Category Archives: News

StealthGenie Story and Consequences

Right at the present moment cell phone spying software is a hot topic in the media. The owners of the software install spy apps to the targets phones and are then able to get a clear picture of all interactions, contacts and relocations. At the present moment there is a number of mobile tracking companies that offer such products and some of them got a lot of negative publicity of late.

One of them is StealthGenie – a software company owned by a Danish citizen. The latter was fined $500,000 in the United States on the basis of illegal dealings. He actually admitted selling and advertising the product and by doing so was found guilty of such software abuse.

This incident with StealthGenie can’t explain the fact that there are other spy companies around and they are still well and running. The question here is for how long they will go on?

As a matter of fact, such spy software provides a very broad surveillance potential and it runs in a stealth mode as well; it is actually the tool that should be used by governments only in cases of defense when it is really necessary but not in cases of domestic spying when personal privacy is invaded.

This is the point of view that seems to gain more and more support of late. Women’s Aid had a survey that showed the rate of spy software use to be quite high; the major user groups were parents. Taking into consideration the fact that these applications have become broadly available only fairly recently, it is also understandable that there haven’t been any one clear opinion whether they are legal or not on a major scale.

But it is definitely getting clearer now; if you recall StealthGenie recent FBI operation. In accordance with the Assistant Attorney General’s statement the company’s operation was defined as illegal and in even stronger terms, it is a crime. All the similar application cases on that matter have very high probability to be put on the same line in the nearest future.

That is why all spy software companies that offered call recording and listen to surrounding feature have closed it right after StealthGenie case. Taking into consideration that this is the first feature that is supposed to be used solely by government agency and law enforcement, most companies considered it unwise to go on with such risks.

The example of StealthGenie was very demonstrative in many ways and especially for other companies in this business. The government put is quite straight that any attempts of personal privacy invasion, any ads and illegal attempts will have their consequences.

Encrypted Smartphone and Consumers’ Reaction

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In the light of all the interesting information revealed about the NSA actually spying on their own citizens, the problem of mobile security got more attention. It has become known that the National Security Agency was involved in various surveillance activities that included cell phones’ tracking and the like. In this respect the appearance of the new device – an encrypted smartphone is probably not surprising to anyone.

Taking into consideration the fact that the idea and device are new and it is hard to predict the number of customers who can potentially be interested in buying such a smartphone.

Blackphone – What Is It?

The new encrypted device got the name of the Blackphone and is a creation of Silent Circle. The company specializes in encryption and cell phone security and as they claim, the created a product that can be relied on. In accordance with their words the best effort was made to make sure that a user’s privacy is secured and that no side control over the device is possible. In the light of the recent revelations is it quite clear that many smartphone users feel uneasy and less secure about their mobile devices and there are great expectations that the new Blackphone will gain popularity pretty soon.

The main goal of the Blackphone creation was to make a cell phone that could send and receive encrypted messages and calls without the risk of the latter being intercepted and interpreted. The smartphone is claimed to be easy to use and familiar with the customers in terms of interface and applications and general appearance.

The Blackphone is surely to draw the attention of those users who are involved in the spheres with high security levels necessity as well as businessmen and so on. It will be also of interest to general public as in the light of the NSA recent activity, many people are not really happy about the perspective of being tracked or overheard, and stripped of their privacy. As long as the devise has just recently been launched, it is hard to make any definite prediction about its mass market perspectives or the like. Besides, it is really not very clear whether the Blackphone is really as reliable as the promises sound.

One thing is for sure, the Blackphone is a new word in mobile world and it definitely has much better encryption for security among the existing mobile phone models; however, unless it becomes more available for general public and proves that it works the way it should, it is hardly likely that the model won’t stay the choice of only narrow circle of interested people.

Ways the NSA Uses in their Surveillance Practice

In accordance with the recent article published in the Spiegel the NSA has got a great number of ways that it uses for spying. Its ANT division is equipped with a great number of tactics and some of them have very strange and even funny names. However, this does not interfere with them being highly effective.

As a matter of fact, there are more than several dozens of such techniques and here are just several of them.

This hardware is a tricky one and is manufactured by Hewlett-Packard. It stays alive put even after the spyware is removed.

This spyware has a very eloquent name and it is able to track the objects in your house, in the rooms and etc. It makes possible to track what’s happening on any computer screen in the house.

This program is able to log the keystrokes even in the offline status and as far as the street across, isn’t it impressive? This spying soft is closely related to the aforementioned “angryneighbor” and it does not presuppose any downloads as it works on radio frequency.

