Anonymity, Opsec & Privacy

Table of Contents


Counter Surveillance

  • Articles
  • Writeups
  • Presentations/Talks/Videos
    • General
    • Facial/Person Identification
      • Fooling automated surveillance cameras: adversarial patches to attack person detection - Simen Thys, Wiebe Van Ranst, Toon Goedemé
        • Adversarial attacks on machine learning models have seen increasing interest in the past years. By making only subtle changes to the input of a convolutional neural network, the output of the network can be swayed to output a completely different result. The first attacks did this by changing pixel values of an input image slightly to fool a classifier to output the wrong class. Other approaches have tried to learn "patches" that can be applied to an object to fool detectors and classifiers. Some of these approaches have also shown that these attacks are feasible in the real-world, i.e. by modifying an object and filming it with a video camera. However, all of these approaches target classes that contain almost no intra-class variety (e.g. stop signs). The known structure of the object is then used to generate an adversarial patch on top of it. In this paper, we present an approach to generate adversarial patches to targets with lots of intra-class variety, namely persons. The goal is to generate a patch that is able successfully hide a person from a person detector. An attack that could for instance be used maliciously to circumvent surveillance systems, intruders can sneak around undetected by holding a small cardboard plate in front of their body aimed towards the surveillance camera. From our results we can see that our system is able significantly lower the accuracy of a person detector. Our approach also functions well in real-life scenarios where the patch is filmed by a camera. To the best of our knowledge we are the first to attempt this kind of attack on targets with a high level of intra-class variety like persons.
    • Blinding The Surveillance State - Christopher Soghoian - DEF CON 22
    • CounterStrike Lawful Interception
      • This short talk will cover the standards, devices and implementation of a mandatory part of our western Internet infrastructure. The central question is whether an overarching interception functionality might actually put national Internet infrastructure at a higher risk of being attacked successfully. The question is approached in this talk from a purely technical point of view, looking at how LI functionality is implemented by a major vendor and what issues arise from that implementation. Routers and other devices may get hurt in the process.
      • Slides
    • Detecting and Defending Against a Surveillance State - Robert Rowley - DEF CON 22
    • Retail Surveillance / Retail Countersurveillance 50 most unwanted retail surveillance technologies / 50 most wanted countersurveillance technologies
    • Masquerade: How a Helpful Man-in-the-Middle Can Help You Evade Monitoring** - Defcon22
      • Sometimes, hiding the existence of a communication is as important as hiding the contents of that communication. While simple network tunneling such as Tor or a VPN can keep the contents of communications confidential, under active network monitoring or a restrictive IDS such tunnels are red flags which can subject the user to extreme scrutiny. Format-Transforming Encryption FTE can be used to tunnel traffic within otherwise innocuous protocols, keeping both the contents and existence of the sensitive traffic hidden. However, more advanced automated intrusion detection, or moderately sophisticated manual inspection, raise other red flags when a host reporting to be a laser printer starts browsing the web or opening IM sessions, or when a machine which appears to be a Mac laptop sends network traffic using Windows-specific network settings. We present Masquerade: a system which combines FTE and host OS profile selection to allow the user to emulate a user-selected operating system and application-set in network traffic and settings, evading both automated detection and frustrating after-the-fact analysis.
      • Slides
    • Wagging the Tail:Covert Passive Surveillance - Si, Agent X - DEF CON 26
      • This talk will focus on mobile and foot surveillance techniques used by surveillance teams. It will also include tips on identifying if you are under surveillance and how to make their life difficult.
  • Papers
    • Ghostbuster: Detecting the Presence of Hidden Eavesdroppers
    • Exploiting Lawful Intercept to Wiretap the Internet
      • This paper will review Cisco's architecture for lawful intercept from asecurity perspective. We explain how a number of different weaknesses in its design coupled with publicly disclosed security vulnerabilities could enable a malicious person to access the interface and spy on communications without leaving a trace. We then provide a set of recommendations for the redesign of the interface as well as SNMP authentication in general to better mitigate the security risks.
