on “The Spies Next Door”.

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
This annual drinks party provides attendees the opportunity to meet socially with speakers and special guests. Gala to be held at Amra’s jazz club, 106 Glenwood Avenue in the Glenwood South district near downtown.
Tel: 919-828-8488


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Raleigh Spy Conference: The Spies Among Us...

Note: What are you waiting for? Stop by, It should be a blast! JDL

Wednesday August 24-26

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Pre-Registration Reception 18 Seaboard restaurant gallery space, 18 Seaboard Avenue off Peace Street near downtown Raleigh. Tel: 919-861-4318

The Raleigh Spy Conference is known nationally for providing the general public direct access to intelligence officers, operatives and scholars in an informal atmosphere. Attendees have the opportunity to speak with and mix socially with conference speakers during the event.

"In Washington, it's difficult for the public to comprehend important intelligence and terrorism issues since everything is partisan and politically charged. Outside Washington, there are few voices for the public to hear, and those heard are often wrong or media-driven. Few are able to explain to the public what really has happened, and is happening, in intelligence, counterterrorism and national security - important issues, which, throughout history, have spelled the survival or loss of this or other nations. The annual Raleigh Spy Conference is a rare opportunity to hear it straight, with an unusual 'insider's' perspective and knowledge. Each year this conference opens that door to share remarkable insights and stellar speakers with the public. If one claims a scintilla of world-affairs knowledge, it cannot be true unless the annual Raleigh Spy Conference is on your calendar."


FBI warns businesses to protect their trade secrets and information

KAYSVILLE -- Companies and individuals need to protect their trade secrets and financial information the way Kentucky Fried Chicken protects its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices, FBI officials warn.

FBI Special Agent Karl Schmae and FBI Financial Analyst Shane Esplin, from the Salt Lake City office, shared tips with the Davis Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to help business owners protect themselves from becoming victims of a white-collar crime.

About 30 people attended the presentation titled "Economic Espionage: Trade Secrets Under Attack." The presentation was made at the NorthFront Business Resource Center in Kaysville.

The FBI has a broad mission that includes "economic espionage" and the impact it has on businesses, Schmae said.

Some of that espionage includes the stealing of trade secrets and claims ranging anywhere from the design of America's space shuttle being stolen by Russians, to New England Patriots Football Coach Bill Belichick spying on other NFL teams, Schmae said.

But in the world of economics, it is every company for itself, and it is the responsibility of each company to protect its trade secrets, research or marketing information -- all that separates them from their competitors, Schmae said.

Trade secrets have to be identified, Schmae said, and "reasonable measures" taken to protect them, including educating staff that any information they glean by working for the company cannot be shared.


Global information security execs urge - "Assume You Are Compromised"

Dubai, August 24, 2011 -- RSA, The Security Division of EMC (NYSE:EMC), released a new report that takes an in-depth look at the seismic shift in the cyber threat landscape, as enterprises are increasingly targeted for corporate espionage and sabotage. The report, the latest in a series from the Security for Business Innovation Council (SBIC), asserts that for most organizations, it's a matter of when, not if, they will be targeted by advanced threats. In an environment where the focus shifts from the impossible task of preventing intrusion to the crucial task of preventing damage, the report includes instructive guidance from 16 global security leaders for confronting this new class of threat.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chinese Military TV Show Reveals More Than Intended

A standard, even boring, piece of Chinese military propaganda screened in mid-July included what must have been an unintended but nevertheless damaging revelation: shots from a computer screen showing a Chinese military university is engaged in cyberwarfare against entities in the United States.

The documentary itself was otherwise meant as praise to the wisdom and judgment of Chinese military strategists, and a typical condemnation of the United States as an implacable aggressor in the cyber-realm. But the fleeting shots of an apparent China-based cyber-attack somehow made their way into the final cut.

The screenshots appear as B-roll footage in the documentary for six seconds—between 11:04 and 11:10 minutes—showing custom-built Chinese software apparently launching a cyber-attack against the main website of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, by using a compromised IP address belonging to a United States university. As of Aug. 22 at 1:30pm EDT, in addition to Youtube, the whole documentary is available on the CCTV website.

The screenshots show the name of the software and the Chinese university that built it, the Electrical Engineering University of China's People's Liberation Army—direct evidence that the PLA is involved in coding cyber-attack software directed against a Chinese dissident group.


Anti-Hacking Jammers for Pacemakers, Electronic Skin

While there have been no publicly known murder by hacking insulin pumps or pacemakers cases, the lethal hack and wireless attack has been demonstrated by researchers. Most folks do not want to have surgery to replace a functioning medical implant with a replacement device even if it might be less vulnerable to "passive eavesdropping" and to attackers sending unauthorized radio commands which could reprogram the implantable medical device . . . or as in a DDoS attack to drain the pacemaker battery so boom, victim falls over dead via untraceable assassination.

MIT and University of Massachusetts researchers have developed an anti-hacking jamming device that addresses communication security to protect implantable medical devices. The wearable "shield" device can emit a jamming signal when an active attacker establishes an unauthorized wireless link between a pacemaker and a remote terminal.


