NSA Spying Includes Wireless Transmitters To Get Data Off 'Air Gapped' Computers

from the of-course-it-does dept

The latest report from the NY Times based on Snowden's revelations seems to jump all over the place, talking about a variety of efforts by the NSA to spy on people. Much of it seems to repeat earlier claims about the NSA's malware program, codenamed QUANTUM. It updates the earlier claims that there are 50,000 QUANTUM-infected computers to claim that the number is now 100,000. However, it also notes that most of the targets are exactly the kinds of things you'd expect the NSA to be spying on: the Chinese and Russian militaries, mainly.

Perhaps more interesting is that it builds on the reporting in Der Spiegel concerning the NSA's catalog of tech tools to infiltrate computers, to tie those back to the QUANTUM program, and note that many of the tools rely not on an internet connection, but on a secretly inserted radio transmitter, which can be picked up by a device in an "oversized suitcase" that can be placed miles away. By itself, none of this is all that surprising, but the documents certainly suggest the NSA is doing this on a larger scale than suspected in the past:
“What’s new here is the scale and the sophistication of the intelligence agency’s ability to get into computers and networks to which no one has ever had access before,” said James Andrew Lewis, the cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Some of these capabilities have been around for a while, but the combination of learning how to penetrate systems to insert software and learning how to do that using radio frequencies has given the U.S. a window it’s never had before.”
Again, these activities certainly seem more in line with what you'd expect the NSA to be doing, and raise (yet again) the question of why the NSA needs to "collect it all" when it appears that programs like these can be quite effective in doing targeted surveillance against those actually seeking to attack the US in some manner?

Separately, as the article notes, this has made the US's moral high ground concerning claims that China is doing similar surveillance on the US seem quite questionable. As the article notes, the US's attempted distinction between "national security" and "economic espionage" doesn't make much sense to many.
When the Chinese place surveillance software on American computer systems — and they have, on systems like those at the Pentagon and at The Times — the United States usually regards it as a potentially hostile act, a possible prelude to an attack. Mr. Obama laid out America’s complaints about those practices to President Xi Jinping of China in a long session at a summit meeting in California last June.

At that session, Mr. Obama tried to differentiate between conducting surveillance for national security — which the United States argues is legitimate — and conducting it to steal intellectual property.

“The argument is not working,” said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, a co-author of a new book called “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar.” “To the Chinese, gaining economic advantage is part of national security. And the Snowden revelations have taken a lot of the pressure off” the Chinese.
Of course, if the US were focused on actually increasing security on US computing systems and networks, rather than undermining them with backdoors and vulnerabilities, perhaps we'd be more protected from the Chinese. It's too bad that the NSA hasn't actually been helping on that front at all.


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  1.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:52am

    Wait...

    Isn't this the very same thing that Google got in trouble for?

    Why is it now okay for the government to do it?

     

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  2.  
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    Applesauce, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:46am

    NSA subverts National

     

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  3.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:49am

    Re: Wait...

    What Google thing are you referring to? I have no idea what you mean.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    haha
    You guys still hate the russians and the chinks? I thought that was just a weak propaganda move from hollywood.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:02am

    Getting your tech now from "old media" NYTimes the #1 Establishment organ?

    I've been seeing for about a month, besides a legit security hacker claiming repeatedly infected across air gap, that newer Intel CPUs have an actual second processor / radio interface that can bypass everything else including backdoor into OS through hardware. Enjoy your cutting edge, huh?

    Since here is re-written NYTimes gloss level, don't know if same.

    I take it for certain that NSA has gotten to manufacturers, requires only a couple dozen people influenced one way or another. It's SUCH an obvious step, said of Huawei for instance perhaps to prepare for this "leak", that it's all but certain: the real question would be why didn't.

    "New media" outlets are just like "old media" outlets except aren't yet known to be Establishment outlets, but that's the way to bet. Don't trust anything you read.

    02:00:47[c-1-2]

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:08am

    Re: Re: Wait...

    Google cars vacuuming up unprotected wifi hotspot data.
    Which is not nice but ffs, don't leave your wifi unprotected!

