Tools of Big Brother
Are Up and Running
To Love Big Brother
George W. Bush Channels
are two major fronts opening up in the Cyber War front,
largely being ignored by the major media. Computer security
groups are noting the vast influx of email-propelled virii.
The other front largely ignored is the clash in the surveillance
policies and programs between the FBI and the CIA, reported
only by Charles R. Smith of Newsmax.com news service.
is the name of the virus that is making the rounds currently
and grinding email servers to a halt worldwide. There
is much speculation by respectable theorists that this
may be the much-talked about keylogging virus the FBI
is threatening to release on the public known by the name
Magic Lantern. Operationally, it fits the profile, logging
keystrokes to a temp-file and when the temp-file reaches
a certain size, mailing the log file to a pre-specified
recipient. The Badtrans virus has had a couple modifications
made to it over the last couple weeks, making it's transmission
and operations more smooth, and therefore more infections
and effective, however it is reported that most commercially
available anti-virus software still picks it up prior
new version of the Badtrans virus activates embedded HTML
in the email and automatically informs Microsoft email
programs to activate theattached virus program. The virus
also appears to activate the MP3 player.
are three scenarios within possibility which would explain
the origin of the Badtrans virus. The first, most obvious,
and most widely accepted is that it is a simple keylogging
virus put out by a random hacker to get user's usernames
and passwords. The second theory is more of an addendum
to the first, in that it's a virus put out by a random
hacker at this time to try to create a buzz and make it
look as if the FBI is targeting certain groups or demographics
(this theory has been posited by many members of the OSINT
group RMNews). The third theory is that this is in fact
the second iteration of the Magic Lantern keylogger.
first theory is supported by the simple fact that this
sort of thing comes out on a fairly regular basis, and
to assume that this virus is any different than the last
15 that have come out is pure conjecture --at least at
first glance. The third theory is supported by the plethora
of news releases that has accompanied the virus's release
that tell of the FBI's Magic Lantern keylogger's inner
workings. The operations are very similar in description,
and a mass release through worm form is an effective means
of distribution, despite the preferred method of delivery
is reportedly the newly allowed "sneak and peek"
method --however, distribution through an email virus
does seem to be a bit unconventional, a bit of a kludge-type
attack. Granted, the FBI's technology teams have proven
somewhat clueless as to implementation of internet technologies
in the past, but this tends to lack the type of precision
the FBI needs, and seems like it could lead to the type
of legal trouble the FBI could ill-afford.
of this lends the most credence to the second theory,
that it is most likely being used as an Infowar tool,
to make individuals feel as if they are being singled
out by the FBI or other government agencies since most
virus detection systems alert the user of it and mention
it's purpose. It may have originally started out as the
tool mentioned in theory one, but it has quickly become
the tool mentioned in theory two.
vs. CIA in Cyberspace
people who are in the intelligence community and those
who follow it recognize that there was a vast intelligence
failure that led up to the Sept 11 attacks.
FBI and CIA are two agencies charged with law enforcement
and intelligence operations, have taken the most heat
for the failure. Both agencies had few areas of cooperation
prior to Sept. 11. As it turns out the FBI and CIA have
suddenly found themselves in diametrically opposed roles
is a list of tools that would aid US Federal law
tools: Carnivore http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/carnivore/carnlrgmap.htm
way carnivore works, according to the diagrams and explanations
on the FBI website, is to trap all data going through
a certain point, make a copy and send it back to a centralized
point. The FBI is then able to sift through it using keyword
Some time last year the FBI was forced by privacy advocates
such as the ACLU and the EFF to reveal that it had a new
software program called Carnivore designed to monitor
Internet e-mail. The way the Carnivore system operates
is not on home personal computers, or the client side,
but on Internet Service Provider computers, or the server
side. This allows the agency to siphon off data from suspected
is used only for looking through email, according to its
description, *however* from it's description, it is also
capable of sifting through web traffic. (remember that)
is no official documentation on Magic Lantern on FBI's
website, but open source intelligence resources describe
it's operation and implementation as such:
is to be spread either through an agent manually infecting
the machine by inserting an infected disk or downloading
the infection, or through targeted email virus infections.
