Computer Crime Hype

I guess this is the season for sensationalist hype of computer crime: first CNN, and then USA Today (drug users and Internet crime, for a double-scary story).

Beware the Four Horsemen of the Information Apocalypse: terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers. Seems like you can scare any public into allowing the government to do anything with those four.

Posted on December 16, 2005 at 3:15 PM43 Comments


Rich December 16, 2005 5:46 PM

Well, one thing I’ve learned from CNN is that Bruce has mispelled his blog.

It should be:

Schn3i3r 0n S3curity

MikeN December 16, 2005 6:27 PM

In Europe, the Four Horsemen are terrorists, organized crime, pedophiles and neo-nazis. Works very well, too. In fact, works good enough to scare the European Parliament into accepting a bill that mandates a gigantic surveillance infrastructure. I suppose the public is either scared as well or, as usually, not interested in anything except the latest celebrity “news”. Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t see more than a sidenote in any national news outlet (if it’s mentioned at all), and much less any kind of public outrage. Pretty disturbing.

Ari Heikkinen December 16, 2005 9:34 PM

I thought the biggest scare was kids (=terrorists and organized crime) downloading music and movies.

David Harmon December 17, 2005 7:39 AM

Hmm, Bruce’s “Internet Horsemen” have better irony, in that each of the four represents a crime that requires physical contact with a victim and/or a customer.

Bruce Schneier December 17, 2005 11:48 AM

“Bruce’s ‘Internet Horsemen’ have better irony, in that each of the four represents a crime that requires physical contact with a victim and/or a customer.”

The biggest threats have always been in places where the real world and the Internet intersect.

another_bruce December 17, 2005 2:56 PM

i would regard a thief of my identity as an evil doppelganger sucking my life force, and only one of us would survive.

Kostya December 17, 2005 4:07 PM

Sure, fear sells! What is the best way to turn off any critical thinking than scaring people? You just need a few seemingly plausible threats.

Companies seem to be catching on … How about this thinggy called “OnStar”? If you listen to their commercials, it sounds like you are invariably going to DIE in your car unless you get “OnStar”.

Which coincidently can spy on you, by listening to the conversations by the means of the installed microphone. But, surely, “The Big Brother” always has YOUR best interests in his mind!

D December 18, 2005 9:57 PM

I especially enjoyed the CNN poll on what I think is the biggest online threat:

  • Spam
  • Hackers
  • Viruses
  • Porn

Oh, yeah! That porn’s always trying to get my personal information and hack my PC…

cyphertube December 19, 2005 9:52 AM


OnStar has always scared me. I have always figured that whoever figures out how to hack OnStar will have a great time tracking people, stealing cars, etc.

I don’t mind having a GPS receiver in my car, or a physical switch-on transceiver, but having something that automagically goes on worries me a lot, especially when it’s tied into the locks on the car.

Ed T. December 19, 2005 11:20 AM

“This is the Internet.”
(free access to lots of information)

“This is the Internet after smoking ice.”
(spamm, phishing, pharming, pr0n, Nigeria-419)

Any questions?

another_bruce December 19, 2005 11:50 AM

onstar is a way creepy thing, i’ve seen the commercials, you get in some kind of trouble or lock yourself out of your car and this omniscient benevolent babysitter comes to your rescue.
if you need a babysitter while you’re driving, you shouldn’t be driving at all.
onstar is just the tip of the iceberg. there are also onboard diagnostic devices hooked up to the airbags in most new cars which record speed, braking, etc. and are available for later inspection by anybody who can get a court order.
the state of oregon formed a special commission to study a new tax on miles driven in oregon by oregonians. it would require a gps in every oregon-registered vehicle and the commission explained that this would inform the state when we’d left its borders so that we would no longer be taxed for those miles. yes, hacking this would be child’s play. yes, i like to be all alone sometimes with nobody knowing where i am and i’m willing to execute drastic measures to achieve this, but worst of all…..
the tourists from california, they would be able to drive on the same roads i do and not be taxed! the oregon public services infrastructure is on life support in many areas, no sales tax, laughable property tax, only a vicious 9% income tax. my answer is to soak the tourists, not exempt them.

