Some thoughts on the Seattle police's surveillance mesh network.

In the past day or two an interesting piece of news has been making the rounds. Earlier this year the police department of the city of Seattle, Washington set up its own wireless mesh network for what many people are saying is for the purpose of keeping people under surveillance. The hardware was purchased from Aruba Networks; it is unknown whether or not the company set up the gear, or if another outfit was contracted for installation and maintenance. Each of the nodes is apparently broadcasting frames containing ESSIDs that reflect its location (such as 4th Avenue and Union Street …

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Catching up on everything else.

I suppose I should talk about work a bit.

I don't ordinarily do that, because I think there's a conflict of interests between writing in a personal blog and talking about things I get paid to do, but sometimes it can't be helped. The last couple of weeks have been spent preparing for a fairly major server migration (e-mail service for a couple of offices and a couple of dozen employees), which for once didn't involve significant hardware wrangling (though that's going on in other areas) but does take a fair amount of time (most of it spent writing documentation …

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Saloncon, unashamed gamers, and a beacon in your pocket.

Word has come down from the state of New Jersey that Saloncon, the first known neo-victorian convention in the United States, is no more. Following the tribulations of 2009, including the economy floating upside down in its fishbowl, the organizers are not able to set the wheels in motion for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the organizers have branched out in new directions in their personal lives and do not have the time or energy right now to put on a convention as a result. saloncon will certainly be missed; I know I shall miss the yearly trek to …

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Boston police fight back against cellphone recordings.

People recording what is going on around them is a relatively new development in North American history. One supposes that you could trace it back to the beating of Rodney King by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department in the year 1991, in which a bystander recorded the incident with a home video camera. Jump forward a dozen years; cellular phones and digital cameras now have the ability to do the same thing but are far smaller and record in much higher quality. With the proliferation of websites like Youtube and Facebook videos of every kind can be made …

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Just when you thought keeping tabs on your kids couldn't get any more creepy.

Taser has become one of the more notorious companies in the United States. Best known for it's (technically) non-lethal electrostun weapons, the name of which has become synonymous for most any stunner, they've recently gotten into the mobile surveillance market with a product they call Protector. This product is actually an app which you install in your kid's mobile phone; it lets you keep an eye on all of the phone numbers which are called or place calls to the phone as well as giving access to all text messages sent or received. Certain numbers can be blacklisted by the …

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Confiscation and examination of electronics at the border intensifies.

It would appear that the confiscation and analysis of personal electronics at the US border is intensifiying and that people are starting to get up in arms about it. It's more than just laptops that US ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) are spiriting away (for up to two weeks at a time, which defeats the purpose of trying to fly anywhere): Cellular phones are being meddled with and sometimes data is erased (for one reason or another; I tend to lean toward Hanlon's Razor to explain this), corporate laptops are being taken away from travelers unless the log into the …

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Reclamation of personal space through application of superior RF output.

I think that it's safe to say that everyone's been annoyed at one time or another by someone in a restaurant, on a bus, or in a store by someone who was carrying out a loud conversation on their cellular telephone and refused to make any effort to leave the area. Now, there are some of us who sometimes don't have a choice in the matter (like those of us who are on call for work, though many of us at least make the attempt to get away from everyone else in an attempt to not be rude), but there …

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Cellular PDAs with RATs in the datawalls.

RATs meaning remote access tools, that is. Malware that conceals itself in a system and lets someone on the outside with the right application and credentials connect and manipulate the system remotely. The classic such utility is Back Orifice by the Cult of the Dead Cow, and was probably the first of its kind which let you do such things as mess with the mouse cursor and typed text, flip the display upside down, access the webcam, and open or close the CD-ROM.

It seems that combination cellphone/PDA's are now advanced enough to be targeted. Nowadays many cellphones have …

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This is why discounting the usefulness of SIGINT is a bad idea.

At some point in the past year or two, twenty-five undercover CIA operatives traveled to Italy to abduct one Abu Omar, an Islamic cleric suspected of involvement in an act of terrorism in Milan back in 2003. However, they didn't follow secure communications procedures (or those same procedures need to be updated badly), and they were rumbled by Italian law enforcement, who are now trying the agents in absentia for kidnapping. Like many people these days, the operatives used cellular telephones to keep in touch with one another through the course of the op. Unfortunately, the prosecutor was able to …

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A busy couple of days, to be sure.

The past couple of days have been busy, highly eventful, and fruitful, to be sure, which is why I've only been posting terse updates here and there.

Here's what happened:

Lucien, the mail server that I've been running for the past couple of years, flamed out on Monday afternoon, leaving me mostly incommunicado for a few days. I had to scramble to construct a replacement for reasons that I'll go into shortly. What I wound up doing was downloading an .iso image of the 2007.0 release of Gentoo Linux and while Leandra was pulling it down I hunted through …

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