Cell Phone Spying: Is Your Life Being Monitored?

It connects you to the world, but your cell phone could also be giving anyone from your boss to your wife a window into your every move. The same technology that lets you stay in touch on-the-go can now let others tap into your private world — without you ever even suspecting something is awry.

The new generation

Long gone are the days of simple wiretapping, when the worst your phone could do was let someone listen in to your conversations. The new generation of cell phone spying tools provides a lot more power.

Eavesdropping is easy. All it takes is a two-minute software install and someone can record your calls and monitor your text messages. They can even set up systems to be automatically alerted when you dial a certain number, then instantly patched into your conversation. Anyone who can perform a basic internet search can find the tools and figure out how to do it in no time.

But the scarier stuff is what your phone can do when you aren’t even using it. Let’s start with your location.

Simple surveillance

You don’t have to plant a CIA-style bug to conduct surveillance any more. A service called World Tracker lets you use data from cell phone towers and GPS systems to pinpoint anyone’s exact whereabouts, any time — as long as they’ve got their phone on them.

All you have to do is log on to the web site and enter the target phone number. The site sends a single text message to the phone that requires one response for confirmation. Once the response is sent, you are locked in to their location and can track them step-by-step. The response is only required the first time the phone is contacted, so you can imagine how easily it could be handled without the phone’s owner even knowing.

Once connected, the service shows you the exact location of the phone by the minute, conveniently pinpointed on a Google Map. So far, the service is only available in the UK, but the company has indicated plans to expand its service to other countries soon.

Advanced eavesdropping

So you’ve figured out where someone is, but now you want to know what they’re actually doing. Turns out you can listen in, even if they aren’t talking on their phone.

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May 5, 2008
By JR Raphael
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Homeland Security invokes nuclear bomb, as Bush quietly links cybersecurity program to NSA

Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff has dropped the bomb.

At a speech to hundreds of security professionals Wednesday, Chertoff declared that the federal government has created a cyber security “Manhattan Project,” referencing the 1941-1946 project led by the Army Corps of Engineers to develop American’s first atomic bomb.

According to Wired’s Ryan Singel, Chertoff gave few details of what the government actually plans to do.

He cites a little-noticed presidential order: “In January, President Bush signed a presidential order expanding the role of DHS and the NSA in government computer security,” Singel writes. “Its contents are classified, but the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has said he wants the NSA to monitor America’s internet traffic and Google searches for signs of cyber attack.”

The National Security Agency was the key player in President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was revealed by the New York Times in 2005.

Sound familiar? Yesterday, documents acquired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation under the Freedom of Information act showed the FBI has engaged in a massive cyber surveillance project that targets terror suspects emails, telephone calls and instant messagesand is able to get some information without a court order.

Last week, the ACLU revealed documents showing that the Pentagon was using the FBI to spy on Americans. The military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans’ Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, according to Pentagon documents.

Read moreHomeland Security invokes nuclear bomb, as Bush quietly links cybersecurity program to NSA

CIA enlists Google’s help for spy work

US intelligence agencies are using Google’s technology to help its agents share information about their suspects

Google has been recruited by US intelligence agencies to help them better process and share information they gather about suspects.

Agencies such as the National Security Agency have bought servers on which Google-supplied search technology is used to process information gathered by networks of spies around the world.

Read moreCIA enlists Google’s help for spy work

NSA shifts to e-mail, Web, data-mining dragnet

The National Security Agency was once known for its skill in eavesdropping on the world’s telephone calls through radio dishes in out-of-the-way places like England’s Menwith Hill, Australia’s Pine Gap, and Washington state’s Yakima Training Center.

Today those massive installations, which listened in on phone conversations beamed over microwave links, are becoming something akin to relics of the Cold War. As more communications traffic travels through fiber links, and as e-mail and text messaging supplant phone calls, the spy agency that once intercepted telegrams is adapting yet again.

Read moreNSA shifts to e-mail, Web, data-mining dragnet