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Posts Tagged ‘Surveillance’

Chaos Computer Club: German gov’t software can spy on citizens

In Big Brother, Europe News, Tech on October 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm

By Bob Sullivan

A well-regarded Germany-based hacker group claims a German government-created Trojan horseprogram is capable of secretly spying on Web users without their consent.

The group says on its website that it obtained and analyzed a piece of software that is supposed to be a “lawful interception” program designed to listen in on Internet-based phone calls as part of a legal wiretap, but its capabilities go far beyond legal bounds.

The program is capable of logging keystrokes, activating Webcams, monitoring Web users’ activities and sending mountains of data to government officials, the club said.

To cover its tracks, the data is routed through rented servers located in the United States, the club alleges.

“To avoid revealing the location of the command and control server, all data is redirected through a rented dedicated server in a data center in the USA,” the Club said on its website.

The German government has yet to comment on the findings, but already, antivirus companies are reacting to them. Security firm F-Secure will detect and disable the alleged government monitoring software if found on clients’ computers, it announced on Saturday.

“Yes, it is possible the Trojan found by CCC is written by the German government. We just can’t confirm that,” said Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure’s chief technology officer, via Twitter.

The program, labeled a “backdoor” because it can open a computer to surreptitious access, targets certain applications for keylogging, including Firefox, Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ and others, according to…

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Which telecoms store your data the longest? secret memo tells all

In Americas, Big Brother on September 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm

By David Kravets

The nation’s major mobile-phone providers are keeping a treasure trove of sensitive data on their customers, according to a newly released Justice Department internal memo that for the first time reveals the data retention policies of America’s largest telecoms.

The single-page Department of Justice document, “Retention Periods of Major Cellular Service Providers,” (PDF) is a guide for law enforcement agencies looking to get information—like customer IP addresses, call logs, text messages and web surfing habits—out of US telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The document, marked “Law Enforcement Use Only” and dated August 2010, illustrates there are some significant differences in how long carriers retain your data.

Verizon, for example, keeps a list of everyone you’ve exchanged text messages with for the past year, according to the document.  But  T-Mobile stores the same data up to five years. It’s 18 months for Sprint, and seven years for AT&T.

That makes Verizon appear to have the most privacy-friendly policy. Except that Verizon is alone in retaining the actual contents of text messages. It allegedly stores the messages for five days, while T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint don’t store them at all.

The document was unearthed by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina via a Freedom of Information Act claim. (After the group gave a copy to Wired.com, we also discovered it in two other places on the Internet by searching its title.)

“People who are upset that Facebook is storing all their information should be really concerned that their cell phone is tracking them everywhere they’ve been,” said Catherine Crump, an ACLU staff attorney. “The government has this information because it wants to engage in surveillance.”

The biggest difference in retention surrounds so-called cell-site data. That is information detailing a…

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