Have you heard about that nasty little bit of software called Carrier IQ? A security researcher by the name of Trevor Eckhart discovered the mysterious software running on his Android phone earlier this month, dug deeper into things, and found Carrier IQ, a monitoring program that comes preinstalled on several phones, tracks all kinds of data – including HTTP requests, GPS location and app usage information – and in many cases, can’t be turned off. Millions of phones are affected. Carrier IQ’s been found on phones from Samsung, HTC and Apple– but wireless carriers could be the real force behind the rootkit-like software.
Q, everyone's favorite gadget-smith, never got the respect he deserved. The job carried some great perks, sure – getting his hands on all that cutting-edge tech must have been awesome, and Q stayed immaculately dressed – but in the end, it was always James Bond who got the glory and the tricked out Aston Martins. Q and his friends might end up with the last laugh, though. The British government is warning that it's losing computer whizzes left and right as the allure of big paydays and fast cars are sucking geeky government agents into the private sector.
The topic of privacy frequently comes up, but it really hits home when a major online portal draws up a detailed list of all the online activities it's able to keep tabs on. Of course, you were never meant to see the menu of spying services Yahoo provides to law enforcement agencies, but now that someone has provided a copy to whistleblower site Cryptome, anyone can take a look.
The document is 17 pages long and describes in detail both Yahoo's data retention policies and surveillance capabilities. It even includes a price list of sorts, listing out the average cost of reimbursement it would seek in responding to subpoena requests.
Yahoo isn't the only site to have its data retention policies show up on Cryptome. The site has also published similar documents from Cox Communications, SBC, Singular, Nextel, GTE, and several other telecoms and service providers. That bit comes as little consolation to Yahoo, who's team of lawyers have issued a DMCA takedown notice to Cryptome.
According to Yahoo's legal team, posting the portal's Compliance Guide for Law Enforcement at Cryptome engages in "business interference" and could help criminals evade surveillance.
As of right now, the document remains online (and probably always will thanks to mirrors), which you can read right here.
Lady Shelley Sawers probably forgot that though posting family photographs on Facebook is a fundamental right of every free human being, it should be exercised in moderation when those photographs can betray certain vital details about your country’s top spy – the location of his London flat, personal details of his children and that he is a beach bum with trunks that this writer can neither exalt nor properly deride. The pictures have now been removed from Facebook.
The British government has a decent sense of humor and has downplayed the entire incident, although the pesky British tabloids certainly think it is serious stuff. “It is not a state secret that he wears Speedo swimming trunks,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband quipped in a TV interview.
Miliband also liked the entire idea of having Sir Sawyer's photographs on Facebook as it paints a more human picture of the soon-to-be MI6 chief. Facebook is certainly making counterespionage very easy.
Oh my, what wondrous (and perverted and unscrupulous and devious and all kinds of other nasty adjectives) possibilities suddenly open up when your necktie doubles as a video recorder, complete with a remote control! Ready for the best part? This thing actually exists!
Credit goes to Thanko for the spy tie, which conceals a video camera with 4GB of storage space. On a full charge, Thanko says you can expect about four hours of on-time, or about one hour of shooting before having to recharge, which takes about two hours. Videos are recorded as AVI files with a 352 x 288 resolution and can be transferred to your PC via USB. Oh, and Thanko warns not to try and wash the tie, at least not while the camera is inside.
We don't know that this one will ever make it to the U.S. market, but you can pick one up in Japan for ¥12,800, or about $128USD.
Here’s one more reason to be glad that there’s not a big overlap between the “computer scientists” and “burglars” demographics: UC San Diego scientists have developed a program that can duplicate a key from a single photograph.
The software’s more powerful than you might think, too. It can copy keys seen from almost any angle, not just those seen in profile, and it can copy keys from a source as low-res as a cell phone camera picture. With a telephoto lens, the group was able to copy a whole ring of keys sitting on a table from a rooftop 195 feet away.
The group is not releasing the program to the public, but they are hoping the exposure will help raise awareness of the shortcomings of traditional keys. Stefan Savage, the program leader said "We argue that the threat has turned a corner--cheap image sensors have made digital cameras pervasive and basic computer vision techniques can automatically extract a key's information without requiring any expertise.”
With some news that is sure to surprise absolutely nobody, the Department of Homeland Security is currently in the process of developing a new way to spy on you. The new technology, called “Future Attribute Screening Technology,” or FAST (catchy, huh?) will use crowd-monitoring body sensors that detect individuals’ pulses, body language, breathing rates and facial temperatures to determine threats.
FAST is said to have had accurate results, identifying suspicious behavior in four out of five scenarios. One such scenario, run at a ranch in Maryland involved roughly 140 participants. They were told to walk through FAST’s sensors, with a small group of them instructed to act suspicious or hostile. The effective accuracy rate of FAST was 78% on mal-intent detection, and 80% on deception.
The Department of Homeland Security is said to still be relatively early in their research, but say it looks very promising.
Criticism comes in the form of John Verdi of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. He states that FAST is “substantially more invasive in airports,” referring to it as a medical exam that the government has no right to conduct. There’s also concern that FAST could improperly identify physical conditions heart murmurs, breathing problems, and high stress levels as threats.
Should FAST be implemented, it might be a common sight at concerts, sporting events and other public gatherings, right alongside the mobile toilets or catering trucks.