Bryan February 3, 2006 9:25 AM

My friend wants to roll his mileage back on his lease, I knopw that this is wrong but many dealers still do this. He is worried about his On-Star GPS, does this keep track of this. He did get a insurance break because of it but if he is ever in a accedent he is worried that they may pull other driving info from his past like how fast he drives on a certian road ect. Does anyone have any answers to this. It seems like it is a voilation of your rights?

REBEL February 7, 2008 2:32 PM

wHO WILL STOP THE us GOVT. attemps at jailing all its citizens ?

Minutemen ? The corrupt CIA ?the US Army ?
Allah? Jesus?
Will we be liberated by moslems ?

Tyler March 3, 2008 6:46 PM

Well I for one, like our new privacy invading overlords! (Until I can get a decent connection then I am getting me some sweet Vidalia Onion Routers and I will be on my anonymous way! I’d do it now but dial-up + TOR = Even lower speeds…)

Eman Lluf August 7, 2008 7:20 PM

Privacy? Security?
His eyes were dark grey as he scanned the late afternoon sunlight.
As if you could find it now..
he leaned back, and said ” Listen. You bought the sneakers with the RFID that Wal-Mart
specified to be implanted in the soles for stocking and store security purposes, and then
you paid with a Visa card. The chip in your purchase will respond to a backscatter sensor
from over 30 feet away with a 54 digit Identifier. Therefore your shoes would give a good
investigator your Identification through your local wal-Mart’s computer records with a single query.

The number won’t change, and will respond to any compatible RFID sensor you come close to.
Therefore, if you are looking for that “privacy and security”, I suggest that you actually
microwave your sneakers for at least three seconds on high, and you better throw your
Target brand sweater in after that.- and check your wallet too. ”
I was aghast. He continued,
“Where ever you’ve gone today; you’re leaving a record you can’t see.”

dyno September 10, 2008 3:57 PM

Enabling TorButton first… Here’s a scenario that could be in a book:
“Seargant, what’s the last online information we have of the ship’s captain?”
“Sir, last we knew he was downloading the Tor bundle and using Firefox. We haven’t been able to track him online since.”
“How long ago was that?”
“Five years ago, sir.…”

boyishman January 9, 2009 10:26 AM

Sorry if this is just too newb, but can you tell me how to get my ISP from invading my privacy? My address menu always displays something from them called Security Check, and it lists a secure URL for them. This happens whether I’m using Vista Firefox or Ubuntu Firefox. Can I block them from my system or will that prevent me from getting online? Does Tor provide security from them?

I also have questions about the ability of my employer (a hospital) to monitor my email, even though I never access it from work, nor do they pay for my account. They do, however, have a business agreement with the telecommunications company that also happens to be my ISP. I have remained steadfast in my refusing to accept a discounted phone bill through my employer’s connection, because I assume that will legitimize their scrutiny.

Shelby June 17, 2009 2:19 PM

Governments have had a symbiotic relationship with Telcos since the 1940’s
As well as media services and all licensed broadcasters. (Hence licensing Laws)
The licensing agreements provide the government and its agencies to obtain any information they choose about anyone who uses their service. Under the pretense of privacy for the client. That is lie #55.
The best privacy is not letting the government or its agencies know your business. Period.

hiding under the couch December 26, 2009 4:28 AM

Hi – I have an ex who I hope has forgotten my existence. I also some times post on blogs about my religion and how politics affects it. I was upset to find out that you can type in my name and get a map to my house.

When I tried to fix this myself, I ended up entering my email address, and now it is available on line too. Can this be fixed? I just want peace. Thank you.

Clive Robinson December 26, 2009 10:47 AM

@ hiding under the couch,

“Can this be fixed? I just want peace.”

Do you want the short answer or the long answer?

The short answer :- is after you type any of your details into an internet connected machine you might as well assume you have broadcast them to the world forever, so no there is nothing you can do about what you have already typed.

