June 25, 2013

The New Frontier of IT Espionage

All info below is nothing new, every person with a minimum common sense and some basic IT knowledge has always had doubts it was happening, nonetheless the general  public does not seem to have come to terms with the severity of this issue. 
Even after Snowden leaks ; the general public is still naively posting their full lives on line regardless of any privacy consideration.
Social media does not seem affected or under scrutiny, no major drop in internet traffic is recorded, no sign of confidence loss on behalf of their users and no investigations at all on behalf of the authorities (no surprise there though!).
So if NSA and GCHQ eavesdropping on your life does not scare you what about the following:


If you are near your smart phone – the NSA or private parties could remotely activate your microphone and camera and spy on you.


The New York Times reported in 2011 that German police were using spyware to turn on the webcam and microphone on peoples’ computers:
A group that calls itself the Chaos Computer Club prompted a public outcry here recently when it discovered that German state investigators were using spying software capable of turning a computer’s webcam and microphone into a sophisticated surveillance device.

The club …announced last Saturday it had analyzed the hard drives of people who had been investigated and discovered that they were infected with a Trojan horse program that gave the police the ability to log keystrokes, capture screenshots and activate cameras and microphones.
Reuters documented last year that the U.S. and Israeli governments can remotely turn on a computer’s microphone:
Evidence suggest that the virus, dubbed Flame, may have been built on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010 [i.e. the U.S. and Israel], according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security software maker that took credit for discovering the infections.

Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn on PC microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and log instant messaging chats.

Kaspersky Lab said Flame and Stuxnet appear to infect machines by exploiting the same flaw in the Windows operating system and that both viruses employ a similar way of spreading. 
PC Magazine tech columnist John Dvorak writes:
From what we know the NSA has back door access into Apple, Microsoft, and Google. What kind of access we don’t know, but let us assume it is similar to what they did about 7 years ago to AT&T. They had a secret room at Fulsom St. in San Francisco and the AT&T engineers had no control and no access to a room full of NSA equipment that had direct access to everything AT&T could do.

Microsoft is the source of the operating system for Windows and Windows cell phones. Apple controls the OS for Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Google controls the Chrome OS, Chrome Browser, and Android cell phones. The companies regularly push operating system upgrades and security updates to users on a regular basis.

Imagine however that the NSA has access to these updates at the source and has the ability to alter these update in order to install some sort of spyware on your phone, tablet, or computer. The software could turn on your camera or microphone remotely, read all your private data, or erase everything and brick your phone or computer.

 

Italy is facing a EU bailout within 6 months

While the Italian press is rife with big headlines on Berlusconi's clusterfuck and his conviction  to seven years in prison and a lifetime ban on holding public office; the italian economy is deteriorating faster and faster.
The Italian government is giving few signs of intelligent life and treasury investors are starting to lose patience.
All things considered is not surprising that Mediobanca, Italy’s second biggest bank, said its “index of solvency risk” for Italy was already flashing red as the worldwide bond rout continued into a second week, pushing up borrowing costs.

The report warned that Italy will “inevitably end up in an EU bail-out request” over the next six months, unless it can count on low borrowing costs and a broader recovery.

As Ambrose Evans Pritchard noted:

“Time is running out fast,” said Mediobanca’s top analyst, Antonio Guglielmi, in a confidential client note. “The Italian macro situation has not improved over the last quarter, rather the contrary. Some 160 large corporates in Italy are now in special crisis administration.”

Italy’s €2.1 trillion (£1.8 trillion) debt is the world’s third largest after the US and Japan. Any serious stress in its debt markets threatens to reignite the eurozone crisis. This may already have begun after the US Federal Reserve signalled last week that it will begin to drain dollar liquidity from the global system.
The ECB has already backed away from earlier plans to steer credit to small businesses in the Club Med bloc. The Italian banking association said it was bitterly disappointed by the latest break down in eurozone talks on a banking union, warning that it leaves Italy’s lenders at the mercy of a confidence crisis.

Andrew Roberts from RBS said the world has become “a dangerous place” as Fed tightening marks an inflexion point in global liquidity.

Borrowing costs of 5pc could prove crippling for Spain and Italy, both suffering from contraction of nominal GDP.

Mediobanca said the trigger for a blow-up in Italy could be a bail-out crisis for Slovenia or an ugly turn of events in Argentina, which has close links to Italian business. “Argentina in particular worries us, as a new default seems likely.”

Mr Guglielmi said Italy’s industrial output has slumped 25pc from its peak in the past decade, while disposable income has dropped 9pc and house sales have dropped to 1985 levels.

The 1992 crisis was defused by a large devaluation, allowing Italy to restore trade competitiveness at a stroke. Mediobanca said: “The euro straitjacket is clearly not providing a similar currency flexibility today. With the lira devaluation Italy managed to inflate debt away, which it cannot do today. It could take more than 10 years to revert to pre-crisis output levels.