Friday, November 30, 2012

Iran flagpoles spark rumors of clandestine satellite jamming technology

Flying the national flag usually signifies a display of pride or patriotism. But in Iran today, it may represent something much more sinister.
Sources and blog postings from inside Iran say that what seem to be simple flagpoles popping up all over Tehran and other large Iranian cities are actually clandestine electronic antennas, which use high-frequency waves to jam communications and block ordinary citizens from Internet, TV and radio signals. Some Iranians think the electronic emissions also may be hazardous to humans’ health.
Tehran residents and communication experts report an increase in jamming has coincided with the strategic placement of the towering metal flagpoles, as the government continues its ongoing campaign to block some 500 TV channels and 200 radio stations from outside Iran deemed too Western-oriented.
“Ever since 2009, the telecommunications masts have increased 10- to 15-fold. It’s not clear where these masts are, but many in Tehran, including myself, believe that these tall flagpoles recently placed around the perimeter of the city are jammers,” said Shahin, a 32-year-old Tehran-based blogger. The flagpoles are present in other large Iranian cities but are most prevalent in the capital, Shahin said.
“The regime fears the Internet and satellites coming into the country more than they do the opposition forces living here,” he added. “That’s how we know they would do anything in their power, including risking our health, to protect their existence.”

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Hacker strikes after San Antonio students forced to wear tracking chips

The loosely associated group of “hacktivists” known as Anonymous hacked a San Antonio, Texas school district’s website over the weekend. The goal of the attack was to protest the district’s requirement that students at two schools wear tracking ID badges that log their whereabouts electronically.
In an online statement, someone claiming collaboration with Anonymous said he disabled the website because the school district “is stripping away the privacy of students in your school,” The Associated Press reports.
The school district’s website was not working as of Sunday.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bionic Mannequins Are Spying On Shoppers

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg)—Store mannequins are meant to catch your eye. Soon you may catch theirs.
Benetton Group SpA is among fashion brands deploying mannequins equipped with technology used to identify criminals at airports to watch over shoppers in their stores.
Retailers are introducing the EyeSee, sold by Italian mannequin maker Almax SpA, to glean data on customers much as online merchants are able to do. The 4,000-euro ($5,072) device has spurred shops to adjust window displays, store layouts and promotions to keep consumers walking in the door and spending.
“It’s spooky,” said Luca Solca, head of luxury goods research at Exane BNP Paribas in London. “You wouldn’t expect a mannequin to be observing you.”
The EyeSee looks ordinary enough on the outside, with its slender polystyrene frame, blank face and improbable pose. Inside, it’s no dummy. A camera embedded in one eye feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by.

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In a government-sponsored research project eerily reminiscent of the 2002 film “Minority Report,” the Army’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has partnered with Carnegie-Mellon University to create “an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can watch and predict what a person will likely do in the future.”
In “Minority Report,” a specialized “PreCrime” unit, part of the Washington, D.C. police department, arrests criminals based on the precognition of three psychics. In the near future, DARPA hopes that rather than using psychics, computers will be able to identify and order individuals detained based on their “anomalous behavior.” 
Tapping into live surveillance video feeds and using specially programmed software, a new computer system dubbed “Mind’s Eye” will filter surveillance footage to support human operators, and automatically alert them whenever suspicious behavior is recognized.

Greenville Businessman Ordered To Pay $4.6 Million For Taking Trade Secrets

GREENVILLE, S.C.Nov. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A federal judge today ordered a Greenville-area businessman and his company to pay more than $4.6 million in damages and costs for misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, and other misconduct related to the sale of his formerGreenville employer in 2008.
The order, against J. Adam Shirley and his company, Prism Content Solutions LLC, stems from the sale of the assets of Cox CustomMedia Inc., a Greenville publishing company that had employed him as a senior sales executive. Shortly after the sale, Shirley abruptly resigned from CustomMedia to form a competing company and was accused by CustomMedia's acquirer, Uhlig LLC, of taking trade secrets, customer lists, thousands of computer files and other CustomMedia intellectual property in breach of his employment agreement and South Carolina law. 
Uhlig welcomed today's damage award, emphasizing the critical value of intellectual property and electronic data in the Internet era. It also expressed hope that the size of the award, which includes punitive damages, would help deter misconduct in similar cases.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Domestic Spying: Consumer Drone, Records Videos, Snaps Photos

As the U.S. government spends millions on unmanned drone attacks in secret wars abroad, U.S. entrepreneurs are trying to find a way to bring some of that technology to the average citizen. Now, thanks to the Parrot AR Drone 2.0, the average citizen can guide a low-powered drone by using their smartphone.
The Parrot AR Drone 2.0, which costs roughly $300, allows average citizens to aerially spy on anyone they can. The miniature drone is controlled by using an app on the iPhone or iPad. The aircraft itself features multiple sensors that include high-definition front-facing 720p camera and a vertical camera that faces straight down from the bottom of the quadricopter. The machine itself is relatively lightweight and can be easily transported.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Feds want Wall Street to think they’re bugged

Mark Pomerantz, a former federal prosecutor, says the government wants everybody on Wall Street to believe all their conversations are being taped.

Pomerantz tells MarketWatch that the perception of wiretaps being employed in a widespread way is great for deterrence. However, he said he didn’t think they were being employed extensively by federal prosecutors.

