EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

04.21.09

FBI, CIPAV, and the Windows Back Doors Revisited

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Looking through the tube

Summary: How (and why) the American secret services rely on Windows

THE back doors in Microsoft Windows are a serious issue that we've already covered, so there is no point doing it again. Adding to what we already know, there is now this report from Wired Magazine and another from IDG:

CIPAV spyware helped nab unemployed engineer angry over outsourcing

There is also a discussion at Slashdot and one reader of ours wrote: “A good question to ask is, what is it about Windows that allows CIPAV to be so easily activated? Does it even require visiting a contaminated Web site (see the Slashdot article)? What is it in Windows that allows such features?” Here is some relevant information which this reader sent to us:

CIPAV, which stands for “Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier,” is secret surveillance software that the FBI used last month to help identify whoever was e-mailing bomb threats almost daily to a Washington high school.

[...]

The only clue in the affidavit is that the CIPAV would operate as a pen register for up to 60 days after the software had been “activated” by the recipient. In other words, the FBI swore that the monitor would “time out” after 60 days. But not that it would delete itself or not be able to spread in some worm or bot fashion.

This post neither defense nor criticism of malicious and dangerous behaviour that the FBI is rightly intercepting. It is merely recognition of the operation of Microsoft Windows.

It is not news that the FBI uses Windows viruses (there were several articles about it last year) and the DHS, which recently recruited Microsoft after pressure from the BSA, is now recruiting hackers.
________
[1] FBI remotely installs spyware to trace bomb threat

While there’s been plenty of speculation about how the FBI might deliver spyware electronically, this case appears to be the first to reveal how the technique is used in practice. The FBI did confirm in 2001 that it was working on a virus called Magic Lantern but hasn’t said much about it since.    

[2] FBI ducks questions about its remotely installed spyware

There are plenty of unanswered questions about the FBI spyware that, as we reported earlier this week, can be delivered over the Internet and implanted in a suspect’s computer remotely.

[3] FBI to Notify Microsoft Windows Users Who Were Victims of Botnets

The Department of Justice and FBI have announced the results of an ongoing cyber crime initiative to disrupt and dismantle “botherders” and elevate the public’s cyber security awareness of botnets.

[4] FBI: Operation Bot Roast finds over 1 million botnet victims

The Department of Justice and FBI Wednesday said ongoing investigations have identified more than 1 million botnet crime victims.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

4 Comments

  1. The Mad Hatter said,

    April 21, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Gravatar

    Based on what I’ve read, you are regarded as a probable threat if you run an OS or Web Browser that CIPAV cannot infect. The reasoning seems to be that if you have made the choice to run Linux/OSX or use Firefox/Opera on Windows instead of Internet Exploder, you must have something to hide.

    No, I don’t have details or a link, I remember reading this a while back somewhere, and now can’t remember where.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 21, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Gravatar

    There’s this recent incident.

  3. Yggdrasil said,

    April 21, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Gravatar

    You are misleading people, again. You should have cited this from the Computer World article:

    “Some user action was CLEARLY REQUIRED to infect the PC with the CIPAV. In the warrant application, the FBI used the term activate several times and alluded to a spyware plant failure if the target did not trigger the CIPAV through the targeted MySpace account. MySpace accounts can’t receive traditional e-mail, so one hacker standard — attach the CIPAV to a message and hope the recipient is stupid enough to launch it — wasn’t available”

    Exactly. If you want to infect a Linux users, it’s as simple as sending them some program and getting them to run it. You also mention Slashdot, but of course, you only mention comments that would be critical of Microsoft. How about these comments instead? Both of which received high rankings.

    “What makes you think they don’t have a variant for Linux? User stupidity (i.e: bad/no security) isn’t unique to Windows. Off the top of my head, if they are relying on the web as an infection vector combined with user stupidity, why not write it into a Firefox extension?

    Yeah, it wouldn’t get your typical /. geek, but most criminals aren’t known for their foresight or intelligence. “Oh, the private website with the bank account information needs me to install this software! Ok, what could possibly go wrong?”

    In response to that:

    “This is an excellent statement. Stupidity knows no bounds. Its also dangerous to assume that the FBI doesn’t know what it is doing. When I worked in law enforcement, the FBI computer crimes agents I knew were well versed in operating systems other than Windows. The two I worked with most often had a solid knowledge of Linux and Cisco IOS.”

  4. Brian Assaf said,

    April 23, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Gravatar

    “If you want to infect a Linux users, it’s as simple as sending them some program and getting them to run it.”

    Um. That easy huh? By default files aren’t executable, so it would require changing the permission. It would also need to be run as root to infect the whole system. How about dependencies? How about architecture differences. Just x86 or 64-bits? MIPS? Arm?
    So on and so forth. Linux isn’t a monoculture (no pun intended here guys/gals!) like the Windows ecosystem is.

    Even a pre-packaged deb (which can be installed ala double click in Ubuntu) would ask for a password, and again, wouldn’t be viable for every Linux distribution out there, architecture not withstanding.

