Is the Government Spying On You Through Your Own Computer’s Webcam Or Microphone?

Government – Or Private Individuals – May Be Watching and Listening

We documented earlier today that – if you are near your smart phone – the NSA or private parties could remotely activate your microphone and camera and spy on you.

This post shows that the same is true for our computer.

Initially, the NSA built backdoors into the world’s most popular software program – Microsoft Windows – by 1999.

A top expert in the ‘microprocessors’ or ‘chips’ inside every computer – having helped start two semiconductor companies and a supercomputer firm – says:

He would be “surprised” if the US National Security Agency was not embedding “back doors” inside chips produced by Intel and AMD, two of the world’s largest semiconductor firms, giving them the possibility to access and control machines.

And a government expert told the Washington Post that the government “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type” (confirmed). Even that is just “the tip of the iceberg”, according to a congress member briefed on the NSA’s spying program.

The New York Times reported in 2011 that German police were using spyware to turn on the webcam and microphone on peoples’ computers:

A group that calls itself the Chaos Computer Club prompted a public outcry here recently when it discovered that German state investigators were using spying software capable of turning a computer’s webcam and microphone into a sophisticated surveillance device.

The club …announced last Saturday it had analyzed the hard drives of people who had been investigated and discovered that they were infected with a Trojan horse program that gave the police the ability to log keystrokes, capture screenshots and activate cameras and microphones.

Reuters documented last year that the U.S. and Israeli governments can remotely turn on a computer’s microphone:

Evidence suggest that the virus, dubbed Flame, may have been built on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010 [i.e. the U.S. and Israel], according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security software maker that took credit for discovering the infections.

Kaspersky researchers said they have yet to determine whether Flame had a specific mission like Stuxnet, and declined to say who they think built it.

Cyber security experts said the discovery publicly demonstrates what experts privy to classified information have long known: that nations have been using pieces of malicious computer code as weapons to promote their security interests for several years.

***

The virus contains about 20 times as much code as Stuxnet, which caused centrifuges to fail at the Iranian enrichment facility it attacked. It has about 100 times as much code as a typical virus designed to steal financial information, said Kaspersky Lab senior researcher Roel Schouwenberg.

Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn on PC microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and log instant messaging chats.

Kaspersky Lab said Flame and Stuxnet appear to infect machines by exploiting the same flaw in the Windows operating system and that both viruses employ a similar way of spreading.

***

“The scary thing for me is: if this is what they were capable of five years ago, I can only think what they are developing now,” Mohan Koo, managing director of British-based Dtex Systems cyber security company.

PC Magazine tech columnist John Dvorak writes:

From what we know the NSA has back door access into Apple, Microsoft, and Google. What kind of access we don’t know, but let us assume it is similar to what they did about 7 years ago to AT&T. They had a secret room at Fulsom St. in San Francisco and the AT&T engineers had no control and no access to a room full of NSA equipment that had direct access to everything AT&T could do.

Microsoft is the source of the operating system for Windows and Windows cell phones. Apple controls the OS for Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Google controls the Chrome OS, Chrome Browser, and Android cell phones. The companies regularly push operating system upgrades and security updates to users on a regular basis.

Imagine however that the NSA has access to these updates at the source and has the ability to alter these update in order to install some sort of spyware on your phone, tablet, or computer. The software could turn on your camera or microphone remotely, read all your private data, or erase everything and brick your phone or computer.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.’s  Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said.

A former high-level NSA insider confirmed to us that any computer’s microphone can be remotely accessed.

Moreover – as documented by Microsoft, Ars Technica, CNET, the Register, Sydney Morning Herald, AP and many other sources – private parties can turn on your computer’s microphone and camera as well.

Cracked noted in 2010:

All sorts of programs are available to let you remotely commandeer a webcam, and many of them are free. Simple versions will just take photos or videos when they detect movement, but more complex software will send you an e-mail when the computer you’ve installed the program on is in use, so you can immediately login and control the webcam without the hassle of having to stare at an empty room until the person you’re stalking shows up.

The bottom line is that – as with your phone, OnStar type system or other car microphone, Xbox, and other digital recording devices – you shouldn’t say or do anything near your computer that you don’t want shared with the world.

Postscript: You could obviously try to cover your webcam and microphone when you don’t want to use them.

But if you really want privacy, take a lesson from spy movies: Go swimming with the person you want to speak with … since electronics can’t operate in water.

This entry was posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology. Bookmark the permalink.
  • dredd

    Not every government in history, but most every U.S. government will spy on Americans any which way they can.

    And for the most part, in an increasing degree over time.

    While lying like the fox who gets to “guard” the hen house.

  • wunsacon

    Somebody’s Watching Me (Rockwell):

  • Flyover099

    The Judiafication of our society.