(i.e., opening an email, and a hidden virus is installed
on the victim's machine without his knowledge by way of
many security holes in email software).
is a key-logging program, designed to intercept passwords
and outgoing emails from the user's machine. It cannot
log mouse clicks, however, which is it's only weakness.
(i.e., if a user has an encryption software installed,
and has the password stored locally, it can be activated
by mouse clicks instead of a password being typed in,
thus defeating the keylogging method).
jointly by Ocean Systems Co. of Burtonsville Md. (did
the software side) and Avid Technology Inc. (hardware
side). Its purpose is to trace the financial transactions
linked to Sept's terrorist attacks against New York and
Washington by enhancing ATM video surveillance images
that were previously unusable due to bad lighting and
file recovery tool. Used in cases where the suspect has
clean sweep deleted the hard drive of data.
original intent was to allow Asian Surfers (primarily
Chinese) to surf the web without government interference.
It allowed them to bypass governmentally blockage of websites
and to do so anonymously (at least to governments other
than the United States).
this tool sponsored by the CIA could be used as an aid
to hackers, as well as those hiding from governments and
companies who filter what their users are able to see.
could also be used as a device to in some way circumvent
the FBI from positively tracking down the author of a
message. Imagine if a terrorist sets up an account on
Hotmail, but uses Triangle Boy to access it. The FBI would
be able to determine what the content was, but would be
unable to find the user by way of IP tracking. Nor would
the FBI know what computer to put Magic Lantern on in
case the user was employing a method of
encryption, which would prevent the FBI from even seeing
the content of the messages as well.
software scours foreign Web sites and displays information
in English back to analysts. The program already understands
at least nine languages, including Russian, French and
Japanese. Not a remarkable piece of software, same results
that this software produce can be accomplished by combining
the power of Digital's babelfish project with Google's
search engine software.
a European Carnivore, not officially acknowledged by the
that listens to worldwide television and radio broadcasts
and transcribes detailed reports for analysts. Oasis currently
misinterprets about one in every five words and has difficulty
recognizing colloquial Arabic, but the system is improving,
said Larry Fairchild, head of the CIA's year-old Office
of Advanced Information Technology.
tool conflict comes up between the CIA and the FBI are
the CIA's Triangle Boy utility and the FBI's Magic Lantern
and Carnivore snooping utilities. Essentially, by using
the Triangle Boy web proxy utility or any other commercially
available approximation thereof while simultaneously running
any number of publicly available different 128-bit encryption
routines, you can effectively and completely block yourself
off from any FBI monitoring.
Triangle Boy allows you to do is anonymously surf the
web. There are a couple public projects on the internet
that approximate what Triangle Boy does, such as it's
predecessor Anonymizer.com, probably the web's first public
anonymous proxy server. By using this or a similar service
to log on to a public, free email server, you have prevented
the email server from logging your IP address, or in other
words, a number that can be linked to your person.
completely make your message unintelligible and unbreakable
to the US Federal government, use 128-bit or better encryption
methods, preferably the RC5 standard. Distributed.net
has been working with a brute force hack of the RC5 encryption
routine (64-bit encryption) since
using thousands of computers simultaneously on the project
and estimates they have a year left until they break the
code. From this one can safely assume that by the time
the government is able to break your message at 128-bits,
the usefulness of the contents of the message will long
past be viable, not to mention most statute of limitation
laws will have expired in the process.
in the Magic Lantern Keylogger
Magic Lantern keylogger not only is ineffective in accomplishing
it's purpose by virtue of the CIA's and the private sector's
privacy tools, it also could backfire on the federal government.
Any technically savvy hacker, could quite easily reverse
engineer the product to either hack into the repository
for the keylogged files or re-distribute the virus as
an agent to gather his own data, especially if the government
strikes deals with anti-virus makers to make the utility
unnoticed by their detection software.