The Long answer :- Is to disasociate the various parts of your life from each other and treat them in the same way you do “old school friends”, “past friends”, “ex girlfriends”, “current work colleagues”, “past work colleagues”, “past church life”, “current church life”, etc etc.

That is treat the various non-core parts of your life as seperate roles, that each has an independent identity from each other that is fully disposable at a moments notice.

Outside of your “core life” each role has it’s own nickname email address, VoIP & mobile number, disposable pre-charge payment card and even postal address as required.

For your core life (tax banking etc) do not use the Internet or anything other than good old fashioned “snail mail”. Effectivly use two seperate PC’s one for offline “core life” activities the other for “role based personas”.

Be paranoid and assume they are out to get you as they genuinaly are. The more details an entity can build up about you the more valuable the information becomes not just to identity fraudsters but marketers and others you have had good reason to break ties with.

Never ever use your “core-life” real address telephone number etc on line ever. Organisations you have supplied those details to never do business with online.

Monetary transactions should be by cash, that is don’t transfere money from your core-life bank account to pay bills or pre-charge a payment card. Never use a role based persona across roles, that is if you are fred123 don’t use the VoIP number for jim234. Likewise don’t use mobile phones (even with different SIMs) for different roles. Old mobile phones can be bought for next to nothing. Never ever down grade your core or role phones down to another role. When you want to get a new mobile clean up the old one take out the SIM and any Memory card and flog it via the offline second hand market. Always buy role based phones on that personas pre pay card.

All this is because at some point the data sets will cross over and it will be corelated (you cannot anonymise data with any level of utility sufficiently to prevent re-identification).

Oh and to clear up your current state, it’s time to move your core life away from where you live (if you can) and offline permanently.

Two PC’s sounds expensive but actually it’s not. You have one good quality machine for your core life and another older machine with no hard disk plenty of RAM and a memory stick for each persona. Run the system of a CD-ROM (not re-writable) based OS. If you cannot hack Unix then look at how to put MS onto CD-ROM there are toolkits out there, but I’d advise against it MS puts lots of machine based metadata into OS and user files including network card MAC addressess and CPU ID tags etc etc.

Have a hunt around on the Internet (from a cafe etc) for various advice documents for NGO’s working in hostile countries they go into various uses of anonymous services like TOR and re-mailers etc. DON’T put the document onto your hard drive, print it out and then securly delet it from a USB memory stick.

If you think this sounds paranoid a few years ago it would have been, these days it’s being moderatly cautious, in a couple of years time you and many others will wish you had and a few after that it will be normal behaviour for most sensible people.

emilyb March 3, 2010 5:46 PM

If you’re going to run a HD-less computer, and use OS’s to run from CD-ROM: I just tried Slax Linux out. It has a really small footprint, only needs a small amount of RAM and you can build a custom one (add modules) on their website. But their Firefox can’t run Youtube videos unless you tell it to disallow a certain ad script that runs on Youtube.

s1Ty$zpp April 12, 2012 4:48 PM

“If you think this sounds paranoid a few years ago it would have been, these days it’s being moderatly cautious, in a couple of years time you and many others will wish you had and a few after that it will be normal behaviour for most sensible people.

Posted by: Clive Robinson at December 26, 2009 10:47 AM”

UPDATE 2012:

You, sir, are a prophet.

Clive Robinson April 13, 2012 5:25 AM

@ s1Ty$zpp,

You, sir, are a prophet

It is kind of you to say so, sadly though the reality is more a “prophet of doom”, due to the all to predictable nature of those given both power and wealth, who also chose not to acknowledge the harm they do. Harm not just to society but also as a consequence of their actions to themselves and their loved ones (assuming they have any).

Mark Harder January 2, 2013 11:50 PM

Seems to me that frightening criminals from engaging in their activities online is counterproductive for law enforcement in that the perps will be forced to develop ever-subtler and more secure means of communication to evade the snoops, leaving the rest of us vulnerable to all sorts of snooping we are prohibited from knowing about. Take Al Qaeda for example. They shifted to communicating via live carriers when they realized their cell phones were being monitored.