This one serves as a beacon that helps to locate the necessary units. It is a part of RAGEMASTER and its cost is just $30 but it works perfectly and it is able to intercept video.

In fact, the agency does not have any need in going into contact with any of the cell phone companies as they have this tracking software – candigram. This one is very interesting as it is able to imitate the GSM cell tower and make the observations without any need for direct interference.

The agency is able to attack any computer that works on Windows OS within the distance of 8 miles. It can be done via an 802.11 wireless exploit and it is usually used when there is no option for wired access.

IRATEMONK activity is based on either remote access or interdiction. It is usually installed on a target’s computer and can be accessed every time whenever the PC starts.

Surely, these are just the simplest ones of the NSA’s cell phone spying techniques and tactics and in some ways it is even better not to know about the rest of the surveillance options.


New Anti-Spy Cell Phones Are Coming

anti-spy cell phoneNews about two new anti-spy mobile phones appearing at the cell phone market spread fast. Two major French security companies plan to release new age cell phones with completely advanced level of security and encrypted communications. Their release is connected with the recent news about NSA surveillance activity and other revelations about the U.S. government activity in this field.

The first company, a well-known Bull, announced the release of new business smartphone named Hoox m2. It is Andoid based and has got some special filling resistant to hacking.

The other company, Thales, has also plans of releasing new enterprise-software system named Teopad. It’s designed to split an Android-based device “in two,” as they say, and the first part is presupposed for personal use while the second is specially developed for making secure calls and dealing with business apps securely.

Surely, the release of these two cell phones is just the beginning as in the light of the recent news and revelations more and more companies and business will be interested in such devices. As one can see, the demand for secure and encrypted communication is already on the rise. It is expected that the market of secure cell phone software will increase to $3 billion by 2017 at the very least.

It is only natural that recent revelations about the U.S. NSA’s surveillance and intelligence activity caused many to become more attentive and even if the cases of surveillance are not the ones of exact espionage, this is still a call for many businesses and individuals to pay more attention to their security systems.

However, there surely be questions and the first one is whether these devices are as secure as they are claimed to be? It is surely quite hard to make any positive (or negative) statement as a certain period of time should pass. Surely, there always be hacker, if there are encryptions.

Open cooperation can be the solution but not every company will be eager to disclose its methods with the rivals. Besides, outsiders are likely to find faults in security and let general public know about them. So, open-source communication and approach is a way out but it seems to be not exactly right now.


CSEC and Its Spying on Canadians

It has been revealed recently that the surveillance agency of Canada spies on its citizens from time to time, as they say “incidentally”.

This revelation was made by the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC). They admitted that in the course of their work they may incidentally intercept the communications of Canadian citizens. They explain it by the fact that the while targeting foreign entities such things can happen as the world of today in overfilled with various networks.

The same it seems to be indicated in the report of Globe and Mail that was issued in 2011 and contained the approval of the former defence minister Peter MacKay to spy on the global telephone and internet network. It was nicely put in the terms of “secretly monitoring” and the approval spread to spying on the Canadian citizens as well.

As a matter of fact, the agency has neither right nor need to spy on the cell phones of Canadian citizens. However, the agency admits that the cases of surveillance of Canadian citizens can happen and if this to be the place the authorization from the Minister of National Defence is acquired for every specific situation. In case private communications get intercepted for some reason, each and every possible step is taken so that the information stayed private and didn’t appear in the hands of any third party.

There is a new section on the website of the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC) and it explains the activity of the agency and its relationships with other security agencies that operate both abroad and in Canada. As of the words of the agency there is nothing illegal in these actions and they are only aimed at protecting the citizens of Canada in the first place.

Surely, not everyone is likely to believe as not so long ago the Communications Security Establishment of Canada was involved in the issue when it actually was accused in the collaboration with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. It is believed that they tried to purposefully withhold court information that referred to top-secret warrants for interception. So, it is quite hard to say, whether the intentions of the CSEC are really what they actually try to describe them.

Cell Phone Spying and Privacy Issues

Cell Phone SpyingIt is sort of impossible to imagine dealing with crimes and doing without secrecy. It is the most essential thing that helps to be ahead of terrorists and criminals and make the work of police all the more effective.

This is really great to be able to use such powerful tools; however, it is also a bit annoying to realize that the same tools can be used in order spy on the citizens. What is more annoying in this case is that it seems impossible to find out how exactly the data is collected.