     

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    Webcat, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:26am

    what would be the power requirement

    Any one can shed light on this. for a device to transmit signals "undetected" to a device miles away, what would be the power requirement and why we still have struggle with a router which cant transmit porperly for 10 feet ??

     

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  8.  
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    Mike, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:39am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    "Chinks"? Really? Are you trying to be ironically racist or just racist? No judgement here. Just curious. Haven't heard that word for decades when it was just plain racist.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:45am

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    Why does it matter?
    I'd rather put up with a foul mouthed but straightforward man than a politically correct liar.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:46am

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    Poopy!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:48am

    Re: what would be the power requirement

    why we still have struggle with a router which cant transmit porperly for 10 feet ??

    Because the built-in nsa transmitter hogs all the power and bandwidth XD

     

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    Justin, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:49am

    Total BS

    NSA has whole teams dedicated to improving the cyber security of national infrastructure here in the US. The IAD is entirely dedicated to defense.

    Who writes this stuff? Pity there's no requirement for research or knowledge to publish articles online.

     

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  13.  
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    Old-rumor-meet-New-rumor, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:50am

    @ out_of_the_blue, Same old rumor.

    That's something that been perpetuated ever since the beginning of pentium based processors. Intel has made controller chips for Air traffic systems and missile guidance systems for ages. Take that and technologies that get commonly referred to as "watchdog timers" add people that understand nothing about the technology and you get the "secret other processor" stories that always seem to be Intel never AMD or any of Intels earlier competitors.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:00am

    Re: Total BS

    Let me guess: an NSA insider?

     

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    george, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:08am

    With all their creeping around I feel less safe than ever and don't have ANY FAITH in NSA whatsoever.

     

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  16.  
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    joann (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    Straightforward doesn't mean truthful. I know alot of straightforward people who make fools of themselves every time they open their mouths. Also, foul language is a sign of mental bankrptcy, and bigotry, well, its' just sad.

     

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  17.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Total BS

    Close... NSA employee: using Ntrepid's persona management software to troll the internet.

     

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  18.  
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    Chad, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:29am

    Re: Wait...

    Wrap your computer in tinfoil to produce a Faraday cage...problem solved.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:32am

    Question: Is the principal reason that Microsoft is the dominant computer system instead of Linux simply because it is much easier to install NSA spy programs in Windows?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    I may be wrong, since english is not my native language, but according to The Free Dictionary "Not circuitous or evasive honest and frank" certainly sounds truthful to me.
    That doesn't mean he is right, of course, but that were never implied.

    Also, foul language is a sign of mental bankrptcy, and bigotry, well, its' just sad.
    [citation needed]

     

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  21.  
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    ledujpl (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Invigilation

    I'm really disturb about this whole NSA spying. Almost every day we can hear abour new NSA methods or companies involved in this whole process

     

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  22.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:11am

    Re: Wait...

    No, what Google was doing was capturing data that was knowingly and willingly being broadcast. What this is is installing additional hardware to send data secretly without the owner's knowledge.

     

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  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:13am

    Re: what would be the power requirement

    Since the receiver is the "size of a briefcase", which is absolutely enormous, I'm guessing the radio signal is very weak, and they're making it work by beefing up the receiver.

     

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  24.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Wait...

    No, what Google was doing was capturing data that was knowingly and willingly being broadcast.

    The Federal Appeals Court specifically said (in a stupid and completely devoid of reality ruling, I might add,) that Google was liable because unsecure wifi hotspots are not radio communications which are readily accessible to the general public and thus listening to the broadcasted signal was wiretapping.

    Everything else is entirely accurate.

     

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  25.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:39am

    Good thing the Chinese don't have to worry with sophistication since the NSA weakened security on purpose to collect tons of useless data...

     

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  26.  
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    alternatives(), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:07am

    Re: Total BS

    Pity there's no requirement for research or knowledge to publish articles online.

    Such a requirement allows for untruths to be published and that sure seems to suit many people just fine.

     

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  27.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    "Also, foul language is a sign of mental bankrptcy, and bigotry, well, its' just sad.
    [citation needed]"
    I will second that... Damnit!

