It’s not just Nike Swallowers Anonymous you have to worry about these days. Some 80% of at least one UK technical surveillance expert’s criminal acts and privacy invasions are done at the behest of multinationals, the very rich, and a lot of law firms.
The work these people do ranges from sophisticated bugs and taps to computer hacking to run-of-the-mill social engineering. They even have a “blagger’s manual,” which starts off in classic British style by noting “it is probably a good idea to overcome any moral hang-ups you might have…”
(Note, in the UK “blagging” is social engineering.)
Eschatology: Guess what the great color separator of Maryland is *not* designed to do? If you guessed “find terrorists,” you’re right! It turns out terrorists don’t use Skype and the like, and absolutely everyone in the antiterrorism field knows it. Real terrorists use secret underground forums that prisms don’t refract. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-23/u-s-surveillance-is-not-aimed-at-terrorists.html
“Some of Britain’s most respected industries routinely employ criminals to hack, blag and steal personal information on business rivals and members of the public, according to a secret report leaked to The Independent.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) knew six years ago that law firms, telecoms giants and insurance were hiring private investigators to break the law and further their commercial interests, the report reveals, yet the agency did next to nothing to disrupt the unlawful trade.
It is understood that one of the key hackers mentioned in the confidential Soca report admitted that 80 per cent of his client list was taken up by law firms, wealthy individuals and insurance companies. Only 20 per cent was attributed to the media, which was investigated by the Leveson Inquiry after widespread public revulsion following the phone-hacking scandal.[…]
One of five police investigations reviewed by Soca found private detectives listening in to targets’ phone calls in real-time. The report said a “telephone interception specialist manufactured several devices which were physically attached to the target’s landline at the relevant signal box by a British Telecom-trained telecommunications engineer.”
During another police inquiry, the Soca report said officers found a document entitled “The Blagger’s Manual”, which outlined methods of accessing personal information by calling companies, banks, HM Revenue and Customs, councils, utility providers and the NHS.
“It is probably a good idea to overcome any moral hang-ups you might have about ‘snooping’ or ‘dishonesty’,” it read. “The fact is that through learning acts of technical deception, you will be performing a task which is not only of value to us or our client, but to industry as a whole.”[…]
A security source with knowledge of the report – codenamed Project Riverside – said clients who hired corrupt private investigators included:
* a major telecoms company;
* a celebrity who broadcasts to millions of people every week;
* a well-known media personality, who hired a private investigator to hack his employee’s computer as he suspected she was selling confidential information to business rivals;
* a businessman who hired hackers to obtain intelligence on rivals involved in an ultimately unsuccessful £500m corporate takeover.
A company which was owed money by property developers also hired private detectives to track down the firm’s family information, detailed transactions from four bank accounts, information from credit card statements and an itemised mobile phone bill. The company paid £14,000 for the information.
However, the most common industry employing criminal private detectives is understood to be law firms, including some of those involved in high-end matrimonial proceedings and litigators investigating fraud on behalf of private clients.
Illegal practices identified by Soca investigators went well beyond the relatively simple crime of voicemail hacking and included live phone interceptions, police corruption, computer hacking and perverting the course of justice.”