As of the report of the Indianapolis Star it seems that about $373,995 was spent by the Indiana State Police during the period of the last year on the device that is called “Stingray”. It is believed to allow tracking the movements and activity of a person within one mile radius with the help of a cell phone.

What is more, officials are not eager to provide any information on the account of the subject in general and in particularly about how the data is collected and who’s got access to it as well as whether it is being stored or destroyed and the last but not the least question is whether the whole procedure is legal.

Opinions on the account of spying on cell phones differ; however, three senators in the least are determined to introduce the new bill that will make police agencies to obtain special warranties for data collection activities.

As it has already been said, cell phone tracing can be a very useful and powerful tool in the struggle with terrorists and criminals; however, it should be regulated as well as any other activity on the part of security organs. Tracing people’s cell phones means violating their right for privacy and such violations should be controlled, if it is done. The idea of the personal information to be stored and accessed by someone for some reason is still new and bizarre; however, so was the idea of a cell phones to be easily tracked – but now it is reality.

Surely, the whole surveillance issue is a medal with two sides. There always are the guilty and the innocent sides and some consensus that would allow police to conduct the investigations involving data collection but do it legally.

It’s impossible to find that middle ground when information to begin a conversation and debate on this technology is not forthcoming. That needs to change and we hope the conversation will begin with the introduction of legislation next year.

However, it is frequently seems to be next to impossible to find this middle ground. Let’s just hope that the police will use their surveillance power tools in a decent way and the public officials will take better job in explain the whole thing to the general public so that no misunderstanding would take place.


US Spying and this Time – Israeli

israeli spying NSAThis time the revelations of Edward Snowden brought attention to Israeli. The latter demanded to put a stop to spying from the side of the U.S. as the leaked documents appeared to have information about calls and email interception.

With Israeli and the U.S. being alleys the aforementioned documents can bring much of the unnecessary tension to the relationships between the countries. The Israeli side has already reacted negatively and ever angrily to the fact that they have been spied on and it also brought to live the issue of Jonathan Pollard release. The latter, being a former American intelligence analyst, was convicted for the spying activity on behalf of Israel and has already served about 30 years of his term.

In accordance with Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Intelligence Minister, present actions of the U.S. are neither legitimate nor decent and he also proposed to form and mutual agreement concerning espionage.

The recent documents that leaked contain the information about the spying on emails of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as Defense Minister Ehud Barak. There is no information whether spying on cell phones took place but one thing is for sure and it is that the NSA and GCHQ (British intelligence agency) took steps to target the emails of aforementioned politic figures.

At the present moment the Israeli is under the impression that they are still being closely monitored and are taking measures to secure their communications. However, the official reaction to the revelations is not to the favor of the U.S. and definitely not the one to warm up the relationships between the countries.

Taking into consideration the old scandal around Pollard, the topic of espionage is something that won’t ever be something easy to mention between Israel and the U.S. As it has been said, Pollard has already spent 30 years in prison and Israeli hasn’t used any means to spy on the U.S. since that time they definitely are not eager to tolerate an opposite approach.

At the present moment the Prime Minister of Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu stresses that they are going to apply for the release of Pollard further on and that this fact is not connected with the


Ikea Spying in France

ikea spy franceIt seems like spying on employees is becoming more and more popular issue and even Ikea turns out is not an exception. The word spread that the company used spy techniques in order to get more information about the people employed with the company. One of the deputy directors of communications and merchandising for Ikea in France was actually fired in the result of what appeared to be a private investigation.

At the present moment it is a subject of the regional court investigation whether Ikea executives were actually involved in something as outrageous as this taking into account that more than one employee is concerned.

As it appears in the court records provided by the New York Times the investigations carried out by Ikea had many various underlying reasons and among them were job applicants vetting as well as attempts to build up cases against the alleged wrongdoers among employees and even cases against the complaining customers. It seems to be an impressive number of cases that amount to 475,000 euro total were approved by Ikea France finance department for investigators. It is really a large sum of money.

The case with the deputy director of communications and merchandising caused outrage in France as the idea of violating privacy in such an illegal way is something unthinkable.

Before the aforementioned situation it has never been supposed that Ikea used any surveillance methods in the rest of the countries where it operates. It is still not understandable that out of 42 countries it is France that got engaged into the activity and so much. Besides, there was not that much use of the information if compared to the money and effort spent on its acquiring.

It is really strange to believe the story is to take place in France – a modern democratic county that values privacy equally to liberties. However, it looks like there is a certain number of complaints were files against the company with regards to the issue.

