Friday, February 15, 2013

How Big Brother tracks you online?

A chilling vision of how Big Brother may be watching our every online move has recently emerged.  The Guardian reports:

A multinational security firm has secretly developed software capable of tracking people's movements and predicting future behaviour by mining data from social networking websites.

A video obtained by the Guardian reveals how an "extreme-scale analytics" system created by Raytheon, the world's fifth largest defence contractor, can gather vast amounts of information about people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Raytheon says it has not sold the software – named Riot, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology – to any clients.

But the Massachusetts-based company has acknowledged the technology was shared with US government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analysing "trillions of entities" from cyberspace.

The power of Riot to harness popular websites for surveillance offers a rare insight into controversial techniques that have attracted interest from intelligence and national security agencies, at the same time prompting civil liberties and online privacy concerns.

The sophisticated technology demonstrates how the same social networks that helped propel the Arab Spring revolutions can be transformed into a "Google for spies" and tapped as a means of monitoring and control.

Using Riot it is possible to gain an entire snapshot of a person's life – their friends, the places they visit charted on a map – in little more than a few clicks of a button.

There's more at the link.  Bear in mind that although this particular software has not been sold to anyone yet, there are many, many other companies and entities (for example, the unknown entities who developed Stuxnet and/or Flame) who may have developed similar products.  In fact, I'll bet a year of my pension to a day of anyone's salary that similar programs are already in widespread use.

Here's a video demonstration of how Raytheon's RIOT works.

That's what they can do to any one of us, right now. Makes you think, doesn't it?



Carteach said...

I take comfort in knowing that anyone tracking *my* life will soon collapse of boredom.

trailbee said...

I figure blogging is risky enough. I don't need to be on facebook or twitter as well.

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

I'm sure the FBI will be all over it. They have developed a modis operandi of finding somebody weak willed (and probably not overly bright) that they can egg on until they build a non-functional bomb.

Anonymous said...

This is not what they can do now.

This is what they could do in Nov of 2010, according to the date at the start of the presentation.

I expect that capabilities have increased since then.

Is there a business model for a company to get paid to inject false and misleading info into cyberspace, to protect rich and important people from cyber-savvy kidnapers?

Andrew said...

The problem isn't just the software, but of unthinking law enforcement agencies who will treat the software results seriously.

Anonymous said...

Turns out Big Brother doesn't need to watch everyone...people will willingly set up the viewscreens themselves.

Anonymous said...

You may find the following interesting...

a lecture on the state of privacy
by Steven Rambam, a private investigator
given at HOPE, a famous hacker conference:

YouTube links:
Privacy A Postmortem Part 1
& Privacy A Postmortem Part 2