Archive for spyware

Israel Restricts Exports Of Cyberweapons To Eliminate Autocratic Regimes From Accessing Them

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 25, 2021 by itnerd

I am guessing that the Israeli government isn’t thrilled with all the recent shots taken at The NSO Group from everyone from the US Government to Apple. I say that because the news is out that they are going to drop the list of countries that The NSO Group can export to from 102 countries to 37:

The new list, obtained by Israeli business newspaper Calcalist earlier today, only includes countries with proven democracies, such as those from Europe and the Five Eyes coalition: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

The list noticeably removes autocratic regimes, to which Israeli companies have often supplied surveillance tools. Spyware developed by Israeli companies like Candiru and the NSO Group has been linked in recent years to human rights abuses in tens of countries, with the tools being used by the local governments to spy on reporters, activists, dissidents, and political rivals.

I am not sure if this is really going to move the needle on this issue. The knives are out for The NSO Group and I am not sure that this move by the Israeli government will change that. But I am going to watch this closely as I am always free to be surprised.

Researchers Say Canadian Laws Fail To Protect People From ‘Stalkerware’

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 13, 2019 by itnerd

A Report from researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab popped up yesterday and effectively says that Canadian laws are failing to protect the victims of cellphone “stalkerware”. Now “stalkerware” is usually marketed as apps for people who want to monitor the cellphone activity of children or employees. But many people download them to spy on people. Specifically those in intimate relationships. Here’s why that matters:

The apps can enable real-time and remote access to text messages, emails, photos, videos, incoming and outgoing phone calls, GPS location, banking or other account passwords, social media accounts, and more. Stalkerware apps are sometimes used covertly while, in other circumstances, the technology is used openly to intimidate, harass, or extort the surveillance target.

Hundreds of spyware apps relevant to IPS are available at the consumer level. Research conducted in Canada and internationally suggests that a significant proportion of women who experience intimate partner violence, abuse, and harassment also report experiences with a range of technology-facilitated abuse, including surveillance and abuse that is enabled by the powerful mobile device spyware apps that are the focus of this report. Despite this troubling context, few reported cases involving spyware-enabled IPS have appeared in Canadian courts, and spyware companies, which profit from the sale of these apps, appear to operate in the Canadian marketplace without being hindered by criminal or regulatory law enforcement.

Clearly there’s a gap here that needs to be filled. Hopefully those gaps will be filled as people read this report and realize that action needs to be taken as apps like these can’t be allowed to exist without rules, boundaries and limitations being placed around them.


Securing Your Windows PC – FOR FREE [UPDATED]

Posted in Products, Security with tags , , , on February 22, 2008 by itnerd

I fix a lot of computers for friends as well as “friends of friends” largely because a good IT Nerd is hard to find (plus they don’t want to take it to Geek Squad). One of the things I get asked about a lot is what they should buy to secure their Windows PC and keep it virus and spyware free. First of all, it costs NOTHING to keep your PC virus and spyware free. All you need are the right products:

  • In terms of virus protection, I recommend AVG. I’ve had situation where people have installed it in place of a commercial package and had it find viruses that those packages have missed. Oh yeah, it doesn’t slow your PC down at all. Highly Recommended.
  • In terms of software based firewalls, the Windows firewall is adequate. However it only deals with incoming threats. To be completely secure, you need a firewall that deals with threats that originate from your PC as well. For this purpose, I recommend Comodo Firewall as it is easy to set up and easy to manage. Best of all, it doesn’t get in the way of your day to day use of the PC unless it has to.
  • One thing you should do on a regular basis is hunt for spyware, cookies and anything else that might have somehow made it onto your Windows PC. For that purpose, I use two packages. The first is Spybot Search And Destroy and the second is Ad Aware. Both of these packages require you to run them manually (I run both once a month), but I find both to be highly effective in terms of keeping bad things off your PC.

Again, all of the products that I have mentioned are FREE. So you don’t need to spend money to keep yourself safe. Just make sure that you update them on a regular basis to ensure you’re adequately protected from the bad guys.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this article, I’ve stopped using AdAware as I find that Spybot Search and destroy is all I need.