ITC Security Threat of the Week – Week 17: A big surprise this week. The CIA are SPIES Mwahahahaha!

Having chipped off to China, sorry Hong Kong, technical assistant Ed Snowden revealed that the CIA routinely harvested intelligence data from social media sites. He also made some throw away comments like: “We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”

While a lot of attention is being paid on the social media snooping, there is little analysis about the ‘bugs’ in machines statement. Does he mean physical keystroke loggers, malware or most likely both?

At ITC towers, we can see the clear contradiction in his statement: ‘once you go on the network’, ‘you will never be safe’. Gotcha. If you want to be safe stay off the network. If you do go on the network make sure you understand your machine’s outbound traffic; what it is and where is it going.

None of this is big news (other than the massive governance implications of course!) . What is clear however is that the deployment of snooping hardware and software is a standard tool for fighting crime, espionage, committing crime and general naughtiness.

The analysis of outbound traffic compared and contrasted with sites with poor reputation is one tool which can be used to identify malware on your network, however law enforcement/spook command and controls probably do not appear on these poor reputation lists and this traffic may go undetected.

If you are worried that you are being spied on via malware or hardware intervention it is relatively straightforward to physically inspect your machine and its peripherals for intercepts. It is also straightforward to attach to an isolated network, capture the packets flowing out of your machine, connect to the internet and contrast the outputs with the appropriate internet registry assignments and make an assessment of your risk.

This level of inspection both manual and automated are services offered by ITC. If you would like to know more, please contact us.