Timor oil and gas: Sea of Greed

Editorial Posted19th October 2016 by By Tom Pearson

Last month the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected Australia’s claim it had no jurisdiction to conciliate the dispute in the Timor Sea. This means Australia must come to the table and negotiate with East Timor.

But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been quick to note that Australia will not be bound by the international panel’s outcome. At the end of the day, Timor’s deal will still come down to what the Australian government thinks they can get away with.

Under the UN International Law of the Sea, all the areas presently being drilled are in East Timor’s half of the Sea. The reason successive Australian governments have forced East Timor, the poorest nation in our region, to defer making a decision on the maritime boundary for 50 years is precisely because they know that Australia’s position is untenable under international law and the UN Law of the Sea. This would very quickly become apparent if the decision was decided by an independent international authority.

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The mystery of the listening devices at DND's Nortel Campus

Editorial Posted 18th October 2016 by David Pugliese

DND employees are moving to the former Nortel Campus on Moodie Dr at Carling Ave.Chris Mikula / Postmedia

My colleague Jim Bagnall and I recently wrote a feature on the move by the Department of National Defence to the former Nortel campus in west end Ottawa. More than 8,000 military and civilian staff will make the move.

One of the issues that emerged when we were researching and writing the article had to do with the mystery of listening/spy devices that were planted at the Nortel Campus. So what happened? Were listening devices found at the Nortel Campus or not? The Department of National Defence keeps changing its story on that issue.

In 2013 the Citizen reported that workers preparing the former Nortel complex as the new home for the DND had discovered electronic eavesdropping devices. It shouldn’t have come as a big surprise. The year before it had been revealed that Nortel was the target of industrial espionage for almost a decade, with the main culprits thought to be based in China. An internal security study by Nortel suggested that hackers had also been able to download research and development studies and business plans as far back as 2000. The hackers also placed spyware into some employee computers.

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Exclusive: 'Gangster link' to Gordhan's 'rogue unit' prosecution

Editorial posted 11th October 2016 By Charles Cilliers

Part of the case against the finance minister may relate to NPA witnesses being ‘murdered’ by a gang who obtained ‘rogue unit’ recordings.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Tuesday morning announced that it was proceeding with a criminal case against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in relation to his tenure as the SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner.

The value of the rand has plummeted in the wake of this news. The NPA said there would be a case against Gordhan of fraud and he might also be prosecuted for the so-called rogue unit, but the investigations in that matter were still continuing.

The Citizen, however, understands it on good authority that a key element of the developing case in the surveillance matter against the finance minister relates to an allegation that a high-ranking member of a notorious Cape criminal gang, The American$ (pronounced simply ‘Americans’), allegedly came to possess a recording of NPA officials discussing a case against the gang leader and his gang members.

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Bugged samovar leads to arrest of Russian officials

Editorial posted 7th October 2016 By News from Elsewhere

Russia's security service arrested three senior officials after recording conversations using a bug hidden in a samovar they had given as a gift of thanks for anti-corruption efforts, it's emerged.

According to the influential Kommersant newspaper, the Federal Security Service (FSB) planted the bug as part of an investigation into senior officials of the Russian Investigations Committee (SKR) who were said to be taking bribes. The samovar - engraved with the letters "FSB" and the organisation's logo - been presented to the head of the Investigations Committee's Internal Security Directorate, Mikhail Maksimenko, and was left sitting in his office, Moscow daily Izvestiya reports.

The three were arrested in July, but details of the bugging operation have only just been revealed as their case comes to court.

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Snooping Becomes Legal In Switzerland To Combat Terrorism

Editorial posted 26th September 2016 By Roland Moore-Colyer

Swiss voters have approved a law that allows security services to conduct surveillance operations

Secret service agents are able to legally hack computers in Switzerland after the country voted for a law that allowed them to do so in order to prevent terrorist attacks.

According to SwissInfo, 66.5 percent of the voters came out in favour of the law despite critics warnings that it could lead to arbitrary surveillance. It is likely this was galvanized by the spate of terrorist attacks that have occurred in Europe this year.

Switzerland practices ‘direct democracy’, a model which allows citizens to propose a referendum to be held on any law.

Swiss surveillance

Defence Minister Guy Parmelin for his part said he welcomed the result of the vote and noted the new law would give parliament strict controls over surveillance when it comes into effect in September 2017.

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Family finds hidden camera in Virginia hotel room

Editorial posted 20th September 2016

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Police are investigating after a family discovered a hidden camera in their room while on vacation to the Oceanfront.

Police responded to a call at the Knights Inn and Suites on May 27. Now more than three months later, the family still has questions about what exactly was in their room.

"You never in a million years think something would happen like that, but it did," Angela Wallace told Pittsburgh TV station WPXI.

Wallace fears the camera was recording her 11-year old daughter. She says she found the camera in the bathroom.

"We have not heard anything," Wallace said. "They still haven't even looked at the evidence, nothing."

The detective in the case is waiting for a forensic examination of the device, which could take months, according to department spokesperson Linda Kuehn. Police say when they first looked at the device they could not tell if the family was actually recorded and that forensic results will need to be reviewed in order to tell.

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Sinn Féin: British army bungled Raymond McCartney bugging

Editorial posted 17th September 2016 By Connla Young

SINN Féin assembly member Raymond McCartney was placed under a surveillance operation which caused a fall out within the British army after it was uncovered.

Fresh details about the extent of the operation shed new light on the 2002 spy mission which was eventually rumbled when a British soldier who had sneaked into McCartney’s empty house left an intelligence file in his kitchen table by mistake.

A former IRA hunger striker, Mr McCartney was elected to the assembly in 2004 for the Foyle area.

A member of the Policing Board, he formerly sat on the assembly’s justice committee.

According to Seán Hartnett the operation against Mr McCartney involved several undercover soldiers and an MI5 officer who had flown in from England.

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Some schools sweep for hidden cams amid 'epidemic' of spying, expert says

Editorial posted 12th September 2016 By Matt Gray

In the final days before the start of the new school year, teachers were busy setting up their classrooms and principals were preparing to welcome students back from summer vacation.

In addition to the usual cleaning and organizing that takes place in the final days leading up to the start of the new school year, some administrators were also having their schools swept for spy cameras.

With the rise of cheaper and smaller technology, it's easier than ever for someone to plant a tiny camera in a restroom, locker room or under a desk.

Police have reported several recent cases of alleged spy camera use.

A Vineland school teacher was charged in April with hiding a camera in a restroom used by performers from Pitman's Broadway Theater. A Sicklerville man was charged in May will hiding a camera in a female employees' restroom at a dialysis facility in Mount Laurel.

A former teacher at Gloucester County Institute of Technology was indicted in April on charges that he video recorded up the skirts of 24 students using a small recording device, according to prosecutors.

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All Blacks bugging scandal: Sir Graham Henry - history of spying in elite rugby

Editorial posted 20th August 2016

Sir Graham Henry said there's a history of spying at rugby's highest level, but he's never heard of an operation like the one that's overshadowed the build-up to tonight's Bledisloe Cup test.

Police have been called in after a sophisticated listening device was discovered in the All Blacks' team roomat their Sydney hotel. The hotel is also investigating. Sir Graham, who guided New Zealand to Rugby World Cup success in 2011, said security sweeps have been routine for well over a decade.

"There has been spying in the past," Henry told the Herald. "But that's usually something at the practice venue, videoing training or someone watching and taking notes. That sort of thing has happened in world rugby before, let's be frank about that.

