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The FBI have been able to use the spyware technology for years and have put it in place in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations, Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, told the Washington Post.Hacking into webcams using remote administration tools, also known as ‘ratting’, to spy on women and ‘enslave’ them by controlling their computers and secretly filming and taking pictures is not a new phenomenon but has grown in the past year.
Intelligence agencies have been turning computers into listening devices for at least a decade, as evidenced by the Flame spy tool uncovered by Kaspersky Lab in 2012, which had the ability to surreptitiously turn on webcams and microphones and perform a host of other espionage operations.Dumbo can be used to suspend processes using webcams and corrupt video recordings.Wiki Leaks said: 'Dumbo can identify, control and manipulate monitoring and detection systems on a target computer running the Microsoft Windows operating system.'It identifies installed devices like webcams and microphones, either locally or connected by wireless (Bluetooth, Wi Fi) or wired networks.'All processes related to the detected devices (usually recording, monitoring or detection of video/audio/network streams) are also identified and can be stopped by the operator.'By deleting or manipulating recordings the operator is aided in creating fake or destroying actual evidence of the intrusion operation.'Dumbo is run directly from a USB stick, and requires administrator privileges to carry out its task.Dumbo is run directly from a USB stick, and requires administrator privileges to carry out its task.Wiki Leaks released information about project Dumbo on its website today.While the creation of these surveillance programs were designed to catch the "bad guys," the privacy and fundamental right of countless unknowing victims have been trampled on.
So much so, that a federal judge, Richard Leon, ruled the NSA program unconstitutional, saying: "I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval." So, while the FBI and even some overachieving hackers can remotely access your webcam and microphone, they can't do anything if the lens and mic is covered.
Earlier this year, tech site Arstechnica revealed that one of the 'slave forums' had 23 million total posts, where ‘ratters’ boasted about their ‘slaves’ posting pictures, mainly of women, unaware that they were being watched.‘We have transitioned into a world where law enforcement is hacking into people’s computers, and we have never had public debate,’ Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union told the Post. and British spy agencies were able to harvest huge amounts of data - including emails and search history - on millions of people by tapping into internet servers.
The open letter to the President and Congress reads: 'We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens.
Here are a few super simple ways to protect your webcam and privacy from secret agents or nefarious hackers.
And don't underestimate the skills of your would-be hacker or rogue government agency.
If you find it unlikely that the FBI would do this, think about all those would-be hackers out there.