Warrant Used To Track Users Through Tor Invalidated

When it was revealed that an NIT (network investigative technique) had been used to track people across Tor, people were worried about just how they had got permission to deploy such a far sweeping piece of computer malware. It would now seem that the warrant issued didn’t give as much power as they wanted as a federal judge has now stated that the warrant should be invalidated because of its reach.

The federal judge in question sits in Massachusetts and stated that a magistrate issuing a warrant in Virginia cannot “authorize the search of a defendant’s computer located in Massachusetts”. This was noted in a 39-page opinion in which William Young stated that while it cannot be done, the Department of Justice and Congress could change the law in future. The end result of the opinion is the conclusion stating:

Based on the foregoing analysis, the Court concludes that the NIT Warrant was issued without jurisdiction and thus was void ab initio. It follows that the resulting search was conducted as though there were no warrant at all. Since warrantless searches are presumptively unreasonable, and the good-faith exception is inapplicable, the evidence must be excluded.

So ultimately the warrant for the NIT over stretched the bounds, something that has now led to a bunch of evidence being made null and void in a case where even Ahmed Ghappour, a law professor at the University of California, realized that the ” DOJ knew full well that the magistrate lacked authority to issue an out-of-district warrant”.

Congressman Wants Longstanding Mobile Security Flaw Investigated

When it comes to our technology, we like to think there might be a hint of privacy in their use. Signaling System 7 is a set of protocols used to help route data, messages, and even phone calls through mobile networks but the problem is that such a widely used system is actually flawed. This flaw led to Ted Lieu, a congressman for  the state of California, calling for an investigation into the longstanding mobile security flaw after it was demonstrated to him by a group of hackers based in Germany.

The mobile security flaw was demonstrated on 60 minutes by german security researcher Karsten Nohl, with it initially being revealed all the way back in 2014. Nohl managed to use the exploit after knowing nothing more than just the congressman’s phone number. With just their number Nohl stated that they could track people’s locations, read their texts and even what was said in their phone calls.

Lieu is coming hard at those who might have known about this issue, saying that any government employee that knew about the SS7 problem should be fired because “this affects so much of daily life to your personal phone”. With everyone using their mobile phones people don’t protect them, often being lulled into a false sense of security and risking their personal lives and data on a daily basis.

Fitbit Used to Save Someone’s Life

People these days like using technology for a wide range of abilities, from playing a game to tracking your morning run. Using technology to track your activities has become a big thing, with smart watches and sports wristbands alike offering the ability to track and monitor your actions, a feature that may have just allowed the Fitbit to save someone’s life.

When he was submitted to the emergency ward of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical center in Camden, doctors were alarmed to discover the 42-year old had an irregular and fast heartbeat. These properties are often those which can trigger a stroke, and could have been chronic or caused by a seizure, if it was chronic, the traditional treatment for the fast heartbeat would have triggered a stroke.

Back in the hospital, the staff noticed the man was wearing nothing other than a Fitbit, a device designed to help track people’s health. In this case, it was the heartbeat monitor that helped inform the doctors that the issue wasn’t chronic, allowing the staff to treat the condition safely knowing that the treatment wouldn’t cause a stroke.

While Fitbits and alternative technologies are often used by doctors to help keep track and monitor long-term health conditions, this is the first time we’ve seen the technology directly used to save someone’s life.

To Play With The Oculus Rift You Pay With Your Privacy

We all love the idea of virtual reality and augmented reality, the idea that technology can send us to the deepest parts of the earth or the farthest reaches of space inspires us to enjoy things we will never get to do in the real world, all from the comfort of our sitting rooms. The question is how much we are willing to give in exchange for this “freedom”, with the enjoyment the Oculus Rift requiring you to pay with your privacy.

What do we mean by “pay with your privacy”? When you first install the software required to run the Rift on your PC a process called “OVRServer_x64.exe” is created, something normal given that it detects when the Rift is connected, on your Facebook and actually turned on. If you check the Privacy Policy (something we all know, including the companies that write them, is rarely checked) there are a few other things that the process can do.