    • Protocol Misidentification Made Easy with Format-Transforming Encryption
      • Deep packet inspection (DPI) technologies provide much needed visibility and control of network traffic using port- independent protocol identification, where a network flow is labeled with its application-layer protocol based on packet contents. In this paper, we provide the first comprehensive evaluation of a large set of DPI systems from the point of view of protocol misidentification attacks, in which adver- saries on the network attempt to force the DPI to mislabel connections. Our approach uses a new cryptographic prim- itive called format-transforming encryption (FTE), which extends conventional symmetric encryption with the ability to transform the ciphertext into a format of our choosing. We design an FTE-based record layer that can encrypt arbitrary application-layer traffic, and we experimentally show that this forces misidentification for all of the evaluated DPI systems. This set includes a proprietary, enterprise-class DPI system used by large corporations and nation-states. We also show that using FTE as a proxy system incurs no latency overhead and as little as 16% bandwidth overhead compared to standard SSH tunnels. Finally, we integrate our FTE proxy into the Tor anonymity network and demon- strate that it evades real-world censorship by the Great Fire- wall of China
    • Protocol Misidentification Made Easy with Format-Transforming Encryption
      • Deep packet inspection DPI technologies provide much- needed visibility and control of network traffic using port- independent protocol identification, where a network ow is labeled with its application-layer protocol based on packet contents. In this paper, we provide the most comprehensive evaluation of a large set of DPI systems from the point of view of protocol misidentification attacks, in which adver- saries on the network attempt to force the DPI to mislabel connections. Our approach uses a new cryptographic primitive called format-transforming encryption FTE, which extends conventional symmetric encryption with the ability to transform the ciphertext into a format of our choosing. We design an FTE-based record layer that can encrypt arbi- trary application-layer traffic, and we experimentally show that this forces misidentification for all of the evaluated DPI systems. This set includes a proprietary, enterprise-class DPI system used by large corporations and nation-states. We also show that using FTE as a proxy system incurs no latency overhead and as little as 16% bandwidth overhead compared to standard SSH tunnels. Finally, we integrate our FTE proxy into the Tor anonymity network and demonstrate that it evades real-world censorship by the Great Firewall of China.
    • Unblocking the Internet: Social networks foil censors
      • Many countries and administrative domains exploit control over their communication infrastructure to censor online content. This paper presents the design, im plementation and evaluation of Kaleidoscope , a peer-to-peer system of relays that enables users within a censored domain to access blocked content. The main challenge facing Kaleidoscope is to resist the cens or’s efforts to block the circumvention system itself. Kaleidoscope achieves blocking-resilienc e using restricted service discovery that allows each user to discover a small set of unblocked relays while only exposing a small fraction of relays to the censor. To restrict service discovery, Kaleidoscope leverages a trust network where links reflects real-world social relationships among users and uses a limited advertisement protocol based on random routes to disseminate relay addresses along the trust netwo rk; the number of nodes reached by a relay advertisement should ideally be inversely proportional to the maximum fraction of infiltration and is independent of the network size. To increase service availa bility in large networks with few exit relay nodes, Kaleidoscope forwards the actual data traffic across multiple relay hops without risking exposure of exit relays. Using detailed analysis and simulations, we show that Kaleidoscope provides > 90% service availability even under substantial infiltration (close to 0.5% of edges) and when only 30% of the relay nodes are online. We have implemented and deployed our system on a small scale serving over 100,000 requests to 40 censored users (relatively small user base to realize Kaleidoscope’s anti-blocking guarantees) spread across different countries and administrative domains over a 6-month period
    • Chipping Away at Censorship Firewalls with User-Generated Content
