Author Topic: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa  (Read 2113 times)

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Offline dapaterson

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Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« on: April 03, 2017, 18:38:12 »
A months-long CBC News/Radio-Canada investigation has revealed that someone is using devices that track and spy on cellphones in the area around Parliament Hill.

The devices are known as IMSI catchers and have been used by Canadian police and security authorities, foreign intelligence and even organized crime.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/imsi-cellphones-spying-ottawa-1.4050049
This posting made in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 2(b):
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
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Offline Lightguns

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2017, 07:12:03 »
I am shocked that anyone is shocked that this is happening in a national capital!  Canada's national self delusion that we are all great guys and no one spies on us because we are all great guys must make for great laughs in spook circles......
Done, 34 years, 43 days complete, got's me damn pension!

Offline Humphrey Bogart

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 07:13:44 »
I am shocked that anyone is shocked that this is happening in a national capital!  Canada's national self delusion that we are all great guys and no one spies on us because we are all great guys must make for great laughs in spook circles......

Everybody spies on everybody, including Canada.

Offline milnews.ca

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2017, 10:51:17 »
I am shocked that anyone is shocked that this is happening in a national capital!  Canada's national self delusion that we are all great guys and no one spies on us because we are all great guys must make for great laughs in spook circles......
To me, the shock is more about how easy it is to find/track said monitoring -- not to mention what else may be happening that's too sophisticated to spot by lay persons.
Everybody spies on everybody, including Canada.
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Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2017, 12:19:34 »
Read a book by the former 2 I/C of MI5. This has been going on since time began. No real shock here.
Freedom Isn't Free   "Never Shall I Fail My Brothers"

“Do everything that is necessary and nothing that is not".

Online jollyjacktar

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2017, 16:00:49 »
A partner I once worked with had come to the unit from CFNCIU in Ottawa.  He said he wouldn't go into details, but his comment on spying in Canada was "everybody thinks that once the wall came down, all that "Cold War" spy stuff was done.  They're wrong, the fall of the Soviet Union just make it go ballistic.  You would be shocked at the number of spies that are operating in and out of Canada.  It's nuts."

Offline Colin P

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2017, 17:26:40 »
I think the PRC considers spying a duty of every citizen and member of the Chinese ethnic group. A lot of them are "passive spies" picking up and observing. I expect people with relatives in China that get an interesting job here, will get a call saying "Your cousin is applying for technical college, if you help us, we will help him" 

Online jollyjacktar

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2017, 17:42:55 »
I don't doubt that for a second.  Another former partner of mine's daughter married a Cuban national.  He was able to immigrate to Canada and I believe he is a full citizen now. Anyhow, the first time he went home to visit family, after being away for some years, he was pulled out of the line by a Major of Intelligence was given a very strong arm going over suggestion to "work" for the mother country upon his return to Canada.  I believe veiled threats were made to family that are still in country etc as part of the approach.  She said that he resisted the Joe Pesci routine and he hasn't been bothered again since.

Online MarkOttawa

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2017, 19:04:08 »
From a 2015 post (further links at original):

Quote
"...    while many intelligence services exploit ties of ethnicity to further their espionage against the United States — Russians, Cubans, Israelis, even the Greeks — none of the major counterintelligence threats to America are as dependent on blood ties as the Chinese. Simply put, in its efforts at recruiting spies abroad, Beijing is often uncomfortable operating outside its ethnic milieu. Spies run by Beijing who are not ethnic Chinese are very much the exception [emphasis added]. This poses less of a problem for them that it might seem, however, as there are something like fifty million “overseas Chinese” worldwide, including about four million living in the United States…"

But raising such matters can get one in a whole lot of trouble in Canada–consider Dick Fadden, when Director of CSIS some five years ago:

"Chinese-Canadians request meeting with CSIS head"
...
https://cgai3ds.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/7595/

And from 2016:

