Computer security expert and privacy specialist Bruce Schneier writes:

The Internet of Things is the name given to the computerization of everything in our lives. Already you can buy Internet-enabled thermostats, light bulbs, refrigerators, and cars. Soon everything will be on the Internet: the things we own, the things we interact with in public, autonomous things that interact with each other.

These “things” will have two separate parts. One part will be sensors that collect data about us and our environment. Already our smartphones know our location and, with their onboard accelerometers, track our movements. Things like our thermostats and light bulbs will know who is in the room. Internet-enabled street and highway sensors will know how many people are out and about­ — and eventually who they are. Sensors will collect environmental data from all over the world.

The other part will be actuators. They’ll affect our environment. Our smart thermostats aren’t collecting information about ambient temperature and who’s in the room for nothing; they set the temperature accordingly. Phones already know our location, and send that information back to Google Maps and Waze to determine where traffic congestion is; when they’re linked to driverless cars, they’ll automatically route us around that congestion. Amazon already wants autonomous drones to deliver packages. The Internet of Things will increasingly perform actions for us and in our name.

Increasingly, human intervention will be unnecessary. The sensors will collect data. The system’s smarts will interpret the data and figure out what to do. And the actuators will do things in our world. You can think of the sensors as the eyes and ears of the Internet, the actuators as the hands and feet of the Internet, and the stuff in the middle as the brain. This makes the future clearer. The Internet now senses, thinks, and acts.

We’re building a world-sized robot, and we don’t even realize it.
Source: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/201...

A great summation of uberveillance in relation to FitBit-style trackers by Richard Chirgwin of The Register. Article here 

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale – even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available.

The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest evidence of widespread insecurity on SS7, the global network that allows the world’s cellular carriers to route calls, texts and other services to each other. Experts say it’s increasingly clear that SS7, first designed in the 1980s, is riddled with serious vulnerabilities that undermine the privacy of the world’s billions of cellular customers.

The flaws discovered by the German researchers are actually functions built into SS7 for other purposes – such as keeping calls connected as users speed down highways, switching from cell tower to cell tower – that hackers can repurpose for surveillance because of the lax security on the network.

Those skilled at the myriad functions built into SS7 can locate callers anywhere in the world, listen to calls as they happen or record hundreds of encrypted calls and texts at a time for later decryption. There also is potential to defraud users and cellular carriers by using SS7 functions, the researchers say.

These vulnerabilities continue to exist even as cellular carriers invest billions of dollars to upgrade to advanced 3G technology aimed, in part, at securing communications against unauthorized eavesdropping. But even as individual carriers harden their systems, they still must communicate with each other over SS7, leaving them open to any of thousands of companies worldwide with access to the network. That means that a single carrier in Congo or Kazakhstan, for example, could be used to hack into cellular networks in the United States, Europe or anywhere else.

“It’s like you secure the front door of the house, but the back door is wide open,” said Tobias Engel, one of the German researchers.

Engel, founder of Sternraute, and Karsten Nohl, chief scientist for Security Research Labs, separately discovered these security weaknesses as they studied SS7 networks in recent months, after The Washington Post reported the widespread marketing of surveillance systems that use SS7 networks to locate callers anywhere in the world. The Post reported that dozens of nations had bought such systems to track surveillance targets and that skilled hackers or criminals could do the same using functions built into SS7. (The term is short for Signaling System 7 and replaced previous networks called SS6, SS5, etc.)

The researchers did not find evidence that their latest discoveries, which allow for the interception of calls and texts, have been marketed to governments on a widespread basis. But vulnerabilities publicly reported by security researchers often turn out to be tools long used by secretive intelligence services, such as the National Security Agency or Britain’s GCHQ, but not revealed to the public.

“Many of the big intelligence agencies probably have teams that do nothing but SS7 research and exploitation,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the ACLU and an expert on surveillance technology. “They’ve likely sat on these things and quietly exploited them.”

The GSMA, a global cellular industry group based in London, did not respond to queries seeking comment about the vulnerabilities that Nohl and Engel have found. For the Post’s article in August on location tracking systems that use SS7, GSMA officials acknowledged problems with the network and said it was due to be replaced over the next decade because of a growing list of security and technical issues.

The German researchers found two distinct ways to eavesdrop on calls using SS7 technology. In the first, commands sent over SS7 could be used to hijack a cell phone’s “forwarding” function — a service offered by many carriers. Hackers would redirect calls to themselves, for listening or recording, and then onward to the intended recipient of a call. Once that system was in place, the hackers could eavesdrop on all incoming and outgoing calls indefinitely, from anywhere in the world.

The second technique requires physical proximity but could be deployed on a much wider scale. Hackers would use radio antennas to collect all the calls and texts passing through the airwaves in an area. For calls or texts transmitted using strong encryption, such as is commonly used for advanced 3G connections, hackers could request through SS7 that each caller’s carrier release a temporary encryption key to unlock the communication after it has been recorded.