     

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    Allen Mitchell, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:38am

    Singing

    I comemet to URL offce meeting next week

     

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  29.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    Also, foul language is a sign of mental bankrptcy, and bigotry, well, its' just sad.

    Regarding the first half, not always, sometimes 'aw fudge' just don't cut it, though much like any seasoning, 'spicy' words should be used in moderation. The second half though, that would certainly fit the 'mental bankruptcy' category, as bigotry requires a special kind of stupid to achieve.

     

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  30.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Wait...

    Yes, but the Federal Appeals Court is simply wrong on the technical facts. Wifi hotspots are absolutely radio communications readily accessible to the general public, as they are readily accessible to anyone who is in possession of a smartphone.

     

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  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    I'd rather eat mud than shit, too, but that doesn't make either of them less bad.

     

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  32.  
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    Ruben, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:07am

    Re: Total BS

    Fox news.

     

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  33.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:22am

    Re: Total BS

    At the same time, the NSA has entire teams dedicated to weakening "cyber" security and encryption standards across the board. Just because the left hand might be doing something decent doesn't mean the right hand isn't doing something awful.

     

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  34.  
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    True patriot, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    Foul language is straight to the point. Not a sign of moral bankruptcy. Censorship is unamerican!
    It used to be eavesdropping now it's wiretapping. Should have stayed with eavesdropping. "It's just metadata" they should explain every time they say that what it is and what are the examples! I know Guide metadata consists of KEYWORDS example when you search for a site using google. What you are typing is keywords. Wake up and let's get our liberty back from all these fear mongering assholes! They should be going to jail for violating the constitution. The NSA already leaks information to the FBI DEA CIA and IRS. They in turn leak it to local law enforcement. They are told to keep it a secret and act like they found out by themselves and not by a tip. That's violating your RIGHT to a fair trial at the least and possibly violating a lot more GUARENTTED RIGHTS than that depending on the situation.

     

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  35.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    "Chink" is not being foulmouthed. It's just a racist pejorative.

     

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  36.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:58am

    Re: @ out_of_the_blue, Same old rumor.

    Although if you buy an Intel vPro processor, it really does have a second, always-on, below-the OS computer built into the chip. It's not secret, though -- you'd probably be buying it on purpose, and it costs extra.

     

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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 11:24am

    Re: what would be the power requirement

    Any one can shed light on this. for a device to transmit signals "undetected" to a device miles away, what would be the power requirement and why we still have struggle with a router which cant transmit porperly for 10 feet ??
    That is a very difficult question to answer but...

    The power requirement can be quite low (a few milliwatts), it all depends on quite a number of factors. What distance do you need, what throughput do your require? If you are piggybacking onto another signal (say WIFI) you may only need the power to inject your signal before the transmitter.

    Line of sight communications is a fairly straight forward process. Power requirements vary based on a number of factors including frequency, distance, antenna (both transmitting and receiving) and frequency congestion. If I were going to try to transmit something "Undetected" and for a fair distance, and if that system used say WIFI, I would piggyback my signal onto that signal. This will introduce some error rates into the primary signal, WIFI in this case( could that be the answer to your second question?), but will allow my signal to go un-noticed by most. For receiving the signal I would use a very directional antenna with an extremely high gain.

    Another possible method would be to use power lines of the equipment as an antenna and transmit at a harmonic frequency of the A/C power supplied to the equipment. Again, this would be fairly difficult to detect. There is no obvious antenna or transmitter. This method also leaves you two possible way to pick up the signal. One is another device physically connected to the powerline on the same side of the transformer. The other way to capture the signal would be via a highly directional antenna with a high gain from some distance.

    Connecting to WiFi routers is problematic because you have a ton of manufactures and equipment that were made at different times and to different standards. Add to that that 2.4 GHz is a very full part of the Radio Spectrum in a lot of areas. Besides WIFI, Bluetooth, Cordless Phones, Baby Monitors, and a lot of other devices operate in the exact same frequency space.

    Custom building your equipment to exacting specs makes it much easier to reliably send and receive those signals. It is much harder when the equipment you build today must interface with a range of consumer devices and power levels made over the last 10+ years. That leave open not only problems the the actual radio transmission, but with the software used to encode / decode the signals as well.