The full section regarding “information collected about you when you use our services” states:

Information Automatically Collected About You When You Use Our Services. We also collect information automatically when you use our Services. Depending on how you access and use our Services, we may collect information such as:

  • Information about your interactions with our Services, like information about the games, content, apps or other experiences you interact with, and information collected in or through cookies, local storage, pixels, and similar technologies (additional information about these technologies is available at https://www.oculus.com/en-us/cookies-pixels-and-other-technologies/);
  • Information about how you access our Services, including information about the type of device you’re using (such as a headset, PC, or mobile device), your browser or operating system, your Internet Protocol (“IP”) address, and certain device identifiers that may be unique to your device;
  • Information about the games, content, or other apps installed on your device or provided through our Services, including from third parties;
  • Location information, which can be derived from information such as your device’s IP address. If you’re using a mobile device, we may collect information about the device’s precise location, which is derived from sources such as the device’s GPS signal and information about nearby WiFi networks and cell towers; and
  • Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset.

Worrying parts about this is the mention of “pixels” in the first section, stating that they could find out what you are viewing and even go so far as to take a copy of your interaction. Full information about the games and everything you install are also fair and open to them with information going so far as your physical movements and dimensions being tracked as well, these seem a little bit further than just idle curiosity.

The policy continues to state how this information is used, with one section clarifying their marketing approach with this information:

To market to you. We use the information we collect to send you promotional messages and content and otherwise market to you on and off our Services. We also use this information to measure how users respond to our marketing efforts.

With Oculus now in partnership with Facebook, a move that raised concerns when it was first announced, people were concerned about privacy and tracking, something these conditions seems to allow. Going further the agreement states that “third parties may also collect information about you through the Services”, meaning that the agreement doesn’t limit but, in fact, allows apps to be created on the basis of tracking and monitoring your actions.

Thanks to Woofington over at Reddit who spotted this, if you’re interested in finding out how deep this goes you can read the full privacy policy here.

Egypt Blocks Facebook’s Internet Service After Being Denied The Ability To Spy On Users

Facebook have been keen on allowing countries access to Free Basics, their low-cost internet system designed at giving people the ability to create a Facebook account and access a limited number of sites at no cost. Free internet sounds great doesn’t it? Some countries don’t believe so, with India already banning the platform and the system being suspended within Egypt, over what now seems to be because the government was denied the ability denied the ability to spy on users.

The Free Basics platform in Egypt was suspended officially on December 30th, 2015, with sources now stating the reason for the suspension was that Facebook wouldn’t allow the government to circumvent the systems security, thereby allowing surveillance to be conducted on users of the platform. Etisalat, the mobile carrier that provided the service when it started in October 2015, hasn’t responded to comment while Facebook has declined to comment while the Egyptian government has declined to say what kind of surveillance or changes they wanted to be made to the service.

Officially the line given is that the service was considered “harmful to companies and their competitors”, a tale that while believable may be as well be an April fools joke to cover what can only be considered a request to invade and monitor everyone’s internet access. With limited access already and concerns about net neutrality for the scheme, if it was found to provide monitoring and tracking the “free” basics program would almost certainly see counties drop the system.

Researchers Develop Ways to Calculate Distance Through WiFi

We all use WiFi at some point, be it at work or at home, we rely on the technology to avoid the miles and miles of cables that we would overwise have to plug and unplug every time we wanted to grab a drink or watch a movie on Netflix. Researchers may have developed a way to accurately calculate distance through WiFi, a feature that could see wireless communications made more secure and controlled.

Researchers from MIT’s CSAIL team managed to achieve the feat using just a single router by measuring the “time of flight” for the WiFi signals between both the transmitter and receiving components, with a margin of error of just 0.5 nanoseconds, 20 times more accurate that other systems. Once the time was calculated they multiplied it by the speed of light, resulting in the distance between people and their wireless routers.

Using a four room apartment as an example, the researchers managed to locate the correct room for a user 94% of the time. Not stopping there the researchers took the technology to a cafe and managed to track down if someone was within the cafe with a 97% accuracy. Not stopping at wireless routers the technique was then applied to a drone, restricting the distance of the drone from the operator with an error margin of just 2-inches.

With the ability to limit or restrict access to a network by a user’s distance, public networks, and drones could be made more secure and with greater control of who, and where, people can access the systems.