Nohl on Wednesday demonstrated the ability to collect and decrypt a text message using the phone of a German senator, who cooperated in the experiment. But Nohl said the process could be automated to allow massive decryption of calls and texts collected across an entire city or a large section of a country, using multiple antennas.

“It’s all automated, at the push of a button,” Nohl said. “It would strike me as a perfect spying capability, to record and decrypt pretty much any network… Any network we have tested, it works.”

Those tests have included more than 20 networks worldwide, including T-Mobile in the United States. The other major U.S. carriers have not been tested, though Nohl and Engel said it’s likely at least some of them have similar vulnerabilities. (Several smartphone-based text messaging systems, such as Apple’s iMessage and Whatsapp, use end-to-end encryption methods that sidestep traditional cellular text systems and likely would defeat the technique described by Nohl and Engel.)
In a statement, T-Mobile said: “T-Mobile remains vigilant in our work with other mobile operators, vendors and standards bodies to promote measures that can detect and prevent these attacks.”

The issue of cell phone interception is particularly sensitive in Germany because of news reports last year, based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, that a phone belonging to Chancellor Angela Merkel was the subject of NSA surveillance. The techniques of that surveillance have not become public, though Nohl said that the SS7 hacking method that he and Engel discovered is one of several possibilities.

U.S. embassies and consulates in dozens of foreign cities, including Berlin, are outfitted with antennas for collecting cellular signals, according to reports by German magazine Der Spiegel, based on documents released by Snowden. Many cell phone conversations worldwide happen with either no encryption or weak encryption.

The move to 3G networks offers far better encryption and the prospect of private communications, but the hacking techniques revealed by Nohl and Engel undermine that possibility. Carriers can potentially guard their networks against efforts by hackers to collect encryption keys, but it’s unclear how many have done so. One network that operates in Germany, Vodafone, recently began blocking such requests after Nohl reported the problem to the company two weeks ago.

Nohl and Engel also have discovered new ways to track the locations of cell phone users through SS7. The Post story, in August, reported that several companies were offering governments worldwide the ability to find virtually any cell phone user, virtually anywhere in the world, by learning the location of their cell phones through an SS7 function called an “Any Time Interrogation” query.

Some carriers block such requests, and several began doing so after the Post’s report. But the researchers in recent months have found several other techniques that hackers could use to find the locations of callers by using different SS7 queries. All networks must track their customers in order to route calls to the nearest cellular towers, but they are not required to share that information with other networks or foreign governments.

Carriers everywhere must turn over location information and allow eavesdropping of calls when ordered to by government officials in whatever country they are operating in. But the techniques discovered by Nohl and Engel offer the possibility of much broader collection of caller locations and conversations, by anyone with access to SS7 and the required technical skills to send the appropriate queries.

“I doubt we are the first ones in the world who realize how open the SS7 network is,” Engel said.

Secretly eavesdropping on calls and texts would violate laws in many countries, including the United States, except when done with explicit court or other government authorization. Such restrictions likely do little to deter criminals or foreign spies, say surveillance experts, who say that embassies based in Washington likely collect cellular signals.

The researchers also found that it was possible to use SS7 to learn the phone numbers of people whose cellular signals are collected using surveillance devices. The calls transmit a temporary identification number which, by sending SS7 queries, can lead to the discovery of the phone number. That allows location tracking within a certain area, such as near government buildings.

The German senator who cooperated in Nohl’s demonstration of the technology, Thomas Jarzombek of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, said that while many in that nation have been deeply angered by revelations about NSA spying, few are surprised that such intrusions are possible.

“After all the NSA and Snowden things we’ve heard, I guess nobody believes it’s possible to have a truly private conversation on a mobile phone,” he said. “When I really need a confidential conversation, I use a fixed-line” phone.
Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-sw...

Have a look at this- KnightscopeAutonomous Robots that Predict and Prevent Crime 

I talked about a future like this at the QSymposium this year and many of the international relations scholars looked at me like I was from another planet! It took about 48 hours for people to realise that what I was saying was not just the stuff of science fiction, though I admit to watching every episode of Dr Who by the time I was 10 years old. I graduated with a Masters of Transnational Crime Prevention in the Faculty of Law in 2009- this is exactly what I studied, especially with respect to the notion of "hot pursuit" and separately intelligence-led policing (although now it's a lot more fashionable to talk about evidence-based policing. See my panel chairing at this Human Rights and Policing conference. A small part of my own presentation on proactive criminalisation is here.

Is this the future we want?

Is it just me, or can't you see where we're headed with this stuff?

I'd like to think that the data being collected by this BOT was going to be used just for peace and security but that would be a pipedream!

C'mon people "startup of the year"? Do we give prizes for novelty and innovation without thinking what it all might mean in the future?

And please don't give me the rhetoric about a knife being used to butter bread or to kill someone... this ain't the same thing! This is abhorrent! 