Android becomes most attacked mobile platform

Going rate of one million stolen email addresses is $25, says cyber security company

Google's operating system (OS) for mobile phones, Android, has become a favourite target for cyber criminals with the amount of malware targeted at Android devices jumping 76% since last quarter, to become the most attacked mobile OS.

According to computer security company McAfee's latest 'Threats Report: Second Quarter 2011', this year has also resulted in the busiest ever first half-year in malware history.

In the second quarter (2Q) of 2011, Android OS-based malware surpassed Symbian OS for the most popular target for mobile malware developers.

The report also said that while Symbian OS and Java ME remain the most targeted to date, the rapid rise in Android malware indicates that the platform could become an increasing target for cybercriminals - affecting everything from calendar apps, to SMS messages to a fake Angry Birds updates.

McAfee Labs senior vice-president Vincent Weafer said, "This year we've seen record-breaking numbers of malware, especially on mobile devices, where the uptick is in direct correlation to popularity."

Weafer also said that cyber criminals are building sophisticated malware which are difficult to detect.


Monday, August 22, 2011

The Espionage Act: Why Tom Drake was indicted

(CBS News)

Nearly two years before 9/11, America's largest intelligence agency was tracking three of the Al Qaeda hijackers. But that information, obtained by the National Security agency, wasn't analyzed in a way that could uncover the plot.

Inside the super-secret NSA, several analysts and managers believed that the agency had a powerful tool that might've had a chance to head off 9/11, but it wasn't used.

As Scott Pelley first reported in May, one of those agency insiders was Thomas Drake, who thought that taxpayer money was being wasted on useless intelligence gathering projects while promising technology was ignored.

Drake tried to get the word out but, as a result, he was charged under the Espionage Act and accused of betraying his country. Drake says that the only thing he betrayed was NSA mismanagement that undermined national security.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Investigation reveals widespread insider hacking at immigration agency

A yearlong probe into computer fraud at an immigration application processing center uncovered multiple incidents of internal hacking where staff accessed management-level emails and other confidential files, according to Homeland Security Department interviews, network analyses and internal emails obtained by Nextgov.

The investigation began in January 2008, when officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of Homeland Security, reported to the department's inspector general that numerous personnel had violated federal security rules at the agency's Texas Service Center, one of four regional centers that handle a variety of immigration-related petitions and applications. According to the materials obtained, employees and supervisors abused system logon privileges, gained unauthorized access in some instances and then allegedly sabotaged audit logs to leave behind no traces of their illicit activities. IG papers list the redacted names of 17 subjects of the investigation, all of whom were information technology specialists.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Security Report: Stealing ATM PINs with thermal cameras

At the USENIX Security Symposium last week, researchers Keaton Mowery, Sarah Meiklejohn and Stefan Savage from the University of California at San Diego presented their paper "Heat of the Moment: Characterizing the Efficacy of Thermal Camera-Based Attacks."

Inspired by previous research on safecracking by Michał Zalewski, they thought it would be easier for a criminal to snoop on ATM PINs using a thermal (infrared) camera to detect residual heat from keypresses rather than current techniques using traditional video cameras.

Thermal imaging provides several advantages. Unlike with traditional cameras, visually masking the PIN pad does not defeat the attack, and the ability to automate PIN harvesting using computer software further simplifies the task.


Corporate cybercrime tops boardroom agenda

High profile corporate cybercrime is putting information security on boardroom agendas around the world, a global survey revealed on Wednesday.

The need for increased measures to protect against corporate espionage and network hacking, the accidental or deliberate leaking of corporate data, and the loss or theft of company laptops, has never been so high, company bosses told the British Standards Institution (BSI), the leading business service for the development of standards, in a survey.

According to the research, which analyses responses from 645 businesses, risk of corporate data leaks is a key concern. Two thirds (64%) of the surveyed businesses that have implemented ISO 27001 (an information security management system) cited this as the most important driving force behind adopting the information security standard.

In addition to risk, the BSI research also shows that 72% of businesses are worried about the financial damage of cybercrime.


Computer lab’s Chinese-made parts raise spy concerns

A U.S. supercomputer laboratory engaged in classified military research concluded a recent dealinvolving Chinese-made components that is raising concerns in Congress about potential electronic espionage.

The concerns are based on a contract reached this summer between a computer-technology firm and the National Center for Computational Engineering at the University of Tennessee, whose supercomputers simulate flight tests for next-generation U.S. military aircraft and spacecraft, and simulate submarine warfare for the Navy.

The storage system for the contract calls for using software from U.S. cybersecurity firm Symantec installed over devices made by Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications giant that U.S. officials have said has close ties to China’s military. Huawei and Symantec formed a joint venture in 2008, with Huawei owning 51 percent of the shares of the enterprise.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Excerpt: Ghost in the Wires — My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

In his newly published autobiography, America’s most famous ex-hacker, Kevin Mitnick, tells his own story for the first time. In this excerpt, Mitnick describes his 1992 investigation into the mystery hacker “Eric,” who’d begun pumping him for information. Mitnick’s spy-versus-spy duel with the hacker would launch a chain of events destined to turn Mitnick into the most-wanted computer criminal in the country.


