Ranting about surveillance

In Romania, there’s a lot of law being in either in debate, or passing passed about giving the authorities direct abilities to get all e-data. E-mails, IMs, mandating the vendors to hand unencrypted data out. Please read this again.

Now, I want to lightly share some of my experience in working for some top cybersecurity ‘consulting’ companies. (lightly, because of NDAs)

Now, the layout is as follows: justice, law enforcement, and ultimately governments are mandating surveillance when justified. Alright Good.
The surveillance is happening anyway (phone taps, physical tracking, e-mails, IMs, and whatnot) with help from various agencies that are specialized in doing that.
The level of expertise that various govt. agencies have in terms of electronic surveillance is not always up-to-date. This is to say that their capabilities are limited. This is normal. When they face a situation where they can’t pursue a surveillance task, they outsource. There are cybersecurity companies that offer such services. These companies have cybersecurity researchers that are on top with various 0Days and the corresponding exploits and they master this.

How do I know this? I was one of these guys that offered cybersecurity research services for such a company. Repeatedly. Actually only two times, for two different companies. So not a lot of experience here. Just enough. I’m not going back there!

So, what’s my problem?

Let me guide you through an example:

Assume there’s a mandate that asks for IMs sent by the suspect. This is currently achieved, usually, by compromising the user’s device (phone, laptop, PC, MAC, whathef**kever) with some malware that is usually designed by one of these contracted companies. Surveillance happnes ON THE COMPROMISED DEVICE ITSELF.

Surveillance does not happen on the ‘encrypted wire’, or on the IM vendor’s infrastructure, but on the TARGETED DEVICE.

Now, suppose this new law passes, that will mandate the IM service providers to hold unencrypted data (or hold encryption keys) FOR EVERYBODY, ‘just in case’ a mandate is thrown away.

Do you see the problem yet ?

Jesus Christ, we live in a f***ed up world !!!

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