Tuesday, March 7, 2017

#Vault7 vs. Incognito - My Story

FORWARD – After I began wirting this post, I decided to stop, and take a look at what has been going on in the world of WikiLeaks.  The majority of this blog post was written before hand.  I just prettied it up with some exerts from the newest WikiLeak, posted today.

For a few months now, my Sony Xperia mobile phone has been doing odd things.  For one thing, the screen display has always been set to turn off after 1 minute of idle time.  I notice in November 2016 that my screen was shutting off quite quickly.  I opened the SETTINGS menu and found that the   Not really thinking about it, I changed it back to 1 minute.
display had been changed to turn off after 15 seconds.
It happened several more times in the proceeding months.  Now, I am 100% sure that no one had physical contact with my phone, nor has anyone but myself logged into it. 
I've done Factory Reset after Factory Reset, and still it happens.  I started using a VPN on my Sony Xperia, and still my Display time is getting changed.
I've even started routing ALL my traffic on my phone through TOR using OrBot, with limited success.

My conclusion:  Either my phone has a poor sense of humor, or it has been 'compromised'.

CIA malware targets iPhone, Android, smart TVs

CIA malware and hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA's DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). The DDI is one of the five major directorates of the CIA (see this organizational chart of the CIA for more details).
The EDG is responsible for the development, testing and operational support of all backdoors, exploits, malicious payloads, trojans, viruses and any other kind of malware used by the CIA in its covert operations world-wide.
The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell's 1984, but "Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.
The CIA's Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user's geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone's camera and microphone.
Despite iPhone's minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA's Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. CIA's arsenal includes numerous local and remote "zero days" developed by CIA or obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms contractors such as Baitshop. The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.
A similar unit targets Google's Android which is used to run the majority of the world's smart phones (~85%) including Samsung, HTC and Sony. 1.15 billion Android powered phones were sold last year. "Year Zero" shows that as of 2016 the CIA had 24 "weaponized" Android "zero days" which it has developed itself and obtained from GCHQ, NSA and cyber arms contractors.
These techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the "smart" phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.

I fancy myself a bit of a 'Privacy Nerd'.  By that I mean, I rarely, if ever resort to using any Microsoft software.  I don't use Windows.  I made the switch to running Ubuntu Linux about seven years ago, and haven't looked back, until a couple of weeks ago. 
As with my mobile phone, a few months ago, I noticed small things changing on my Ubuntu system.  Files would move, or disappear completely. I wasn't entirely sure what had happened, so I reformatted, and this time I downloaded and installed the Tor Browser Bundle. 

This was pretty good, for a while.  Then I discovered the wonderful world of TAILS OS.  It's a fantastic Operating System.  It really is.  Unfortunately, I found it a little too restrictive for my liking  So, I went back to Ubuntu, and TOR. 
After a few more weeks of unexpected things happening on my system, I bit the bullet.  I downloaded a step-by-step tutorial, and reformatted my system.  This time, I installed Debian Jessie, and began running Whonix as my primary Operating system through a Virtual Machine. 

CIA malware targets Windows, OSx, Linux, routers

The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized "zero days", air gap jumping viruses such as "Hammer Drill" which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( "Brutal Kangaroo") and to keep its malware infestations going.
Many of these infection efforts are pulled together by the CIA's Automated Implant Branch (AIB), which has developed several attack systems for automated infestation and control of CIA malware, such as "Assassin" and "Medusa".
Attacks against Internet infrastructure and webservers are developed by the CIA's Network Devices Branch (NDB).
The CIA has developed automated multi-platform malware attack and control systems covering Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux and more, such as EDB's "HIVE" and the related "Cutthroat" and "Swindle" tools, which are described in the examples section below.

CIA 'hoarded' vulnerabilities ("zero days")

In the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology industry secured a commitment from the Obama administration that the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis — rather than hoard — serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or "zero days" to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.
Serious vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturers places huge swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability. If the CIA can discover such vulnerabilities so can others.
The U.S. government's commitment to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process came after significant lobbying by US technology companies, who risk losing their share of the global market over real and perceived hidden vulnerabilities. The government stated that it would disclose all pervasive vulnerabilities discovered after 2010 on an ongoing basis.
"Year Zero" documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration's commitments. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA's cyber arsenal are pervasive and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.
As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in "Year Zero" is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts. The CIA attacks this software by using undisclosed security vulnerabilities ("zero days") possessed by the CIA but if the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable.
The same vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators, security officers and engineers. By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone &mdsh; at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.

As a matter of fact, I'm writing this entry on the Whonix Virtual Machine. 
Many of you will likely say, “I don't care if I'm spied on, I have nothing to hide”.  Fine.  You have   So why not live in houses with walls made of one-way glass?  You can't see what's going on outside, but everyone can see into your home, your family, your spouse, your kids, your pets.  How compliant would you be with that? 
nothing to hide.
With that in mind, you'll find a link at the bottom of this page, that will show you step-by-step how to stay secure, and anonymous.  And, for the love of God, DON'T USE WINDOWS!

Knowledge is power.  ARM YOURSELF!