FBI Doesn’t Want To Tell How It Tracked People Across The Tor Network

The FBI are known for their digital prowess, although they may require some help when it comes to breaking into an iPhone. One of their most recent successes was the tracking of people using the Tor network, but after a judge ruled that the defendants representatives needed to know how he was identified the FBI has declined to say how they tracked people across the Tor network.

The ruling was provided by the Judge overlooking the case and was provided so that the defendants experts could check that the method used to identify the client was both within the FBI’s authority and also properly identified the client amongst the thousands of users of the Tor network.

The Tor network is a system (also known as the Onion Router) which people can use to hide their true identity by encrypting their traffic and bouncing it around the world in a series of steps. The network is also known for hiding a selection of “secret” websites that can only be accessed from within the network.

The FBI claim that they have already provided enough details for the defence to figure out if they went beyond their authority. FBI Agent Daniel Alfin, states in the court papers filed by the DOJ in the case, as saying “knowing how someone unlocked the front door provides no information about what that person did after entering the house”. While a valid argument, one would also argue that if someone breaks into your house, stealing something from your house and gaining access were both things you need to be made aware, not just one of the two.

Pigeons With Backpacks Are Monitoring Pollution In London

The environment and technology are often seen at odds with one another, with the advance of technology coming at the cost of the environment. While green technology like solar panels get more efficient and generate more electricity with the same resources, people are worried about the pollution and issues we’ve already generated. In the latest attempt to alert people about pollution a selection of pigeons with backpacks patrolling London reporting on the pollution in their area.

The scheme was created by Plume Labs, a firm that focuses on tracking and reducing exposure to air pollution. The scheme, pigeon air patrol, see’s a selection of pigeons equipped with air sensors on their back measuring everything they need to help raise “awareness of this problem and helps Londoners understand the impact of pollution in an accessible, tangible and immediate way” as reported by Romain Lacombe, the CEO of Plume Labs.

Lacome states that “Air pollution is a huge environmental health issue, killing 10,000 people every year in London alone”, before mentioning that a similar system was being created that would allow humans to wear and track the air quality around them.

With the pigeons reporting the air quality around them by tweeting the information, the system is accessible to everyone. Tweeting your location to the account returns a report detailing the air quality in your area as well.

UN Aviation Want Real-Time Tracking Of Aircraft

In recent years, we’ve had tragic incidents in which aircraft have gone missing, leaving many wondering what happened to the people on board. To prevent further loss, the UN’s international civil aviation organization (ICAO) want to create a system to enable real-time tracking of aircraft.

The three most significant tweaks to Annex 6 of the Chicago Convention (the document outlining how aircraft, airports and anything operating in their airspace needs to work) are as follows:

  • Aircraft must carry “autonomous distress tracking devices” that can “transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances.”
  • The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) must be able to store at least 25 hours of recording, “so that they cover all phases of flight for all types of operations.”
  • Aircraft must be “equipped with a means to have flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner.”

These moves mean that even if you were unable to locate the plane immediately and recover the CVR or flight recorder, the information and details regarding the flight would still be accessible. ICAO’s president Olumyiwa Benard Aliu states that in the case of an accident “the location of the site will be known immediately to within six nautical miles”.

While this may be late for some, the new rules which airline operators have until 2021 to adopt, could prevent others from asking the question of where.

Child Tracking Firm uKnowKids Accuses Security Researcher of Hacking

Digital security is important in this day and age, with access from across the world to your information meaning not only you can access all that information. With big companies like TalkTalk finding out the hard way that even a single breach can cause your company untold harm to both your image and credibility. The issue is only made worse though when the information relates to the young.

VTech found out the hard way when it was revealed that their hacked data included photos and chat logs. This time up it’s the software firm known as uKnowKids. uKnowKids is a subscription-based service designed to help parents track their children’s online activity. The supposed hack is the work of none other than security researcher Chris Vickery. Vickery states that all he did was use the search engine Shodan and he managed to locate millions of text messages and images, amongst the data was around 1,700 “detailed child profiles”.

The information was apparently obtained from a database which hadn’t been password protected, meaning that it was freely accessible from the web. uKnownKids disagrees and says that the “vulnerability” was patched within 90 minutes of Vickery notifying them. The worse part is that they claim they haven’t been able to identify him as a “white hat” security researcher, someone who will identify a vulnerability and then report them and help fix the issues they find.