      • Oppressive regimes and even democratic governments restrict Internet access. Existing anti-censorship systems often require users to connect through proxies, but these systems are relatively easy for a censor to discover and block. This paper offers a possible next step in the cen- sorship arms race: rather than relying on a single system or set of proxies to circumvent censorship firewalls, we explore whether the vast deployment of sites that host user-generated content can breach these firewalls. To explore this possibility, we have developed Collage, which allows users to exchange messages through hidden chan- nels in sites that host user-generated content. Collage has two components: a message vector layer for embedding content in cover traffic; and a rendezvous mechanism to allow parties to publish and retrieve messages in the cover traffic. Collage uses user-generated content (e.g. , photo-sharing sites) as “drop sites” for hidden messages. To send a message, a user embeds it into cover traffic and posts the content on some site, where receivers retrieve this content using a sequence of tasks. Collage makes it difficult for a censor to monitor or block these messages by exploiting the sheer number of sites where users can exchange messages and the variety of ways that a mes- sage can be hidden. Our evaluation of Collage shows that the performance overhead is acceptable for sending small messages (e.g., Web articles, email). We show how Collage can be used to build two applications: a direct messaging application, and a Web content delivery system
    • Cirripede: Circumvention Infrastructure using Router Redirection with Plausible Deniability
      • Many users face surveillance of their Internet communications and a significant fraction suffer from outright blocking of certain destinations. Anonymous communication systems allow users to conceal the destinations they communicate with, but do not hide the fact that the users are using them. The mere use of such systems may invite suspicion, or access to them may be blocked. We therefore propose Cirripede, a system that can be used for unobservable communication with Internet destinations. Cirripede is designed to be deployed by ISPs; it intercepts connections from clients to innocent-looking desti- nations and redirects them to the true destination requested by the client. The communication is encoded in a way that is indistinguishable from normal communications to anyone without the master secret key, while public-key cryptogra- phy is used to eliminate the need for any secret information that must be shared with Cirripede users. Cirripede is designed to work scalably with routers that handle large volumes of traffic while imposing minimal over- head on ISPs and not disrupting existing traffic. This allows Cirripede proxies to be strategically deployed at central lo- cations, making access to Cirripede very difficult to block. We built a proof-of-concept implementation of Cirripede and performed a testbed evaluation of its performance proper- ties
    • TapDance: End-to-Middle Anticensorship without Flow Blocking
      • In response to increasingly sophisticated state-sponsored Internet censorship, recent work has proposed a new ap- proach to censorship resistance: end-to-middle proxying. This concept, developed in systems such as Telex, Decoy Routing, and Cirripede, moves anticensorship technology into the core of the network, at large ISPs outside the censoring country. In this paper, we focus on two technical obstacles to the deployment of certain end-to-middle schemes: the need to selectively block flows and the need to observe both directions of a connection. We propose a new construction, TapDance, that removes these require- ments. TapDance employs a novel TCP-level technique that allows the anticensorship station at an ISP to function as a passive network tap, without an inline blocking com- ponent. We also apply a novel steganographic encoding to embed control messages in TLS ciphertext, allowing us to operate on HTTPS connections even under asymmetric routing. We implement and evaluate a TapDance proto- type that demonstrates how the system could function with minimal impact on an ISP’s network operations.
    • Of Moles and Molehunters: A Review of Counterintelligence Literature, 1977-92
    • Ghostbuster: Detecting the Presence of Hidden Eavesdroppers
    • An Alternative Framework for Agent Recruitment: From MICE to RASCLS - Randy Burkett
  • Misc
    • Laser Surveillance Defeater - Shomer-Tec
    • Granite Island Group
      • Founded in 1987 and located near Boston Massachusetts, Granite Island Group, is the internationally recognized leader in the field of Electronics Engineering, Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM), Bug Sweeps, Wiretap Detection, Surveillance Technology, Communications Security (COMSEC), Counter-Intelligence, Technical Security, and Spy Hunting. Granite Island Group provides expert technical, analytical and research capability for the detection, nullification, and isolation of eavesdropping devices, technical surveillance penetrations, technical surveillance hazards, and physical security weaknesses.
  • Tools
    • Salamandra
      • Salamandra is a tool to detect and locate spy microphones in closed environments. It find microphones based on the strength of the signal sent by the microphone and the amount of noise and overlapped frequencies. Based on the generated noise it can estimate how close or far away you are from the microphone.