"But I've never heard of bugging before.

"There's security people with the team, which have been there for a long time - right through my time and I started in 2004. Those procedures are not done by All Blacks management, there's security people who are employed to look after the side. They're good men who do a good job."

Henry said at this stage "you can't point the finger" at anyone, saying the device could have been planted a long time ago.

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All Blacks say listening bug found in their Sydney hotel room ahead of Bledisloe Cup clash

Editorial posted 20th August 2016

A sophisticated bugging device has been found in an All Blacks' hotel meeting room ahead of their Bledisloe Cup clash with the Wallabies, officials confirmed on Saturday.

The device was planted inside a chair and found during a routine sweep of the room in the lead up to the opening Rugby Championship clash on Saturday night.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said in a statement that police have been called in to investigate.

"A listening device was found in a meeting room this week during a routine security check," NZR chief executive Steve Tew said.

"The hotel immediately launched an investigation, we have informed the Australian Rugby Union, and jointly we have now decided to hand over the investigation to the Australian police.

"We are taking this issue very seriously, and given it will be a police matter, it would not be prudent to go into further details."

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Judge blasts FBI for bugging courthouse, throws out 200 hours of recordings

Editorial posted 2nd August 2016

The FBI violated the Fourth Amendment by recording more than 200 hours of conversation at the entrance to a county courthouse in the Bay Area, a federal judge has ruled.

Federal agents planted the concealed microphones around the San Mateo County Courthouse in 2009 and 2010 as part of an investigation into alleged bid-rigging at public auctions for foreclosed homes. In November, lawyers representing five defendants filed a motion arguing that the tactic was unconstitutional, since the Fourth Amendment bans unreasonable searches.

"[T]he government utterly failed to justify a warrantless electronic surveillance that recorded private conversations spoken in hushed tones by judges, attorneys, and court staff entering and exiting a courthouse," US District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in an order (PDF) published yesterday. "Even putting aside the sensitive nature of the location here, Defendants have established that they believed their conversations were private and they took reasonable steps to thwart eavesdroppers."

Breyer concluded that the disputed evidence must be suppressed. At a hearing next week, he'll consider whether the recordings tainted the rest of the prosecution's case.

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Romanian man arrested in connection with £20 million fraud

Editorial posted 26th July 2016

Anton is wanted by Cheshire police for allegedly committing multiple ATM fraud offences

Romanian citizen Marius Anton, 31, was held in Kent as he attempted to leave the UK on Wednesday, City of London Police have revealed.

Anton is wanted by Cheshire police for allegedly committing multiple ATM fraud offences across the country since early 2012.

Police said the Romanian is suspected of attaching card skimming devices to supermarket ATMs to extract and clone credit card details.

It was said that he had previously failed to appear at court in May 2012 to stand trial for possessing criminal items and articles being used for fraud.

A City of London Police spokesman said Anton appeared at Crewe Magistrates' Court on Thursday charged with these offences and an extra offence of failing to appear at court.

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Russian spy sought to bug Lithuanian president’s home: prosecutors

Editorial posted 1st July 2016 by Afp

A Russian spy attempted to recruit Lithuanian officials to bug the home of the Baltic NATO state’s president, prosecutors said on Friday.

The case is the latest in a string of Cold War-style espionage affairs involving Russians in eastern NATO member
nations amid intensified East-West tensions. Identified only as Russian FSB security service agent NF, the Russian citizen was charged with espionage, document forgery and illegally crossing the border, the prosecutors’ office said in a statement.

Recruitment efforts targeted security officials “in an attempt to install special listening devices” to bug President Dalia Grybauskaite at her home and office. The Russian has been under arrest since April 2015 after being detained on his way to Belarus on a train from the Kaliningrad region, Russia’s westernmost outpost bordering Lithuania and Poland.

The announcement, came a week before a NATO summit set to endorse a military build-up in eastern Europe to deter Russia. The efforts focus on four battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and meddling in eastern Ukraine.

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Exposed: FBI Bugged Public Bus Stop In San Francisco Area

Editorial posted 16th May 2016

Well, if you’ve ever read Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly and were freaked out about the government recording everything you do in his dystopian vision of the United States, this story coming out of the San Francisco-area won’t assuage your concerns about federal surveillance programs. Between 2010-2011, FBI agents planted recording devices in public bus stops and recorded conversations. It was part of an investigation into whether real estate investors were guilty of bid rigging and other fraudulent acts (via CBS SFBayArea):

Hidden microphones that are part of a clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the Bay Area has been exposed.

Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing. It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn’t even need a warrant to do it.

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FBI Hid Surveillance Devices Around Alameda County Courthouse

Editorial posted 11th May 2016

Federal agents planted hidden microphones and conducted secret video surveillance at Alameda County’s Rene C. Davidson Courthouse for ten months, despite having no court warrant. The surveillance operation was part of an investigation into alleged bid rigging at foreclosed property auctions where thousands of houses and apartment buildings were sold by banks. But defense attorneys for some of the individuals accused say the FBI's surveillance tactics violated their clients' constitutional rights, and everyone else whose conversations might have been captured on tape.

One of the people recorded by the hidden surveillance devices was Michael Marr, the East Bay landlord who is at the center of our feature story in this week's edition of the Express. Marr and his business associates frequently attended the foreclosure auctions. They bought hundreds of properties, many of them in Oakland, but were indicted in November 2014 on charges that they conspired to rig the auctions. Marr's case is now being heard in federal court. He has pleaded innocent.

Some of the government’s case against Marr and his associates is based on evidence gathered using secret microphones at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse and also the Contra Costa County courthouse in Martinez.

At the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, the FBI planted hidden microphones inside light fixtures on the courthouse’s exterior steps to capture the conversations of people attending the foreclosure auctions. Cameras and microphones were installed in parked Alameda County vehicles next to the courthouse. The FBI even hid a microphone in the AC Transit bus stop on Fallon Street, and dropped a bugged backpack next to a statue inside the courthouse, according to a letter sent by US Justice Department attorney Kate Patchen to Marr's attorneys on March 15. The surveillance was ongoing from March 2010 to January 2011.

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Is your cell phone spying on you? Simple ways to stop it

Editorial Posted 06th May, 2016 By Nina Pineda

Flight attendant Lucy Lofton travels the world, and didn't know until we showed her that our smartphones, always with us, are always keeping track, of every move we make.

There's a digital log kept on her Android under "Google Location Setting" and on my I-phone.

Cyber security expert and founder of Identity Theft, 911, Adam Levin showed us the treasure map to where this digital diary is buried.

You go to your phone's setting.

Cick on Privacy, then Location Services, scroll to System Services then hit Frequent Locations and Voila!

A 2 month history of everywhere I've been. Click a spot, my little spy even displays how long I was there. Hit CLEAR history to erase this.

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Your Device Can Spy On Your Every Move

Editorial Posted 27st April, 2016 by H V Jagadish

We now have dozens of smart devices in our houses and even on our bodies. They improve our lives in so many ways – from lowering energy consumption in our homes to egging us on to be active.

But these smart devices respond to whatever commands they are given: we’ve had security experts demonstrate how cars can be hijacked remotely and medical devices in your body can be hacked and turned into lethal weapons. These risks are now well-recognized by technology developers, and there is a great deal of excellent work going on toward how to avoid them.

But there are other dangers we should be more concerned about that are getting less attention. Your gadgets could be providing a window that any hacker could see right through to spy on you.