Steve Woda is the chief executive of uKnowKids and posted a blog stating that one of their databases “was breached by a hacker” and that “Twelve minutes after the final breach… and after taking screenshots of our intellectual property, business data, and customer data, Mr Vickery notified uKnow of his breach of our private systems”.

uKnowKids tracks youngsters online activity from text messages to social media, letting parents keep close tabs on their activity and be aware of any alerting content that could be upsetting or dangerous. It comes as no surprise then that the BBC reports that the data included a family photo, usernames and email address.

Vickery was surprised when they responded in such an aggressive way, saying that other firms would thank you for alerting them to these issues or even hire you to help fix and make sure their security was up to date.

Uber Trials Phone Monitoring of Its Drivers

Uber is well-known for problems. The popular app allows drivers to charge as if they were taxi’s, getting notifications that someone is requesting a lift and then offering their services at a charge. Uber, like many companies, suffer from bad press and actions like stolen accounts being sold and even having its leaders in France arrested. In order to combat their drivers though Uber looks to employ the same technique that some insurance companies now use, monitoring of its drivers.

Uber announced that it will be rolling out a trial in Houston, Texas, to check on drivers who have received complaints about their driving standards. The system will use a combination of the phone’s accelerometers, GPS and gyroscopes to record actions such as excessive speeding or even if you decided to check your phone and send a text while at the wheel.

Uber made it clear that they would only access this information though if the driver had a complaint made against them, although the possibility of always-on monitoring is still on the cards.

While monitoring is often frowned upon, when you are placing your trust in a driver who is monitored in very few ways, with some instances of drivers being accused or committing crimes, a little extra safety for passengers and road users can’t be a bad thing.

Skype Hides Your IP in Effort to Protect You

We’ve all heard or seen about Swatting, but for those who haven’t let me explain its principle. Normally it happens when you find someone online, usually in the process of streaming a video or even them record themselves playing a game. As they are online you use software to track down their IP, this information tells them where you are in the world. Using another piece of software, you ring the police and state that you are in danger at that address, wait a few minutes and you see police appear all over your screen and begin to laugh at your accomplishment.

Swatting is not a joke though and while it is also a waste of police time, it is also extremely dangerous. In an effort to help protect against online trolls (people who cause grief to others online), online services are acting to do just that, such as the latest update which allows Skype to hide your IP.

In the latest update to the global service, IP addresses will be hidden by default. This means that once you’ve updated, you can be sure that you protected that little bit more from those who would seek to cause you pain or have a laugh at the expense of your happiness.

I think this is a great update, protecting users from all kinds of problems. Online services have a duty to protect their users and Skype is doing just that with this update.

Latest Polar Smart Watches @ CES 2016

Smart watches are everywhere these days, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t got room for even more. While many smart watches are tailored to the consumer, the new series from Polar are targeted at professional athletes. The V800 is packed full of features, ideal for the triathlete, or multisport athelets, as it’ll help monitor running, cycling, swimming and much more.

The M400 still packs a lot of high-end features, but is more tailored to urban and trail runners, afterall, if you don’t do triathalons, the V800 is likely overkill for your needs.

The bike computers are pretty slick too, featuring clear displays, GPU, performance tracking, great battery life and more.

There’s no doubt that these will be popular units, as they’re stylish, light weight, feature heart rate monitors, profiles, free app and web services, have clear displays and are designed to withstand the elements in their respective catagories. We’ve no details on the prices, but given their focused nature, they’re not going to be cheap. They may however be essential to the pros.

Companies Face Criminal Charges for Notifying You of Spying

The government is at the heart of a major debate regarding your information and their attempts to gain access to them. With everything from encryption to the latest in a long stream of bad ideas, making companies who inform you when people are attempting to read your information pay criminal charges.

The Snoopers Charter, or by its proper name the Investigatory Powers Bill, would not only require sites to keep up to twelve months worth of your details, including your visited sites, but would also give government agencies access to this information, all while government officials have been requesting backdoor access to encrypted data that could be easily accessed by the authorities (not to mention any hacker who finds the backdoor).

A small side note on the bill states that the bill “will ensure that a communications service provider does not notify the subject of an investigation that a request has been made for their data unless expressly permitted to do so”. This means that companies would have to be told they can tell you, rather than being told to keep it a secret.

