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eEye Digital Security Papers

In God we trust, all others we monitor
by Marc Maiffret

In present society, individuals are being watched in every aspect of their lives. Privacy is no longer a privilege, but a desire. eEye has the ability to locate and analyze an individual's profile. For instance, eEye can trace a person back to every place they have ever lived and where their favorite places to shop are. If eEye can gather data about personal transactions, imagine what a government agency can find out about an identity. The world has reached a point, where we have to think twice before we buy online or shop at Vons. In the past, where people shopped and what they bought was something trivial. It should be if it were not today's day and age.

Some people might be wondering now how eEye or anyone for that matter could be able to figure out their favorite foods and their favorite days to shop etc... It's all rather simple, computers are part of our everyday life, but more than most people realize. Most people use a computer at work and at home. However, most people do not think about the little things. For example, the swipe of the Vons club card, the ATM withdrawal, and using the credit card to pick up a co-worker's lunch etc... All of these things travel through a computer in one way or another and in the end most land themselves in the database of databases. The same goes for being online. When a user visits a website they look at a lot of things about them. For example, what operating system they use, what sites they have gone to recently, and what part of their website the user views most often etc... Some open hidden windows via JavaScript to track every site the user goes to and collects the user's interests. These all do not seem like much but in essence they are all the different aspects of your life and traits of yourself. People can build a profile of you from all these different things. This profile could be used to create the perfect marketing pla to proposition you with or can be used as a tool to manipulate and exploit you.

When you pick up a phone to call a friend overseas everything you say is monitored and parsed for key words. The NSA along with about 5 other agencies around the world have a network setup to do just that. Monitor all data transmission whether it be via satellite or landlines. The NSA has satellites so powerful that even in very high orbits they can zoom in close enough to read the license plate off of a car. This probably does not sound that bad because the NSA would not spy on just anyone, but I think the fact that they could do this to Americans is what makes peoples' eyebrows perk up. Echelon, the network we talk of, is a joint effort by 5 countries, the United States, England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They are all bound together by a 1948 agreement, UKUSA. Another frightening matter is that, the Echelon project sometimes will monitor for certain things that companies ask for. As always, if you have the money, anything is possible. I guess this includes key word searches of communications coming in and out of the United States.

The world is changing rapidly. The past projections of what the future would hold do not equal to what the future has delivered. Information and technology is traveling at an enormous rate and the backbones holding everything together were not designed with the necessary security implications in mind. We use to all fear the nuclear fall out. However, it's no longer the nuclear war we need to worry about, it is the economic one. Information Warfare will be a growing part of everyone's lives, whether you are a business owner or an employee. The governments and companies are scrambling to catch up, but ordinary people have not been educated about the privacy risks of today.

Some people think encryption is the big fix it all to the problem of personal privacy. It might be, however, we live in a country (U.S.) that has more restrictions on encryption then almost any other country in the world. Sources say, the government's standard encryption, DES, can be broken in about 7 seconds. Some people have been said to be able to break it without a computer. The latter we would not doubt. Software programs try to learn about the users and send the information to the companies. Microsoft tried to release Win98 with code that would send out information about what was on user's hard drive. i.e. what software products you have etc... Lucky the Government stepped in and prevented Microsoft.

The government is trying to get things, such as keyescrows passed as laws where by you have to give a government a secret key, or backdoor, to be able to unencrypt your files. If the laws are passed it would make it illegal for a person to encrypt a file and then not give the government a backdoor key. The government is pushing clipper chips and many other ridiculous encryption legislation.

What can you do about all this? You could move to another country. Canada is good. All jokes aside though... take an active stand with your local congressman. Let them know what you think about the privacy bills and laws that are floating about. Tell your friends what's going on and get involved with personal privacy. I know some people read things in the newspaper about encryption laws and things of the such and don't think much about it, but encryption laws are just one more step in the direction of destroying our personal privacy. Get involved before all the movies about chip implants come true. They are already in progress.

Note: This article has been written with a view to US security policies

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