     

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  38.  
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    AricTheRed (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    ""Chink" is not being foulmouthed. It's just a racist pejorative."

    Unless you are a mason (brick-layer, not quasi secret society member) or one who is looking for weakness in an armored something like a Hobbit...

     

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  39.  
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    webcat, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    All of these explanations require lots of work to be done on each specific. Also line of sight does not qualify, it is claimed that they can listen from miles away.

    need some clarity on this if you can.

     

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    Daemon_ZOGG, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 12:54pm

    "NSA Spying Includes Wireless Transmitters.."

    Construct a homemade Faraday-cage cabinet for the PC chassis. And make sure the mouse/keyboard/video AND peripheral cables are properly shielded. Problem solved. And, I don't believe the NSA for a second when they say Quantum has not been used within the US borders.

     

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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    Doesn't really require as much custom work as you might think, especially if you are doing it to many systems. For instance, all they would need to do to piggyback on a WIFI signal is replace the WIFI card with their modified version. Similarly, to send a signal over a power line they could simply replace the computers power supply (which is a fairly standard device anymore) with one they have modified and run an extra connection to the PCI bus. I think it has already been mentioned here on TechDirt that they have monitor cables that will transmit everything your monitor displays (been around forever). If you were in the spy business and had the parts at the ready it would take just a couple of minutes to swap components, and we already know the NSA diverts technology shipments, so they can modify them.

    Line of site is generally considered to be at least 10 miles and more if either the transmitter or receiver are on 'high ground'. True it may be less than that in a densely populated city with high rises, so a top of a building might be the appropriate place, or a drone... The point is it isn't as hard as most people think to do, it just requires a little knowledge and skill.

    The frequency you transmit at has a lot to do with not only the distance, but power required and data throughput available as well.

     

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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:11pm

    Re: "NSA Spying Includes Wireless Transmitters.."

    You forgot, run on an isolation transformer and shield power cable.

    Of course someone could still be grabbing your screens through several walls. http://www.newscientist.com/blog/technology/2007/04/seeing-through-walls.html

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:26pm

    Mind games

    On one leg of my winter travels, I was told that I didn't have to do the usual rigamarole, but wasn't told why. It was just "go on ahead, sir."

    After reading about this stuff, the thing it all screams at me is that this is intermittent reinforcement -- a straight up mind-control technique that is commonly used by slot machines and cults.

    Maybe the TSA is trying mind control as new way to get people to stop hating them with the burning fire of a thousand suns.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Mind games

    Oops, wrong article.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:40pm

    Re: "NSA Spying Includes Wireless Transmitters.."

    Problem solved.


    Maybe.

    Faraday cages don't magically block 100% of EM energy. Properly engineered, what you suggest is feasible, but it's easy to mess it up, too. Test your gear, don't trust your gear.

    Case in point: I once worked in a lab that included an industrial-strength Faraday cage (a large box, really) where we did experiments that involved measuring extremely tiny signals. We had to time our measurements so they were in sync with the airport's (10 miles away) radar, because the Faraday cage didn't stop that.

    One day, we started getting weird interference that we couldn't track down. It would be constant for hours, then stop for a while, then start again. It was an enormous problem. In the end, it turned out to be a computer monitor three labs down. When the monitor was turned in just the right way, it beamed RF energy right through the cage.

    Faraday cages are pretty awesome, but they aren't magic.

     

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    art guerrilla (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    pedant alert!
    *actually* part of the sissification of contemporary yard apes, is that they *don't* eat 'mudpies'/etc like we did as kids...
    okay, like i did as a kid...

    that exposure to various germies, etc is what stimulates our immune systems...
    is why the medicos think we have such a high percentage of asthmatic kids: they don't get exposed to 'stuff' outside we need to be exposed to in order to develop resistance, etc...
    more dirt, less bleach ! ! !

     

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  47.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    Oh, sure, ruin my witty analogy! :)

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: Total BS

    or better still " A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL"

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 3:53pm

    its called "tempest"

    its' been around for as long as electronics, it does not require 'special, secret little radio transmitters', and it cannot be done from "miles away", unless NSA has somehow managed to modify the laws of physics, (they have NOT).

