Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Microsoft Research, and Adobe Research have presented a technique
for reconstructing an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. For example, the method can be used to extract intelligible speech from video of a bag of potato chips filmed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass. [more inside]
posted by jedicus
on Aug 4, 2014 -
Philby's boss was Sir Stewart Menzies, who, we are told, "rode to hounds, mixed with royalty, never missed a day at Ascot, drank a great deal, and kept his secrets buttoned up behind a small, fierce mustache. He preferred women to men and horses to both." Menzies was an amateur at a time when his adversaries were professionals. Philby's fellow Soviet spy Donald Maclean was a mess. But since he was a mess with the right accent and background he easily found a home in the British spy service. At one point, Macintyre says, Maclean "got drunk, smashed up the Cairo flat of two secretaries at the U.S. embassy, ripped up their underwear, and hurled a large mirror off the wall, breaking a large bath in two. He was sent home, placed under the care of a Harley Street psychiatrist, and then, amazingly, after a short period of treatment, promoted to head the American desk at the Foreign Office."
Kim Philby, the Soviet spy who infiltrated MI6, is the subject of a Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker
. Gladwell argues that Philby's story is not about spying but "the hazards of mistrust." He is interviewed on a New Yorker podcast
about his article. Gladwell's article is also a review of Ben Macintyre's book on Philby, A Spy Among Friends
. Gladwell reviewed Macintyre's previous book, Operation Mincemeat
and argued that spy agencies might be more trouble than they're worth
posted by Kattullus
on Jul 28, 2014 -
This week's Glenn Greenwald revelation
is that Britain's GCHQ JTRIG intelligence organization offers its agents and planners tools
with abilities to increase the search ranking of chosen web sites, “change outcome of online polls”, “masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries”, and accomplish “amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).” [more inside]
posted by XMLicious
on Jul 16, 2014 -
In one of the most damning Snowden leaks yet revealed, Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain show that the NSA targets prominent Muslim-Americans
under the FISA secret court program. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has in response issued a denial
that any Americans were targeted for exercising their constitutional rights via its tumblr.
posted by p3on
on Jul 9, 2014 -
Reuters: EU court rules against requirement to keep data of telecom users
[different news sources: BBC
, The Register
] Considerably more detail is available in the ECJ press release (pdf)
and the full judgement
but the Court has invalidated Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC and struck a very clear blow against metadata storage in national law as the authority of the directive will soon cease to exist. This has a particular impact for UK MeFites, as UK law was based on the Directive and crucially passed through Parliament via the European Communities Act and thus skipped some review steps but is founded on the validity of the directive being implemented. Remaining national law would of course also be open to challenge on the same grounds. [more inside]
posted by jaduncan
on Apr 8, 2014 -
United States Senator Dianne Feinstein Publicly Accuses C.I.A. of Spying on Congress.
'The chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday accused the Central Intelligence Agency of improperly removing documents from computers that committee staff members had been using to complete a report on the agency’s detention program, saying the move was part of an effort to intimidate the committee.' 'Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the committee, suggested on the Senate floor that the agency had violated federal law and said the C.I.A. had undermined Congress’s constitutional right to oversee the actions of the executive branch.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword
on Mar 11, 2014 -
Der Spiegel reports on the NSA's "plumbers" at the Office of Tailored Access Operations, who collect and deploy exploits to infiltrate computers and even redirect shipments so they can install malware and hardware backdoors on electronics ordered by those they are targeting.
Jacob Appelbaum [AKA ioerror] reports
on the NSA's 'catalog', which ranges from $30 monitor cables that send back screenshots, to exploits for network security hardware from Cisco and Huawei, to backdoored BIOS code and firmware for all major hard drive manucfacturers.
While some of the NSA's malware requires physical access or proximity, much of it is remotely installable over the Internet.
At the 30c3 conference in Hamburg,
Appelbaum gives an in-depth talk about the NSA's Tailored Access Operations hacking activities
and its 'interdiction' process, whereby computers are tampered with during shipping or as part of a 'black-bag' operation.
