Political

South Korean women demand equal justice for internet sex crimes amid ‘spy-cam porn epidemic’

Thousands of women took to the streets of Seoul over the weekend to demand that the police fairly investigate digital sex crimes involving hidden cameras.

Demonstrators among the 12,000-strong gathering claimed that the police would “speed up” their investigations if the victims of privacy intrusions of a sexual nature were men, while allegedly dragging their feet over abuse cases involving women, including ubiquitous “spy-cam” or “revenge porn.”

The event on Saturday was one of the largest female protests in recent South Korean history. Many wore red as a symbol of their anger, while chanting “women are also citizens of Korea,” reported the Korea Times.  

The protest was sparked by the arrest of a female model, 25, for allegedly photographing a male colleague naked without his knowledge while he was posing for university fine art students, and uploading the picture online. 

The young man was reportedly distraught after his picture went viral and he was ridiculed. 

Women were surprised, however, by how quickly the police rushed to solve the case – taking under a week to do so. Over 400,000 people have now signed a petition to the presidential Blue House, demanding “equal justice” and claiming that the female suspect has been unfairly treated.
 
“Just because the victim is a man and the suspect is a woman this time, the country is investigating the case differently,” wrote one petitioner, according to the JoongAng daily. 

“Remember the cases of women who were victims of hidden camera crimes and went to the police for help?” wrote another. “They would be told, ‘Well you had it coming to you, because you didn’t dress modestly’ or ‘We can’t catch the culprit. It’s too hard’.”

For years, South Korean women have been victims of what was described by the Korea Expose website as a “spy-cam porn epidemic”. They have been secretly filmed in public bathrooms, changing rooms, or a camera has been pointed up their skirt on an escalator, and the footage is then posted online. 

In 2016, the police closed down Soranet, one of the most notorious websites for hidden camera footage of female body parts, and which had over one million users. It reportedly took the authorities ten years to do so.

According to police data, almost 5,200 sexual harassment cases involving spy-cam footage were reported in 2016. Over 80 percent of the victims were women. The same year, more than 7,300 requests were made to remove revenge porn, which had often been illegally uploaded. 
 
Petitioners to the Blue House also mentioned the case of five male swimmers who were charged for installing spy cameras in the female swimmers’ locker room. They were pronounced innocent last year by a local court, citing lack of evidence. 

The presidential office has proposed regulating hidden camera sales, imposing stronger penalties and providing a stronger support system for victims. 

Source: The Telegraph

Spy agency NSA triples collection of U.S. phone records – official report

An aerial view of the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S. January 29, 2010. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Agency collected 534 million records of phone calls and text messages of Americans last year, more than triple gathered in 2016, a U.S. intelligence agency report released on Friday said.

The sharp increase from 151 million occurred during the second full year of a new surveillance system established at the spy agency after U.S. lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk.

The spike in collection of call records coincided with an increase reported on Friday across other surveillance methods, raising questions from some privacy advocates who are concerned about potential government overreach and intrusion into the lives of U.S. citizens.

The 2017 call records tally remained far less than an estimated billions of records collected per day under the NSA’s old bulk surveillance system, which was exposed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.

The records collected by the NSA include the numbers and time of a call or text message, but not their content.

Overall increases in surveillance hauls were both mystifying and alarming coming years after Snowden’s leaks, privacy advocates said.

“The intelligence community’s transparency has yet to extend to explaining dramatic increases in their collection,” said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Washington-based Open Technology Institute that focuses on digital issues.

The government “has not altered the manner in which it uses its authority to obtain call detail records,” Timothy Barrett, a spokesman at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the annual report, said in a statement.

The NSA has found that a number of factors may influence the amount of records collected, Barrett said. These included the number of court-approved selection terms, which could be a phone number of someone who is potentially the subject of an investigation, or the amount of historical information retained by phone service providers, Barrett said.

“We expect this number to fluctuate from year to year,” he said.

U.S. intelligence officials have said the number of records collected would include multiple calls made to or from the same phone numbers and involved a level of duplication when obtaining the same record of a call from two different companies.

Friday’s report also showed a rise in the number of foreigners living outside the United States who were targeted under a warrantless internet surveillance program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that Congress renewed earlier this year.

That figure increased to 129,080 in 2017 from 106,469 in 2016, the report said, and is up from 89,138 targets in 2013, or a cumulative rise over five years of about 45 percent.

