Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Move over, Big Brother. Little Brother is squeezing in.

Filed under
Security

Robert Gortarez is no private eye.

But with an $80 piece of software intended to track what his son was doing on the Internet, the 36-year-old Phoenix real estate investor uncovered some information about what his wife - now his ex-wife - was doing online as well.

Gortarez isn't the only one. Husbands and wives, moms and dads, even neighbors and friends increasingly are succumbing to the temptation to snoop, thanks to a growing array of inexpensive, easily accessible high-tech sleuthing tools once available only to professional investigators.

Move over, Big Brother. Little Brother is squeezing in.

From software that secretly monitors computer activity to tiny hidden surveillance cameras and global positioning system devices, spy tools that can track a person's location now can be purchased in retail stores and on the Internet.

And a growing amount of free personal information is so easy to find online that many Internet regulars don't think of it as spying. Plug a name into Google and you have an instant background check of your best friend, your brother-in-law or that guy or gal you met last night at a bar.

"You can bug people the way spy agencies used to do 20 years ago - really cheap now," says Howard Rheingold, author of "Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution." "The Orwellian vision was about state-sponsored surveillance. Now it's not just the state, it's your nosy neighbor, your ex-spouse and people who want to spam you."

It's unclear how many Americans actually are using these new tools to check up on one another, especially since most people don't exactly broadcast it. But experts say citizen sleuthing is on the rise.

"My guess is it's very popular, just given how many people call me," says Deborah Pierce of Privacy Activism, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in San Francisco. Pierce is speaking this week at the 15th annual Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference in Seattle.

Pierce says the fact that legal cases are starting to hit the courts "tells me it's prevalent."

Full Story

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

  • Minijail: Running Untrusted Programs Safely by Jorge Lucangeli Obes, Google
  • Minijail: Google’s Tool To Safely Run Untrusted Programs
    Google’s Minijail sandboxing tool could be used by developers and sysadmins to run untrusted programs safely for debugging and security checks, according to Google Software Engineer Jorge Lucangeli Obes, who spoke last month at the Linux Security Summit. Obes is the platform security lead for Brillo, Google's Android-based operating system for Internet-connected devices. Minijail was designed for sandboxing on Chrome OS and Android, to handle “anything that the Linux kernels grew.” Obes shared that Google teams use it on the server side, for build farms, for fuzzing, and pretty much everywhere. Since “essentially one bug separates you and any random attacker,” Google wanted to create a reliable means to swiftly identify problems with privileges and exploits in app development and easily enable developers to “do the right thing.” The tool is designed to assist admins who struggle with deciding what permissions their software actually needs, and developers who are vexed with trying to second guess which environment the software is going to run in. In both cases, sandboxing and privilege dropping tends to be a hit or miss affair. Even when developers use the privilege dropping mechanisms provided by the Linux kernel, sometimes things go awry due to numerous pitfalls along that path. One common example Obes cited was trying to ride a switch user function that will drop-root and then forgetting to check the result of the situation relief, or setuid function, afterwards.
  • Intel and Cloudera Give Apache an Open Source Data/Security Tool
    For the past year, we've taken note of the many Big Data projects that the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent months. As Apache moves Big Data projects to Top-Level Status, they gain valuable community support. Recently, the foundation announced that Apache Kudu has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP). Kudu is an open source columnar storage engine built for the Apache Hadoop ecosystem designed to enable flexible, high-performance analytic pipelines. And, Apache Twill has graduated as well. Twill is an abstraction over Apache Hadoop YARN that reduces the complexity of developing distributed Hadoop applications, allowing developers to focus more on their application logic. In another Apache-related Big Data move, Cloudera and Intel have announced that they've contributed a new open-source project to the Apache Software Foundation targeted at using Big Data analytics and machine learning for cybersecurity.
  • Twitter Open Sources Stream Processing Engine Heron
    Twitter announced the open sourcing of Heron, a stream-processing engine that is a successor to Apache Storm. Heron is backwards compatible with Apache Storm, which eases its adoption amongst developers. Heron has replaced Apache Storm as the stream data processing engine inside Twitter due to its scalability, debug-ability, ability to work in a shared cluster infrastructure and better performance. A comprehensive list of features is listed in the documentation.
  • Tencent: Transforming Networks with SDN
    “SDN can really transform the way we do networks,” said Tom Bie, VP of Technology & Operation of Data Center, Networking and Server, Tencent, during his Wednesday keynote address at the Open Daylight Summit. The China telecom giant should know about the issues of massive scale networks: they have more than 200 million users for QQ instant messaging, 300 million users of their payment service, and more than 800 million users of their VChat service. Bie noted that Tencent also operates one of the largest gaming networks in the world, along with video services, audio services, online literature services, news portals, and a range other digital content services.
  • The Second Wave of Platforms, an Interview with Cloud Foundry’s Sam Ramji
    In today’s world of platforms, services are increasingly connected. In the past, PaaS offerings were pretty much isolated. It’s that new connected infrastructure that is driving the growth of Cloud Foundry, the open source, service-oriented platform technology. Sam Ramji is CEO of Cloud Foundry, which is holding its European event in Frankfurt this week. At the conference, we spoke with Ramji to discuss, among other topics:
  • How to Find Your First OpenStack Job
  • LibreOffice 5.2.2 Now Available to Download
  • EC approves Slovenia courts data exchange solution
    First CEF AS4-compliant b2b solution developed as open source by a public administration The European Commission has tested and approved Laurentius, an eDelivery court documents and case exchange solution compliant with the AS4 profile of the OASIS ebMS standard. In September, Laurentius passed all tests by the EC’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for its so-called “e-SENS AS4 conformant solutions”.
  • SDL 2.0.5 Is Readying For Release: Relative Mouse Mode For Wayland/Mir, Audio Capture
    SDL 2.0 point releases have ranged from being a few months apart to as much as two years apart. Fortunately, SDL 2.0.5 is now being put together for release just nine months after SDL 2.0.4. With the Mercurial repository, Sam Lantinga bumped the version in preparation for the SDL 2.0.5 release. The SDL 2.0.5 release hasn't officially happened yet, but it should be here soon.
  • Open standards default at Slovenia supreme court
    The use of open ICT standards is an IT requirement at Slovenia’s Supreme Court, responsible for the IT support of the entire court system in the country. The Supreme Court’s IT department has a strong preference for the development of modular, reusable software solutions. This strategy provides agility and flexibility, says Bojan Muršec, director of IT. The focus on open standards frees up the IT department to concentrate on the business, Muršec says. The IT department takes the modular approach serious: the first reusable module ever developed by the court - a court documents dispatch and delivery system - is re-used by all IT systems across the courts. “Making everything reusable prevents creation of silos in the organisation”, the IT director says. A positive side effect of the IT strategy is that the court uses mostly open source software solutions. This in turn helps to keep IT costs down, says the IT director, who estimates that the court saves EUR 400 to 500 thousand per year on licence fees: “The cost of proprietary licences always goes up.”
  • Why there is no CSS4 - explaining CSS Levels
    We had CSS1, and CSS2. We even had CSS2.1 and we then moved onto CSS3 – or did we? This post is a quick explanation of how CSS is versioned today. CSS versions 1 and 2 were monolithic specifications. All of CSS was included in one massive document. Selectors, positioning, colour – it was all in there. The problem with monolithic specifications is that in order to finish the spec, every component part also has to be finished. As CSS has grown in complexity, and new features are added, it doesn’t make sense to draw a line at which all work is stopped on all parts of CSS in order to declare that CSS version finished. Therefore, after CSS2.1 all the things that had been part of the 2.1 specification were broken down into modules. As the new CSS modules included all that had gone before plus any new features, they all came into being at Level 3. Hence CSS3, and people like me who understood CSS as a single specification referred to the group of Level 3 modules as “CSS3”.