His comments come after the conviction of hedge-fund manager Raj Rajaratnam for insider trading, a case brought via the use of wiretaps. Rajaratnam’s lawyer seeks to have a panel of federal appeals court judges set aside his conviction on the basis that the government employed deceptive techniques to obtain approval for wiretapping his client’s cell phone. Key evidence in the case against Rajaratnam comes from incriminating phone calls, according to reports.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Five Clues You Are the Target of Industrial Espionage. Industrial espionage is among the growing number of persistent threats that businesses have to face today. Nicknamed as the ‘silent threat’, espionage is an art that corporate spies excel in to steal   sensitive information like trade secrets, patents and other business documents from competitors. This threat cannot be completely removed, but preventive measures and [...]

Friday, November 9, 2012

A former spy on life in the CIA: It’s like Bond, with more boredom

In the new James Bond thriller, “Skyfall,” the villain is a cyberterrorist named Raoul Silva, a disgruntled former British agent who’s trying to crash the known digital universe. It’s a nice touch, creating a very real, very terrifying scenario that “could paralyze the nation,” as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned just last month.

And that is about the only aspect of the movie that is likely to be accurate.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m a fan of the Bond movies. I go to see them for the same reasons everyone else does: the gorgeous women, the most beautiful places on Earth and, of course, the roller-coaster ride of a plot. I delight in Bond’s complete defiance of gravity. His suits never wrinkle, his Aston Martin is never in the garage for repairs, the girls never say no.

But as a former spy, what I like most about the Bond movies is the way good always triumphs over evil. His cases end neatly, with the villain dispatched and the world safe for the good guys.

Real-life espionage is a lot less sexy — and a lot messier.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Murdered British businessman ‘was MI6 operative’

An investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that Neil Heywood, the British businessman who was murdered in China last November, was an active informant for British intelligence at the time of his death. 
The news appears to confirm intelNews’ assessment of April 2012 that Heywood was in fact connected with British intelligence. A highly successful financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker who had lived in China for over a decade, Heywood was found dead on November 14, 2011, in his room at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel in Chongqing. His death led to the dramatic downfall of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai, a husband-and-wife team of political celebrities who were found guilty in a Chinese court of killing the British businessman. Immediately after Heywood’s death, there was widespread speculation that he may have been a spy for MI6, Britain’s external intelligence service.

More here:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Unchecked Spying

What if the government was tapping your phone unconstitutionally and there was nothing you could do about it? You’d be living in the United States of America, at least as understood by the Justice Department. 

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr., argued in the Supreme Court on Monday, October 29, that, for all practical purposes, the government’s authority to intercept Americans’ international phone calls and emails could not be challenged by the very people most likely to be harmed by it – lawyers, journalists, and human rights activists who regularly engage in such international communications on the very subjects and with the very people the government is likely to be monitoring. 

Resolution of the case, Clapper v. Amnesty International, may determine whether the most expansive government spying program ever authorized by Congress will be subject to adversarial constitutional review. The Bush administration famously argued that the president’s actions in “engaging the enemy” in the “war on terror” could not be limited by the other branches. It used that argument to justify a secret warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency that monitored United States citizens’ international communications, in contravention of a criminal statute.  

More here:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Peeping Tom landlord spied on tenants in bathrooms, showers

Ever get that feeling you're being watched?

Well, at least one Iowa City woman was correct in that assumption when she learned that she someone was watching her through a hole in her ceiling while she was taking a shower.

That someone was her landlord.

Elwyn G. Miller, 63, of Iowa City, is accused of invasion of privacy for allegedly peeping on his female tenants while they were in their bathrooms. An Iowa City police complaint outlining the charge, a serious misdemeanor, does not indicate how many women Miller has spied on, or for how long, but police said Miller was looking in on several apartments on “multiple occasions.”

The investigation started when police were called to 639 S. Lucas St. for a report of someone peeping into a woman’s apartment. The woman, the sole occupant of the apartment unit, pointed out Miller as the person who was spying on her.

Police said Miller was watching the woman through a peep hole next to a vent fan.

Miller allegedly told police he was “not interested in them as persons,” but because they were women and naked.

More here:

Chinese officials seek Canadian anti-smuggling secrets

OTTAWA – Chinese government officials are making a concerted effort to learn about Canada’s work to prevent high-tech smuggling – an effort security experts warn could help fuel the multi-billion dollar industrial espionage business. 

Global News has learned the Canada Border Services Agency met in Ottawa with a Chinese government delegation from the province of Guangdong on Sept. 13 to discuss Canadian efforts to combat smuggling. 

The meeting in September was set up by George Xu, the head of the Sino-Canada Technology Exchange Centre, an organization that sets up visits between Canadian and Chinese government delegations. 

Sources told Global News Xu sent invitations to similar Canadian groups asking to discuss contraband trade, human trafficking and illegal immigration, as well as Canada’s “experience and strategies” in regard to the “illicit traffic of critical high technology and strategic goods.” 

The last topic raises red flags for people concerned about China’s growing reputation as a master of industrial espionage. 

China has been working to transform its labour-driven economy to one rooted in technology – technology experts say is sometimes stolen from countries like Canada, reproduced and sold in China and beyond. 

“We know that China is by far the most dangerous country when it comes to espionage, the most dangerous country when it comes to stealing technology and exporting technology illegally back to China or to rogue countries,” said Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior Canadian intelligence officer. 

Read it on Global News: Global News | Chinese officials seek Canadian anti-smuggling secrets