Quote
Cyber Espionage vs US Defence Industry: Chinese Resident of Canada Pleads Guilty
https://cgai3ds.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/mark-collins-cyber-espionage-vs-us-defence-industry-chinese-resident-of-canada-pleads-guilty/

Mark
Ottawa
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2017, 09:17:32 »
Pretty poor article designed to incite panic in the local populace. A lot of key information missing to actually come up with an answer on who could likely be using it:

1. What specific dates in December and January?
2. What key leaders/political figures were hosting events/visiting Canada on those dates, in those areas?
3. What specific location/locations were used when hits were received by the device?
4. How can you possibly provide a radius of coverage without point 3 answered, or an idea of the transmit power of the rogue device?
5. Article completely leaves out the fact that my first Google hit included step by step instructions on how to build your own device, including configuration settings and specific model numbers of equipment.

A whole lot of fearing mongering by the CBC (no surprise, gotta sell headlines).

Offline Colin P

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2017, 10:14:14 »
Now they are going to "investigate" the reports. So if CSIS/RCMP were doing the spying, leading the investigation is the best way to protect your assets.

Offline milnews.ca

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2017, 11:10:55 »
... So if CSIS/RCMP were doing the spying ...
According to the PS Minister (and Google Translate from this French article), "the activities mentioned in the Monday evening report did not involve a Canadian agency such as the RCMP or CSIS."
Pretty poor article designed to incite panic in the local populace. A lot of key information missing ...
Which is what you get when generalists cover a technical story, indeed.
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

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Offline Cloud Cover

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2017, 11:50:23 »

An IMSI is a property of a SIM card, not a cell phone except for certain CDMA devices which do not use SIM cards at all. There are other properties to a cell phone that are much better identifiers (IMEI, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Mac address for example). If it really bothers people, they can switch SIM cards with relative ease, drug dealers do it every day but even they get caught.

Not only can an IMSI catcher be detected, it can also be geolocated even though it is a passive ESM device. It plugs in, registers itself somewhere, and uploads IMSI data to a server somewhere. Each of these devices has specific fingerprint identities that are required to authenticate itself to the remote server-controller to which it uploads data.

If one wants to be really nasty, these units can be jammed or flooded with so much false data that it crashes, and there are countermeasure devices available to do that.   

Probably the larger issue here, not stated in the article, is that an IMSI is a subscriber identifier that can be accessed in a data base shared by many telco's (to assign roaming charges) and even some phone manufacturers as part of the device registration process and in some cases, the "find my lost or stolen phone" applications. With this information sometimes comes things like billing information, contact information etc.

The Citizens Lab has been all over the use of these devices for years, but I'm of the view that being located and tracked is not the issue, and it would be tough to consistently solve the problem across all user base scenarios. At some point, an end user is going to grant permission to an App to transmit the same data anyway. Strong encryption can bring about good enough security to have a reasonable degree of electronic tranquility, but in the end we all reveal something about identity in exchange for an electronic hill of beans.

If there is an IMSI catcher located with the confines of an Embassy, forget about touching it. Better to just know it is there, judge the risk and utilize cellular communications accordingly. Always assume you are being monitored by some party, because the fact is that you are....

You're right. I Never  Met A Motherfucker Quite Like You, or someone as smart as you.  Never ever will, either.

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2017, 17:39:50 »
I strongly doubt its a one-trick pony, only grabbing IMSI information. Once you have access to the device through this attack, you have all of the data required to exploit a device.

The "IMSI catcher" also wouldn't be strictly passive, as it has to transmit tower information to attract devices, making it an active intercept system.

Even though your device is compromised in this fashion, all it allows is tracking of your location/type of data transmitted if you're smart and using programs like WhatsApp that encrypt data at the device, making it impossible for eavesdroppers to get.

Offline milnews.ca

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Re: Someone is spying in downtown Ottawa
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2017, 05:12:48 »
A bit more from the RCMP Info-machine ...
Quote
RCMP use of technology to identify cellular devices for law enforcement purposes

April 5, 2017
Ontario

Statement

Technology used to identify and locate cellular devices, commonly referred to as Mobile Device Identifiers (MDI), has been the subject of recent media coverage.