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Council install listening device after neighbours complain about the noise of the three children next door

Editorial Posted 21st April, 2016 by Lauren Fruen

A MUM is seeking legal advice after her council installed a listening device to record whether her children were too noisy.

Hannah Roberts has been told the noise levels of her children are being monitored after a series of complaints.

But she is considering legal action saying the listening equipment – installed in a neighbouring flat – is more suited to anti-terror cops.

Hannah, 25, believes her human rights and those of her children Harley, four, Brooklyn, three, and Milly, nine, have been breached.

The retail worker, of Bodmin, Cornwall, said: “I admit my children do make a noise, like all youngsters do, and my young son does cry at night because I have to rub cream on him as he suffers from severe eczema.

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Research Electronics International - REI - Newsletter (Q4 - 2015)

Editorial Posted 20th April, 2016

When extended capture and analysis of RF traffic is required, it can be tedious to analyze large volumes of resulting data. The Spectrogram Waterfall function on the OSCOR is an effective tool for visually inspecting RF energy over time. However, the Masking function may be an alternative starting point to help perform signal data analysis more efficiently.

A Mask compares the active trace to a stored mask trace file and displays any signals exceeding the user-defined threshold. If a signal appears above the threshold, then an event is added to the signal list.

The Masking function works by comparing a base reference trace file against a target location trace filtering out any normal signals. For example, the OSCOR Green can be left to capture data overnight when no one is present at the location.

Typically, to analyze data captured overnight, visual inspection of the Spectrogram waterfall is required. With the Masking function, any new signals occurring above the threshold set by the peak trace file will appear in list format. This is also useful when performing RF analysis on a regular basis.

By using a base reference trace file from a previous scan, any new signals can be quickly identified. A list is created by the Masking function providing detailed signal information that can be helpful in determining possible threats.

The signal list table includes frequency, power, bandwidth, timestamp, last seen timestamp and count information. The ‘Date’ column shows when the signal first appeared, and the ‘Last Seen’ shows the last time the signal was captured with the ‘Count’ column displayingthe number of times between the timestamps the signal was visible.

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The RCMP Are Being Investigated Over Controversial Spy Tech

Editorial Posted 13st April, 2016 by Jordan Pearson

Canada’s federal police force is being investigated by the country’s top privacy watchdog for its use of a controversial mass surveillance device.

A spokesperson from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) confirmed to Motherboard that it has opened an investigation into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s use of IMSI catchers, or “StingRays.” These devices are essentially fake cell phone towers that force phones in the vicinity to connect and reveal identifying information.

The use of such devices has been the topic of much heated discussion and public debate in the US. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the warrantless use of StingRays by police is unconstitutional in 2014. StingRays are controversial because they target devices within a certain area, and thus risk violating the privacy of innocents.

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Oil rig worker says she was secretly recorded, files $1 million lawsuit

Editorial Posted 1st April, 2016 by Nick Valencia

(CNN)It looked like a normal clothing hook -- small and unsuspecting, mounted on the back door of her sleeping quarters on the Transocean Deepwater oil rig.

But to her, for some reason it just didn't feel right.

"The rooms are pretty bare and minimum, so when you notice something that's different, it kind of sticks out to you."

Though 26, she'd been on plenty of rigs before. In fact, she'd spent much of her life dedicated to working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. But she says she'd never seen something like this.

"It was out of place."

She dismissed the weird feeling and thought to herself, "Well, it must just be extra storage."

That was a Friday in August 2015. Four days later, the hook was gone.

About the same time she noticed it was missing, she says the only other woman on the rig mentioned that the same clothing hook had appeared in her room out of the blue.

They opened the hook and found what she says was actually a covert, motion-activated recording device. Inside, she says, was a tiny camera and memory card capable of holding footage.

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Woman 'shocked' to find council dog barking bugging device on her property

Editorial Posted 16th March, 2016 by Kim Savage

A halt has been called on the use of dog bark bugging devices in Christchurch after a couple complained a recorder had been dropped in their yard, without their knowledge.

Jenny Bennett has tried it all. She's had her dog neutered, got a friend to keep it company - yet the barking goes on.

Ms Bennett says the council suggested she get a gate, which she did.

But days later she found a bugging device used by the council to see if a barking complaint is warranted.

"Three days after the gate went up I drove up the driveway towards the garden and saw what I thought was rubbish," Ms Bennett told Fairfax media.

"Straight away because of the piece on the front I thought it was a bugging device. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it."

Council staff returned to the house with their tails between their legs.

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Stealing White

Editorial Posted 04th January, 2016 by Del Quentin Wilber

There’s white, and then there’s the immaculate ultrawhite behind the French doors of a new GE Café Series refrigerator. There’s white, and then there’s the luminous-from-every-angle white hood of a 50th anniversary Ford Mustang GT. There’s white, and then there’s the how-white-my-shirts-can-be white that’s used to brighten myriad products, from the pages of new Bibles to the hulls of superyachts to the snowy filling inside Oreo cookies.

All this whiteness is the product of a compound known as titanium dioxide, or TiO2. A naturally occurring oxide, TiO2 is generally extracted from ilmenite ore and was first used as a pigment in the 19th century. In the 1940s chemists at DuPont refined the process until they hit on what’s widely considered a superior form of “titanium white,” which has been used in cosmetics and plastics and to whiten the chalked lines on tennis courts. DuPont has built its titanium dioxide into a $2.6 billion business, which it spun off as part of chemicals company Chemours, in Wilmington, Del., last fall.

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GSOC's Tale of Snoops, Spies and Intrigue Descends into Farce Again

Editorial Posted 24 January, 2016 by Paul Williams

The Garda Ombudsman's office has been sniffing through journalists' contacts in a probe that lacks teeth
Paul Williams

Scrutiny: Phone records of up to 50 individuals may also have featured in an investigation of alleged leaks around the arrest of Independent TD Clare Daly

The disturbing revelations that the Garda Ombudsman Commission has been snooping on journalists' phone records confirms the watchdog's predilection for spookery, intrigue - and farce.

It is more than a little ironic that this is the same organisation which created a crisis in the justice system two years ago on a claim, later found to be groundless, that it was the victim of a spy plot of which John le Carre would be proud.

But the drama ended in ignominy for the watchdog as the controversy descended into farce and the plot turned out to be more Austin Powers than James Bond.

But more of that later.

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Ex-SARS Officials Suspicious of New 'Leaked' KPMG Report

Editorial Posted 24 January, 2016 by Jenni Evans, News24

Cape Town - Four former officials at SARS caught up in a row over allegations of a spy unit have distanced themselves from another ''leaked'' KPMG report.

In a statement released on Saturday they said none of them were given a chance to make representations on allegations against them supposedly contained in the new report.

The statement was from former SA Revenue Services deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, strategic planning group risk executive Peter Richer, Richer's assistant Yolisa Pikie and SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay, who said without right of reply that the content of the report is of no consequence.

The report, dated December 4, 2015, according to media reports and inquiries, contained allegations that relate to their tenure at SARS.

KPMG was ostensibly instructed by SARS not to engage any of them in the course of their investigation, which they say raises questions about its legality.

It apparently also has a disclaimer which renders it unusable to resolve a dispute, nor can it be disclosed to a third party.

''It was claimed that the report would be of a forensic nature. Such a disclaimer contradicts the notion of any forensic findings,'' the statement said.

They said they were denied access to KPMG’s documents in 2015 and a Promotion of Access to Information Act request to KPMG was also declined.