Appelbaum, a Wikileaks affiliate who has reported on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, has been personally targeted
by such operations, as have his family members.
posted by anemone of the state
on Dec 30, 2013 -
Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, LinkedIn and Aol have all teamed up to oppose
widespread government surveillance. In an open letter to the US president and members of congress, the companies urge
the government to reform
its digital spy apparatus.
reactions at the Guardian.
posted by brina
on Dec 9, 2013 -
How would you, as a junior analyst in S2C41, the branch of the Signals Intelligence Directorate, navigate the millions of records logged daily, in order to find the nugget to get you noticed?
“EVILOLIVE, MADCAPOCELOT, ORANGECRUSH, COBALTFALCON, DARKTHUNDER: the names are beguiling. But they don’t always tell us much, which is their reason for existing: covernames aren’t classified, and many of them – including the names of the NSA’s main databases for intercepted communications data, MAINWAY, MARINA, PINWALE and NUCLEON – have been seen in public before, in job ads and resumés posted online.” Daniel Soar sorts through the possibilities in the London Review of Books
, 24 Oct 2013. (See also William Arkin's blog on codenames) [more inside]
posted by zbsachs
on Nov 4, 2013 -
The Spies Inside Damascus
: The Mossad's secret war on the Syrian WMD machine.
On Aug. 20, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began shifting around or using his chemical weapons, Obama would consider that "a red line." The implication was that such a move would lead to American intervention in Syria. Some officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry believed that Obama drew the line because he believed it would never be crossed. If that was his assumption, he made it based, in part, on assessments received from the Israeli intelligence services, which have waged a multidecade clandestine campaign to strip Assad of his deadliest weapons -- and which also have emerged as the United States' primary partners in collecting information on Middle Eastern regimes.
posted by andoatnp
on Sep 21, 2013 -
It doesn't matter whether you hate the spies and believe they are corroding democracy, or if you think they are the noble guardians of the state. In both cases the assumption is that the secret agents know more than we do. But the strange fact is that often when you look into the history of spies what you discover is something very different. It is not the story of men and women who have a better and deeper understanding of the world than we do. In fact in many cases it is the story of weirdos who have created a completely mad version of the world that they then impose on the rest of us.
—Bugger: Maybe the Real State Secret Is that Spies Aren't Very Good at Their Jobs and Don't Know Very Much About the World
by Adam Curtis. It's about the checkered history of the MI5.
posted by Kattullus
on Aug 9, 2013 -
During my service in the Korean military, I worked for two years as special intelligence personnel for the NSA, learning first-hand how to extract information from defense targets. Now, as a designer, I am influenced by these experiences and I have become dedicated to researching ways to “articulate our unfreedom” and to continue the evolution of my own thinking about censorship, surveillance, and a free society.
ZXX is a disruptive typeface
designed by an ex-Korean intelligence officer to prevent automated text processing. ZXX Type Specimen Video
. Project site
offers a free download (.zip, 77 KB)
posted by Foci for Analysis
on Jun 22, 2013 -
He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings "loaner" devices, which he erases before he leaves the US and wipes clean the minute he returns . In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi , never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery , for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, "Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop."
- Travel precautions in the age of digital espionage.
posted by Artw
on Feb 13, 2012 -
In March last year, the unmanned X-37B
US military spaceplane launched from Cape Canaveral on mission USA-226
, to "demonstrate various experiments", sensors and technology. Its original 270 day mission was extended in November
"as circumstances allow" for "additional experimentation opportunities", but a dedicated group of optical tracking specialists in the US and Europe believe that the X-37B is in fact spying
on the Chinese space station Tiangong-1
. [more inside]
posted by adrianhon
on Jan 5, 2012 -
... the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators. The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing. (previously)
posted by Joe Beese
on Dec 20, 2010 -
You may have heard about Romeo Agents
, the male employees of the East German Ministry for State Security
(also known as MfS or Stasi). They were unleashed on female federal employees in West Germany, with whom they began long-term relations and then began using as sources.
That tactic has apparently been used in the United States as well; David Cay Johnston writes about the real legacy of Daryl Gates
, the former chief of the LAPD. Gates died Friday. [more inside]
posted by krautland
on Apr 17, 2010 -