Ikea admits to having conducted its own investigation on the account of the alleged spying on phone calls and surveillance; however, they refused to provide any public comment on the account of the alleged illegal activities of the company’s executives. The leaked fact about the job applicants under vetting and further private investigations haven’t been mentioned either. On all the accounts Ikea representatives preferred to keep silent.


US Spy Agency New Facts of Cell Phone Records Collections

nsaThere have been many rumors around the actions of the American NSA recently and surely they will be more information revealed. Much of the information saw the light due to the Edward Snowden revelations and it is surely not the last bit. In accordance with the recent report it looks like the agency has got some mass surveillance tool at their disposal; and uses it in various ways.

This report became known to general public shortly after Snowden’s first announcement. His aim is to attract attention of the public to the NSA illegal activity. Since that time the former agency’s information technology subcontractor has been on the run.

It is only natural that he could not stay home because of the espionage charges. The information he provided was really interesting to many people and countries as the reports reveal spying on cell phones of foreign leaders and ministers as well as on common U.S. citizens as well. There have also been data collection on the internet and GPS tracking and all this is just the part of the NSA huge surveillance program.

It is believed that the agency carried out the spying operations by tapping into cables of mobile phone networks around the world. There are also two corporate firms (their names are not mentioned) that seem to be in charge of data location.

It has also become known that the agency has also collected information from the cell phones of the American citizens that travel abroad. As it appears, a mobile phone is able to broadcast the location even if not used for the direct purposes of calling or texting and it is possible to track the suspect’s movements and patters with even such small information only using some mathematical techniques.  There are also other methods and among them are such analytic ones as “CO-TRAVELER”.

The NSA has not given any confirmation of the fact that they indeed track the locations of their own citizens on their travels abroad; and from the information they provided it looks like the data received from the aforementioned mobile phones appeared at their disposal quite incidentally. It should be believed that certain geo-location data collection tools are meant for the protection of the state purposes only and by no means has their usage spread on the general public. However, the leaks from Snowden show that there is much more to the case than the agency is willing to admit.

Each and every new bit of information adds to the impression that it is a mistake for anyone to underestimate the capability of the agency and its tracking and spying possibilities. It really looks like there is no sense in any security measures when it comes to communications as there is nothing impossible for the NSA.

However, even though such powers are undoubtedly useful and beneficial when it comes to the questions of national security, the recent leaks about the usage of the program for the purposes other than these might raise (and already has) the violation of privacy rights question. All this can lead to the most serious consequences, indeed. The implementation of such a huge-scale program should always go through the public debate at the very least first – especially when the private lives of many people we are talking about.


Australia Spied on Indonesian President

Indonesia presidentIt has become known that the cell phone of the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was tracked by Australia’s spy agencies. The mobile phones of his ministers as well as other confidants were targeted as well. The information came from the already well-known Edward Snowden.

This is yet another revelation in the list of many made by Snowden recently, and, surely not the last. In accordance with the document that is dated by November 2009, the president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as well as 9 ministers from the inner circle were supposed to be tracked. The peculiar fact is that some of the names mentioned in the document are the candidates in the presidential elections that are to take place the next year. The first lady is on the list as well.

It is only understandable that after the Snowden’s revelation the reaction of Marty Natalegawa, the Indonesian foreign minister was far from calm. Now Australia faces the possibility of acquiring serious complications in cooperation with Indonesia in many fields and particularly when it comes to terrorism and human trafficking. One can only guess how the spy scandal story continues.

What to Expect

The relationship between the countries is not the warmest at the present moment and especially in the light of the recent policy of the Abbott government that tends to restrict the options for the people in search of asylum coming from Indonesia. The revelation does not help to improve the tense relationship but rather seems to have aggravated it after the leak appeared in press.

The material revealed by Snowden refers to the documents from the Australian Department of Defense and the Defense Signals Directorate. It is top secret information and contains the records of mobile phones interception since the time of 3G technology introduction to Asian regions. It is a slide presentation and contains enough information to make any country furious. The slides contained information about the cell phone types as well as voice intercept records of the president as well as the first lady and other targets.

Among other names that were mentioned in the leak as a target for surveillance is Dino Patti Djalal. Former foreign affairs spokesman now ambassador to the US, he  announced his plans for seeking candidacy in the presidential elections that will take place in the year 2014. He represents the Democratic Party. It seems that Australian agencies used to spy on cell phone of another candidate as well – Hatta Rajasa. He is likely to represent the National Mandate party and at the present moment occupies the position of the minister for economic affairs. It is also peculiar that in 2009 Hatta Rajasa was the minister for transport and he is related to the president.