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The Espionage Economy - U.S. firms are making billions selling spyware to dictators

Editorial Posted 22 January, 2016 by James Bamford

Ricardo Martinelli resides in a condo at the Atlantis, a luxury high-rise on Florida’s Biscayne Bay made famous by the TV series Miami Vice. A hefty, white-haired billionaire, Martinelli, 63, was viewed just a few years ago as one of Latin America’s most popular leaders: From 2009 until 2014, he was president of Panama. But now, though he’s living in high style, Martinelli is a fugitive from justice.

He fled his country on Jan. 28, 2015, hours before Panama’s Supreme Court announced a corruption investigation into his administration. Among the charges Martinelli faces is political espionage, with a possible prison sentence of 21 years, for illegally eavesdropping on the phones and emails of more than 150 people: Panamanian opposition leaders, journalists, judges, business rivals, cabinet members, U.S. Embassy officials, a Roman Catholic archbishop, and even a woman identified as Martinelli’s mistress.

Much of this alleged activity was made possible by the burgeoning business of private companies selling military-grade spyware. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that the retail market for surveillance tools had increased in value from virtually nothing 10 years prior to around $5 billion annually. Yet the market functions largely unencumbered, and even since the National Security Agency eavesdropping scandal broke in 2013, U.S. policymakers have paid little attention to firms that sell surveillance equipment to foreign governments.

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Analysis: Employers do not have right to ‘snoop’ on personal emails and messages despite ruling

Editorial Posted 14th January 2016 by Arindam Rej

Employees should not fear for their privacy despite bosses’ rights to read personal messages and emails, according to employment experts in Yorkshire.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a company in Romania did not breach the privacy of an employee when it monitored his Yahoo Messenger account.

Caroline Acton, a Yorkshire-based employment law specialist, insisted that the ruling does not open the door for employers to snoop. The Consilia Legal partner said: “In reality, I don’t think that’s the case. It needs to be done in proportion and in a reasonable manner.

“In that case, regarding the company in Romania, the employer had legitimate grounds. There was a business reason to look into that account then they realised it was being used for personal reasons.”

The Romanian employee who was fired in that instance was engineer Bogdan Barbulescu. He was found to have messaged his fiancee on a Yahoo messenger account. Mr Barbulescu challenged his employer, complaining that it breached his human right to privacy, but the ruling went against him.

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BlueScope Steel stung by alleged corporate espionage

Editorial Posted 9th January, 2016 by Lucy Battersby and Sarah Danckert

On the day long-serving BlueScope software development manager Chinnari Sridevi "Sri" Somanchi was to be made redundant in June 2015, she was suddenly busy on the phone.

For the next two hours her redundancy meeting was delayed while Ms Somanchi was locked on the lengthy call, as her manager circled her desk trying to get her attention.

What the company did not know at the time, and now alleges, was Ms Somanchi was spending those precious hours downloading a cache of company secrets so financially important to BlueScope it has launched emergency legal action in the Federal Court of Australia and Singapore, where she is now based, to stop the information falling into the hands of its competitors.

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Research Electronics International - REI - Newsletter (Q4 - 2015)

Editorial Posted 2nd December 2015

The OSCOR line of spectrum analyzers displays signal activity over time in a type of graph known as a waterfall display.

It’s called a waterfall because of the continuous flow of rainbow colors that cascade down the screen as signal activity builds over time.

Both the OSCOR Green and OSCOR Blue have a Live Raster function that displays activity in a short term raster waterfall. Save Long-term Waterfall Data Until now, the OSCOR Green was not able to preserve the data from which the waterfall was drawn.

The only way to recall a waterfall for reporting or review was to save a Live Raster Waterfall bitmap image file.

REI has released an OSCOR Green firmware update that includes an important new waterfall function called Spectrogram. This new feature collects signal data and saves it in a Spectrogram waterfall file that the OSCOR Green can recall and review on-screen.

The new OSCOR Green Spectrogram Waterfall is different from the Live Raster Waterfall in that it is designed to capture traces over a long period of time (meaning hours or days) and display them in a waterfall format.

Spectrogram builds an intermediate peak trace over a user defined frequency span and time interval; and repeatedly stores these intermediate peak traces for waterfall analysis.

The intermediate peak trace is "zeroed" between each time interval.

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Secret bugging device used by NT police in Emma O'Connor hit-and-run case

Editorial Posted 27th November 2015 by Rosa Ellen

A secret listening device planted in a caravan provided the evidence that led to the arrest of an Alice Springs couple over a hit-and-run, a court has heard.

Brett Alan Dredge, 52, and his wife Narelle Dredge, 51, were arrested earlier this month in relation to the October 21 crash that left Emma O'Connor, 25, in a coma with serious injuries.

They have both been charged with hit-run causing serious harm, attempting to pervert the course of justice and making a false statement.

At a bail hearing for Brett Dredge, a police prosecutor said officers installed a listening device in the couple's caravan and had monitored conversations between the defendants, which provided evidence for them to be charged.

The prosecution said it opposed bail for Brett Dredge based on what police said they overheard during the discussions between the two.
However, the magistrate granted it, saying conditions were sufficiently strict.

Narelle Dredge was granted bail after her arrest.

The incident occurred two days after Ms O'Connor got her motorcycle driver's licence, and she was being taught how to take off from the side of the road by her husband, Jesse O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor jumped clear of the incident, but his wife was flung into the air.

Her back and pelvis were broken, and her skull fractured in the crash.

She is now awake and in a stable condition in the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

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Jealous IT expert who murdered his wife by stabbing her 51 times after using tracking devices to expose her affair is jailed for a minimum of 27 years

Editorial Posted 5th November 2015 by Richard Spillett for MailOnline

A jealous computer programmer who stabbed his wife 51 times after bugging her mobile phone has been jailed for life for murder.

Andrew Munro, 51, carried out the frenzied attack on wife Clare, 47, at their home in Culcheth, Cheshire after she told him their marriage was over.

A judge ordered Munro serve at least 27 years behind bars after saying he made his wife's final weeks 'almost unbearable' with a 'terrifying campaign of sinister and intrusive surveillance'.

Preston Crown Court heard IT expert Munro used his technical expertise to track the mother-of-three's whereabouts after he learned she was having an affair.

He even bugged her mobile phone to enable him to remotely take video shots of her when she was away from the family home.

After Munro was sentenced today, the victim's family branded him a 'cruel and evil monster' who had murdered 'a magical person' who was 'a pillar of her community'.

John McDermott QC, prosecuting, had told the court there had been marital problems for several months before Mrs Munro was murdered on November 2 last year.

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Belarusian KGB Arrests Group Of Allleged Illegal Eavesdroppers

Editorial Posted 29th October, 2015

Belarus’s secret services say they have detained members of a group suspected of providing illegal spying services to private clients.

The KGB announced on October 29 that the suspects were detained in the capital, Minsk.

According to the statement, the group has targeted more than 2,000 individuals in the past three years, including officials, journalists, police chiefs, customs officers, and military personnel.

The suspects, whose number and identities were not disclosed, are accused of illegally listening to private conversations via telephones, listening devices planted in buildings, and hacking personal Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other online social networks.

They face up to four years in jail.

More than 20 probes have also been launched against the alleged clients of the suspects, the KGB said.


Artist Ai Weiwei Discovers Hidden 'Listening Devices' In Beijing Studio

Editorial Posted 5th October, 2015 by Tiffany

Story highlights

  • The artist found what he says are bugging devices around his Beijing studio and home
  • Ai has been the target of Chinese government surveillance in the past and was placed under house arrest in 2010

(CNN) Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei says he found "listening devices" hidden around in his Beijing studio.

