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Countersurveillance

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Countersurveillance

Countersurveillance refers to measures undertaken to prevent surveillance, including covert surveillance. Countersurveillance may include electronic methods such as bug sweeping, the process of detecting surveillance devices, including covert listening devices, visual surveillance devices as well as Countersurveillance software to thwart unwanted attempts by cyber crooks to access computing and mobile devices for various nefarious reasons (e.g. theft of financial, personal or corporate data). More often than not, countersurveillance will employ a set of actions (countermeasures) that, when followed, reduce the risk of surveillance. Countersurveillance should not be confused with sousveillance (inverse surveillance) as the latter does not necessarily aim to prevent or reduce surveillance.

Types of Countersurveillance

Electronic countermeasures

For main article, see Technical surveillance counter-measures

Most bugs emit some form of electromagnetic radiation, usually radio waves. The standard counter-measure for bugs is therefore to "sweep" for them with a receiver, looking for the radio emissions. Professional sweeping devices are very expensive. Low-tech sweeping devices are available through amateur electrical magazines, or they may be built from circuit designs on the Internet.

Sweeping is not foolproof. Advanced bugs can be remotely operated to switch on and off, and some even rapidly switch frequencies according to a predetermined pattern in order to make location with sweepers more difficult. A bug that has run out of power may not show up during a sweep, which means that the sweeper will not be alerted to the surveillance. Also some devices have no active parts, an example is the Great Seal given to the US Ambassador to Moscow which hid a device (the Thing).

Software countermeasures

Amidst concerns over privacy, software countermeasures[1] have emerged to prevent cyber-intrusion, the un-authorized act of spying, snooping, and stealing personally identifiable information or other proprietary assets (e.g. images) through cyberspace.

Popular interest in Countersurveillance and has been growing given media coverage of privacy violations:[2][3]

  • 2013 mass surveillance disclosures (Snowden/NSA PRISM).[4]
  • Cyber crook who captured nude photos of Miss Teen USA 2013 by infiltrating thru the webcam in her home.[5]
  • ABC News program baby monitor hacked in the bedroom of a Houston toddler.[6]

Human countermeasures

For main article, see Counterintelligence

Most surveillance uses human, rather than electronic methods.

Some countermeasures are:

  • Leave the area without surveillance assets following - slip in a subway train, catch other transportation that cannot be followed.
  • Get lost in the crowd - lose contact
  • Simply looking "over-your-shoulder"
  • Hiding

These will make the surveillance team track their subject even harder. Following a steady, easy-to-predict schedule before employing aforementioned countermeasures will make the surveillance detail complacent and thus easier to lose. If you suspect your followers are working for a nation state, discard your phone and avoid known residences. Electronic surveillance (E.g. phone tracking) often follows a failed attempt at physical tracking.

Countersurveillance by countries

See List of counterintelligence organizations

In the United States military

The United States military refers to electronic countersurveillance as "technical surveillance counter-measures" and relates it to signal intelligence and electronic countermeasures.

The United States Department of Defense defines a TSCM survey as a service provided by qualified personnel to detect the presence of technical surveillance devices and hazards and to identify technical security weaknesses that could aid in the conduct of a technical penetration of the surveyed facility. A TSCM survey will provide a professional evaluation of the facility's technical security posture and normally will consist of a thorough visual, electronic, and physical examination in and about the surveyed facility.

This definition is however lacking some of the technical scope involved. Communications security, information technology security and physical security are also a major part of the work in the modern environment. The advent of multimedia devices and remote control technologies allow huge scope for removal of massive amounts of data in very secure environments by the staff employed within, with or without their knowledge.

See also

References

  1. ^ International Association of Privacy Professionals. “The Family of Technologies That Could Change The Privacy Dynamic”, presented by Daniel Wietzner, Director MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, uploaded July 16, 2013
  2. ^ Roose, Kevin. “The Surveillance Free Day”, New York Magazine, July 29, 2013.
  3. ^ The Wall Street Journal. “Information Security Expert to Host Seminar on Counter Surveillance” July 10, 2013
  4. ^
  5. ^ New York Daily News. “New Miss Teen USA claims she was the victim of an online extortion plot”, August 14, 2013.
  6. ^ ABC-News Boston (WCVB-TV). “Baby monitor hacked in toddler's room” Aug 14, 2013
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