    • TruthHawk

      Zionist bankster global puppetmaster psychopaths never sleep

      • Guest

        x

  • Eric Hodgdon

    Install switches. Rip the damn things out.

  • mando

    arrest these jerks , give them some lengthy jail terms or worse, but our sleazy govt, only does that to us peasants, not their own, we get jail for a little bag of pot, but they can spy, rob and steal and all they get is ostrasized..

    • Socialmedic

      Our “sleazy” government has been bought and paid for by our sleazy corporations.

      • John Little Long

        Hi

        • Johns best friend

          Hi

          • fjdjjd

            im kinda gay

      • Jon Q.

        And those “sleazy corporations in most part are owned or controlled by the “Big” bankers and the Federal Reserve Bank, a “sleazy PRIVATE corporation”
        I love the “Free Market”, but this is far from free.

        “Live Free OR Die!, because if you’re not FREE you’re dead already!!!” Jon Q.

    • william

      What is going on today makes Nazi Germany look like the good old days.

      • tom

        I agree with you. Back in 2008 when my father died all of my property was stolen from me by the courts even though my father willed me everything. I was his only child. His second ex wife who was divorced for 10 years from him when he died found some scum bag attorneys and promised them a split of whatever they could get for her. It did not matter to the courts that I was a joint tenant, beneficiary and such. The judge took everything. A few years later the Judge was removed from the bench for being as the news said unfair and biased. However, that did not give me my money back. I trust nothing about our government anymore.

    • Tmark Keefey

      You can’t arrest them if they are NSA. They could have the police arrested since the police are the lowest level now and soon to be banished while national guard takes that place and military takes place of national guard so there is nothing you can do but decide to think you are being saved or protected from terrorists which you probably are as am I am others or you don’t like the intrusion of your privacy so you decide to move to Canada or a place where there is less of this. Germany actually had less because they went through this before and aren’t going back that road so they protect their homeland in a different way. Since you now know, you can’t have them arrested, it’s going to get worse, do you stay in US and be seen watching your porn while you do your thing or do you move? That is your choice but you have no choice on if you’re spied on or not.

  • Liberty Girl

    I just read that even Mcafee is handing over info to the gov’t, good grief. And everyone thought I was paranoid when I’d take the battery out of my phone. Did anyone see this Kickstarter? Just became a backer :-)

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/14906322/snoopwall-stop-cyber-spying-snooping-and-stealing

  • 12 trees

    GW — This series on spying is a great public service — your courage and scholarship are truly inspiring!

    Meterwise, we opted out. We also only use a landline and uplug that most of the time, since hardwired handsets are all eavesdropping devices, even hung up. Rumor has it that cordless phone handsets can function in the same way from internal battery unless it is removed. Basically, avoid all cordless communication devices and consider wired phones to be the enemy.

    Regarding previous posts in the series:
    1. It was obvious when James Comey was acting Attorney General that the Bush spydropping workaround involved laundering all messages through Israel. Easy fix, since IDF affiliates were active in development of router software for our system. But consider that the final objective may consist of equal parts information gathering and erasing. This “offshore sterilization” system gives the Ziophiles (ZIP) first option to erase evidence of their vast criminal activities. I am suggesting that you look at this as an architecture of selective and differential information retention/destruction, by original intent, with coverup of ongoing and future crimes central to the concept

    2. The same pseudo-ethnic/religious groups, acting through undue influence on the remnants of what used to be our representative government, have been steadily working to privatize the IRS, in a system that would favor Israeli firms as debt collectors. This was beaten back on the last vote but will keep returning with more and heavier behind the scenes bludgeoning until it passes. You can expect the current undermining of the IRS to be part of that agenda. Once in place, this tax farming system will restore a traditional ZIP revenue stream. Bleeding America bone dry. Cuidado!

  • Brulé Parlesilluminés

    Obviously and so much more !

    Check this out :

    http://www.whale.to/b/akwei.pdf

  • ponerology

    More “news” for the cattle.

  • NewGuy

    Conspiracy theorists eh?? I think the goverment has better things to do with their time and money than watch me play video games on my computer.

    • Guest

      x

  • arma999

    Did we forget the simple MS-tool to figure it out what updates you need ? After some
    crawling in your computer, MS knows exactly what is missing !. One step
    further…you guess it..

  • trustandobeyalways

    so that’s what obama meant by transparency

  • Kimberly Truong

    I just got a new macbook.. the 3rd or 4th day, I noticed the camera light was on… what? So, I went through my computer to see if maybe I might have accidentally turn on the webcam through a chat program or something… nothing. I couldn’t find what program was running to turn that thing on. So, I remember what a friend told me about government spying on you through that. I cut out a tiny square of post it, blacked it out with a marker and stuck it over the camera. A few hours later… it turned off, and never came on again.