"They are listening devices or 'bugs'," Ai told CNN Monday. "They were found in my studio and living room.

"(It's) a professional job. It is easy to identify: a tiny (microphone), a receiver and a 6-volt electronic transmitter," he said.

"It's maybe there for years or set in after I was released. It only could be a job by gong an (public security bureau) or guo an (national security), which I wouldn't know."

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Ex Accused of Hacking Heiress’ Phone to Spy on New Lover

Editorial Posted 30th September, 2015 by Lia Eustachewich, Frank Rosario and Bruce Golding

A tobacco heiress smoked out her estranged husband’s crude attempt to play “I Spy” by secretly bugging her iPhone before their bitter divorce, court papers claim.

Anne Resnik — whose late dad, Frank, was CEO of Philip Morris USA — says hubby Crocker Coulson put the spyware on her phone just before he dumped her last year.

The Brooklyn Heights woman claims that Coulson could read messages from her celebrity lawyer, Raoul Felder — and that he accused her of sneaking off to see a boyfriend because he could track her with the phone’s GPS.

The bug stayed in place for some four months until it was uncovered by a computer expert Resnik had hired, according to court papers.

Felder said they stumbled upon the spyware by chance when they called on the expert to get info off the phone for their case in a more thorough way.
“In the course of that, it was discovered it was [hacked],” said Felder.

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China Spies on Airline Passengers with IMSI-Catchers

Editorial Posted 23rd September, 2015 by Pierluigi Paganini

The popular expert John McAfee claims passengers with four Chinese airlines are spied with the IMSI-catchers technology by the Government of Beijing.

The former owner of McAfee security firm, John McAfee was always known to have made some controversial comments in the IT industry, but also to have good sources that let him get precious information at first hand. This time in his most recent article, he talks about the ability of the Chinese government to spy on four highly renowned airlines costumers.

John McAfee has never revealed the names of the airlines and never explained how he got this information, but he provided details on the tactic behind the cyber espionage campaign.

First, he got an Android software that had the capability to detect “man in the middle attacks by devices that emulate legitimate cell phone towers, to hundreds of international travelers flying with four highly renowned airlines”.

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Spy At Your Own Risk, Why Most Amateur Espionage Is Illegal

Editorial Posted 17th September 2015 by Mathieu Delahousse, Boris Manenti

PARIS — There was a verbal altercation, a dozen stab wounds, blood and shouts. The scene happened in a parking lot in northern France earlier this year. The list of characters reads like old Vaudeville: Marc, a factory employee and jealous husband, claimed to be "coincidentally" driving his car past a car park where his wife and another man were having a tender chat.

Surprise. Confrontation. A tense discussion. And then violence. The man who could suitably be described as the lover was injured seriously and given six months of work disability. Marc, who has since been charged with "intentional assault and battery," "wanted to teach him a lesson," one of his somewhat embarrassed relatives says.

The case, which will soon be judged in court, would be dolefully common if there wasn't an unprecedented factor. In reality, the explosive encounter had nothing to do with chance: Marc, who had already been convicted of domestic violence, had installed a tracking app he allegedly bought for less than 100 euros on his wife's smartphone.

The gadget allowed him to follow her in real time. And like intelligence agencies that secretly use illegal devices, Marc then tried to claim that a simple, unfortunate coincidence had led to the confrontation.

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Man Planted Listening Device in Ex Partner’s House

Editorial Posted 17th September, 2015 by Rita Campbell

A man who copied the key to his ex-partner’s flat – and planted a recording device on her kitchen table – yesterday admitted a stalking charge at Oban Sheriff Court. Piotr Jakubiec, 42, listened to the private conversations of his former girlfriend, Agnieszka Sarbiewska, between December 10 last year and January 7. The court heard…

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Router Hack Creates 'Ultimate Listening Device' To Monitor a Country's Entire Internet Traffic

Editorial Posted 15th September, 2015 by David Gilbert

A flaw in router security and the architecture of the Internet allows attacks to monitor, reroute and copy the Internet traffic of an entire country - Reuters

LONDON - Malicious software that can infect the hardware that comprises much of the core architecture of the Internet has allowed hackers to create what has been dubbed the "ultimate listening device."
The software, the origin of which is not publicly known, targets routers, which control the flow of traffic on the Internet. The hack, which replaces the routers' native operating system, lets attackers silently monitor, reroute and copy all online communications passing through that device.

Dubbed Synful Knock by the researchers at Mandiant, who revealed the situation Tuesday, it has so far been shown to be exploited in the wild only on Cisco Systems Inc. routers in four countries -- Mexico, Ukraine, Phillipines, and India.

"We have only been able to prove its existence in the wild for actual attacks on Cisco routers, but we actually believe that Huawei routers or Juniper routers have the same vulnerabilities and ultimately can be exploited in a similar way. The mass of the router architecture of the world is at risk," Dave DeWalt, the CEO of security company FireEye Inc. which owns Mandiant, told International Business Times.

The vulnerability relates to a router implant, which DeWalt describes as "a rewrite of an operating system for a router" and is one which was until now only known to exist as a theoretical flaw, and has never before been seen in the wild. This new attack vector is so hard to identify that it allows hackers to remain undetected on networks. It's believed the hackers accessed the routers through stolen passwords or credentials. Cisco in August alerted customers to the problem.

While most exploits typically attack the core systems of a network -- meaning they have breached a firewall, PC or mobile device -- by attacking routers those groups exploiting this vulnerability are attacking the edge of the network. "There is no amount of security spending in the world that could have found this or could have resolved this. All the security products and capabilities are focused inside the perimeter of an organization," DeWalt said.

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Manchester United security staff scan team hotel for listening devices to stop details of Louis van Gaal's team talks getting out

Editorial Posted 13th September, 2015 by Oliver Todd for MailOnline and Mike Keegan For Mailonline

Manchester United have been sweeping their team hotel for bugs in a bid to stop Louis van Gaal's team talks being listened in on.

Old Trafford officials tested for listening devices at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester on the night before their 3-1 win over Liverpool before Van Gaal ran through his tactics with his players.

And it must have done the trick, with the visitors at Old Trafford completely surprised when Daley Blind swept home a cleverly-worked free-kick to give United a lead they would not relinquish.

The practice of checking for devices around United's hotels has been in place since the David Moyes era in the 2013-14 season, when a voice recorder was found hidden in the former manager's team meeting by pranksters.

Now, club security check behind curtains and under tables to make sure they are not caught out again with Van Gaal determined to keep things under wraps.

After scanning the room for listening devices, David de Gea and Co were then allowed into the room to eat and discuss the Liverpool clash.

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South Africa’s Deal with the Devil, Revisited – OpEd

Editorial Posted 13th September, 2015 by Patrick Bond

The ‘Faustian Pact’ metaphor as explanation for the South African liberation movement’s 1990s capitulation to neoliberal capitalism is offered by Ronnie Kasrils. As Africa’s most revered white revolutionary, Kasrils served the new democracy as its Minister of National Intelligence from 2004-08, after a decade as water minister and deputy defence minister, following three decades in the armed struggle against apartheid. Last year he joined the interim leadership of the United Front civil society network to fight for his old ideals of socialism, leaving his lifelong political home in the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

As Kasrils wrote in The Guardian two years ago, “From 1991 to 1996 the battle for the ANC’s soul got under way, and was eventually lost to corporate power: we were entrapped by the neoliberal economy – or, as some today cry out, we ‘sold our people down the river’. What I call our Faustian moment came when we took an International Monetary Fund loan on the eve of our first democratic election.”

