They set about remotely penetrating communications systems and networks, stealing passwords and data by the terabyte. Teams of “vulnerability analysts” searched hundreds of computers and servers for security holes, according to a former senior CIA official involved in the Stuxnet program. Armed with that intelligence, so-called network exploitation specialists then developed software implants known as beacons, which worked like surveillance drones, mapping out a blueprint of the network and then secretly communicating the data back to the NSA. (Flame, the complex piece of surveillance malware discovered by Russian cybersecurity experts last year, was likely one such beacon.) The surveillance drones worked brilliantly. The NSA was able to extract data about the Iranian networks, listen to and record conversations through computer microphones, even reach into the mobile phones of anyone within Bluetooth range of a compromised machine. (emphasis mine)
– from James Bamford for Wired, The Secret War
I posted last year about Stellar Wind, an NSA data-mining program and an upcoming film by Laura Poitras who helped break the Snowden story in Hong Kong. Collection of data is happening. They can listen to you from anywhere. Imagine how happy the NSA is to be able to tap into everyone’s Google Glass and get another set of eyes on the ground. It’s the dark side of the Internet of Things. Connected devices can be correlated across devices to learn more about you.
In fact, if you think about your mobile sensor platform, there’s a really cool little app – Activity Tracker. It’s a little Android app – have you guys seen this anywhere? What they’ve discovered is fundamentally they take your 3-axis accelerometer on your phone. . . What happens is, they discovered that just simply by looking at the data what they can find out is with pretty good accuracy what your gender is, whether you’re tall or you’re short, whether you’re heavy or light, but what’s really most intriguing is that you can be 100% guaranteed to be identified by simply your gait – how you walk.
– CIA CTO Ira “Gus” Hunt on stage at GigaOM Structure:Data earlier this year
With enough data sitting around, you can know just about anything. The truth is coming out as we put together the pieces. Most those in the tech industry know this kind of stuff is possible but now congressional hearings are taking places and governmental minds are being blown.
The federal surveillance programs revealed in media reports are just “the tip of the iceberg,” a House Democrat said Wednesday.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said lawmakers learned “significantly more” about the spy programs at the National Security Agency (NSA) during a briefing on Tuesday with counterterrorism officials.
“What we learned in there,” Sanchez said, “is significantly more than what is out in the media today.”