We’re told that our medical records are confidential, shared only when we give specific permission. But the truth is that any federal agent, cop, or prosecutor who can convince a judge he has legitimate reason can walk into your pharmacy and have them print out all of your prescriptions and the date of every refill. Scary.

We’re also told that the records kept on us by government agencies — Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, the DMV of any particular state, and so on — are safe from prying eyes. Maybe they’re a little safer now than they used to be — though I doubt it — but in my day, getting any information I wanted was a pushover.


Cyber-Espionage Against U.S. Firms More Widespread than Previously Thought

That foreign adversaries are using computer network vulnerabilities to steal military data from the U.S. government and its contractors is well known and hardly surprising.

Nations for centuries have long sought to steal such secrets from one another and spy-craft has simply moved into cyberspace.

However, the unveiling of a massive cyber-espionage network in August goes well beyond the unwritten rules that informally govern nations when it comes to the theft of technical data or insights into the minds of leaders and their intentions, said Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at network security firm, McAfee.

Alperovitch analyzed one command-and-control server that had been used to spread malware for five years before McAfee exposed it.

“Even we were surprised by the enormous diversity of the victim organizations and were taken aback by the audacity of the perpetrators,” he wrote in a blog.

Examining the logs to determine who the victims were, and how long the intrusion lasted before it was detected, Alperovitch found 30 different industries on the list.


Phone hacking: News of the World reporter's letter reveals cover-up
he News of the World's former royal correpsondent, Clive Goodman, who was jailed over phone hacking. A letter from him claims phone hacking was widely discussed at the paper. Photograph: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and their former editor Andy Coulson all face embarrassing new allegations of dishonesty and cover-up after the publication of an explosive letter written by the News of the World's disgraced royal correspondent, Clive Goodman.

In the letter, which was written four years ago but published only on Tuesday, Goodman claims that phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial meetings at the paper until Coulson himself banned further references to it; that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper in hacking when he came to court; and that his own hacking was carried out with "the full knowledge and support" of other senior journalists, whom he named.

The claims are acutely troubling for the prime minister, David Cameron, who hired Coulson as his media adviser on the basis that he knew nothing about phone hacking. And they confront Rupert and James Murdoch with the humiliating prospect of being recalled to parliament to justify the evidence which they gave last month on the aftermath of Goodman's allegations. In a separate letter, one of the Murdochs' own law firms claim that parts of that evidence were variously "hard to credit", "self-serving" and "inaccurate and misleading".


Friday, August 12, 2011

Electronic skin tattoo has medical, gaming, spy uses
A hair-thin electronic patch that adheres to the skin like a temporary tattoo could transform medical sensing, computer gaming and even spy operations, according to a US study published Thursday.

The micro-electronics technology, called an epidermal electronic system (EES), was developed by an international team of researchers from the United States, China and Singapore, and is described in the journal Science.

"It's a technology that blurs the distinction between electronics and biology," said co-author John Rogers, a professor in materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"Our goal was to develop an electronic technology that could integrate with the skin in a way that is mechanically and physiologically invisible to the user."

The patch could be used instead of bulky electrodes to monitor brain, heart and muscle tissue activity and when placed on the throat it allowed users to operate a voice-activated video game with better than 90 percent accuracy.

"This type of device might provide utility for those who suffer from certain diseases of the larynx," said Rogers. "It could also form the basis of a sub-vocal communication capability, suitable for covert or other uses."

The wireless device is nearly weightless and requires so little power it can fuel itself with miniature solar collectors or by picking up stray or transmitted electromagnetic radiation, the study said.

Less than 50-microns thick -- slightly thinner than a human hair -- the devices are able to adhere to the skin without glue or sticky material.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Massive cyberspying operation targeted U.S., U.N., others London (CNN) -- U.S. government agencies, the United Nations, defense contractors and Olympic bodies have all been targeted by a single intruder in an "unprecedented" campaign of cyberspying, says a new report by a computer-security firm.

The operation, which targeted agencies and groups in 14 countries, bears the hallmarks of state-sponsored espionage, according to the report by security company McAfee. Other cybersecurity experts downplayed the report's findings, however.

McAfee said the attacks, which it calls Operation Shady RAT, have allowed hackers potentially to gain access to military and industrial secrets from 72 targets, most of them in the United States, over a five-year period.

McAfee did not name all the targets but said the sheer scope of victims, including 14 U.S. government bodies; the governments of Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan; defense contractors; the International Olympic Committee; and even a cybersecurity company, indicates no one is safe.

Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee's vice president of threat research, said attacks on political nonprofit groups indicated a "state actor" could be behind the operation. He declined to name a specific country, but media reports have pointed a finger at China.

When contacted by CNN, an official at the Chinese embassy said that the allegations were unwarranted, irresponsible and an attempt to vilify China. The official added that China, too, has been a victim of hacking and that the country wants to work with other countries to end the problem.