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Computer and user monitoring software

9 July 2013

American journalists have discovered a video on YouTube that has never been intended for public viewing. It was uploaded back in 2010 for demonstration at the Federal Security Conference (that took place in April 2012), but it was never shown – the developers decided that the software was really not ready.

The author of the video and the software shown in it is the American defense company Raytheon, and the software is RIOT (Rapid Information Overlay Technology). The video can easily be found on YouTube by typing in the full name.

It is a computer and user monitoring software that uses a large number of data sources, including social networks (Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, etc.). A data unit (personal file) is assigned to each user within the software, where information is gathered from all possible sources.

The monitoring software collects information on contacts, places visited, and typical routes. User’s photos are analyzed – the appearance is identified, EXIF tags are analyzed with the GPS data and times the pictures were taken. By analyzing the gathered information, the software predicts the future actions of the person.

Raytheon confirmed the authenticity of the video and stated that the software has not yet been sold to the client – the federal agency.

Development of monitoring software is a global trend that seems to have been around for a while, but is just beginning to gather steam.

Despite its formidable functionality, this software can be used in hundreds of peaceful and lawful ways.

refog-employee-monitor_51419

downloadFor example, if your children use your computer in your absence, information gathering about their activities can make life much simpler both for the children and for their parents – after all, you can avert many dangers of modern day Internet that way.

And you don’t have to sign a contract with a defense company to do it; you can simply download the Personal Monitor software and install it on your computer. For the first 3 days the software is free in the fully functional mode.

Russian hacker jailed in the U.S.

1 March 2013

Vladimir Zdorovenin, a Russian national, was sentenced to 2 years in prison by the New York court for a series of cybercrimes involving the theft of personal details and credit card information. The hacker committed crimes remotely from Russia, targeting American citizens.

Zdorovenin and his son used phishing and viruses since 2004 to steal the personal details of credit card holders. Apart from carding and other types of online fraud, Zdorovenin was also interested in the stock exchange market – he attempted to make money by manipulating stock prices and closing deals on behalf of people whose details he had previously stolen.

He was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland in March 2011 and extradited to the U.S. following an official order. The fraudster pleaded guilty to two charges.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rules Revised

15 January 2013

Experts of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission are convinced that the technological progress has reached such a stage that we must revise the rules of protecting children’s online privacy.

This document was adopted in 1998 and obliged ISP’s to provide a certain level of protection for confidential information about children under 13.

FTC believes that most parents today are not fully aware of what information is being collected about their children, where it is stored and for what purpose. This is especially true for social networks, mobile platforms and various applications.

Amendments to COPPA contain several definitions of new terms that appeared since the adoption of the original document. The very notion of “personal data” has also been revised and redefined by including geolocation data, photos and videos.

The full list of proposed amendments is available on FTC’s website.

 

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The Hackers Army: FBI servers hacked

20 December 2012

A group of hackers called The Hackers Army announced a successful breach of a server belonging to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). They claim to have hacked the authentication server and secured access to logins and passwords of FBI employees.

As a proof of this breach, the hackers provided details of server configurations and versions of software used on them, as well as login credentials of several employees.

The Anti-Malware.Ru analytical center has conducted a brief analysis of these data and concluded that “many of these addresses really exist, but it’s impossible to tell right now whether these passwords are valid.”

Traditionally, FBI representatives have not provided any official comments on this matter.

Phaedophile vs. Facebook

20 December 2012

facebookA US citizen formerly convicted for phaedophilia filed a lawsuit against Facebook demanding compensation for moral damage caused by the content of a user’s page. The man demands that the social network disable the page titled “keeping our kids safe from predators“.

This page is intended for sharing information about phaedophiles in Northern Ireland, which, its creators believe, helps prevent the impairment of children’s rights. The man’s personal details were published on the page, which resulted in the lawsuit being filed.