Disinformation & Propaganda

Emissions Security

  • 101
  • Articles/Blogposts/Writeups
  • Presentations/Talks/Videos
  • Papers
    • Com­pro­mi­sing Re­flec­tions - or - How to Read LCD Mo­ni­tors Around the Cor­ner- Micha­el Ba­ckes, Mar­kus Dür­muth, Do­mi­ni­que Unruh
      • We present a novel eavesdropping technique for spying at a distance on data that is displayed on an arbitrary computer screen, including the currently prevalent LCD monitors. Our technique exploits reflections of the screen’s optical emanations in various objects that one commonly finds in close proximity to the screen and uses those reflections to recover the original screen content. Such objects include eyeglasses, tea pots, spoons, plastic bottles, and even the eye of the user. We have demonstrated that this attack can be successfully mounted to spy on even small fonts using inexpensive, off-the-shelf equipment (less than 1500 dollars) from a distance of up to 10 meters. Relying on more expensive equipment allowed us to conduct this attack from over 30 meters away, demonstrating that similar at- tacks are feasible from the other side of the street or from a close-by building. We additionally establish theoretical limitations of the attack; these limitations may help to estimate the risk that this attack can be successfully mounted in a given environment.
    • Acoustic Side-Channel Attacks on Printers -Michael Backes,Markus Drmuth,Sebastian Gerling,Manfred Pinkal,Caroline Sporleder
      • We examine the problem of acoustic emanations of printers. We present a novel attack that recovers what a dot- matrix printer processing English text is printing based on a record of the sound it makes, if the microphone is close enough to the printer. In our experiments, the attack recovers up to 72% of printed words, and up to 95% if we assume contextual knowledge about the text, with a microphone at a distance of 10 cm from the printer. After an upfront training phase, the attack is fully automated and uses a combination of machine learning, audio processing, and speech recognition techniques, including spectrum features, Hidden Markov Models and linear classification; moreover, it allows for feedback-based incremental learning. We evaluate the effectiveness of countermeasures, and we describe how we successfully mounted the attack in-field (with appropriate privacy protections) in a doctor’s practice to recover the content of medical prescriptions.
    • Tempest in a Teapot: Compromising Reflections Revisited
      • Reflecting objects such as tea pots and glasses, but also diffusely reflecting objects such as a user’s shirt, can be used to spy on confidential data displayed on a monitor. First, we show how reflections in the user’s eye can be exploited for spying on confidential data. Second, we investigate to what extent monitor images can be reconstructed from the diffuse reflections on a wall or the user’s clothes, and provide information- theoretic bounds limiting this type of attack. Third, we evaluate the effectiveness of several countermeasures
    • GSMem: Data Exfiltration from Air-Gapped Computers over GSM Frequencies - usenix conference
  • Tools
  • Miscellaneous