Security Leftovers

  • Linux.Mirai Trojan causing mayhem with DDoS attacks
    A Trojan named Linux.Mirai has been found to be carrying out DDoS attacks. The malicious program first appeared in May 2016, detected by Doctor Web after being added to its virus database under the name Linux.DDoS.87. The Trojan can work with with the SPARC, ARM, MIPS, SH-4, M68K architectures and Intel x86 computers.
  • Don't Hide DRM in a Security Update
    Over 10,000 of you have joined EFF in calling on HP to make amends for its self-destructing printers in the past few days. Looks like we got the company’s attention: today, HP posted a response on its blog. Apparently recognizing that its customers are more likely to see an update that limits interoperability as a bug than as a feature, HP says that it will issue an optional firmware update rolling back the changes that it had made. We’re very glad to see HP making this step. But a number of questions remain. First, we’d like to know what HP’s plans are for informing users about the optional firmware update. Right now, the vast majority of people who use the affected printers likely do not know why their printers lost functionality, nor do they know that it’s possible to restore it. All of those customers should be able to use their printers free of artificial restrictions, not just the relatively few who have been closely following this story.
  • 6 Ways Driverless Cars Are Going To Kill Lots Of People
    You've probably read a few articles about driverless cars over the past couple of years. The technology is coming along quickly, with fleets of test cars already on the roads in some states. It seems like soon we'll achieve the American dream of stuffing our faces and texting all we want while still managing to avoid public transportation. But the reality is quite different. We're diving into this technology a little too quickly and ignoring all the warning signs about how we are going to screw up on the way to Driverless Car Utopia.

Red Hat and Fedora

  • Red Hat Inc. (RHT) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Hold”
  • Earnings Estimate Report: Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) , Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)
  • Switched to HTTPS
    Perhaps you already noticed it, I have switched all the sites for a secured browsing using HTTPS. So, new addresses are: https://blog.remirepo.net/ for this Blog (with an automatic and permanent redirection) https://forum.remirepo.net/ for the Forum (with an automatic and permanent redirection) https://rpms.remirepo.net/ for the Repository, but classical address stay available.
  • Fedora Hubs: Getting started
    Fedora Hubs provides a consistent contributor experience across all Fedora teams and will serve as an “intranet” page for the Fedora Project. There are many different projects in Fedora with different processes and workflows. Hubs will serve as a single place for contributors to learn about and contribute to them in a standardized format. Hubs will also be a social network for Fedora contributors. It is designed as one place to go to keep up with everything and everybody across the project in ways that aren’t currently possible.

today's howtos