Clive Robinson January 3, 2013 3:10 AM

@ Mark Harder,

Seems to me that frightening criminals from engaging in their activities online is counterproductive for law enforcement in that the perps…

It depends on the viewpoint, contrary to what most people think, LEAs are not paid to just catch criminals. In todays “cost efficient policing” it’s all about numbers which in the main means “get the low hanging fruit” as this provides best numbers for seniors to wave around at politicos etc.

There are exceptions which are crimes that are newsworthy for some reason. When one of these types of crime happens LEA seniors apply resorces disproportionate to the norm in order to control public opinion as dictated by politicos and journalists.

Thus as you would expect the types of criminal that will be targeted under normal circumstances will be those that are not particularly clever/knowledgeable or just don’t care if they are caught for whatever reason.

But there is a secondary effect which is for the LEAs and others to talk up crimes and make them appear to be much worse than they realy are.

There are several reasons for this and it’s all to do with the “numbers”.

As has been said often there is a calculation performed as to the value of the crime compared to the resources applied. Put simply there is a bar or hurdle, if the value of the crime is below the bar then the crime gets minimal resources, if it’s above the first bar then it clears that hurdle and gets an increased level of resources. So onwards up the scale of bars/hurdles.

If an investigating officer can show quickly that a new crime is in someway linked to other similar crimes then the aggregated value is used to decide if more resources are required.

So the individual LEOs have an incentive to link crimes together to get the resources to ensure some crimes actually get investigated.

It also means that it changes their own individual targets so that catching one individual who has committed lots of litttle crimes is worth a lot more than catching criminals that do infrequent crimes.

A side effect of this is to “load up” a criminal. That is if a criminal is caught for one crime, their value is small to an officers individual targets. However connect the criminal with a lot of crimes and suddenly they become quite valuable to the individual officers, as the officers individual targets are related to crimes committed not criminals convicted. But there is a quirk in the system in that criminals get to do prison sentances concurrantly not consecutively. Thus the time served is realy only related to the most serious crime. So deppending on the jurisdiction the officer has either the discretion to talk to the judge to get the sentance for that crime reduced or the officer can use a plea barganing route to reduce the severity of the crime. Thus perversly it’s sometimes to a criminals advantage to plead guilty to lots of minnor crimes they have not committed as it reduces their actuall time served for a more serious crime they have committed…

It’s win-win for the officer and criminal, it’s also win-win for the LEA and politicos because it makes the clear up rate look good. But society loses because the real criminal for those crimes goes unpunished.

Whilst you can argue away “loading up” as a necessary evil of LEAs having to do impossible “efficiency” increases it however turns the LEAs into criminals themselves (knowingly presennting false information to a court is perjury).

Once they have crossed that line the next line is easier to cross which is “fitting up”. This is where the LEA has a newsworthy or politicaly sensitive crime to deal with where results are required. What the LEOs on the case do is arrrest an individual who looks most likely then build a case to make them guilty. That is the LEOs only look for information to associate the arrested person to the crime, not for evidence that dissociates the arrested person with the crime. Whilst this might start as a “group think” issue for a small team that is under preasure, it can quickly get worse with the witholding of evidence from the defence or worse still from destroying evidence that would clear the person to the very deliberate fraud of fabrication of evidence against the person to ensure conviction.

But of more recent times there is a new game in town of inventing crimes and arresting suspects prior to the supposed crime and prosecuting them for “conspiracy to comit…” or similar. We have seen this with Terrorist cases and it will spread out to other areas with time. In essence it’s a ‘he says she says’ argument that gave rise to the notion of “thought crime”.

But “thought crime” has actually been around with us for hundreds if not thousands of years one way or another. Most notably with the sayings attributed to Cardinal Richelieu,

If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something within them to have him hanged.

However another saying attributed to the Cardinal,

Harshness towards individuals who flout the laws and commands of state is for the public good; no greater crime against the public interest is possible than to show leniency to those who violate it.

Can be seen as the basis not just for excusing all the above behaviours but in actually fostering new crimes.

What we are seeing is new laws being put on the statute books that are now so broad in definition that it is difficult to see how a normal person can defend themselves against being found guilty.