Modern Surveillance

  • Vendors
  • Articles
    • General
      • List of government mass surveillance projects - Wikipedia
        • This is a list of government surveillance projects and related databases throughout the world.
      • Understanding & Improving Privacy "Audits" under FTC Orders
        • This new white paper, entitled “Understanding and Improving Privacy ‘Audits’ under FTC Orders,” carefully parses the third-party audits that Google and Facebook are required to conduct under their 2012 Federal Trade Commission consent orders. Using only publicly available documents, the article contrasts the FTC’s high expectations for the audits with what the FTC actually received (as released to the public in redacted form). These audits, as a practical matter, are often the only “tooth” in FTC orders to protect consumer privacy. They are critically important to accomplishing the agency’s privacy mission. As such, a failure to attend to their robust enforcement can have unintended consequences, and arguably, provide consumers with a false sense of security. The paper shows how the audits are not actually audits as commonly understood. Instead, because the FTC order language only requires third-party “assessments,” the companies submit reports that are termed “attestations.” Attestations fundamentally rely on a few vague privacy program aspects that are self-selected by the companies themselves. While the FTC could reject attestation-type assessments, the agency could also insist the companies bolster certain characteristics of the attestation assessments to make them more effective and replicate audit attributes. For example, the FTC could require a broader and deeper scope for the assessments. The agency could also require that assessors evaluate Fair Information Practices, data flows, notice/consent effectiveness, all company privacy assurances, and known order violations.
      • Creating Your Own Citizen Database - Aiganysh Aidarbekova
    • China
    • France
    • Germany
    • United States
      • DMVs Are Selling Your Data to Private Investigators - Joseph Cox(Vice)
      • NSA Spying - EFF
        • The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001. Since this was first reported on by the press and discovered by the public in late 2005, EFF has been at the forefront of the effort to stop it and bring government surveillance programs back within the law and the Constitution.
      • The NSA: Capabilities and Countermeasures** - Bruce Schneier - ShmooCon 2014
        • Edward Snowden has given us an unprecedented window into the NSA's surveillance activities. Drawing from both the Snowden documents and revelations from previous whistleblowers, I will describe the sorts of surveillance the NSA does and how it does it. The emphasis is on the technical capabilities of the NSA, not the politics of their actions. This includes how it conducts Internet surveillance on the backbone, but is primarily focused on their offensive capabilities: packet injection attacks from the Internet backbone, exploits against endpoint computers and implants to exfiltrate information, fingerprinting computers through cookies and other means, and so on. I will then talk about what sorts of countermeasures are likely to frustrate the NSA. Basically, these are techniques to raise the cost of wholesale surveillance in favor of targeted surveillance: encryption, target hardening, dispersal, and so on.
      • U.S. pressed to disclose secret court's order on Yahoo email search - Joseph Menn(Reuters 2016)
        • "SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. senator and civil groups critical of surveillance practices on Friday called on the government to release a 2015 order by a secret court directing Yahoo to scan all its users’ incoming email, saying it appeared to involve new interpretations of at least two important legal issues."
      • Indoor Location Accuracy Benchmarks - FCC
        • In January 2015, the Commission adopted new Enhanced 911 (E911) location accuracy rules and information collection requirements in the Fourth Report and Order in PS Docket No. 07-114. The new rules became effective on April 3, 2015, except for rules containing information collection provisions, which became effective on August 3, 2015 upon approval by the Office of Management and Budget. Below is a summary timeline of compliance deadlines for Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers established by the Fourth Report and Order.
    • UAE
    • Japan
  • Corporate
  • License Plate Tracking
  • Non-Modern Surveillance
  • Things
    • RF-Capture
      • RF-Capture is a device that captures a human figure through walls and occlusions. It transmits wireless signals and reconstructs a human figure by analyzing the signals' reflections. RF-Capture does not require the person to wear any sensor, and its transmitted power is 10,000 times lower than that of a standard cell-phone.
      • Paper
      • Grassland is a self-organizing, self-correcting and self-financing, P2P network of robot vision software that efficiently scans any 2D video feed from any single-viewpoint camera to generate a compressed, searchable, timestamped, real-time, 3D simulation of the world. The network's game theory based mathematical framework exhibits positive sensitivity to stressors; e.g. censorship makes it stronger, trustlessly learning the socioeconomic and domestic behaviour of political rivals via a prisoner's dilemma. Grassland is open-source and isn't owned or controlled by anyone. It's politically stateless and anyone can take part. Every node in the network has a permissionless and public API giving any external application or computer free access to Grassland data across the entire network, letting any internet connected object trustlessly internalize, understand and interact intuitively with both past and present states of the real world, digitally recreate or respond to even the tiniest changes taking place around the globe, from a butterfly flapping its wings in Calgary, to the lip-read conversations of pedestrians in Buenos Aires, to understanding that a motorcycle is signaling a left turn in Beijing all at zero cost and in real-time. While the combined work of the network makes it computationally intractable for nodes to submit fake data (see proof-of-work description below).

Mobile Device Surveillance

Network/Web Based Surveillance

To sort

  • Scuttlebutt Protocol Guide
    • Scuttlebutt is a protocol for building decentralized applications that work well offline and that no one person can control. Because there is no central server, Scuttlebutt clients connect to their peers to exchange information. This guide describes the protocols used to communicate within the Scuttlebutt network. Scuttlebutt is a flexible protocol, capable of supporting many different types of applications. One of its first applications was as a social network, and it has also become one of the most compelling because the people who hang out there are not jerks. This guide has a slight focus on how to use Scuttlebutt for social networking, but many of the explanations will still be useful if want to use it for something completely different, or are just curious how it works.
  • Serval
    • Serval is a telecommunications system comprised of at least two mobile phones that are able to work outside of regular mobile phone tower range due thanks to the Serval App and Serval Mesh.
  • VSCodium
    • This is not a fork. This is a repository of scripts to automatically build Microsoft's vscode repository into freely-licensed binaries with a community-driven default configuration.
  • ungoogled-chromium
    • ungoogled-chromium is Google Chromium, sans dependency on Google web services. It also features some tweaks to enhance privacy, control, and transparency (almost all of which require manual activation or enabling).