One day autonomous data collection, the next a packed mule! Anyone remember this article? But then the way these things are marketed you'd think they weren't real! Well think again... I had the great pleasure of entering Boston Dynamics in June of this year and was greeted by the monstrosities at the front door. The packed mules DO exist, they just haven't been unleashed en mass!

Thanks for the link KMA- interesting these Knightscope guys were given airtime at PII this year. Correct me if I'm wrong- but aren't these the guys PII is raising awareness against? What a smokescreen confusing mess!

Now compare!

Darlek: "I was made to take orders..."

Dr Who: "What does that mean?"

Darlek: "I am a solider, I was made to receive orders."

Katina: "My point exactly."


The Australian government has been building a state-of-the art, secret data storage facility just outside Canberra to enable intelligence agencies to deal with a ‘’data deluge’’ siphoned from the internet and global telecommunications networks.

The high-security facility nearing completion at the HMAS Harman communications base will support the operations of Australia’s signals intelligence agency, the top-secret Defence Signals Directorate.

Privately labelled by one Defence official as ‘’the new black vault’’, the data centre is one of the few visible manifestations of Australia’s deep involvement in mass surveillance and intelligence collection operations such as the US National Security Agency’s PRISM program revealed last week by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

Fairfax Media has confirmed Australian intelligence agencies receive what Defence intelligence officials describe as ‘’huge volumes’’ of ‘’immensely valuable’’ information derived from PRISM and other US signals intelligence collection programs.

Australian agencies assist the US to target foreign nationals and Australian citizens who are of security and intelligence interest to both countries.
Source: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/government-it...

Two part documentary from thoughtmaybe.com (About)

The United States of Secrets chronologically accounts the Bush administration’s embrace of illegal and widespread dragnet surveillance and eavesdropping programmes, along with President Obama’s decision to continue them and expand them (despite campaign promises to the contrary) by weaving narratives by those who sought to blow the whistle on these programmes over the decades—culminating with Edward Snowden’s unprecedented dump of insider documents in 2013. We see how and why those inside the NSA and other government agencies came to act; what actions were effective, and what role the mainstream media had and continues to have in keeping such secret projects alive and untouchable in the name of ‘national security.’
Part 1 -- The Program    Part one details the emergence of a top secret project within the NSA called ‘The Program’ which was a series of mass-surveillance, capture, storage, and data analysis operations that expanded after the events of September 11, 2001. The Program drew on preceding decades of ‘national security’ measures charting back to the Regan administration and beyond, which were embraced by the regime of George W Bush, and expanded with the Obama administration. This first episode ties together the machinations of a dark world of secret surveillance, spoken by those who blew the whistle from the inside, and why.

Part 1 -- The Program

Part one details the emergence of a top secret project within the NSA called ‘The Program’ which was a series of mass-surveillance, capture, storage, and data analysis operations that expanded after the events of September 11, 2001. The Program drew on preceding decades of ‘national security’ measures charting back to the Regan administration and beyond, which were embraced by the regime of George W Bush, and expanded with the Obama administration. This first episode ties together the machinations of a dark world of secret surveillance, spoken by those who blew the whistle from the inside, and why.

Part 2 -- Privacy Lost    Part two details how companies like Google and Facebook provide excellent data harvesting portals for intelligence agencies such as the NSA, by operating huge infrastructures for targeted advertising—which is is one and the same with surveillance.

Part 2 -- Privacy Lost

Part two details how companies like Google and Facebook provide excellent data harvesting portals for intelligence agencies such as the NSA, by operating huge infrastructures for targeted advertising—which is is one and the same with surveillance.

"Kidnappings in Mexico have worsened in the last 5 years, sky-rocketing by 371%. So too have the demand for those RFID implants that were said to allow authorities find the victims. Except for one thing: they don't work.

Mexico has a pretty serious kidnapping problem-so serious that there is now a market for a $4,000...Read more

The main problem is that the technology, for a number of reasons, couldn't have worked in the first place. For one, the implants are much too small for a satellite to pick up. And that's without taking into account the barriers the implant's signal would have to overcome—that is, metal, concrete, and the water of the human body. For another, the implants can't be trusted to broadcast a signal without losing its teeny tiny charge.

And even if the police did manage to pick up the signal, there'd be no time to mount a raid to save you. All told, you're probably only about 1% less screwed.

That hasn't stopped RFID manufacturers from raking in the money in the last two years. Xega's still very much at it, even after admitting the technology is "bad for the country." UPIwrites:

Xega charges people seeking the implant $2,000 up front, with annual fees of $2,000. For their money, implant customers get a radio frequency identification chip implanted into the fatty tissue of the arm.

Dickbaggery, thy name is RFID peddlers. [Washington Post via UPI]"

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Diario de Nuevo Laredo

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Diario de Nuevo Laredo

Read more here in Gizmodo and compare with this article on Mexico's Geolocalization Law (2012).

"....We use the information that your mobile phone already collects about your current location and whereabouts in order to make personalized suggestions about places to go, things to see, and stuff to do, that we think you would find interesting."

Read more