The Washington Post has recently reported that the FBI is capable of watching suspects through their webcams without activating the indicator light. Citing the case of an elusive suspect in a series of bomb threats to high profile locations throughout the United States, they have suggested that the FBI can remotely collect evidence from a suspect’s home through their webcam.
FBI hackers can exploit weaknesses in computer programs downloading malware onto the target computer. This is typically done with a phishing scam where the suspect will unknowingly open a link in an email that will download the malware onto their computer. The malware will then activate the webcam without triggering the indicator light and begin sending information to the FBI.
Along with new techniques for digitally tracking suspects and collecting hard-drive data, this practice has raised concerns as it may violate the United States Constitution in certain cases. The 4th Amendment grants freedom from unlawful search and seizure. Without even entering a suspect’s home the FBI is capable of digitally searching and seizing their home, their hard-drives and possessions. Some are concerned that the method of obtaining this information could cause innocent individuals’ computers to be compromised.
The method of collection is hardly perfect, requiring the individual in question to unknowingly access a malicious link. It has not proven to be a very effective means of tracking suspects.
Via The Washington Post
On the heels of the NSA PRISM program controversy, new developments have suggested the depths of the surveillance go beyond online correspondence to offline as well. A bookstore owner in Buffalo, Leslie Pikering, recently received a parcel with a confidential card mistakenly left attached to it:
“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card.
Mr. Pickering’s mail was part of a long line of targets encompassing a national operation sancionted by the Postal Service. Nearly 160 billion parcels last year were intricately photographed by Mail Isolation Control, and it’s content images saved by the Government. Although the initial motivation was to use mail covers to track those suspected of crimes, the current approach is much more generalized.
“In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, the former director of the Justice Department’s computer crime unit. “Now it seems to be ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.”
Is the FBI going too far, or is this business as usual? Chime in below!
Recently leaked NSA slides reported by the Washington Post have fueled the ongoing controversy regarding Snowden and the PRISM program. The slides summarize plans by the NSA to engage in real-time surveillance of e-mail, text and voice chat.
New leaked slides have hit the Washington Post today going into extensive detail about the wealth of realtime surveillance – both offline and online – being used to monitor users and companies. Government-sactioned equipment known as “interception units” have been installed by the FBI on private company property to feed real-time information to the NSA and CIA.
Workflow used by FBI to acquire data from a new company
The full extent of surveillance in this program has yet to be uncovered, particularly since a lot of slides remain classified. The Post has reported, however, that the built-in system has afforded the NSA the ability to “receive live notifications when a target logs on or sends an e-mail”.
In addition to e-mail, voice, video and real-time text chat are also monitored via information transmitted immediately through the interception units. According to the Washington Post notes, nearly 120,000 individuals (presumably foreign nationals) have been specifically targeted by the NSA for real-time monitoring through the program.
NSA officials have not commented on the leaked information, although most of the major tech companies reportedly involved in the program have explicitly denied involvement.