Amazon

Experts warn of ‘epidemic’ of bugging devices used by stalkers

More funding and legal powers are needed for police to stop a surge of stalkers using eavesdropping devices to spy on victims, experts have warned.

By James Hockaday for Metro.co.uk

 

 

Firms paid to detect the bugs say they’re finding more and more of the devices which are readily available on online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

Jack Lazzereschi, Technical Director of bug sweeping company Shapestones, says cases of stalking and victims being blackmailed with intimate footage shot in secret has doubled in the past two years.

He told Metro.co.uk: ‘The police want to do something about it, they try to, but usually they don’t have the legal power or the resources to investigate.

‘For us it’s a problem. We try to protect the client, we want to assure that somebody has been protected.’

 

People are paying as little as £15 for listening devices and spy cameras hidden inside desk lamps, wall sockets, phone charger cables, USB sticks and picture frames.

Users insert a sim card into a hidden slot and call a number to listen in on their unwitting targets.

People using hidden cameras can watch what’s happening using an apps on their phones.

Jack says the devices are so effective, cheap and hard to trace to their users, law enforcement prefer using them over expensive old-school devices.

Although every case is different, in situations where homeowners plant devices in their own properties, Jack says there’s usually a legal ‘grey area’ to avoid prosecution.

 

The devices themselves aren’t illegal and they are usually marketed for legitimate purposes like protection, making it difficult for cops to investigate.

There is no suggestion online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon are breaking the law by selling them.

But in some instances, images of women in their underwear have been used in listings – implying more sinister uses for the devices.

Even in cases when people are more clearly breaking the law, Jack says it’s unlikely perpetrators will be brought to justice as overstretched police will prioritise resources to stop violent crime.

Jack’s says around 60 per cent of his firm’s non-corporate cases cases involve stalking or blackmail.

He says it’s become an ‘epidemic’ over the past couple of years with the gadgets more readily available than ever before.

Victims are often filmed naked or having sex and threatened with the threat of footage being put online and in the worst cases children are also recorded.

Jack says UK law is woefully unprepared to deal with these devices compared to countries in the Asian-Pacific region.

In South Korea authorities have cracked down on a scourge of perverts planting cameras in public toilets.

James Williams, director of bug sweepers QCC Global says snooping devices used to be the preserve of people with deep pockets and technological know-how.

He said: ‘It’s gone from that to really being at a place where anybody can just buy a device from the internet.

 

‘Anything you can possibly think of you can buy with a bug built into it. I would say they’re getting used increasingly across the board.’

Suky Bhaker, Acting CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which runs the National Stalking Helpline, warned using these gadgets could be a prelude to physical violence.

She said: ‘We know that stalking and coercive control are extremely dangerous and can cause huge harm to the victim, both in terms of their psychological wellbeing and the potential for escalation to physical violence or even murder.

‘The use of surveillance devices or spyware apps by stalkers, must be seen in the context of a pattern of obsessive, fixated behaviour which aims at controlling and monitoring the victim.

 

She added: ‘There should be clarity for police forces that the use of surveillance equipment by stalkers to monitor their victim’s location or communications is a sign that serious and dangerous abuse may be present or imminent.’

‘All cases of stalking or coercive control should be taken seriously and investigated when reported to police.’

The charity is calling for all police forces across the country to train staff in this area.

Earlier this month a policeman known only by his surname Mills was barred from the profession for life for repeatedly dismissing pleas for help from 19-year-old Shana Grice who was eventually murdered by her stalker ex-boyfriend Michel Lane.

 

A spokesman for eBay said: ‘The listing of mini cameras on eBay is permitted for legitimate items like baby monitors or doorbell cameras.

‘However, items intended to be used as spying devices are banned from eBay’s UK platform in accordance with the law and our policy.

‘We have filters in place to block prohibited items, and all the items flagged by Metro have now been removed.’

Amazon declined to comment.

Amazon Echo turned into snooping device by Chinese hackers

‘ALEXA, SNOOP ON MY WESTERN BUDDIES’ is potentially a command Chinese hackers barked at an Amazon Echo after they managed to turn it into a snooping device.

By Roland Moore-Colyer

Cybersecurity boffins from Chinese firm Tencent’s Blade security research team exploited various vulnerabilities they found in the Echo smart speaker to eventually coax it into becoming an eavesdropping device.

The hackers showed off the snooping speaker at the DefCon security conference, reported Wired, using it as a demonstration for the potential for smart home devices to be used for surveillance.

 
But before you boot your Echo or Google Home out of the nearest window, the hackers noted that getting into the Echo was hardly an easy process, and Amazon now has fixes for the security holes.

“After several months of research, we successfully break the Amazon Echo by using multiple vulnerabilities in the Amazon Echo system, and [achieve] remote eavesdropping,” a description of the hackers work, provided to Wired, explained.