With companies like Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and Google already alerting you when they believe your account is being spied upon, making it illegal for companies to warn you that people are delving into your personal life could quickly come back and cause issues, both legally and morally.

Image courtesy of Beta news

IRS Used Stingray To Track 37 Phones

Digital security is an issue that is raised weekly, with digital privacy seeming to be at odds, security or privacy. These topics come to a point when the topic of Stingray towers is brought up, mobile devices that mimic mobile phone towers. These devices can be used to intercept data such as phone calls and text messages, potentially leading the authorities to important information. The problem is that these devices act much like regular towers, in that you can’t target them, this means that you can only collect everyone’s data in range and search for the stuff you are interested in afterwards. Seems the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has been using one of these devices since 2011 and are looking at getting another.

IRS Director John Koskinen wrote in an open letter to Oregon Senator, Ron Wyden, in the hopes of answering some questions regarding the “cell-site simulator technology”. In the letter, they state that they used the device on 11 federal grand jury cases, tracking a total of 37 cellular devices. It does continue to say though that they used the Stingray (constantly referred to as a cell-site simulator) in four non-IRS cases, one federal and three state level.

At the end of the letter, he continues to say about the Department of Justice requiring a warrant now in order to use the technology, along with probable cause and certain restrictions being met.

While it is nice to see agencies report this kind of information and take these steps to monitor information in a legal and controlled way, you have to wonder, if they were trying to monitor 37 phones, how many other phones did they intercept in total?

Microsoft: Windows 10 Core Telemetry Cannot be Disabled

When users first discovered that Windows 10 would be sending back data to Microsoft, many were not surprised. Features like Cortana require data collection and some hoped that data collection could be turned off eventually. Now it looks like we’re getting confirmation that Windows 10 probably won’t ever disable all of its data collection. According to VP Joe Belfiore, Microsoft needs the information to improve customer experience.

“And in the case of knowing that our system that we’ve created is crashing, or is having serious performance problems, we view that as so helpful to the ecosystem, and so not an issue of personal privacy, that today, we collect that data so that we make that experience better for everyone. And in the cases where we’ve not provided options, we feel that those things have to do with the health of the system, and are not personal information or are not related to privacy.”

It looks like consumers are going to be left behind as the Enterprise version of Windows 10 allows for a complete disabling of all telemetry and data collection. Even if the information is required for crashes and performance issues, private information will inevitably leak out. With the data collection integrated to such a deep level, it remains to be seen if third party applications will have any success in blocking the telemetry.

While Microsoft has been somewhat receptive to user complaints, the software giant is mostly choosing to ignore the issue. With ads popping up in the Start Menu and a very aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade policy, Microsoft really seems to want things done their way only.

One Plus 2 Equals Malware?

Well, yes, sort of, before I am lambasted for inserting a clickbate headline, let me explain, OnePlus 2 Smartphone’s have been somewhat of a revelation since its launch, from a repairable part design to more than decent specs which place it handily within the price point market. This all sounds exciting, the problem lies with the Chinese companies marketing that rely on the same notion of an invite-based system which has been utilized within this incarnation.

This rather convoluted purchase agreement has led to the synonymous and wide-spread unavailability which has befallen many consumers. Consumers are an interesting bunch, if a particular TV series or gadget is difficult to obtain, the next best thing is to locate said device through alternative means, this is what many people did after hearing that KSP, Israel’s largest digital store, would be in fact selling the phone without an invite.

Great, many paying consumers thought, the only downside lay with the unfortunate realization that the phone also came bundled with malware. The annoying process masqueraded in the form which utilizes Google Chrome while using the device. “Using said browser would automatically redirect to other sites with the word tracking in them or a site called global.mytracker, before giving permission to access the website requested”.

After further investigation, it turns out there were four potential threats which were found after running, yes we want your data to sell AVG. Honestly, you don’t know which is worse considering an Anti Virus which purports to safeguard your digital identity is also caught offering your browsing history to ad companies, kudos John Williamson at eTeknix for analysing this story. It has also become apparent that users in the US are also being screwed after purchasing this phone through an online retailer by the name Gearbest.

The solution is to undertake an entire operating system reinstall with the aim of banishing the malware. There are suspicions of third-party outlets injecting dodgy operating processes and apps within the phone, rather than an outright deception by the manufacturer who have warned against purchasing the device through other means.