U.S. intelligence agencies consider Section 702 a vital tool to protect national security but privacy advocates say the program incidentally collects an unknown number of communications belonging to Americans.

 

Source: Yahoo News
(Reporting by Dustin Volz; editing by Grant McCool)

Swiss prosecutors charge Germans with industrial espionage – report

BERLIN/ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss prosecutors are charging three Germans with industrial espionage and violating bank secrecy, a media report said on Tuesday, potentially stoking a simmering dispute between Germany and Switzerland.

Zurich prosecutors allege the individuals passed documents to German courts and authorities, several Swiss and German media reported, in the latest twist to a row pitting Switzerland’s long-defended bank secrecy laws against a German tax clampdown.

The issue should be examined by the German government, said Lothar Binder, the financial policy spokesman for the Social Democrats in the German parliament.

“We need to ask what the legal basis the Swiss government is following here,” he told the media groups behind the report. “Perhaps they are trying to set an example to deter others.”

The Zurich prosecutor’s office was not immediately available for comment, while a German foreign ministry official said it was familiar with the case but that it does not comment on ongoing judicial processes.

The Swiss justice ministry had empowered the Zurich state prosecutor to investigate the three people on possible charges of industrial espionage in 2015, the media report by German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, the Correctiv research group, German broadcaster ZDF and Swiss digital magazine Republik, said.

The report, a summary of which was released to German media, said the three individuals – a Stuttgart-based attorney for Mueller and two bank employees – have denied the charges.

German states have for years obtained details of bank accounts held secretly in Switzerland by Germans they say are trying to evade tax. Swiss authorities say this amounts to the theft of business secrets.

The Swiss Banking Act requires employees of Swiss-regulated banks to keep client information confidential, but a number of staff have leaked account details to foreign authorities in the past decade as Western governments crack down on tax evasion.

Such whistleblowers and new disclosure standards have proven costly for Swiss banks, which have suffered hundreds of billions of dollars in outflows as a result and more than a third of Swiss private banks have closed.

The latest case stemmed from a legal dispute between private Swiss bank J. Safra Sarasin and German investor Erwin Mueller concerning “Cum Ex” trades which made use of a capital gains tax loophole that has since been outlawed, according to the report.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Berlin, John O’Donnell in Frankfurt, and Silke Koltrowitz and Michael Shields in Zurich; Editing by Alexander Smith

Source: Reuters

Scientists claim ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba were likely caused by poorly engineered eavesdropping devices

  • US embassy workers in Cuba fell ill after hearing high-pitch sounds

  • The ‘sonic attacks’ were experienced in their homes and hotel rooms

  • It was thought that ‘sonic weapons’ might have been used against them

  • Scientists at the University of Michigan believe that poorly engineered eavesdropping devices might’ve produced the painful sound

  • If true, the ‘sonic attacks’ on the workers would have been accidental

Scientists believe the root of a ‘sonic attack’ that led to the US State Department recalling 21 employees and reducing staff from its embassy in Cuba could’ve just been ‘bad engineering.’

In September 2017, the State Department pulled 21 diplomats and their families out of Cuba and stopped issuing travel visas to the country after embassy workers reported hearing loss, dizziness, speech issues, cognitive problems and other medical symptoms that appeared to stem from a ‘sonic attack’ in their homes or hotel rooms. 

Some Canadian embassy workers also reported feeling ill from a high-pitched noise. 

Doctors, FBI investigators and US intelligence agencies all tried to identify the source of the ‘sonic attack,’ with some people postulating that a sonic weapon or even a poisoning was being deployed against the embassy workers.

 

The effected workers — who had reported hearing agonizing, high-pitched noises in very specific areas of their rooms — were found to have had suffered mild traumatic brain injury, but doctors at the time were not able to determine what exactly had happened to the workers’ brains.     

By December, officials had stopped using the term ‘sonic attack,’ with sources implying to the AP that the noise that caused the workers to fall ill might actually have been a byproduct of something else, rather than what had been deemed a ‘targeted attack.’   

A new report from the University of Michigan now suggests the ‘sonic attack’ was actually the result of eavesdropping devices that were in too close proximity, which then accidentally set off an ultrasonic noise, the Daily Beast reports.

