Canada's Mounties use a 6-year-old "interim policy" to justify warrantless mass surveillance

In 2016, Motherboard used public records requests to receive 3,000 pages of documents from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detailing the federal police agency's longstanding secret use of IMSI Catchers (AKA "Stingrays" -- the fake cellular towers that silently capture data on every cellphone user in range). Read the rest

EFF and ACLU sue Trump administration over warrantless border device searches

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties just filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of 11 travellers whose devices were searched at the US border; they assert that warrantless device searches violate the constitutional restriction on searches without probable cause. Read the rest

In an engineering paper, bunnie Huang and Ed Snowden describe a malware-resistant hardware Iphone privacy overlay

In July 2016, Andrew "bunnie" Huang and Edward Snowden presented their research on journalist-friendly mobile surveillance resistance at the first MIT Media Lab Forbidden Research conference; a little over a year later, they have published an extensive scholarly paper laying out the problems of detecting and interdicting malware in a mobile device, and presenting a gorgeously engineered hardware overlay that can be installed in an Iphone to physically monitor the networking components and report on their activity via a screen on a slim external case. Read the rest

Hiding malware in boobytrapped replacement screens would undetectably compromise your mobile device

On the one hand, if you let an untrusted stranger install hardware in your electronic device, you're opening yourself up to all kinds of potential mischief; on the other hand, an estimated one in five smartphones has a cracked screen and the easiest, most efficient and cheapest way to get that fixed is to go to your corner repair-shop. Read the rest

Samsung and Foxconn to back cable-free phone tech by Tony Fadell of iPod and Nest fame

Tony Fadell is best known "one of the fathers of the iPod" at Apple, and as the former CEO of Nest. We've agreed to forget that he led the Google Glass division for a while, too. Today, news broke that the serial inventor and investor is now working with companies including Samsung Electronics and Foxconn's parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry, to develop new technology that would allow mobile phone devices to “transfer large amounts of data without using wires or WiFi connections.”

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It's not hard to think of ways to outsmart Stingray-detector apps

A group of researchers from Oxford and TU Berlin will present their paper, White-Stingray: Evaluating IMSI Catchers Detection Applications at the Usenix Workshop on Offensive Technologies, demonstrating countermeasures that Stingray vendors could use to beat Stingrays and other "cell-site simulators" (AKA IMSI catchers). Read the rest

Why we openly hate our cords

Why we secretly love our cords. Tamara Warren:

There’s a certain security in the cord. It’s the idea of connection, perhaps even dating back to our days in the womb. ... A battery, no matter how sophisticated, is fleeting. When we have our cords with us, we are in constant pursuit of power, even when we are fully charged, as a form of security. We often discover our misfortune — the loss of power — when it’s too late. The opposite of being fully charged is dead. Cords, and our attachment to them, have taken on a metaphor weighted in existentialism. There is anxiety in being too far removed. We are in a relationship with our cords.

Allow me to retort!

The cord is a chain. It's the imposition of place, perhaps even dating back to our days in the mire. ... A cord, no matter how comforting, is invariable. When we wander, we are in pursuit of freedom; we often discover our misfortune — the tether — too late. The opposite of mobility is stasis.

Honestly, I hate cords so much! The first trillionaire will be put there by batteries. Read the rest

First known US example of a gas-pump skimmer that uses SMS to exfiltrate data

This credit-card skimmer was removed from a New York gas pump; it uses components scavenged from a cellular phone and a T-Mobile SIM to send the credit card details it harvests to its owners, who can retrieve them from anywhere in the world. Read the rest

China forces Xinjiang Uyghurs to install mobile spyware, enforces with stop-and-frisk

China's Xinjiang province is home to the Uyghur ethnic/religious minority, whose fights for self-determination have been brutally and repeatedly crushed by the Chinese state: now, people in Xinjiang are being required to install mobile spyware on their devices. Read the rest

Investigators into mass murder of Mexican student teachers were attacked with NSO's government spyware

In 2014, 43 students from Mexico's Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College went missing in Iguala, in the state of Guerrero: they had been detained by police, who turned them over to a criminal militia, who are presumed to have murdered them. Read the rest

Turns out it's super-easy to commandeer wireless towers

With just a few keystrokes, you could be the proud owner of a few dozen wireless towers, thanks to a flaw in the FCC's Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) database. Aura Holdings of Wisconsin, Inc. is now being investigated for changing registrations for 40 towers without authorization. Read the rest

China orders mobile app stores to remove VPN apps

Starting July 1, the official Android and Apple App stores will no longer allow Chinese users to download the VPN apps that Chinese people rely upon in order to get around the Great Firewall of China, which censors information in China and surveils Chinese peoples' use of the net. Read the rest

Mozilla's new Android browser blocks ads and trackers

Mozilla has extended and improved its Firefox Focus browser, heretofore an Ios product, bringing it to Android, with auto-blocking of trackers and ads and making it easy to erase your browser history. Read the rest

Binky: a fully automated social network that doesn't require you to be sociable

Have you ever wished you had a social media feed you could like, fave, signal boost and comment on without having to actually interact with people in any way? Binky has you covered. Read the rest

Chinese Apple employees and contractors sold users' private data for as little as $1.50

Police in China's Zhejiang announced that they worked with colleagues in four provinces to arrest 22 suspects in a data-theft ring that raided Apple's internal networks for Iphone owners' sensitive personal information ("names, phone numbers, Apple IDs, and other data") which they sold to criminals for as little as $1.50. Read the rest

Police now routinely crack and extract all phone data from arrestees

Muckrock filed Freedom of Information Requests with multiple US police forces to find out how they were using "mobile phone forensic extraction devices" -- commercial devices that suck all the data out of peoples' phones and make it available for offline browsing. Read the rest

Netflix app will no longer run on rooted Android devices

Netflix has become one of the main forces for DRM in the world, a driver behind the W3C's dangerous, web-scale DRM project, and now they've announced that their app will no longer run on rooted/bootloader unlocked Android devices, because these devices can run code that overrides Google Widevine DRM (Widevine doesn't work well under the best of circumstances, and it harbored unpatched, showstopper bugs since its very inception). Read the rest

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