As a tech fan I am finding the relentless pursuit of nefarious attacks against consumers rather wearying, any individual should have confidence in the retailer and also the product without the fear of a virus or malware. If you’re interested in this smartphone, then only buy from official channels and be careful of any deals which sound too good to be true.

Thank you geektime for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of frandroid

RFID Road Stickers To Help Malaysian Authorities Track Cars

4 years ago it was suggested that people could use RFID windshield tags to help pay for everything from parking to checking if you have permission to actually go into a car park. Seems like Malaysia is looking at using a similar technology now to help track and monitor vehicles.

The system will run a pilot programme at a border checkpoint this October but could expand to cover all of Malaysia by the end of 2018. The sticker will be in the same shape and form as a road tax sticker and could be used to track all vehicles within the country, even going so far as to shatter and transmit warnings if you try to remove it.

The device is suggested for multiple uses including data analysis, tracking things such as the location of traffic jams and monitoring average speeds of roads and junctions.

The objections that currently are appearing to this scheme are the same that come out when any monitoring program is released or announced. By placing a tracker on every car, you could monitor specific people, even those who have done nothing wrong. While the details and identification codes for each tag and car would be encrypted, in light of recent news regarding digital monitoring and hacking, we are all far too aware that there is very little that can be called “secure” in the modern world.

Thank you Engadget for the information and the image.

NSA Surveillance Program Operating For a Very Long Time

NSA operations have been going on a long, long, long, long time, that is according to the latest revelations by both Edward Snowdon and also by a report from The Intercept, NSA/GCHQ’s top secret surveillance program “Project Echelon” has been spying on the US allies, enemies, and its citizens for last 50 years. It’s being called the first-ever automated global mass surveillance system.

A British investigative journalist by the name of Duncan Campbell wrote a magazine article in 1988 about the existence a surveillance program by the name of Echelon, which is essentially a giant and automated surveillance dragnet that indiscriminately intercepted phone and Internet data from communications satellites. This technique was a precursor to today’s tapping of undersea fibre optic cables by survey non-military targets; these include governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every corner of the world.

In 2000, the European Parliament appointed a committee to investigate the program which lead to the outcome of the same old “The NSA played by the rules” mantra. How do you sum these latest revelations up? A foreign affairs directorate special adviser managed it perfectly by concluding the following,

In the final analysis, the “pig rule” applied when dealing with this tacky matter: “Don’t wrestle in the mud with the pigs. They like it, and you both get dirty.”

If anyone attempts to challenge these practises then both parties will be slandered into oblivion, the only difference is, the good guy always looks worst. I am not surprised by these revelations because frankly, who the hell can be after so much has been leaked out. I also think there is now more than surveillance at stake, but the underpinning of democracy which is looking weaker by the day.

This is also where GCHQ and the NSA look stupid, if they are able to track everyone all of the time, how come the likes of Osama Bin Laden managed to hide for so long? How come there are many criminals, illegal activities and an escalation in gun violence in the US within a world which is perceived to be more under surveillance? After all, the perpetrator of the Charleston church shootings wrote a manifesto which was easily accessible online, if the words “It was obvious that George Zimmerman was in the right” does not look slightly psychopathic, then nothing will.

Thank You fossbytes and The Intercept for providing us with this information.

US, UK, New Zealand and France – Who’s Spying On Who?

Over the past few years, people have been told more and more about countries which have been part of or are actively spying on one another. The biggest revelation coming when it was revealed by Edward Snowden the extent at which the American government was spying not only on foreign entities but also on their own citizens. If the latest reports are correct it would seem France has joined the list of countries spying on foreign entities.

In a report from the L’Observateur, it claims that the french agency DGSE tapped several undersea fiber cables in an attempt to gain access to the information transmitted via them. This action was conducted and completed with cooperation from both the telecom supplier Alcatel-lucent and the operator Orange.

The received information was then shared with GCHQ, the British security agency responsible for digital and online security. If these reports are confirmed it could be a little trouble with GCHQ, given that they also received information from the American’s PRISM program. The PRISM program is reported to have recorded the conversations and communications of several high-ranking French officials including the President himself but also tried to access and gather all information relating to French companies which were valued over $200 million. PRISM then shared the information with the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

It seems that everyone is shocked when they find out  that someone spied on them, but then it all changes when it turns out they were spying on that country at the same time. I’ve lost track of who’s spying on who and sharing that information with what country.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Reuters.