If true, that would imply that the ‘sonic attack’ was actually an accident, not something aimed at deliberately harming American or Canadian embassy workers.  

‘We’ve demonstrated a scenario in which the harm might have been unintentional, a byproduct of a poorly engineered ultrasonic transmitter that was meant to be covert,’ Kevin Fu, a University of Michigan associate professor of computer science and engineering, told the Michigan Engineer News Center.

‘A malfunctioning device that was supposed to inaudibly steal information or eavesdrop on conversation with ultrasonic transmission seems more plausible than a sonic weapon.’

Fu did note, however, that despite his team’s findings, ‘our results do not rule out other potential causes.’

Fu, who researches computer security and privacy, and the co-authors of the study were inspired to look into what might have caused the ‘sonic attack’ after the AP released an audio sample that an embassy worker had recorded of the painfully high-pitched noise in question.

 

Iran the most dangerous nation for cyberattacks, says Saudi foreign minister

The most dangerous nation for cyber threats is Iran, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told CNBC on Sunday, saying that the country had been attacked “repeatedly” by its adversary.

Asked who he believed was the most dangerous nation in terms of cyber attacks and Al-Jubeir was unequivocal.

“The most dangerous nation behind cyber attacks? Iran,” Al-Jubeir said.

“Iran is the only country that has attacked us repeatedly and tried to attack us repeatedly. In fact they tried to do it on a virtually weekly basis.”

Speaking at the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, the foreign minister repeatedly criticized Iran for what he called “mischievous behavior” in the region, with particular reference to its support for Shia militant group Hezbollah, which holds influence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The Sunni monarchy’s interests have for decades been diametrically opposed to Iran’s, but the past year has seen tensions escalate against a backdrop of proxy conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

Given the mounting animosity between the Sunni monarchy and the Shia Islamic republic, Al-Jubeir’s statement is perhaps not surprising. CNBC contacted the Iranian government for a response to Al-Jubeir’s comments but has yet to receive a reply.

Al-Jubeir said his country was taking steps to combat the perceived cyber threat from Iran.

“We are taking all the steps necessary to provide defenses for our data banks and for our internet and so forth. And we are also taking steps necessary to train our own people in order to be able to engage in offensive operations to make it hopefully impossible for people to penetrate those systems,” he said.

Cyber experts have also pointed to what they see as the country’s seemingly increasingly sophisticated cyber-espionage capabilities.

Last September, the U.S. Treasury Department added two Iran-based hacking networks and eight individuals to a U.S. sanctions list, accusing them of taking part in cyber-enabled attacks on the U.S. financial system in 2012 and 2013, Reuters reported. Iran denied any role in the cyber attacks although it has also been linked to cyber attacks closer to home too.

Hackers believed to be linked to the Iranian government attacked Saudi state oil giant Aramco in 2012, successfully wiping 30,000 computers and paralyzing operations.

In addition, security experts have traced a number of subsequent attacks back to Iran, including hacks on Saudi and Western aerospace and petrochemical companies. Cyber security firm FireEye has said it detected coding containing Farsi references in the malware that hackers left behind.

Ever since the Stuxnet virus that destroyed the equipment controlled by computers in Iran’s Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility in 2011, Iran’s cyber capabilities are said to have developed at an incredibly fast pace.

FireEye in September 2017 named a hacker group it believed was behind recent attacks on Saudi, U.S. and South Korean aviation and oil firms as “APT33” and said it was gearing up for attacks that might cripple entire computer networks. “Iranian fingerprints are all over this campaign, and government fingerprints in particular,” FireEye’s director of cyber espionage analysis was quoted as telling Reuters.

Iran neither confirmed nor denied accusations that it was behind the attacks.

Cyber security has been a major focus of the Munich Security Conference, which has brought together more than 450 senior decision makers and heads of state to discuss current and future threats to international stability.

Source: CNBC/Yahoo Finance

Malawi Suspends Sim Card Registration Due To Eavesdropping Fears

The Malawian government has suspended a weeks-long mass registration of sim cards due to public concerns, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi said in a statement, Xinhua reported here on Thursday
 
LILONGWE,(UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 15th Feb, 2018 )::The Malawian government has suspended a weeks-long mass registration of sim cards due to public concerns, Minister of Information and CommunicationsTechnology Nicholas Dausi said in a statement, Xinhua reported here on Thursday.