    Put your tinfoil hats back on, the sky is not falling, once again, nothing to see here, move along.

    next thing you will be telling us is that they can also do this while you computer is turned off!!!!

    You guys really, really need to 'get a grip on reality'.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: "NSA Spying Includes Wireless Transmitters.."

    they do work correctly if built and installed and operated correctly, I work at a high power military signals station and our faraday screened room worked perfectly. Yes the large the room the higher possibility it will itself be resonant and reradiate signals, you need very good grounding, and a mesh fine enough for the highest frequencies, (that's why the radar gave you problems).

    But for someone writing for a "TECH" blog to state "they put tiny little radio transmitters in CPU's" is just crazy tin foil hat craziness.
    And to say you could pick up those signals 'miles away' well that's just BULLSHIT.
    Real TINFOIL HAT STUFF,

    TD lose the tin hat and buy some integrity.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:02pm

    Re:

    no, that's because Linux is so crappy..Occam's razor.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:05pm

    Re: its called "tempest"

    No, tempest is something else entirely -- tempest is about analyzing the normal EM radiations of equipment for surveillance. You're right, tempest requires no installation of special hardware, but it also can't be done at long range.

    This article is about installing additional hardware, including a radio transmitter.

    This isn't tinfoil hat stuff -- this is proven fact. It's expensive, though -- it takes a lot of effort to arrange to install hardware on someone's machine and to park an agent with a radio receiver in the neighborhood. This means that it's self-limiting and will never be used for mass surveillance (and nobody is claiming that it is), only for specific people that they are very interested in.

     

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    Eldakka (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    In the catalog released by Der Spiegel there are additional items that are basically boosters.

    So, there's an micro transmitter that can be placed directly in things like USB cables (in the connector shroud) or tiny devices that can be placed on a motherboard or on the surface of the case itself. These all usually have a broadcast range of a few ten's of metres, e.g. 10-30 metres or so.

    Then there are other catalog items, small receivers/transmitters, say the size of a disposable cigarette lighter, that can be placed within that 10-30 metre rage but outside the room/building, that can pickup the signal from the micro-transmitter and boost it for pickup by the 'briefcase' sized receiver that can be 100's of metres away. Since this booster is outside the immediate area of the device being eavesdropped on, even if the booster is detected it's unlikely to be seen as a 'bug' as the signal would be coming from outside the immediate sensitive area. It would be lost amongst (or considered a part of) all the other general background traffic you'd expect to see outdoors (cell, CBs, radio, TV etc).

     

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  54. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:13pm

    look up and work out what a 'watchdog timer' is

    the key word there is TIMER, all it does it make sure the cpu is cpu'ing, its primarily used for real time applications and for SCADA system, where you want to make sure the CPU is not hung up on some other minor task instead of control what you want to control. The timer periodically "kicks the dog" that wakes up, checks the scene and goes back to sleep.

    it has nothing to do with 'secret radio transmitters' or any other such TD, (Tinfoil hat DRONES) craziness.

    The more you depart from reality with the NSA the less people will believe you when (and if) you actually do have something real to say about them.

    This every more crazy claims, day in and day out makes you look like the biggest SUCKERS on the planet.

    You might want to investigate what a "DISINFORMATION SCHEME IS" and see how you've been suckered right into one.

    Make so many stupid claims like that, lose all credibility, and no one will believe you when you actually have REAL INFORMATION..

    if every cpu had a radio transmitter in it, and as there are NO frequencies that cannot be detetected by RADIO RECIEVERS, why has these signals never been detected by others, they should be EVERYWHERE, if you can detect them MILES away they need to be quite powerful, yet so far UNDETECTED !!!!!! how can that be ?????

    (spoiler, IT CANNOT)..

    TD suckered once again, suckered because 16 year of running a blog/web page is not a 'technical qualification'.

    This is not 'Techdirt' it's dirt, but not tech, not even close..

     

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  55. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:26pm

    Re: what would be the power requirement

    so that would be a clear indication that this is total bullshit, TD is losing all credibility with their TINFOIL hat antics, one day a real and true story will come out, and no one will listen.

    I call simple bullplop on this one. Techdirt why so technically incompetent ?