So now all an LEA has to do to meet it’s numbers is randomly select people to be classified as criminals and then have them convicted.

Which brings me back to your point,

… in that the perps will be forced to develop ever-subtler and more secure means of communication to evade the snoops, leaving the rest of us vulnerable to all sorts of snooping we are prohibited from knowing about.

In the UK this has certainly been the case. People have been accused of being terrorists but have not been allowed to see the evidence against them as it would reveal “methods and sources” of the security forces. Because some judges have told the prosecution “put up or shut up” some alledged terrorists have been put in a kind of limbo wheere they have been arressted charged and detained but have not been brought to trial or deported from the country. A case brought to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared this policy to be illegal thus the alledged terrorists were released under what is in effect “house arrest”. No doubt there will be further submissions to the ECHR over time, but the UK government appears determined to continue the cat and mouse game, if for no other reason that of Political Face Saving.

funny-us-problem March 11, 2013 10:27 AM

is the Four Horsemen of the Information Apocalypse a problem ?
no, it is only that money for them will not be for you – with your agreement – it is your citizen agreement.
who can profit it ?
only very rich person are the winners in the both cases :
1 ) yes, i agree – your agreement will protect them and only them better
2 ) no, i beware, i disagree – money will go in another pockets but yours.

So, it is a false problem, only entertainment – just a little time of fun to take your money for my standing –
because i need hide it until i spend it.
i love to be a good us-citizen, it is so …

WebheadedStepChild October 23, 2014 3:39 PM

Loved your comments, Clive, on the current state of criminalizing by LEO’s. Everything is about numbers from every system I can possibly call to mind.

I used to naively believe in upward mobility and was taught to believe in free enterprise as a product created by hard work and due diligence but I have lost all faith in the values that were ingrained in me as a child. While a few do deserve all they have attained because they are truly brilliant and deserving of their prosperity, overall that isn’t what I see in the world we live in. In general and as a rule, success has little to do with stong work ethics; things such as hard work and dedication.

All ideals I lived by were wrong. I became really disallusioned when I began to witness the corrupt nature of things. I believed that the result of my hard work, dedication, loyalty, efficiency and other admirable (or so I though) traits or efforts would automatically equate to the natural order of advancement, recognition and subsequent monetary compensation. My beliefs were what I now know to equal plain and simple denial of the reality of every aspect of our society.

Everything is about money, at any cost, with no regard for law, waste, overhead, ineffeciency, and the mediocre masses that sit at desks and in cubicle hives.

When I finally was able to see, the truth made me sick by simply bearing witness to the injustices that are written off as simply the way of the world or so it seems. The core or basis of our society is rigged and diseased. By simply paying attention, the corruption can be seen in every aspect of industry from big business such as pharmaceutical, insurance, oil and gas to local, state and US government… public service, media, politics, education and so on.

When I began to see the way things really work, how the rich do get richer generally through nepotism or sheer privilege and how business is really contingent on under the table payoffs, misappropriation and just riddled with crime, I lost faith. While I’m grateful to live in a democratic country, I’m not so sure it’s truly the land of the free and home of the brave. Not that any other country isn’t a thousand times more corrupt making me think it’s not just us, perhaps it’s simply part of human nature or the human condition. One could say it’s even religious, the sins of man as forgiven by simply asking for forgiveness if you believe we are the progeny of Adam and Eve, the children of the Son.

The biggest crimes in society aside from say serial killers or terrorist attacks perhaps, seem to be committed by those in the highest esteem and positions in society. Outwardly they garner our respect but if the truth be known by all of how corrupt our society truly is, I’d hope citizens would unite and as a whole would strait the gate, true the wheel and set right what is so wrong with our world today.

I really enjoyed reading this blog but especially what you wrote, Clive, in response to Mark Harder. Excellent writing and beautiful style to boot.

Clive Robinson October 23, 2014 8:08 PM

@ WebheadedStepChild,

Thank you for your kind words.