The Malawi National Assembly enacted a new Communication Act in July 2016, which requires all sim cards to be registered. The registration was scheduled from Jan.

1 to March 31. However, it triggered fears that the authorities would listen to private phone calls.

Dausi said the government has taken note of the concerns and has decided to defer the registration until the issues are addressed. The statement added that the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology would engage the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority, telephone operators and other stakeholders in a mass awareness campaign to address the issues raised.

Source: UrduPoint

China’s ZTE says is trusted partner after U.S. concern

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese telecoms equipment group ZTE Corp hit back on Thursday against concerns from U.S. lawmakers that it is a vehicle for Chinese espionage, saying it was a trusted partner of its U.S. customers, state news agency Xinhua reported.

China is trying to gain access to sensitive U.S. technologies and intellectual properties through telecommunications companies, academia and joint business ventures, U.S. senators and spy chiefs warned on Tuesday.

Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was concerned about the ties to the Chinese government of Chinese telecoms companies like Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE.

“ZTE is proud of the innovation and security of our products in the U.S. market,” Xinhua cited a ZTE spokesman as saying.

The company takes cybersecurity and privacy seriously, has always adhered to laws and remains a trusted partner of U.S. suppliers and customers, the company added.

“As a publicly traded company, we are committed to adhering to all applicable laws and regulations of the United States, work with carriers to pass strict testing protocols, and adhere to the highest business standards,” it said.

Last week, Republican Senator Tom Cotton and Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation that would block the U.S. government from buying or leasing telecoms equipment from Huawei or ZTE, citing concern the companies would use their access to spy on U.S. officials.

In 2012, Huawei and ZTE were the subject of a U.S. investigation into whether their equipment provided an opportunity for foreign espionage and threatened critical U.S. infrastructure – something they have consistently denied.

Allegations of hacking and internet spying have long strained relations between China and the United States. In 2014 then FBI Director James Comey said Chinese hacking likely cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars every year.

China has strongly denied all U.S. accusations of hacking attacks.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Stephen Coates

Source: Reuters

U.S. senators concerned about Chinese access to intellectual property

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China is trying to gain access to sensitive U.S. technologies and intellectual properties through telecommunications companies, academia and joint business ventures, U.S. senators and spy chiefs warned on Tuesday at a Senate hearing.

Republican Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he worried about the spread in the United States of what he called “counterintelligence and information security risks that come prepackaged with the goods and services of certain overseas vendors.”

“The focus of my concern today is China, and specifically Chinese telecoms (companies) like Huawei (Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL]) and ZTE Corp, that are widely understood to have extraordinary ties to the Chinese government,” Burr said.

 
Chinese firms have come under greater scrutiny in the United States in recent years over fears they may be conduits for spying, something they have consistently denied.

A Huawei spokesman said the company is aware of “U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the U.S. market.” He also said the firm is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries and poses no greater cyber security risk than other vendors.

ZTE officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 
Burr said he worried that foreign commercial investment and acquisitions might jeopardize sensitive technologies and that U.S. academic research and laboratories may be at risk of infiltration by China’s spies.

Several of the U.S. spy agency chiefs who testified at the committee’s annual worldwide threats hearing cited concerns raised by what they called China’s “all of society” approach toward gaining access to technology and intellectual property.

“The reality is that the Chinese have turned more and more to more creative avenues using non-traditional collectors,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in response to a question about student spies.

Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice chairman, said he worried about commercialization of surveillance technologies as well as the close relationship between the Chinese government and companies.

“Some of these Chinese tech companies may not even have to acquire an American company before they become pervasive in our markets,” Warner said.

Wray said the United States needed a more “strategic perspective on China’s efforts to use acquisitions and other types of business ventures.”

Under questioning from Republican Senator Tom Cotton, none of the Intelligence officials said they would use a Huawei or ZTE product.

Last week, Cotton and Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation that would block the government from buying or leasing telecoms equipment from Huawei or ZTE, citing concern the companies would use their access to spy on U.S. officials.

In 2012, Huawei and ZTE were the subject of a U.S. investigation into whether their equipment provided an opportunity for foreign espionage and threatened critical U.S. infrastructure – something they have consistently denied.

 
“Chinese cyber espionage and cyber attack capabilities will continue to support China’s national security and economic priorities,” said Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the United States was the world’s most powerful country.