Amnesty International Tracked By UK Goverment

Amnesty International is an organisation dedicated to promoting human rights and defends victims who have been abused. They have recently forayed into the world of digital rights, with the release of an Anti-spyware programme  designed to track down and alert you to common signs that your computer may be observed or accessed remotely. Ironically, the latest news is that members of Amnesty International have been observed by GCHQ (the Governmental branch within the UK that overlooks digital security).

On Wednesday, Amnesty International announced they received an email outlining that their information had been intercepted, accessed and recorded. The time frame that this information was obtained from and stored from has yet to be disclosed. The revelation was revealed by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), who are in charge of monitoring and making sure that government agencies follow the policies involved in surveillance. Following from these investigations Amnesty International has requested that the IPT hold a public hearing into the claims, allowing for the scope and detail of the surveillance to be revealed in the open.

With the scope of the surveillance unknown and the detail unclarified to both the public and Amnesty International itself, it’s hard to disagree that there should be more open and public discussions when it comes to the level that digital surveillance is used (even illegally).

Thank you Amnesty International for the information and the image.

A New Kind Of ProxyHam Coming to DefCon

Ok you now think I have been lying in 35 degree heat all day and have crossed a privacy tool with a local butcher. I can assure you I am not hallucinating and that purple leprechaun agrees with me, only kidding, it’s green. I am quite sane and am here to talk about a possible new proxy tool which could be a game changer for privacy conscious Individuals.

At the upcoming DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas, a new tool by the name of ProxyHam is set to be unveiled, this device has been invented and developed by an individual by the name of Ben Caudill who aims to make it that little bit harder for network spies. This device is essentially a hardware proxy which is designed to use a radio frequency. By utilizing this form of connection, the device adds a physical layer of obfuscation to an internet user’s location

According to Google, obfuscation is defined as making something obscure which means your location is not transmitted over the Internet. This invention has been built for $200 dollars (£128) but the clever bit is still to come, the device connects wirelessly from a 900 megahertz antenna which is plugged into the Ethernet port of a PC, to a Raspberry Pi box which has been placed in a different location via a radio connection. This in turn means that any traceable location data is not from a person’s physical location, but from the ProxyHam box said individual has placed somewhere else.

This means that if the FBI come knocking or any other malevolent with power organization, they will think you live within a 2.5 mile radius of your actual address, and this means if you placed the box in Burger King, the fast food joint will be raided and not you. Here at eTeknix we are impartial and therefore would like to point out there are many other corrupt governments with which to be spied on and fast food joints with which to enlarge your liver.

At this stage these devices are still very much at the development and improvement stage, but if it can capture the mainstream, expect many boxes to pop up with confused officials staring at them to a town near you soon.

Thank You Wired for providing this information

Does Your Boss Know Where You Are? Or Fired Because You Uninstalled A GPS Tracker?

A woman in California claims that her uninstalling an app has led to her being fired. The reason for uninstalling the app? The 24/7 monitoring of her location using the iPhones GPS (Global position systems allowing for the tracking of a device via satellite in real time).

Myrna Arias worked for the money transfer service Intermex. In a recent lawsuit, claiming as much as $500,000 in damages, Arias claims that the reason for her being fired was due to her uninstalling the job management app Xora from her company issued iPhone. Sounds fair right? You get given a phone with an app to clock in and out of work with and you uninstall it, you would expect some disciplinary issues or even to be fired right?

Arias was fired from her $7,250 per month Job after removing Xora because of the revelation she had about the app’s use of GPS monitoring. Xora allows management to not only see when people sign in and out of work but also allows tracking of the iPhone by its GPS, allowing bosses to check time spent out the office at client locations or even people singing into work from home. The problem that is stated is that Xora does not stop monitoring the phones GPS when you sign out of work, it’s constantly on.

Citing invasion of privacy, Arias claims that her manager made it clear he was using the program to monitor her during not only company time but also in her personal time. Alongside this, it is also claimed that Arias’s manager would opening speak about her driving speed and the roads she took.