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    so your now saying the original article is complete bullshit, and to receive a signal 'miles' away requires many low power repeaters !!!

    what frequencies do they work on, and are these signals detected by everyone with a radio receiver ? if they are so strong and so many they would be EASILY DETECTED, by ANYONE.

    They are not, they don't exist, except in the minds of the tinfoil hat brigade.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    yes it would need to be high powered and wide bandwidth, it would also be uncontrollable, and one way communications at best, you would not be able to interrogate files or data, you would be able to monitor what is on possible 1 buss (64 data lines) and would be virtually impossible to gain any information from a multiple bus, multi-cpu system, physics makes this entire thing a simple NSA bashing bullshit piece.

    if you release enough unbelievable bullshit, when something real comes along, no one will believe it.

    Its just TD crying "WOLF" about a thousand times too often.

    Its no longer news its just pure tinfoil hat bullshit.
    I am glad some people are willing to question how this is even possible. Or the craziness of the claims from a "tech" web site..

    Just because "tech" is in the name does not mean its in your nature, 16 years running a blog is not a grand technical qualification (clearly)..

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    yes simple, replace the WiFi CARD !!!!

    replace the power supply for data over power lines,

    You do understand data over power lines is VERY RF noisy, you can pick it up with an AM radio, if every computer or even a few had this it would be detected IN A SECOND.

    there is simply no way this can be done on a large scale (OR AT ALL) without easy ass detection, no there is no radio transmitter in your CPU, with radio size matters, you simply cannot make capacitors or inductors small enough for the inside of a cpu and have room for the CPU.

    Its just beyond stupidity, and it degrades TD to even talk about it..

    Get back to reality TD, and a grip on it..

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    "Doesn't really require as much custom work as you might think"

    " to send a signal over a power line they could simply replace the computers power supply (which is a fairly standard device anymore) with one they have modified and run an extra connection to the PCI bus."

    so how that now seems a little far fetched ??

    yes, it's simple just replace components, and the power supply and run a special (in invisible) 'connection' to the PCI bus..

    SURE, THAT WONT GET NOTICED !!!!!

     

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  60. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:58pm

    Re: what would be the power requirement

    "Any one can shed light on this. for a device to transmit signals "undetected" to a device miles away"

    it defies physics, it is not physically possible to have a signal "undetected" that can be 'detected' miles away..

    and what is going to be on that signal, the data on your data bus (which one) the contents of your memory or hard drive??

    how do you 'select' what data you get off these machines, without two-way communications ?

    what usable data do you think you can get off a single data bus in a multi-CPU system, with a multitasking OS and application with hundreds of threads and no way to select specific information.

    TD needs to catch up on this "tech" thing, I think it has 'got away from them' somewhat.

     

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  61. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:59pm

    TD new motto

    "We think you are SO stupid, that you will believe any bullshit we say" especially if we include the letters NSA in it..

     

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  62. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:01pm

    darryl just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

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  63.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    Yeah, getting any type of meaningful data over a powerline is hard. Funny readily available off the shelf parts can do it.Overview TPL-406E2K
    Includes two TPL-406E adapters
    500 Mbps networking from an electrical outlet
    Compact form factor saves space
    Up to 80% power savings
    Use one unit to transmit, and up to 7 additional TPL-406Es to receive a network signal

    Standards:
    IEEE 1901, HomePlug AV, IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3x, IEEE 802.3u
    1 x 10/100 Mbps Auto-MDIX RJ-45 port
    2 ~ 68 MHz

    Features:
    Up to 500 Mbps (Full Duplex mode)
    Up to 8 nodes (max)
    Up to 4 Overlapping Powerline Networks (per electrical system)But the NSA couldn't purpose build anything that would be as good or better than what is available to consumers.... Right.

    What useful data could anyone get at 500Mbps. It would not have to be one way, though two way would make it harder to keep 'hidden'.

    I don't run a blog, but I have worked with electronics for near on 40 years and do hold an Armature Extra Ham License, so I do know a little bit about electronics and RF. (No I don't claim to know it all, and if anyone does they are lying)

     

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  64.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    Sure replace the WIFI card with another modded one. If you didn't build it and aren't an expert with a lot of high tech equipment how would you know? Build it (and write the firmware and drivers) yourself I suppose.

