Monthly Archives: August 2013

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FBI Can Remotely Activate Android Smartphone And Laptop Mics, WSJ Reports

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that the FBI employs a number of high-tech hacker tactics in its efforts to round up information on suspects, including the ability to remotely activate microphones on Android devices and notebook computers, according to one of its sources who is described as a “former U.S. official.” These and other tools are brought to bear in cases related to organized crime, counterterrorism or child pornography, according to the WSJ report.

The tools it uses are both internally and externally sourced, with some coming from the private sector. Hacking at the FBI under court order has gradually increased, as law enforcement officials try to find ways to circumvent new communication tech that’s more resistant to traditional surveillance methods like wiretapping. The specifics of its methods are not generally brought to light in public, but a warrant from earlier this year revealed that one request involved using a computer’s built-in camera to take photos of a suspect without their knowledge. The request in that case was denied.

According to the WSJ’s source, the FBI resorts to these tactics when they’re out of options, and “don’t have any other choice.” The tools used to gather the data are often installed remotely, using essentially phishing style links that injects essentially Trojan software when clicked by a suspect under surveillance. They can also be installed via physical access and a USB drive, the report says, and in all cases the FBI tries to ensure only “relevant data” are gathered by its hacking efforts, through the use of a screening team that checks for relevancy before handing information off to investigators working the case.

The news that the FBI employs hacker tactics on occasion to gather data about potential suspects is not new, but the specifics of how it goes about it, and how it might be able to employ a user’s own hardware to record conversations remotely is definitely going to raise some eyebrows, especially in light of the attention now focused on digital rights and privacy thanks to the leaks around the NSA’s PRISM and XKeyscore programs. In theory, the devices could even be activated to eavesdrop on an in-person conversation with a potential suspect who doesn’t even own an Android device, perhaps from the pocket of a friend who does. PRISM reportedly involves a number of prominent Internet companies, and Xkeyscore seems to allow the U.S. security agency unprecedented access to information about emails, chat history and more, according to information leaked by former U.S. government security contractor Edward Snowden.

In this case, it sounds like the FBI’s tools might involve Android and desktop PC malware, so Google wouldn’t need to be complicit for claims about using Android device mics remotely to be accurate. We’ve reached out to both the FBI and Google for comment, but have yet to hear back as of press time.

Retrieved from Techcrunch

Nigeria: Addressing Insecurity, Governance With Information Technology Tools

Following recent development globally, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) reassured Nigerians on the efficacy of information technology (IT) tools in solving the country’s challenges in e-government and national security, writes Emma Okonji.

Nigeria is faced with several challenges, and prominent among them are those associated with e-government and national security, access to government activities remained difficult, coupled with the rising cases of national insecurity across the country.

With the conference theme: e-Government and National Security, and with a firm belief that appropriate IT tools can address the country’s pressing challenges, NCS, at its international conference, focused attention on how IT tools could be used to boost government activities by putting them online, as well as how IT tools could be used to occupy idle youths, that have decided to embrace violence in the country.

Paper presentations were geared towards modern IT solutions that can block leakages in government, make government activities more attractive and accessible, and gainfully engage restless youths in web application development that will contribute to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

Poverty Alleviation The problem of poverty, slow pace of development, high rate of unemployment, food insecurity, environmental challenges, and security issues are serious problems in most developing countries like Nigeria, and the intent of the conference was to discuss vigorously, well researched subjects, loaded with the potentials of addressing the multifaceted developmental challenges, to enhance technological growth, and sustainable development in a way to stimulate generation of policies for good governance. These were the views of the Chairman, Conferences Committee at NCS, Prof. Sola Aderounmu, while addressing audience at the conference.

According to him, “There is need for increased awareness among Nigerians on the importance of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which is a device for hardware, software, people, policies, and procedures needed to create, manage, distribute, use, store, and revoke digital certificates. He insisted that if the appropriate technology tools were deployed in these areas, it would create jobs, build trust in the use of IT tools in online transactions and as well reduce unemployment and poverty level in the country.

Local Content and National Security Immediate past President of NCS, Mr. Demola Aladekomo who spoke on local content and national security, said one million jobs could be created in five years, using IT tools. ” In the past two years, more than 250 , 000 jobs have been created through the cashless initiative of the Central Bank f Nigeria (CBN), and that is a good example of what IT can do for Nigeria,” he said. Canvassing the domestication of local content policy in IT, Aladekomo said the federal government needed to domesticate its policies to address local content in IT, where Nigerians will have opportunity to explore their technology skills.

Retrieved from AllAfrica