A newly published Snowden leak reveals that the NSA planned to hack the Android store so that it could covertly install malware on its targets' phones.
The plan, codenamed IRRITANT HORN, involved exploiting a bug in a browser from Alibaba that is used by hundreds of millions of people, which the NSA kept a secret, leaving all those users vulnerable to attacks from criminals and other spy agencies.
Update: Here's the original research on the program from the always-excellent Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.
Their goal, in tapping into UC Browser and also looking for larger app store vulnerabilities, was to collect data on suspected terrorists and other intelligence targets — and, in some cases, implant spyware on targeted smartphones.
The 2012 document shows that the surveillance agencies exploited the weaknesses in certain mobile apps in pursuit of their national security interests, but it appears they didn't alert the companies or the public to these weaknesses. That potentially put millions of users in danger of their data being accessed by other governments' agencies, hackers or criminals.
"All of this is being done in the name of providing safety and yet … Canadians or people around the world are put at risk," says the University of Ottawa's Michael Geist, one of Canada's foremost experts on internet law.
Spy agencies target mobile phones, app stores to implant spyware [Amber Hildebrandt and Dave Seglins/CBC]
(via The Intercept)
Clearview AI (previously) is a grifty facial recognition company that sells untested, secretive tools to police departments, claiming that they can identify people from security camera footage by matching the pictures those scraped from big social media sites.
In 2018, London's Metropolitan Police Force announced trials of a facial recognition system that could be married to the city's legendarily invasive CCTV thicket; the tests failed 98% of the time and led to arrests of people who opted out by covering their faces.
• Hoan Ton-That, founder of facial recognition tech firm Clearview AI, previously connected to Trump world figures and online hate extremists, reports Buzzfeed News • Chuck Johnson, Mike Cernovich, and Rudy Giuliani are among the linked figures named in Buzzfeed report • NYPD disputes facial recognition firm Clearview AI’s claim that it identified a terrorism […]
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