“When the attack [succeeds], we can control Amazon Echo for eavesdropping and send the voice data through the network to the attacker.”

The hackers first needed to create a spying-capable Echo, which involved a multi-step penetration technique with enough intricacies to get past the device’s built-in security. This included taking apart the Echo, removing its flash chip and writing custom firmware onto it before remounting the chip.

Once done, the Echo then had to be connected to the same network as a target device Echo device. From there, the hackers could exploit a vulnerability in Amazon’s Whole Home Audio Daemon, which can communicate with other Echo devices on the network, and gain control over targeted Echo gadgets.

And, from there, they could then snoop on their victims and pass recording back to the malicious Echo or pipe all manner of sound through the hijacked Echo.

The technique is hardly an easy or particularly remote way to hack an Echo, but it does conjure up some techniques spies could apply in surveillance operations, providing they have permission to sneak into a person’s house, or they could go rogue like Ethan Hunt does in pretty much every Mission Impossible flick.

The whole situation also highlights how security in such devices needs to be given as much attention as other smart features, as there’s already been a swathe of examples where lax security in smart or connected devices has lead to hack attacks.

Alexa’s ‘Drop In’ Feature Makes Eavesdropping Easy

With a simple voice command Amazon’s Alexa can help you turn on the lights, play music or order a pizza. There’s also a feature that lets you talk to other Alexa users. But Julie Watts tells us, if you’re not careful, they may be able to listen to you without your knowledge. (3:21) WCCO This Morning – March 14, 2018

Source: CBS Minnesota

Stalker-assisting spy devices: Bugs & hacking software sold online for £20

USB charging cable with hidden eavesdropping GSM device (SIM card slot) ©Shapestones.  

Technology has advanced so quickly that stalkers are now able to carry out digital surveillance on their targets – bugging their phones and accessing their locations with ease, victims’ groups warn.
Everyday more and more people are engaging in stalking, using listening devices that cost as little as £20 ($28) some of which can easily be hidden inside plug adaptors.

Companies like Amazon and eBay are selling spy tools over the internet, with victims’ helplines announcing an increasing number of complaints as a result.

“[The devices] are really easy to get, they’re really easy to use,” said Clare Elcombe Webber, manager of the National Stalking Helpline, the Guardian reported. “I think for some stalkers it really legitimizes what they’re doing… The message it sends to victims is there are all these technological advancements that help your stalker, but not you.”

Cases include a woman who had a USB-like listening gadget placed in her handbag by her stalker. There are more and more cases of small digital devices being used to spy on people

“We see this regularly… they put in listening devices or video devices in the house or tracking devices on the car and you can buy all of that on Amazon,” Chief Executive of Digital-Trust Jennifer Perry told the Guardian.

Another woman’s ex used a bug inside an extension lead. The former partner was then texting her details of the bedtime stories that she told her children.

Spyware and spying apps were also used in roughly 130 cases dealt with by the national helpline.

Shockingly, the camera of a laptop can be turned on by someone remotely using the software, while keystrokes can be traced to read conversations from the device. The purchase and installation of such devices is now illegal under the Computer Act of 1990.

“We had one client who went home, her laptop was on, she had a shower, she then got a message from her stalker saying ‘Did you have a nice shower?’” said Elcombe Webber.“It’s that kind of invasion and not knowing how that person is able to see you. Are they outside? Are they in the house? It’s really, really frightening.”

In the 11 months to November 2017, the National Stalking Helpline received 4,337 calls or emails. More than half of cases were involving an ex-partner and 77 percent of the victims were female.

After the Guardian alerted eBay to the existence of the USB and plug listening devices, the items were removed from the site.

Source: RT News

Double Checking Settings To Avoid ‘Echo’ Eavesdropping

Donal MacIntyre’s estranged wife is arrested after the TV investigator found a spy camera disguised as a coat hook in his home

  • Ameera MacIntyre, 43, is accused of using his credit card to buy it on Amazon

  • She’s also alleged to have used third party to plant the device in his Surrey home

  • The hook has a tiny lens concealed at the top and a microchip to record sound

Donal MacIntyre’s estranged wife has been arrested after he allegedly found a spy camera disguised as a coat hanger in his home. 

Ameera MacIntyre, 43, is accused of using his credit card to buy it on Amazon and getting a third party to plant the device. 

The hook has a tiny lens concealed at the top and a microchip to record sound.

Detectives are investigating how the device, which cost as little as £10, was planted in Mr MacIntyre’s Surrey home.

The mother-of-four Ameera  was arrested at her home on suspicion of theft and is alleged to have bought two other items using Mr MacIntyre’s credit card without his permission.

 

Computers were seized and Ameera was also held on suspicion of possessing cocaine.

Donal and Ameera broke up bitterly in 2015 and she publicly accused him of being a ‘cheating scumbag’.

They were married for nine years and have three kids.

CONNOR BOYD FOR MAILONLINE
Source: Daily Mail