However having just re-read my two main posts on this page, I’m left with the hindsight feeling I was perhaps to optomistic compared to what we now know was going on at the time due to the Ed Snowden revelations. It saddens me to see the world this way, because as history teaches us repression is followed by revolution almost as assuredly as night follows day, and when those dark times do come, they will most likely involve violence as the old gaurd fight to maintain their position. I find myself asking “what legacy have we left for our descendants” and the answering thoughts are not what I and I suspect many others would want.

What scares me is thoughts of the Roman Empire, how it used “bread and circuses” to keep the population compliant, and when it supposedly “fell to barbarians at the gate” it was the civilian population that paid the price, those still with sanity and power quietly metamorphosed into what became “The Holy Roman Empire” which is still with us today with more power and wealth than the original Roman despots could have ever dreamed of. I find myself asking “is this the model our hidden states are working to” with the positions of clowns and fools taken by our politicians…

Anon August 5, 2015 6:52 PM

If ON STAR is a problem for you, try disableing the antenna with a switch for, preventing incoming and out going signal, at your discretion. From what I understand about it having a “relative” short term memory for crash data and such. I noticed that in some circumstances the signal is lost from satelite. You will know you are sucessful if you quit getting your service updates.

Mike Hunt November 19, 2015 10:32 PM

OnStar CAN lock you in your car! Someone I know had a car with OnStar and they ended up hitting the panic button by accident, and they had to verbally confirm ownership of the vehicle, (which they were borrowing, and obviously could not confirm) so the car locked the guy in and he had to call the owner for help!

CrackleandKackle October 16, 2016 6:14 PM

Thank you. My very 1st time using the tor browser this was the second web page I saw. Incredible how many like minded individuals who are able to see what’s really happening. Weather? Laws? Money? Food? Corporations? summed up as “way of living”.
I too believe that change will only be brought about when the people HAVE actually had enough and rise up against the tyranny set out to control us. Like aaaalllllll the societies before us in one degree or another and as far as we know.
A U.S. revolution at this in this day and age? With their technology? Stuff a lot of us normal regular “citizens” never even heard of let alone have seen.It would have to be an extremely clever covert grassroots underground network of a boatload of like minded intelligent clever individuals who have absolutely no agendas of there own except the unified idea of all our individual freedoms are also free to us all.

Again thank you for your time and wisdom.

Snapshooter2017 January 9, 2017 8:52 PM

Clive Robinson – visionary, indeed!

I’m a new Tor user.

Yes, we continue to follow patterns, long-established, historically… Economic downturn is invariably followed by a dramatic political move to the right – where Hitler rode in to ‘rescue’ a drowning German nation, so May, Trump, Putin & Farage busk along, behind him. Doors open for extreme politicians and extremist behaviours, which previously wouldn’t have been entertained – Putin, Farage, Trump, May, Boris Johnson, all of Trump’s and May’s appointees, etc…

Theresa May has just succeeded in passing new laws, in the UK, which legalise the unencumbered, fully-comprehensive surveillance of every single UK citizen, without requiring any evidence, nor even suspicion, of having even considered committing a crime. Our emails, phone calls, browsing history, social media interactions, colour-choice of underwear etc… So, here I am, well into my 50s, trying out Tor!

I don’t believe ‘revolution’ (as we used to understand the term) will resolve this hideous situation. Obvious ‘armies’ of people are rather easy to identify and ‘disarm’ (in the UK, certainly – where we don’t have the right to bear arms). I’m relieved that we don’t have the right to own guns and I believe that non-violent action is a really good way forward.

This thread is encouraging me to challenge my thinking about what I believe WOULD work, to derail the above-mentioned nut-jobs…

Talking of derail, the rail/tube strike activity in London, on Monday (yesterday), did a really good job of SERIOUSLY messing up the city’s activities. English folk have been brainwashed to loathe trade unions, but we might realise, in time to use it, the huge power of withdrawing our labour. We have an opportunity, right now, to rediscover that type of activism – which hits the power- and money-hungry despots right where it hurts. As production and services become fully robot-ised, the opportunity will be gone, but right now and for a while yet, it’s there – ‘all’ we need is for ‘ordinary people’ to realise that they currently have an extraordinary opportunity to REALLY ‘take back control’. It necessitates GETTING OFF OUR ARSES – and that’s the part I have some doubts about.

