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Irony: Surveillance Industry Objects to Spying Secrets & Mass Monitoring Leaks

Dec 11, 20116 mins
Data and Information SecurityEnterprise ApplicationsMalware

In the continued spotlight on mass surveillance, WikiLeaks Spy Files posted Gamma videos teaching intelligence agencies how to hack iTunes, Gmail and Skype. But Tatiana Lucas, one of the people behind profiting from the secret snoop ISS conferences, wants you to believe that exposing surveillance methods will cost U.S. jobs, make companies hesitant to support government surveillance, and maybe stop Congress from updating a lawful-interception law. Yet this company that profits on mass monitoring fails to mention privacy rights, civil liberties, or human rights.

While not everyone considers mass surveillance to be Satan, signing online does not automatically forfeit your right to value your privacy. In fact, it’s sickening when alleged ‘white hats’ wear black hats to exploit users in the name of surveillance for security. If a hacker were to engage in net or cell phone surveillance, or breach email, then law enforcement would call that illegal and go on the hunt. But it’s perfectly legal when law enforcement and intelligence agencies learn how to launch malware for spying, or when a company such as Finfisher teaches how to hack WiFi, Skype and email.

It’s horrifying and infuriating how deep the remote monitoring rabbit hole goes. For months now, Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hackers and Spiegel Online have been hammering the point of citizens being monitored via government launched spyware and MITM attacks such as via fake Apple iTunes updates. The massive state of worldwide surveillance is being further revealed in The Spy Files posted by WikiLeaks and collected in cooperation with Privacy International and Bugged Planet. Law enforcement agents are taking advantage of ready-to-spy in real time bundled kits made to see what you see on your screen, your keystrokes, what you download or where you visit, what you say or text on your phone, even tapping into that cam to see you, to see around you and follow you around via GPS. Julian Assange previously said if you use Gmail or Facebook then you are being monitored by the spy machines for U.S. Intelligence. We are living in Orwell’s world.

What basic security have we been teaching, saying like a broken record for decades? Update, patch, stay updated….but being conscious of security and updating can land spyware on your computer. Law enforcement and governments target people with fake updates that deploy undetectable shadow monitoring onto computers, cell phones and other mobile computing devices. The most recent Spy Files release highlights surveillance methods via Gamma International videos, maker of Finfisher spyware, teaching “infection solutions” for remote monitoring.

Here’s the long version of WikiLeaks Gamma all-purpose spy kits:

WikiLeaks’ Spyfiles release of the FinIntrusion Kit:

Gamma FinSpy Mobile:

There are such things as human rights and civil liberties even if some in the lucrative business of virtual force to monitor all of us don’t like all the press focusing on the government deploying Trojans for remote searches. One such unhappy person is behind the Intelligence Support Systems (ISS) secret snoop conference for stealthy government spying. After the Wall Street Journal published ‘Document Trove Exposes Surveillance Methods‘, ISS World Program Director Tatiana Lucas complained to the Wall Street Journal, “We are concerned that the article and others like it contribute to an atmosphere where Congress isn’t likely to pass an updated lawful-interception law. The law would require social-networking companies to deploy special features to support law enforcement. Without the update, the opportunity for U.S. companies to develop and launch intercept products domestically for eventual export will be greatly curtailed.”

Hello? Did she seriously try to pass this off as potentially harming the U.S.? The U.S. Constitution hasn’t been abolished yet even if the Fourth Amendment is all but shredded and trampled into being meaningless. The dark truth is the world is going to hell since 9/11. Worldwide massive surveillance on groups and activists is a war against human rights. Others have objected to Lucas’s ludicrous argument based on how it might hamper the lucrative business of mass surveillance. “All she wants for Christmas is for us – and Congress – to ignore human rights,” wrote Dissent from PogoWasRight. I could not agree more with Dissent’s statement to Ms. Lucas, “You seem to have an ethical screw that’s seriously loose.”

Privacy International is a partner in the hundreds of documents and specs being released to show the terrifying power of today’s surveillance. Eric King, Humans Rights and Technology Adviser for Privacy International, offered a sharp rebuttal to the “distasteful and dishonest” letter. King pointed out that the entire purpose of ISS World conferences is to line ISS pockets. “To insinuate that Americans will be queuing up to provide countries like Syria and Bahrain with the tools to monitor and target human rights activists, and to smother the flames of the next Arab Spring, is an insult to the United States and its people,” King wrote. “The contention that accurate reporting of the state of the surveillance industry today will prevent Congress from updating the law on lawful interception is equally offensive.” While King said Lucas’ letter “is so hackneyed it is hardly worth responding to,” he added:

It suffices to say that social progress and universal respect for human dignity and freedoms will never be achieved by subscribing to the ethics of the lowest common denominator. What Ms Lucas is advocating is a moral race to the bottom – one in which every participant is ultimately a loser.

Previously, Julian Assange said the ‘Spy Files’ release “is intended to be a ‘mass attack on the mass surveillance industry’. He described the interception of this data as ‘lawful’, but it will lead society to a ‘totalitarian surveillance state’.” According to Assange, “Mass interception of entire populations is not only a reality, it is a secret new industry spanning 25 countries.” This is how it looks in the USA, the land of the free:

There is nothing dishonorable about valuing privacy, civil liberties and human rights. It is too bad, so sad that some are very displeased with the spotlight shining on surveillance simply because it might hamper their ability to reap a handsome low-to-no ethics profit from it.

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.