    • Guest

      Yeah but your microphone is still turned on…..

    • Sylvy

      holy crap that’s scary!

    • Tera Bea

      The Government has many other means on spying on a person, However if they want to look at my pretty face all day, I could not care less, it would be truly sad, but I really don’t care.

  • ProgrammerTX

    Who authored this article? Organizations “could” or “might” ??? This information would have to evolve to be vague

  • ProgrammerTX

    Who authored this article? A company “might ..an organization “could” This information would have to evolve to be vague.

  • Tera Bea

    This is why I just disable the internet, most of the stuff I do on the internet the government already knows about since it is all, utilities, insurance . credit card and loan payments, I could not care less if they know about these things. Anything else I don’t need the internet so I disable it, Plus I think new’s article like below tend to hype things up that lead people to over think. The government is spying on us even if we are not on our computer’s. We allow them to do this, so lets not act all surprised when they do!

  • the IT guy

    Just FYI everyone, this “evidence” does not support the argument. The evidence on this post shows the malicious code is in the form of spyware (which our antivirus gets rid of or blocks/qaurantines) that would have to be put on a PC to infect it, not by microprocessors or chips. Additionally, AMD and Intel make microprocessors, which move data bits BUT does not store data or “integraded coding!” If possible I would say maybe motherboard manufacturers like ASUS or GigaByte could, but still very little flash/storage memory is put on these to support any video monitoring software. You can Google and find out this info for yourselves. Heck, I can guarantee you Google monitors you more than AMD or Intel.

  • trevor

    these bitches need to get death in prison!!

  • P V

    “But if you really want privacy, take a lesson from spy movies: Go swimming with the person you want to speak with … since electronics can’t operate in water”….

    Don’t be so sure, you’d be amazed what can be done!

  • Danny

    So the NSA has been watching me m*****bate? Pervs…

  • PulloGorko102

    The Government people are the true criminals and they deserve to go to jail for the evil that they do.

  • Lintulius

    This had made me afraid to watch my kinky porn… Damn you government! DAMN YOU!!!!

  • Carlos Ruiz

    It was bound to happen. Ask Mr. Eric Arthur Blair. The next step is the scariest part. Thought police is already here and nothing can be done about it. We will lose progressively more of our privacy and we’ll have to live with it until collapse due to global warming does its thing. Then we all will be distracted with more demanding problems. Blessed be the progress. The real question is: are we willing to lose the benefits of all these cool gadgets in order to protect both our privacy and freedom? Apparently not…

  • Imamilf

    Well they just saw me have sex on my couch then… If ur not doing anything wrong the govt doesn’t gaf…

  • Tmark Keefey

    I think what happened was just after 911 when Bush asked congress for those extraordinary powers for the executive branch to protect America, he wanted the powers to help as well as being human, he got greedy. Only a President can return those powers which is why when Obama ran against Hillary she said she would day one but Obama refused to answer the question and has not returned powers so the government program was meant to PROTECT YOU and your family from terrorists. It continues to be for that protection since when you hear them say homeland, that means you too.

    The problem is just like Bush & Obama got greedy on using the powers to help them bypass congress on other topics, those being paid to watch cams or in control rooms able to switch cams on, get bored then human desires takeover and what are some human desires in a person without willpower? SEX & Gossip. This means a man or his co-workers young and horny nothing better to do could switch on a plasma TV made post 911 or a pc post 911 to see in your home to hear or see actually sexual things or just gossip but females often like to hear the gossip since men are more visual. It’s not like robots using the program. Real human with those weaknesses are protecting so in slow times, they might not just do what they should do & check out the border from a drone to give an extra eye but decide an hour of free time, let’s see that house on my street with the hot woman who is at home or if working 3rd doing this, are they getting down? Let’s watch from the TV in their bedroom. Oh, they unplugged the plasma? We can still use our hidden cam no big deal. It was made for the coming wireless electricity anyway where no more outlets or cords needed so beam in and watch the sex. What do most younger males do today? They have porn on their phones or pcs so too lazy to date? Just jack to some porn and be a recluse. Females are starting to get more into that now too. I’m not old but it would be rare that I looked at porn because I know it’s becoming an American addiction worse than any drug but these people on gov jobs who do protect you from you being killed by terrorists also have human urges and sometimes do the wrong thing with the tech.

    You have to decide which is more important; being protected from death of a terrorist or the possibility you might be watched jackin to some porn by a horny gov official! Which is it going to be? They can watch me jack lol I have nothing to hide. I have nothing on my pc, phone or in my apartment to hide. They would be so bored in here. I don’t even have a boyfriend and am still a virgin in one way and yeah, am a guy so what does that mean? I must be one of the abomination people cause am gay lol

 

 

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