Arias likened the app to prisoners ankle bracelet’s and complained about the legality of this invasion of privacy. A discussion which was apparently followed by her being told to “tolerate the illegal intrusion”.

Do you have GPS on your phone? Should it be used for work or do you think that this was a step too far?

Thank you to Arstechnica for their information.

The Code Used for Google’s Santa Claus Tracking App has been Made Open-Source

Though the spirit of Christmas has passed, Google brings it back with an open-source announcement of its Santa Tracker app code. For those unaware, the Santa Tracker is an online fictional progress of Santa’s journey throughout the world in real-time during the Christmas festivities.

The code is now available on GitHub for anyone who wants to implement it on whatever they desire. Developers can download the web version from here, while the Android version can be downloaded from here.

The general idea of tracking Father Christmas may seem a bit of pointless unless you are making an app for kids, but the code does contain some pretty nice libraries and samples that can be adapted and used in various other applications.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

Researchers Say Facebook Tracking Violates European Union Privacy Law

Facebook had a lot of privacy concerns in the past, and it looks like they just keep on coming. Researchers from the Belgium data protection agency have also determined that Facebook’s latest web tracking policy violates the European Union privacy law.

What Facebook does is it uses cookies to track web visitors without permissions, whether they log in or take advantage of the EU’s proposed opt-out laws. Cookies themselves are only supposed to be used when the user is signed in and only for things users agree to. Facebook’s cookies however break that law by adding tracking cookies on the system in the EU, having the company tracking what users do regardless if they have opted out from tracking or not.

Facebook seems to be tackling these accusations with certain ‘issues’ it found, stating that the study has ‘factual issues’ and has offered resolve its problems with the Belgian government. Officials are said to have turned down requests so far, putting Facebook in a very tight spot should the company be forced to defend itself against the serious EU allegations in the near future.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

DARPA Developing Superior GPS Replacement

Anyone who’s tried to negotiate their way cross-country with only a satnav for guidance knows that GPS signal can be temperamental. It seems that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) must have also struggled with a ten-hour road trip from Bournemouth to Loch Lomond, as it is developing a “radical” new technology to replace global positioning systems.

DARPA has written a new paper on the matter, in which it states its aim to create a system that goes beyond satellite tracking and signal strength. Or, as DARPA puts it, “The need to be able to operate effectively in areas where GPS is inaccessible, unreliable or potentially denied by adversaries, has created a demand for alternative precision timing and navigation capabilities.”

As part of the endeavour, DARPA is also developing self-calibrating gyroscopes, accelerometers, and tracking clocks that don’t depend on wireless signal. The system is projected to be self-contained, housing all the data you need to track your position within the device. In addition, DARPA wants to track local “signals of opportunity”, like television, radio, and even meteorological conditions, such as lightning, to help location tracking.

DARPA is, of course, focusing on military implementation but, as with all good tech, the new location system is sure to bleed through to the consumer market.

Source: Engadget

EU’s Mandatory eCall Technology Could Spark Privacy Concerns

EU’s safety idea to add mandatory eCall units to cars is expected to start in March 2018. Every new car sold in the EU will need to be equipped with the new technology as the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted in favour of the draft EU rules on Tuesday, and it is expected to become law in April.

The system in itself is a great idea. It consists of a black box that detects a crash and automatically calls the emergency services and a button on the dashboard to manually call 112 when needed. Inside is a cell phone like sim card and it’s also fitted with a GPS sensor. This is to send your coordinates to the emergency services, but it also sparks concerns among privacy groups on how it could be misused.

“Motorists will not be comfortable forcibly having a black box installed which is capable of recording and transmitting their exact location when they are driving,” said Emma Carr, of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch

The eCall units can’t be turned off and will be tested in MoT checks, but there’s also concerns that insurance companies will misuse the information to get out of paying where they should, perhaps using it by getting around it due to minor technicalities.

A separate study by the EU Data Protection Supervisor warns of the “potential intrusiveness” of eCall given that it operates on the same basis as mobile phones and “potentially enables the constant collection of the vehicle’s geolocation”.

There is no doubt that this technology can save many lives, but it also needs proper safeguarding against unlawful use of personal data, tracking, and hacking.

Thanks to DailyMail for providing us with this information