According to mass media, back in 1980, this man was found guilty in with 15 phaedophilia-related episodes and sentenced to a prison term, but has been out for some time now.
I am worried about my own safely and am currently under a lot of stress, since an assault on me is just a matter of time now,” he says.

This is not his first lawsuit against Facebook. In the first case, the court ordered the social network to block the page, but several clones appeared just a few days later.
At that time, the judge commented on the situation in the following way: “He has already been punished with his conviction, and his life at the moment is being substantially regulated by officials anyway.

CIA special unit for social networks monitoring

14 December 2012

For several years now, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has had a special unit for monitoring social networks all over the world. The official name of this bureau is “Open Source Center”. Its employees are mostly hackers and linguists.

The primary goal of the bureau is the collection, filtration and analysis of information coming from social networks, as well as local forums, TV channels and other mass media. The reports of the bureau go directly to the White House.

Linguists and professional hackers from OSC are capable of filtering millions of posts in Twitter alone and finding information that others don’t have a clue about.
The bureau was created after 9/11 and the official reason for this was, obviously, “war on terrorism”.

RFID at Schools: a Tricky Question

30 November 2012

One of the American schools competing for a 2 million-dollar government grant from the state of Texas has started using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags to control the location of students hoping to improve the attendance rate. According to the school’s administration, this should have a positive effect on the safety of students as well, since they believe that public schools are safe places to be in.
However, students and their parents do not always agree with this opinion. Andrea Hernandez was suspended from classes for a categorical refusal to wear an RFID tag. Her agitation among peers against the use of this technology was also prohibited. The student believes that this new practice violates her right to privacy and infringes her religious beliefs and freedom of expression.
Andrea goes to another school now, while her parents and a group of civil rights activists are trying to sue the administration of the old school that refused to let her continue her education. They may well win the case — personal rights and freedoms have always been prioritized in the US.

Jailbreaking Apple’s latest gadgets

23 March 2012

By the day after release of Apple’s new iPad 3, hackers had already found three ways to jailbreak the OS of the tablet device. This represented a drop of six days compared to the time necessary for jailbreaking the iPad 2 after launch.

Hackers also dryly noted that out of Apple’s entire device lineup, the best-protected device is also the very cheapest one: the Apple TV 3.1 television appliance.

Why? Most of the features in Apple’s iOS operating system, which is used on all of the company’s mobile devices, are simply discarded and disabled on the Apple TV. This reduces the “area for attack” available to hackers, thus creating significant obstacles for them.

Although the newer version of the Apple TV was ultimately hacked nonetheless, the jailbreak tool did not catch on with users. It is usually the case that Apple gradually updates the operating system with the features that users had hoped to gain through jailbreaking their devices.

USA: 10 years of prison for leaked data

26 January 2012

When the leak was discovered, the programmer was a part-time employee of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, which helped him get access to the source code of the software developed for the US Department of the Treasury.

The compromised program, called Government-wide Accounting and Reporting Program (GWA), was developed for monitoring the money transfers made by the US government and reporting to a variety of government agencies and organizations.

Once the leak was discovered, the bank initiated an internal investigation and handed the results over to the police. As the result, Bo Zhang was arrested on January 18.

The FBI did not find any signs of espionage and he was released on bail. The trial will take place on February 17 and if he is found guilty (he is being charged with the theft of government property), he may be sentenced to up to 10 years of prison.

 

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User monitoring: Facebook’s new patent

28 November 2011

facebookSome time ago, Facebook got involved in a new scandal. The hype was based around the fact that HTTP cookies saved by Facebook on users’ computers remained there even after they logged out of the social network, thus casting a shadow of suspicion on it developers and created an impression that they could be monitoring users’ activities on other sites.

On September 25, Facebook officials sent a statement to major mass media assuring the public that they were not monitoring users’ activities on other websites.

However, on September 22, the US Patent and Trademarks Office received a patent application for a technology that made it possible to track user’s actions outside a social network.

It’s clear that “to patent” does not equal “to use”, but hardly anybody can guarantee that the social network will not get such functionality in the future.

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