Johann Georg Faust was a legendary figure in early 16th century Germany. Around the time he turned 50, Faust – who dabbled in theology, medicine and astrology – did a deal with the devil Mephistopheles, whom he met in the forest. Faust could enjoy 24 more years of life, but in exchange, had to give the devil his soul. For 16 years, Faust led a charmed life, and he then suffered regret about the deal. His death eight years later, around 1540, was reportedly the most ghastly imaginable.

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Amal Clooney 'was bugged' during prison meeting with ousted Maldives’ president

Editorial Posted 10th September 2015 by Philip Sherwell

Amal Clooney and a fellow human rights lawyer have accused Maldives’ officials of eavesdropping on confidential meeting during mission to troubled Indian Ocean islands.

Amal Clooney and her fellow human rights lawyer Jared Genser have accused the Maldives’ government of brazenly bugging them during a supposedly confidential jailhouse meeting with the country’s deposed former president.

The lawyers had just left Mohamed Nasheed’s island prison when they received a phone call from his wife revealing that senior Maldivian officials were already fully aware of a highly-sensitive secret discussion with her husband.

“It is the most flagrant breach of the fundamental right of a defendant to be able to have confidential client-attorney discussions about sensitive information for his case,” Mr Genser told The Telegraph.

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Spy equipment suppliers: Report exposes who sells surveillance tech to Colombia

Editorial Posted 2nd September 2015 by Darlene Storm

A baby's car seat complete with audio and video recorder for covert surveillance...Privacy International's investigative report reveals the companies selling surveillance tech to Colombia, despite that it may be used for unlawful spying

“We always assume we are being watched. It is part of our understanding. We think it’s a tactic to wear us down. We get tipped off by people in the state. They tell us ‘people are listening to you.’...” Would you be surprised to learn that a priest said that? Father Alberto is just one person living under surveillance in Colombia; he was interviewed by Privacy International as it investigated the shadow surveillance state in Colombia. The second investigative report looked into more than a dozen international companies selling surveillance equipment to Colombian government agencies and police.

In the past, “intercepted communications were vital to covert Colombian and CIA operations against the FARC.” The DEA “heavily” supports Esperanza, Colombia’s most visible communications interception system that “can obtain mobile and fixed-line call data.” But it is far from the only surveillance system in the country, surveillance equipment that has been used for unlawful surveillance after being sold and supported by international companies.

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Man in Dock over R25m Bugging Device

Editorial Posted 4th August, 2015 by Solly Maphumulo

SUPPLIED The Grabber is a spying gadget which can bug up to 10 000 cellphone lines live and locate any person. The powerful tool can also jam networks, download and intercept SMSes, send SMSes to any number, and detect other surveillance devices and block them.

Johannesburg - One of the three men nabbed by police after being found in possession of a device used to intercept cellphone conversations has made a brief appearance in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.
Willem Mathews Lotters, 63, was released on R10 000 bail.

Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said the other men were released due to insufficient evidence.

The case was postponed to August 18.

The three South Africans were arrested in a police sting for illegally being in possession of a cellphone-tapping, -tracking and -locater machine, known as “The Grabber”, worth more than R25 million.
Mulaudzi said more arrests were imminent.

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A New Age of Espionage

Editorial Posted 1st August, 2015 by the Print Edition

CYBER-CAFÉS were once a favoured tool of Western intelligence and security agencies. They were inconspicuous, cheap to establish and highly effective. Set up near an international summit buzzing with targets, or close to a mosque favoured by Islamist extremists, these facilities allowed their masters to monitor browsing habits, obtain targets’ logins and passwords, and plant spyware for future use. This was legal: consent was buried in the terms and conditions which users clicked on without reading. And in a neat twist, security-conscious people trying to avoid using their own computers favoured such places. Some would hop between cafés, unaware that all the convenient ones were run by the authorities.

Not anymore. Edward Snowden, a fugitive former contractor for America’s National Security Agency (NSA) now living in Moscow, revealed the use of cyber-cafés to spy on the G20 summit in London in 2009. Now people are wary. In many countries the cyber-cafés have been closed. The staff who ran them have had to be moved (and in some cases given costly new identities). As a result, keeping track of terrorism suspects is now harder, spooks say.

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Utah Woman Wiretaps Kid’s Diapers, Charged For Spying on Ex-Husband

Editorial Posted 26th July, 2015 by Question More

A Utah woman is facing eavesdropping charges for wiretapping her child’s diapers to spy on her ex-husband, after the court rejected her reasoning. She had claimed sexual abuse was taking place at his house when the kids visited their father.

Teri Anne Smith of Salt Lake City was first charged with wiretapping and intercepting electronic communications last December, and this week the court rejected the latest motion to dismiss them.

Smith had a lengthy custody battle with her ex-husband following their divorce in 2011. The ex first noticed a recording device in February 2012, when he had been picking the children up for a regular visitation. He saw a “red light vibrating inside a diaper bag and discovered a recorder,” police said in the charging documents.

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Judges slam UK's FBI over farcical Wire-style mission: National Crime Agency comes under fire for bugging plot 'failures'

Editorial Posted 26th July 2016 by Martin Beckford, Home Affairs Editor For The Mail On Sunday

Britain's equivalent of the FBI has been condemned by judges after a sophisticated bugging operation against alleged money-launderers descended into farce and a series of ‘grave failures’.

The National Crime Agency deployed 100 officers in 30 cars to seize the bosses of a company in West London under investigation.

While the suspects were being interviewed at a police station, NCA chiefs hid listening devices in their offices.

In a plan that has echoes of the hit US drama series The Wire – in which detectives use bugs to bring down a drugs gang – the NCA hoped that the suspects would admit their guilt while discussing their arrests.

But the NCA broke basic laws on search warrants and surveillance bugs during the raid because of the ‘ignorance’ of its senior staff, according to two damning rulings.

Last week The Mail on Sunday revealed a leadership crisis at the top of Theresa May’s flagship law enforcement agency, with seven out of 17 directors quitting.

A separate report published last week reveals outgoing Director-General Keith Bristow is ‘shocked’ at plummeting morale within the NCA, while budget cuts mean the agency no longer has officers listening to phone taps overnight.

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Obama snubs the Waldorf Astoria for his NYC visit amid fears the hotel is bugged by the Chinese, breaking a presidential tradition started when Hoover was in the White House

Editorial Posted 24th July 2015 by Kate Pickles For Mailonline

President Obama will not stay at the Waldorf Astoria tonight amid fears the place could be bugged after it was sold to a Chinese company.

The Department of State had traditionally housed US officials at the prestigious hotel ever since Herbert Hoover first stayed there.

But it has changed its policy since Hilton Worldwide announced it was selling the hotel to Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95billion last year.

Famous celebrities who have made the hotel their home have included Frank Sinatra who kept a personal suite at the hotel between 1979 and 1988 for when he was out of Los Angeles, for nearly $1 million a year.

President Herbert Hoover resided at The Waldorf for more than three decades, and President Dwight Eisenhower stayed from 1967–1969.

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Swiss Government halts export of bugging devices

Editorial Posted 16th July 2015 by Morven McLean

Switzerland has halted the export of mobile phone monitoring technology to Vietnam and Bangladesh out of fears it could be misused.