I’m still going to haul my arse out for our weekly protest, this Saturday – maybe the physical action of protest will ‘go viral’…

In the meantime, thank you, Tor.. and you, Clive Robinson.

Clive Robinson January 9, 2017 10:06 PM

@ Snapshooter2017,

Clive Robinson – visionary, indeed!

Sadly I was to optimistic in my view point, at the time.

As you are aware things have got worse considerably worse.

Whilst at one time Tor was sufficiently secure, we now know that it is deficient in a whole manner of ways. Pre Snowden trove documentation, upto around 2008 it was only the likes of the Five-Eyes that could make inroads on Tor.

Now as we know the likes of the FBI have paid very large sums of money to certain Universities. Where some of the brightest and best have utilised various deficiencies that I and others had been highlighting as needing fixing.

What was not clear then was why the Tor Foundation avoided fixing these deficiencies. There have been various reasons suggested by several people, but still the deficiencies are there a decade later, with apparently no effort made to fix them.

Thus if you look on other threds of this blog, I urge people to use Tor with some considerable caution and care.

My old point about moving security end points remains true. However the likes of Intel and AMD have in effect backdoored systems not just with their “Managment Engines” but also with built in radio networking etc.

Thus my advice has changed from “air gapped” to “energy gapped” and now I tell people to consider “Pencil and Paper” cryptography to “take the security end point off of all computers”.

I also offer other thoughts on how to avoid security “end runs” to protect from other sensors such as hidden CCTV in home appliances and likewise hidden microphones in these new Siri like sysyems that send all audio back across the Internet, in ways that we have no way of knowing are at all secure. Thus it’s wise to assume that the Signals Agencies can listen in…

Then there is what in effect is Doppler Radar using the likes of Wifi to image through walls, supposadly with sufficient resolution that hand movments can be worked out. Thus combined with other methods such as various types of microphone, what you write on a piece of paper might be worked out.

In the past I have described what you need to do to take apparently benign household objects to make your own temporary Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF, pronounced “skiff”). Such that it can be put together and taken down very quickly.

There is an obvious problem with this which is individuals are impatient, and SiG Int organisations very patient. Thus they will catch and use any mistake in OpSec you might make.

Whilst it is still possible for individuals to get privacy through security / OpSec it is getting more and more difficult. But whilst you may be secure at your end, it’s others that you have no control over who will do what they please and often without thought (think of all those “Driving Under the Influence” convictions to see why).

Me-just me February 5, 2017 10:15 PM

Mayhap the deficiencies of Tor are an example of the patience of SiG Int.
What better way to get into someone’s camp, than to provide them a tent to shelter themselves from your prying eyes?

Tom a April 16, 2018 12:18 PM

I am wondering if those on this blog might want to affect something practical: So called “Smart Meters” are being used around the world to affect home privacy, home health, and freedom in general.
– 1. They are really computer networks, powered by harmful microwaves. I know people who “tingle” as they get near one, and others who get headaches when the sit near one (inside the house) for 15 minutes. These networks are powered by a similar type microwave pulses used in your microwave oven, sometimes hundreds or thousands of pulses per hour.
– 2. The power company executives expect to “harvest” your data and sell it, and that your data will be more profitable to the electric company than the electricity you buy. Various items in your home or business have power usage signatures, like refrigerators, hair dryers, computers, printers, etc. They will know when you turn on your lights, take a bath, cook, etc.
– 3. There is a new generation of micro wave network compatible appliances now on the market. They will be able to turn on and off your “smart” light bulbs, stove, hot water, and even control the heat in your home.
– 4. This data will be transmitted to every other node on the microwave network in your neighborhood. In other words, to everyone with electricity in your neighborhood.
– 5.These networks, like all computers can be hacked, so any clever kid in a basement, or even the NSA or CIA, will have access to this data and power over you. Any local cop who might not like you will be able to trump up charges based on “evidence” manipulated after taken from the network.
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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.