John | March 4, 2014 | Tavern Keepers
A former British spy is warning about the dangers of techniques used by intelligence agencies falling into the hands of organized crime or other nefarious groups. These procedures used to spy or otherwise gather personal information is controversial enough when its used by the government, but what if criminals obtain them? Andrew France was the deputy director of the UK’s version of the NSA called the GCHQ. He is now the chief executive of security startup Darktrace. He recently spoke at RSA in San Francisco, the annual conference that is the world’s largest cyber security gathering. He stated that it was a big worry that the techniques will spread to hackers and other criminals.
This is a very real concern, For instance, it was recently revealed that GCHQ has been intercepting webcam streams from Yahoo and that they even considered spying on people using Microsoft Kinect. In the UK alone 1.8 million users were spied on, in the program known as Optic Nerve. It was also reported that up to 11 percent of intercepted videos involved nudity or sexual content. A criminal could use the same abilities to facilitate identity theft or even blackmail, depending on the salaciousness of the webcam video. That doesn’t even get into the issues of these pictures being on a government server somewhere that could also be hacked.
Source Tavern Keepers
Stuxnet is a major virus, supposedly created as a joint project by the governments of the United States and Israel. Its purpose was to deal a blow to the Iranian nuclear program and it did so by altering the activity of centrifuges in Iranian facilities. However, the virus then was released into the “wild” and has caused unintentional damage. Eugene Kaspersky, head of the Kaspersky anti-virus and cyber protection firm, has recently stated that the virus managed to infect a Russian nuclear facility and even the International Space Station. In the case of the ISS, a Russian Cosmonaut carried a flash drive onto the space station that had been infected with the virus. Kaspersky stated that he had been told the station faces “virus epidemics” from time to time.
The infections show the damage that can be caused by viruses such as Stuxnet when combined with human interaction. Both the nuclear facility and the ISS are closed systems, meaning that the “public” Internet cannot be accessed. So, the only way the virus was introduced into either installation was through an infected medium, such as the flash drive carried onboard the ISS. Ultimately, Kaspersky warned that viruses like Stuxnet cannot be controlled.
“There are no borders” in cyberspace, and no one should be surprised at any reports of a virus attack, no matter how ostensibly secure the facility, he said.