It is the first time the authorities have made use of a new directive introduced in May to tighten up regulations on the export of internet and mobile monitoring equipment.

State agencies in the two countries had wanted to import IMSI-catchers from Swiss firms – eavesdropping devices used to intercept mobile phone traffic and track the movements of mobile phone users.

But the Swiss foreign ministry, defence ministry and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) blocked the sale to the two countries, according to Swiss media reports.

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Bugging Device Recovered From Delhi ACB Chief MK Meena's Office

Editorial Posted 14th June, 2015 - New Delhi

MK Meena spotted the device, which was kept in the pen stand, while he was cleaning his desk. As per sources, forensic test will be done to ascertain whether the device was deliberately planted or left there by mistake.

The appointment of MK Meena as Delhi ACB chief had stirred controversy, Delhi L-G Najeeb Jung had appointed Meena superseding Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's hand-picked chief SS Yadav. The AAP government had reacted sharply to the decision.

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Research Electronics International - REI - Newsletter (Q2 - 2015)

A new generation of Non-Linear Junction Detectors introduced in 2013 ushered in a digital spread spectrum, 2.4 GHz model called ORION 2.4. The ORION 2.4 provides an FCC, CE and IC compliant product for detecting and locating hidden or obscured electronics.

Now REI has released the ORION 2.4 HX with a grip molded touchscreen display and the choice of 3.3 watt or 6.6 watt transmit power models. The HX touchscreen display is molded into the polycarbonate grip handle for displaying graphical data, antenna responses and operational controls.

Programming on the new display provides features not available on other NLJDs. The Frequency Adjust screen (Fig A) displays an active graph of the 2nd, 3rd, and transmit frequencies. When the ORION 2.4 HX is powered on, the synthesized transceiver automatically searches for
and selects a quiet transmit frequency to avoid signal interference.

The transmit signal can also be manually selected on this screen by tapping the desired frequency on the graph. Arrow keys at the bottom of the graph provide fine tuning adjustments. Selecting ‘Auto’ commands the system to automatically select a quiet transmit frequency and displays the results.

The Histogram Display (Fig B) shows a time based history of the transmit power level (green), 2nd harmonic (red), and the 3rd harmonic level
(yellow). Chart durations can be displayed in 10, 20, 30 or 60 second spans.

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Former Vice President of TÜBİTAK Detained on Wiretapping Charges

Editorial Posted 30th March 2015 – By Yüksel Temel

Hasan Palaz, the former vice president of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) who is allegedly affiliated with the Gülen Movement, has been detained after an arrest warrant was issued for him on Monday as part of the investigation into wiretapping the office of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his tenure as prime minister.

Palaz is among the 13 suspects who face charges of conducting organized spying activities after being accused of taking part in bugging Erdoğan's office, a discovery made in 2012. Palaz was previously taken into custody under the scope of the investigation and later released. He has now been detained again along with two other suspects in Istanbul and will be sent to the Ankara Police Department's counterterrorism unit. Palaz's lawyer said his detention was pertaining to the bugging report, which the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office that looked into the offense claimed was fabricated.

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NYPD Cop Arrested for Hacking the FBI, Traffic Databases in Elaborate Scam

Editorial Posted 20th March 2015 – By Tara Seals

A New York City Police Department (NYPD) inspector has been arrested and charged with hacking into a restricted NYPD computer and other sensitive law enforcement databases, including at the FBI, in an effort to run a scam targeting traffic accident victims.

According to the complaint, Yehuda Katz, an auxiliary deputy inspector with New York’s finest, surreptitiously installed multiple electronic devices in the Traffic Safety Office of the NYPD’s 70th Precinct, which allowed him to remotely access restricted NYPD computers and law enforcement databases, including one maintained by the FBI.

One of the electronic devices installed by the defendant contained a hidden camera that captured a live image of the Traffic Safety Office and was capable of live-streaming that image over the internet. The second electronic device was connected to one of the computers in the Traffic Safety Office and allowed the computer to be accessed and controlled remotely.

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Research Electronics International - REI - Newsletter (Q1 - 2015)


Digital Spread Spectrum versus Analog CW

In the late 80s and early 90s, the bag phone was developed as a portable communication device, but when the next generation digital cell phone came out, the bag phone and other analog variants soon became history. Digital signal processingoffered so many benefits to signal delivery,
there was really no comparison. Modern digital modulation can provide higher quality signal purity with much lower noise interference. Today, practically everything is digital.

A digital spread spectrum NLJD (Non-Linear Junction Detector) like the ORION 2.4 provides substantial advantage over older technology continuous wave (CW) analog systems in a similar way, because it provides a much greater detection range for the same power.

Also, using modern high speed DSP processors and wideband digital modulation, the ORION 2.4 response time is near instantaneous.

To put it into perspective, the digital processing response is achieved on the order of Microseconds. Even when increasing the DSP gain to the max, there is no discernible...


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Espionage – A Modern Day Bug

Editorial Posted 9th January 2015 – By Simon Giddins - Blackstone Consultancy

If you thought Q’s list of inconspicuous devices and covert gadgets were isolated for 007 and the forthcoming James Bond blockbuster, think again. Espionage is alive, well and thriving within private residences and across the commercial / corporate landscape.

Our latest editorial piece has been designed to provide you with a brief insight into this growing trend and to highlight the potential and realistic threats.

History of espionage and bugging

Trading information is as old as organised society and I could dedicate this entire piece to the history of commercial espionage. One of the earliest known incidents is of Father Francois Xavier d’Entrecolles who revealed the manufacturing methods of Chinese porcelain to the Europeans in 1712 and British 18th century industrial developments suspiciously appearing in France whilst the placing of apprenticeships were possibly the first recorded ‘insiders’.

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Bugging of phones by jealous partners 'rife': Campaign group warns women to guard against 'spyware' which tells a suspicious husband or boyfriend how they use device

Editorial Posted 29th December 2014 By Steve Doughty

Spying on spouses and partners through mobile phone bugging systems has reached epidemic proportions, according to pressure groups monitoring electronic abuse.

They warned women to guard against the growing use of ‘spyware’ which can tell a suspicious husband, boyfriend or former partner how they are using their phones.

Cheaply available software will allow an electronic shadower to hear phone conversations, monitor emails, texts and social media messages, and even track the phone’s whereabouts using GPS tracking. The legitimate user of the phone can be left unaware that she or he is being followed and overheard.

Some devices are easily available in Britain for less than £100 and software marketed in the US can be installed for less than £50.

The Digital-Trust group said yesterday in the aftermath of Christmas – a time of year notorious for the high numbers of couples who break up: ‘Women leaving abusive relationships and seeking refuge will often unwittingly lead abusers to their location via mobile phones.

‘Mobiles can track the victim if the phone is registered to the abuser, if they have access to the victim’s Google or iPhone online account, or surveillance software or app has been put on the phone.’

Polly Neate of the Women’s Aid group told the Independent: ‘We increasingly hear stories of abusers adding tracking software to phones, placing spyware on personal computers and using the internet to gather information about their partner.

‘However, in many cases the police are not trained to recognise and understand the impact of online abuse, including tracking, and action is rarely taken against abusers.’

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Fake mobile towers in central Oslo may snoop on politicians, report reveals

Editorial Posted 14th December 2014 – By Question More

A network of fake base mobile stations that can snoop on leading politicians’ mobile phones, as well as ordinary people, has been discovered in central Oslo, some outside Norway’s parliament and the prime minister’s residence, according to a report.