In the interest of transparency, the RCMP confirms the use of MDI technology to identify and locate a suspect's mobile device. This capability can be used to further criminal investigations relating to national security, serious and organized crime, and other serious Criminal Code offences that impact the safety and security of Canadians.

The RCMP uses MDI technology in full compliance with Canadian laws, including the Charter of Rights, and proper judicial processes. Except in extremely urgent cases (i.e., to prevent death or imminent harm), the RCMP must get a judge's authorization before using the technology.

There are a limited number of authorized and trained RCMP operators who can use MDI technology and its use is subject to very strict rules, senior management approval, and judicial authorization prior to deployment.

What does it do?

RCMP MDI technology is an important investigative tool used to identify a suspect's cellular device, such as a mobile phone. It helps the RCMP identify an unknown cellular device used by a target (suspect) under investigation by collecting limited signaling information, or for other policing matters, such as identifying the location of a known cellular device linked to a missing person.

In very simple terms, when a trained officer deploys MDI technology, it attracts and momentarily connects cell phones in the immediate proximity, before returning them to their own networks. The technology collects International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) and International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) data associated with the phones, allowing the operator to identify the phone used by the suspect. The IMSI and IMEI are internationally standardized unique numbers to identify a mobile subscriber and device, respectively.

What doesn't it do?

RCMP MDI technology does not collect private communication. In other words, it does not collect:

    voice and audio communications
    email messages
    text messages
    contact lists
    images
    encryption keys
    basic subscriber information

Information that is not relevant to the investigation is immediately destroyed after court proceedings, appeal periods, and any specific orders from a judge.
How does it help investigations?

MDI technology provides valuable assistance to criminal investigations and other policing duties. It may be used to help identify an unknown cellular device associated with an individual under investigation by collecting limited information from devices within range of the technology. It may also be used to locate cellular devices which are already known to police.

How is it deployed?

After getting authorization from a judge, the MDI is deployed for a short period of time to attract and collect limited information (IMSI and IMEI data) from cellular devices in close proximity. This data can be used to help identify a cellular device used by a suspect under investigation.
How often is this technology deployed?

There are a limited number of authorized and trained RCMP operators who can use this technology. Further, its use is limited to only the most serious cases, and only when there are grounds to believe that a suspect is using an unknown cell-phone to conduct criminal activities. Its use requires a judge's authorization, as well as authorization at very senior levels of the RCMP. There are also strict reporting requirements for each use.

In 2016, the RCMP used MDI technology in only 19 investigations.
Who makes the decision to deploy the technology and what oversight is there of their use?

Before this technology is deployed, senior officer approval and a valid judicial authorization are required. Prior judicial authorization is not required, in extremely urgent cases where the police reasonably believe there is a need to deploy the technology to prevent imminent harm or death.

Those authorized to use the technology have received specialized training and each use is reported and recorded by the operator.

What happens to the data the MDI technology collects?

The limited data collected by MDI technology (IMSI and IMEI data) is stored in an isolated system that is only accessible by those managing the technology.

To further a criminal investigation beyond this limited data, the RCMP must get a production order from a judge to obtain basic subscriber details associated with the IMSI or IMEI data from a Telecommunications Service Provider (e.g., the telephone number, name and address of the subscriber).

Information that is not relevant to the investigation is immediately sequestered by the operator and not shared with investigators. It is destroyed after court proceedings, appeal periods, and any specific orders from a judge.

Does this impact other cell phone users in the area?

MDI technology can cause limited cellular interference for devices within range of the tool. The RCMP makes every effort to deploy the technology in a way that causes the least disruptions to service and public safety.

–30–
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

The words I share here are my own, not those of anyone else or anybody I may be affiliated with.

Tony Prudori
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