    Having to run something out of the blue is odd if you use a package management system. Cryptographically signed, easily installed/uninstalled and updated (and source available for those interested.)

    Although maybe I’m alone in the 24,000+ packages available in Ubuntu being enough for regular computer use.

    My point here is I’ve unlearned a habit, there is no need to grab software willy nilly off the net. Instead check the repos, and check the source of software. Do you trust it, etc and why should I install this. Plus does it behave like a rootkit, if so then it can be scanned for, if this really does become some sort of popular vector…

    So, yes, you could use social engineering to get someone to install something, but the process should set off a red flag in the user.
    There isn’t some autorun or double click deal here. For those users that understand binaries are a blackbox, where no one can inspect, change, etc. anything, install at your own risk.

What Else is New


  1. Some Perspective on Heartbleed®

    Our views on the whole Heartbleed® bonanza, which seems like partly a PR stunt (for multiple stakeholders)



  2. Microsoft is Leaving Windows -- Including Vista 8.1 -- Vulnerable to Non-Government Crackers, Not Only to NSA

    Microsoft makes it ever more evident that securing users of Windows is not at all a priority, and perhaps not even a desire



  3. Links 17/4/2014: Android RDP, New Ubuntu, RHEL 7 Milestone

    Links for the day



  4. Racing to 1984: Mass Surveillance, Cracking, 'Targeted' Assassinations, and Illegal Torture

    Links for the day



  5. More Microsoft Subsidies to Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures

    Microsoft hands money to Bill Gates' close friend who is the world's largest patent troll



  6. Aiding Microsoft Under the Disguise of 'Pro-FOSS'

    Not everything which is FOSS necessary becomes, by virtue of existence, a positive contribution, as we are constantly reminded by projects that help proprietary software and/or restrictions get a strong grip on FOSS



  7. Links 16/4/2014: Red Hat PR, Ubuntu LTS Imminent

    Links for the day



  8. Links 15/4/2014: Lots of PCLinuxOS Releases, Ukraine Updates

    Links for the day



  9. Apple and Microsoft Actively Lobbying Against Patent Reform in the US

    Apple and Microsoft are reportedly intervening/interfering with US law in order to ensure that the law is Free/libre software-hostile



  10. Lawsuit by Microsoft Shareholder Targets Fine for Crimes Rather Than the Crimes Themselves

    A new lawsuit by a Microsoft shareholder shows everything that's wrong with today's model of accountability, where those who are responsible for crimes are accused of not avoiding fines rather than committing the crimes



  11. Public Institutions Must Dump PRISM-Associated Software

    Another reminder that taxpayers-subsidised services should refuse, as a matter of principle, to pay anything for -- let alone deploy -- proprietary software with back doors



  12. GNU/Linux News: The Opportunities Amid XP EOL

    Links for the day



  13. Microsoft Gets Its Money's Worth From Xamarin: PlayStation 4 Now Polluted by Microsoft

    The Trojan horse of Microsoft, Xamarin, is pushing .NET into Microsoft's console competitor



  14. After Brendan Eich Comes Chris Beard

    Having removed Brendan Eich using bullying and blackmail tactics, his foes inside Mozilla achieved too little as we have yet another man (coming from inside Mozilla) acting as CEO



  15. Healthcare News: Free Software in Health, Humanitarian Causes

    Links for the day



  16. Links 14/4/2014: MakuluLinux, Many Games, More Privacy News and Pulitzer Prize for NSA Revelations

    Links for the day



  17. TechBytes Episode 87: Catching up With Surveillance (NSA, GCHQ et al.)

    The first audio episode in a very long time covers some of the latest happenings when it comes to privacy and, contrariwise, mass surveillance



  18. Server News: KVM, ElasticHosts, Other GNU/Linux Items, and Open Network Linux

    Links for the day



  19. Hardware News: Freedom, Modding, Hackability on the Rise

    Links for the day



  20. Distributions News: GNU/Linux Distros

    Links for the day



  21. GNOME News: Financial Issues, Mutter-Wayland, West Coast Summit, Community Participation

    Links for the day



  22. KDE News: Kubuntu at the Centre Again KDE Applications Updated

    Links for the day



  23. Techrights Rising

    Effective immediately, Techrights will do what it takes to bring back old volume and pace of publishing



  24. Links: Surveillance, Intervention, Torture and Drones

    Links for the day



  25. Mobile Linux Not Just Android: Jolla, WebOS, and Firefox OS News

    Links for the day



  26. Google's Linux Revolution: New Gains for Android, Chrome OS (GNU/Linux)

    Links for the day



  27. Free/Libre Databases News: MongoDB, NoSQL, and MySQL Branches/Forks

    Links for the day



  28. Open Access on the Rise: Textbooks, Journals, Etc.

    Links for the day



  29. Finance Watch (Watching What's Not Being Watched): Economic Warfare/Class Injustice

    Links for the day



  30. Climate and Ecology Watch: News About a World Being Destroyed

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts