Desperately Seeking Mo and Watching You

Posted by Sticky Password Dec.17, 2013 in News, Passwords & Security

Are security folks paranoid?

Sure we are. But, as the saying goes, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get us.

It also doesn’t mean that we’re crazy or that we’re wrong.

Laptop

Here’s looking at you!

Over at welivesecurity there’s a good write-up of FBI hacker teams being able to watch us (you, too -not just us paranoid folks) through the webcams in our PCs. Critics like George Orwell and science fiction writers have used this idea for years: governments re-purposing cameras and other technology for unintended use to ‘watch’ what the people are doing. No matter what spin you put on it, it just doesn’t seem right, or healthy, for society.

A few things strike us as noteworthy:

1)      the capability – and (mis)use – of PC cameras to surreptitiously watch the user has been going on for years!

2)      official statements that ‘this technology is “mainly” used to investigate terrorists or the “most serious” criminals’ are not in the least bit comforting.

3)      it didn’t work on Mo!

4)      the malware the FBI was working on was ‘never actually executed as designed’ doesn’t mean it doesn’t work (i.e. that it malfunctions). It strongly suggests that the malware is being deployed differently than originally planned. That sounds like mission creep to us.

5)      calling it R.A.T. is unfair to that branch of the rodent family tree.

We think about security all the time, so we’re bound to be more sensitive and critical when we hear about new ways to gain stealth access to our computer, but everyone – even you – should keep an ear out for news like this.

The takeaway: Knowledge is power. Just being aware of what is going on out there goes a long way to making good decisions on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and private. Knowing about new risks and exploits will help you take reasonable precautions.