Trojaned Irons (and Russia/Tesla, the NSA spies on the Pope, lots more paranoia)

Shopping for some home appliances? Don’t forget to perform a bug sweep when you take them home from the store!

According to the Russkies*, the Chinese have started bugging random appliances. The bugs connect to any unprotected Wi-Fi network within range and start spreading malware… though a microphone suggests they can do much more.

So far they’ve found irons, mobile phones, and dashcams… the last one being perhaps the greatest concern for Russian national security, since a malfunctioning dashcam would risk depriving the world of meteor footage, crash-landing airplanes, exploding gas tanks, and more road-rage incidents than you can shake a molotov cocktail** at.

Or, maybe this is a Chinese attempt to steal Russia’s precious highway incident footage reserves, as part of a world-girdling plot to corner the market in YouTube views?

Anyway, yes, random consumer electronics does get bugged in the hope it ends up somewhere important. Trusting stuff you don’t understand… that’s so pre-Snowden.

* In a quest to find a better term for this writeup than what I’d always thought of as a quaint, Dr. Strangelovian Cold War adjective, I looked up what the Russians call themselves… and found “Russkie” is actually pretty close. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D1%80%D1%83%D1%81%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8%D0%B9

** Ironically, a Finnish invention. Molotov himself hated the name.

Russia/Tesla: HOLY CRAP!!! WATCH THIS NOW!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcvSXQHvFLg

Speaking of the Russkies, it turns out they replicated Tesla’s one-wire power transmission system (one wire ONLY, no return or ground) in 1985 and have now got it nearly ready to commercialize.

Why the caps and triple exclamation points?

8 micron diameter wire.

25,000 WATTS of freaking power traveling through that 8 micron diameter wire.

Um, ur fizix? I think its broken.

And hey, if anyone here has connections to the Russians, tell ’em to post the plans!

The NSA spies on the Pope: Yep, that’s about a billion Catholics that just joined the French, Germans, Spanish, and civil-liberties-aware bits of the UKUSA world looking askance at Fort Meade. http://news.panorama.it/cronaca/papa-francesco-datagate

The single best observation on these spy scandals to date: “Every time one of the spies methods comes under the spotlight, questions of legality arise. The law is changed, purportedly to stop such abuses happening again. But inevitably the new law includes a new route by which some version of the old system is made valid again, and a programme that once had to be kept highly secret can be discussed in public as much as you like.” http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n20/daniel-soar/how-to-get-ahead-at-the-nsa

The NSA hacks Google to get better data access. Is anyone surprised? Surprisingly, yes. “Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing. I hope you publish this, one of them said.” In other news, the NSA uses doodles for their PowerPoints. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-infiltrates-links-to-yahoo-google-data-centers-worldwide-snowden-documents-say/2013/10/30/e 51d661e-4166-11e3-8b74-d89d714ca4dd_story.html

The French spy too: So much for a “No-Spy Pact”…? “The Americans conduct commercial and industrial espionage against us just as we spy on them, since it’s in the national interest to defend our businesses. Nobody’s fooled…” http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2013/10/23/01016-20131023ARTFIG00546-squarcini-nous-aussi-nous-espionnons-les-americains.php

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-24707337

“Cyber criminals are planting chips in electric irons and kettles to launch spam attacks, reports in Russia suggest.

State-owned channel Rossiya 24 even showed footage of a technician opening up an iron included in a batch of Chinese imports to find a “spy chip” with what he called “a little microphone”. Its correspondent said the hidden devices were mostly being used to spread viruses, by connecting to any computer within a 200m (656ft) radius which were using unprotected Wi-Fi networks. Other products found to have rogue components reportedly included mobile phones and car dashboard cameras.

The report quoted one customs brokerage professional as saying the hidden chips had been used to infiltrate company networks, sending out spam without administrators’ knowledge. News agency Rosbalt reports that while the latest delivery of appliances was rejected by officials, more than 30 devices had already been sent to retailers in St Petersburg.

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