Investigative journalists from the Aftenposten newspaper have detected a number of places in the capital with suspicious mobile activity. They teamed up with two security companies to help track down fake base stations, which confirmed that spy equipment has been used in downtown Oslo.

According to the newspaper, false base stations, known as IMSI catchers, have been most probably used to monitor the movements of high-ranking officials, specifying who enters parliament, government offices and other buildings in the area. It could also be used to snoop on phone calls of selected people in the area.

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A Primer on Industrial Espionage

Editorial Posted 4th December 2014 – By Kevin Goodman

Industrial Espionage: A Prologue

Imagine you’re the CEO of a midsize company. Your goal is to outmaneuver the competition and snag a significant share of the market. Your firm might achieve this by delivering a useful product or service that consumers feel is worth the price. You’re not the only company doing this, so you might also opt for savvy positioning, an extensive advertising campaign, an aggressive sales strategy, or some combination thereof.

You’re not a giant in the field, but your company offers a viable alternative. Year after year, your firm is taking a larger market share. And your R&D department is on the verge of making your product more reliable and user-friendly—any breakthrough could be a real game changer.

You wonder what would happen if the competition beat you to the development or knew your company’s strategy for introducing the improved product to the market. You’ve heard of industrial espionage but now you wonder: How real is the threat?

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What Two BYU Professors Discovered Concealed Under a Classroom Stool Has Led to a Campus Police Investigation

Editorial Posted 18th November 2014 – By Billy Hallowell

When two professors were recently working inside of a classroom at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, they noticed something hidden under a stool that has sparked a campus police investigation: a secretly concealed audio recorder.

The device — found in a classroom inside the Joseph Smith Building where religion classes are taught and where faculty meetings are held — has caused some concern, with a BYU spokeswoman telling the Salt Lake Tribune that the issue is being taken “very seriously.”

The professors reportedly accidentally discovered the voice-activated recorder earlier this month, subsequently searching other rooms, where they similarly found velcro under stools that seemed to indicate the same device setup, KSL-TV reported.

The university, which is owned by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has declined to publicly speculate about why the device was placed in the room, though it has confirmed that administrators were not responsible for the act.

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An Eavesdropping Lamp that Livetweets Private Conversations

Editorial Posted November 2014 – By Andy Greenberg

Photo by Kyle McDonald left: Brian House and Kyle McDonald's creation, the Conversnitch, impersonates a lightbulb or lamp while eavesdropping on and livetweeting nearby conversations.

As former NSA director Michael Hayden learned on an Amtrak train last year, anyone with a smartphone instantly can become a livetweeting snoop. Now a whole crowd of amateur eavesdroppers could be as close as the nearest light fixture.

Two artists have revealed Conversnitch, a device they built for less than $100 that resembles a lightbulb or lamp and surreptitiously listens in on nearby conversations and posts snippets of transcribed audio to Twitter. Kyle McDonald and Brian House say they hope to raise questions about the nature of public and private spaces in an era when anything can be broadcast by ubiquitous, Internet-connected listening devices.

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FBI Investigating Ex-Ford Engineer After Listening Devices Found in Meeting Rooms

Editorial Posted 25th July 2014 - By Reuters

Eight listening devices were found in the automaker’s meeting rooms on July 11 following a search of its building by federal agents. Three weeks earlier, a search warrant was served on the residence of former engineer, Sharon Leach, in Wyandotte.

A former Ford Motor Company engineer is being investigated by the FBI after listening devices were found in meeting rooms at company offices, the automaker said on Friday.

"Ford and the FBI are working together on a joint investigation involving a former employee," Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said. "As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to provide additional details."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation served a search warrant at Ford offices on July 11, the company cooperated, and agents left with eight listening devices, an FBI spokesman said.

Documents filed with the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan showing what was seized by the FBI at Ford and at the engineer's residence show that eight Sansa recording devices were taken from Ford offices.

Three weeks earlier, the FBI served a warrant on the residence of the engineer, Sharon Leach, in Wyandotte in suburban Detroit, court records show.

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California man sentenced to 15 years for corporate spying on DuPont

Editorial Posted 10th July 2014 – By Associated Press

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a California chemical engineer to 15 years in prison and fined him $28 million after his rare economic-espionage conviction for selling China the technology that creates a white pigment.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland said Walter Liew had “turned against his adopted country over greed.”

A jury previously convicted the 56-year-old Liew of receiving $28 million from companies controlled by the Chinese government in exchange for DuPont Co.’s secret recipe for making cars, paper and a long list of everyday items whiter.

White noted that U.S. authorities had managed to trace $22 million of that money to various Singapore and Chinese companies controlled by Liew's in-laws before losing the trail.

“We'll never get it,” White said. “It has been spirited out of the country.”

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No evidence of GSOC bugging, Cooke report finds

Editorial Posted 11th June 2014 – By The Irish Times

An official inquiry has found no evidence to support concerns of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) that its offices were bugged.

The inquiry by retired High Court judge, John Cooke, was set up by the Government in response to a political controversy which developed after a report of bugging allegations was published in the Sunday Times newspaper last February.

“It is clear that the evidence does not support the proposition that actual surveillance of the kind asserted in the Sunday Times article took place and much less that it was carried out by members of the Garda Síochána,” said the report.

Mr Justice Cooke criticised GSOC for opening an investigation into the bugging, saying it was premature and there was no evidence an offence had been committed. He said the decision to commence the investigation was “heavily influenced” by general levels of frustration and tension between the Garda and GSOC, which meant suspicions were acted upon that may not otherwise have been.

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Hacker Gang Used Tiny Screen-grabbing 'bug' Installed by Bogus Repairman in Audacious Cyber-heist Plot to Steal Millions from Santander Bank

Editorial Posted 13th September 2013 - By Ted Thornhill

An ‘audacious’ plot to siphon millions of pounds from a bank, using a device installed on one of its computers by a fake maintenance worker, has been smashed, police said today.

A gang targeted a Santander branch in Surrey Quays, London, and installed a gizmo on one of the computers that allowed the contents of the screen to be viewed remotely.

The hackers were hoping to use highly sensitive information displayed on the computer to access accounts and drain money from them, but the Hollywood-style cyber heist was foiled.

A spokesman for the bank said: 'The attempt to fit the device to the computer was undertaken by a bogus maintenance engineer pretending to be from a third party. It failed and no money was ever at risk.'

The device would be able to transmit information to someone in another part of the country, according to a Metropolitan Police spokesman.

He told MailOnline: 'The device is a little box that plugs into the back of the computer, in one of the ports where you might plug in a mouse or a keyboard. Once it's switched on it effectively transmits everything that is shown on that computer, who could be hundreds of miles away, potentially.

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Ricardo Patiño: Bug found in Ecuador's London Embassy

Editorial Posted 4th July 2013 - By Annie Sewell

Quito - Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño revealed at a news conference in Quito that a hidden spy microphone had been uncovered in the office of the Ecuadorian ambassador to London, Ana Alban.

Denouncing the find as yet more evidence of the loss of ethics in government relations on an international level, he told the press conference, “We regret to inform that we have found a hidden microphone in the London embassy,” adding that he had received intelligence pointing to the origin of the security breach and would reveal this later on Wednesday.

The bug was actually discovered around three weeks ago on June 16, in Alban's office, during a routine security check ahead of Patiño's recent visit to London.

Patiño told the press that, “I did not bring this up before because I didn’t want my visit to London to hold talks on Julian Assange to be confused with accusations over this surveillance device found in the ambassador’s office.”

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