The FBI can remotely activate laptop and Android microphones with spyware

By on August 2, 2013, 3:30 PM
android, fbi, smartphone, privacy, surveillance, phone, microphone

The Feds are taking advantage of techniques more typically associated with malicious hackers to collect information on suspects, leveraging tools that can bring the traditional wiretap up to speed with the always-connected digital age.

Federal agencies usually do not disclose information about these capabilities, but recent court documents and interviews with program insiders reveal new details about hacking tools commonly used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to deliver spyware to phones and computers, reports the Wall Street Journal.

When a ‘simple’ wiretap isn’t enough, the FBI will use spyware under court orders to combat individuals who ‘go dark’ through the use of new technology and online chat programs that implement encryption to obfuscate communications, according to people familiar with the FBI programs.

Some of the tools are developed internally at the FBI, while others are contracted and purchased from the private sector. The software allows the Bureau to remotely activate microphones on Android smartphones and laptops, according to one former U.S. official. Both the FBI and Google declined to comment to the WSJ.

The report states that the FBI has been developing hacking tools for more than ten years, and typically uses them in cases involving organized crime, child pornography, and counterterrorism. According to a U.S. official, they are not used when investigating hacking cases for fear of discovery and public disclosure by the hacker.

Amid rampant allegations of government overreach through digital surveillance programs, news of the FBI using such tools is no surprise, but could be considered in a different league of snooping. Mark Eckenwiler, the Justice Department’s former primary authority on federal criminal surveillance law, says that a search warrant is required for every use of these tools, as well as to collect any data from a suspect’s computer or device.




User Comments: 21

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bugejakurt said:

If they are doing their job to protect citizenship from criminality, why not?

Guest said:

So Apple products are safer than Androids in this example?

roxxas2 said:

So Apple products are safer than Androids in this example?

WINDOWS PHONES are the safest phones, believe it or not.

Guest said:

Just curious...what do you base this information on?

Lurker101 said:

So Apple products are safer than Androids in this example?

WINDOWS PHONES are the safest phones, believe it or not.

Wrong again. I think you'll find the safest phone is the Nokia 5210.

Timonius Timonius said:

Just wrap your mobile device in tinfoil when not in use.

Guest said:

To those that don't know... anyone can.. with spyware...

1 person liked this | PinothyJ said:

Note to self: leave phone in other room when looking up terrific crime pornography organised by children...

Guest said:

Just as a small but important correction: it is called child abuse or child exploitation. The use of the word porn in relation to children is highly inappropriate, as it implies consent. No children would, given they have full understanding of what is happening to them, consent to being sexually assaulted, molested or otherwise interfered with...

1 person liked this | wastedkill said:

I would rather have them activate my phone when I'm watching a bloody murder scene with lots of screams and gunshots...

distantreality said:

Safest without any electronic devices but that is if you are up to no good...if your not doing anything wrong you most likely have nothing to worry about

Guest said:

When scientist will figure out how to turn off gene responsible for dominance ? (ps. if he won't be killed for doing so in the first place)

Guest said:

When scientist will figure out how to turn off gene responsible for dominance ? (ps. if he won't be killed for doing so in the first place)

If I understand this correctly (and I think I might not) it has no relevance whatsoever to the subject in hand?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If I understand this correctly (and I think I might not) it has no relevance whatsoever to the subject in hand?
If I understand correctly, it has everything to do with the subject. Without the dominance gene, there would be less fighting to be the dominate percentage of the worlds population. Therefor minimizing the need for surveillance at all.

wastedkill said:

Goverments wont stop surveillance at all would they tho they are just suprieme pedo's that love child porn

Guest said:

If I understand correctly, it has everything to do with the subject. Without the dominance gene, there would be less fighting to be the dominate percentage of the worlds population. Therefor minimizing the need for surveillance at all.

No, you are confusing security with dominance, these are separate things (I like the first but shun the second).

Win7Dev said:

This has been possible essentially since TCP/UDP were developed. Remote control over a device is not a new concept and certainly isn't difficult. With a bit of research, a kid with access to the internet and a smartphone could develop their own remote control tool, albeit with a few less features and probably less stealthy, but google works pretty well.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

No, you are confusing security with dominance, these are separate things (I like the first but shun the second).
Dominance is the driving factor behind crime. Without crime, there would be no need for security. If you can't see this then there is no hope for your soul. We were created as equals for a reason, we were not meant to fight amongst ourselves. But the so called dominance jean has always caused security conflicts, which result in the need for governing surveillance of all kinds.

The question here is how far personal privacy will allow governing surveillance, before laws are put in place to protect personal privacy of the innocent. The so called dominance gene is the foundation behind these conflicts.

Guest said:

There is no "dominance gene", that's a bunch of baloney invented by simpletons, it has no scientific basis whatsoever.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

So Apple products are safer than Androids in this example?

WINDOWS PHONES are the safest phones, believe it or not.

Yeah that's because hardly anyone uses one and those who do tend to be dull boring people not worth spying on :-D

spencer spencer said:

So Apple products are safer than Androids in this example?

WINDOWS PHONES are the safest phones, believe it or not.

Yeah that's because hardly anyone uses one and those who do tend to be dull boring people not worth spying on :-D

not to rain on your parade...but if the fbi don't have tools to get into windows devices then the CIA DHS and TSA do; Infact I bet microsoft helps; you see microsoft gets to keep your data too just as the gman does (back door deal) and it's not only microsoft it's almost all tech companies that have your info much like cookies for everything

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