“If even the United States thinks it is surrounded by threats, what should other countries do?” Geng told reporters.

“I don’t know where the United States’ sense of insecurity comes from. But I want to emphasize that in this world there is no such thing as absolute security. One country’s security can’t be put before another country’s security.”

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Frances Kerry, Rosalba O’Brien, Susan Thomas & Simon Cameron-Moore

Source. Reuters

Mexico presidential hopeful says he is target of government spying

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A Mexican presidential candidate denounced on Tuesday alleged surveillance of his movements by the government and demanded an explanation, the latest in a series of accusations that Mexico is spying without due cause on its own citizens.

Ricardo Anaya, a former congressman in second place in many opinion polls ahead of July’s election, published a video on Twitter that shows him confronting the driver of a vehicle following him on a highway who identifies himself as a member of the country’s main intelligence agency, CISEN.

 
In the video, the smiling agent says he is following Anaya “so that there’s no problem.”

Government surveillance has raised major concerns in Mexico in recent months, with reports of journalists, NGO workers and opposition politicians being tracked. Fears about Russian attempts to influence the election have also made headlines.

 
Anaya, who is a critic of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of President Enrique Pena Nieto and leads a left-right opposition coalition, also posted photos of another vehicle he claims was following him.

“Instead of following criminals, they spy on opponents of the government,” said Anaya, the former president of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), in a post on Twitter.

Anaya demanded in a statement that the government explain the criteria it uses to “spy on opposition politicians.”

A government official denied that Anaya was a surveillance target.

“This is not a case of espionage or spying on opponents or clandestine measures,” said Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete at an event in Mexico City when asked about Anaya’s comments.

“We follow up on all important activities that happen in the country.”

Leftist presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the front-runner in polls, said last week that he and his family have also been targets of spying.

 
Last year, the Pena Nieto government was criticized by United Nations human rights experts over University of Toronto research findings that it had targeted activists and journalists using sophisticated spying software known as Pegasus.

The software is marketed by Israeli company NSO Group, which only sells it to governments.

The researchers said they had found a trace of the Pegasus software in a phone belonging to a group of experts backed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The group had investigated the 2014 disappearance of 43 students that marked one of Mexico’s worst atrocities.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by David Alire Garcia, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Source: Reuters

African Union says has no secret dossiers after China spying report

BEIJING (Reuters) – The African Union does not have any secret dossiers and nothing to spy on, a senior official said in Beijing on Thursday, rejecting a report in French newspaper Le Monde that Beijing had bugged the regional bloc’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Le Monde, quoting anonymous AU sources, reported last month that data from computers in the Chinese-built building had been transferred nightly to Chinese servers for five years.

After the massive hack was discovered a year ago, the building’s IT system including servers was changed, according to Le Monde. During a sweep for bugs after the discovery, microphones hidden in desks and the walls were also detected and removed, the newspaper reported.

 
Speaking to reporters with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at his side, head of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said the allegations in the paper were false.

“What I can assure you of is that the relations between China and Africa, as I described, are unwavering. No manoeuvres of this type can distract us from our objectives,” Faki said.

 
“The African Union is an international political organisation. It doesn’t process secret defence dossiers. We are an administration and I don’t see what interest there is to China to offer up a building of this type and then to spy,” he said.

“So these are totally false allegations and I believe that we are completely disregarding them.”

The $200 million headquarters was fully funded and built by China and opened to great fanfare in 2012. It was seen as a symbol of Beijing’s thrust for influence in Africa, and access to the continent’s natural resources.

Wang said that he appreciated Faki’s comments, and called the headquarters a symbol of China-Africa friendship.

“It cannot be tarnished by any person or any force,” Wang said.

China-Africa relations had withstood decades of ups and downs and changes in the international arena, he added.

“Perhaps some people or forces are unwilling to help Africa themselves and have a feeling of sour grapes about the achievements of China’s cooperation with Africa,” Wang said.

 
“Any rumours are powerless, and any sowing of discord won’t succeed.”

As in the Ethiopian capital, China’s investments in road and rail infrastructure are highly visible across the continent. At a 2015 summit in South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion (£43.3 billion) in aid and investment to the continent, saying it would continue to build roads, railways and ports.

Separately, Wang announced that China would hold another summit with African leaders this September, in Beijing.