    Yes the fact that Power line RF is noisy is kind of the point it is easy to hide the signal unless you know what you are looking for it could seem like a random oscillation or spurious emission from the device rather than a deliberate transmission.

    They have been building micro transmitters for what 20 years or more now? Do you really think it would not be possible to conceal one in a laptop or desktop computer?

     

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  65.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    First of all, many, many computers are never even opened (especially laptops).

    Second, there are a whole lot of people that wouldn't be able to tell that there was an 'extra' cable connecting to the motherboard.

    Third it could be disguised as a fan or power connector, with a little more work the signal could be passed across the DC bus of the motherboard right to the power supply. Sending a signal over a DC powered circuit is not a new idea; nor is it difficult.

     

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  66.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:35am

    Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    it defies physics, it is not physically possible to have a signal "undetected" that can be 'detected' miles away..
    "Undetected" is totally different than "Undetectable". I am willing to bet 99% of the world population goes through every day and doesn't detect tens of thousands of RF signals. Unless you are specifically looking for a signal piggybacked on another signal you will not detect it. If I piggy back a signal on a WIFI signal, you *may* detect the WIFI signal, but unless you know what you are looking for it is unlikely that you would detect the piggybacked signal. Have you ever heard the term 'covert surveillance'?
    and what is going to be on that signal, the data on your data bus (which one) the contents of your memory or hard drive??
    Well that depends on what your end goal is, but you would likely start with video, keyboard since those show what the user is doing.
    how do you 'select' what data you get off these machines, without two-way communications ?
    Who said they can't do two way? However, you can get a lot of valuable information from one way communication. Ever heard of TV or Radio? Seriously, if I want to know something and I think you use your computer to access that information to be able to 'see what you see' is huge, even if it is only a snapshot once ever 30 seconds.

    I think it is you that needs to 'catch up on this "tech" thing'. You come off like a raving mad NSA employee, rather than someone that can disprove much of today's readily available technology. Show us how any of this "defies physics" we will wait here.

     

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  67.  
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    Niall (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    Since we can get a signal less than a lightbulb from beyond the orbit of Neptune, I think it's more in the receiving equipment, especially if a) you know the frequency, and b) it's limited bandwidth.

     

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  68.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: "NSA Spying Includes Wireless Transmitters.."

    you need very good grounding, and a mesh fine enough for the highest frequencies


    Yes, we had all that. There was clearly a fault in the cage -- that was my point! It's easy for this stuff to go wrong. Test, don't trust.

    they put tiny little radio transmitters in CPU's" is just crazy tin foil hat craziness.


    It sure would be -- but nobody said that. What we're talking about isn't speculation. This is fact, well-established.

    There are two main ways that spy agencies accomplish this: either by putting additional hardware on the motherboard, or, more commonly nowadays, by inserting a special USB stick into the machine.

    That you don't think a signal can be picked up over miles is really fascinating, considering that right now you can go to Amazon and buy consumer-grade equipment that will accomplish this.

    Sending a signal a few miles away is a trivial task. Hell, the GPS receiver in your cell phone is picking up miniscule signals from satellites IN ORBIT.

     

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  69.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    If you have physical access to the machine, it is no more difficult to install spy tools on a Linux box than on a Windows box.

     

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  70.  
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    BernardoVerda (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    Re: Re: Wait...

    and... it was just "meta-data".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: what would be the power requirement

    "yes it would need to be high powered and wide bandwidth, it would also be uncontrollable, and one way communications at best,"
    You mean like my cell phone?

    Oh wait, my cellphone has SEVERAL tiny two way radios in it (Off the top of my head it has GSM, LTE, HSPA+ WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, DLNA, and a GPS receiver all in less than 25% of the space); runs for days on a 1800mah (in standby) or a full day under heavy use getting LTE transfer speeds; is able to transmit 10 miles; is quite controllable remotely; there are hundreds of thousands of them and yet there are relatively few communication issues.

    I guess your version of physics doesn't apply in the real world. You might want to lay off whatever it is your smoking for a while.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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