Schneier on Security
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November 5, 2009
Mossad Hacked Syrian Official's Computer
It was unattended in a hotel room at the time:
Israel's Mossad espionage agency used Trojan Horse programs to gather intelligence about a nuclear facility in Syria the Israel Defense Forces destroyed in 2007, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported Monday.
According to the magazine, Mossad agents in London planted the malware on the computer of a Syrian official who was staying in the British capital; he was at a hotel in the upscale neighborhood of Kensington at the time.
The program copied the details of Syria's illicit nuclear program and sent them directly to the Mossad agents' computers, the report said.
Remember the evil maid attack: if an attacker gets hold of your computer temporarily, he can bypass your encryption software.
Posted on November 5, 2009 at 12:48 PM
• 22 Comments
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While it does not prevent hardware-based attacks, anyone who has something to protect should use a remote access tool booted from a PC, such as this one provided by the government: http://spi.dod.mil/lipose.htm
I use this whenever I login from hotel rooms or libraries or such. Not the fastest thing in the world, since it boots from a CD, but it would prevent evil maids who can't solder from getting your passwords...
@how incompetent third world governments are
Yeah, right? Like the laptop left in the backseat of a car while two soliders stopped for a pint. The car which got broken into the laptop which got stolen ... only contained classified war plans during the first Gulf War.
The endless stories of classifed USB drives ending up in the souk in Afghanistan.
The 50,000 odd laptops that go missing in American airports every year (likely some are carrying classified information.
Any security manager can give you more stories of people mishandling classified information.
Glad to know this is all caused by the 3rd world.
I know you don't like to hear this but security is not a technological issue. Indeed instead it is technology that is a security issue.
I have to agree that security is not always a technological issue. Personnel accessing sensitive information need to know how to protect it physically as well as with the technology in order to remain secure. I'm sorry, but carrying a laptop like that to a public place and letting it leave your sight is a violation in my book. It should be treated as if it's a loaded weapon.
That kind of thing needs to remain within arm's reach. Otherwise, how are you to tell if it's been tampered with?
Of course there's the burden of carrying it with you everywhere you go, but if you have the burden of responsibility for the contents of the machine, it should be no problem safeguarding its physical security; unless you don't care if it's compromised, of course.
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