Prevent or avoid being spied on by the Government

Wikileaks, an international non-profit organization that publishes secret information, fired a fresh salvo. The website that apparently got access to secret documents of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) disclosed ingenious hacking techniques employed by the CIA for hacking everything from computers, smartphones, and TVs to compromising Internet routers and computers of the users.

The objective of this move was to bring into light the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of weaponized exploits that the agency uses for a wide range of U.S. and European company products like Microsoft’s Windows platform (Including bypassing Windows Activation), Apple’s iPhone, and Google’s Android OS. These devices along with several others like Samsung TVs are turned into covert microphones or implements of espionage by secret cyber-tools of CIA.

prevent being spied on

The report from Wikileaks laid bare the designs and capabilities of the U.S. intelligence community’s closely guarded cyberweapons. This is likely to cause immediate damage to the CIA’s efforts in collecting intelligence overseas and put additional restrictions on the U.S to carry out its missions on espionage.

There are also reports that CIA has developed automated multi-platform malware attack and control systems covering Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux and more, such as EDB’s “HIVE” and the related “Cutthroat” and “Swindle” tools. HIVE is described below.

HIVE is a multi-platform CIA malware suite and its associated control software. The project provides customizable implants for Windows that are configured to communicate via HTTPS with the web server of a cover domain. Every single operation utilizing these implants has a separate cover domain that resolves to an IP address, located at a commercial VPS (Virtual Private Server) provider.

The public-facing server forwards all incoming traffic via a VPN to a ‘Blot’ server that is capable of handling actual connection requests from clients. It is setup for optional SSL client authentication: if a client sends a valid client certificate (only implants can do that), the connection is forwarded to the ‘Honeycomb’ tool server that communicates with the implant. The Honeycomb tool server then receives exfiltrated information from the implant.

Good news for the users is all this does not mean an end of privacy. There are a few methods via which one can communicate over the web and the phone without revealing their identity to CIA.

Prevent being spied on by CIA or Government

These are just some of the basic precautions one could. Obviously, these may not help if someone is hell-bent on monitoring you.

  • At the basic level, you should always try to update your devices to the latest version of firmware. Install the latest updates for your operating system as well as ensure that all your installed software are updated to their latest versions.
  • Use a good Antivirus software or an Internet Security Suite.
  • Using a Proxy software or better still, using a VPN software on your Windows computer is strongly recommended. VPNs encrypt the data leaving your computer until the data reaches their servers. From there, a tunnel is formed where data is almost inaccessible due to security measures provided by the VPN service providers. Thus, you will be safer against spying.
  • Only download apps from safe software download sites or authorized and legitimate stores like the Windows Store, iTunes or Google Play. The reason being we don’t want compromised apps coming onto our devices.
  • Proceed with caution while opening email attachments or clicking on web links since more than 90 percent of attacks start with the email attachments & links.
  • Ensure the websites you browser are secured with the valid certificate—look for the padlock icon/ green bar in the browser.
  • Avoid Jailbreaking your smartphone. Jailbreaking is the technique of removing software restrictions imposed by the manufacturer’s operating system.
  • Disable your webcam and turn off your microphone, when not in use.
  • Don’t use popular Chat clients as they are usually targetted by government surveillance agencies. Look for a low-level, new chat company that hasn’t been sighted yet by bigwigs. You should be aware that Facebook Chats, WhatsApp Chats, etc, can be easily monitored.
  • Take some precautions while using public WiFi and always turn off your Computer or switch off the Internet connection, when not in use. This is because, with the growth of high-speed Internet connections, many users opt to keep their computers on all the time, even when they are away from the machine for a long time. Such “Always On” computers are more susceptible. make sure that you have secured your WiFi network even at home.
  • If you are using smart IoT devices like Smart TVs, etc, you need to take more care in securing IoT devices. Check if any of your IoT devices have been compromised.
  • Most cell phones these days communicate via GPS data with orbiting satellites. This helps phones tracks your position at all times. So, if it’s possible, avoid using a phone that does not feature GPS technology.
  • Make use of Detekt, a free anti-surveillance software for Windows.
  • Encrypt your emails before you send them. Remember that the connections to the email servers too need to be encrypted so you need to use email clients that can use add-ons to encrypt the email text. Outlook, Thunderbird and almost all email clients support an end to end encryption.

Read: How do I know if my Computer has been Hacked and what to do next.

How do you know if you are being spied on

There are some tell-tale signs that can let you know if someone is spying your phone or computer. Here are some of them:

  • Your Internet Speed has become sluggish and slow.
  • If you are a smartphone user do you find your Smartphone screen staying lit even when you try to turn it off? If it does, it should ring a warning bell.
  • Your mouse moves automatically to make selections.
  • Are the apps installed on your Smartphone or PC running slower than usual? Are there unfamiliar applications running in the background? Does it take an unusually long time to shut down? If the answer to all these questions is in big ‘YES’ then, it could mean that your PC or Smartphone might be hiding something and therefore needs further investigation.
  • There is a marked increase in Network activity, or your Firewall is busy blocking several outward connection requests.

Read: How to avoid being watched through your own Computer.

This article on how to protect yourself from NSA spying & snooping will give you additional tips that may help you protect yourself from government surveillance systems.

Besides being extremely unpleasant for invading privacy, tracking poses a genuine risk. This post will show you how to Opt out of Data Tracking & Targetted ads on the Internet. Take care and stay safe!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

5 Comments

  1. NahNood

    Most of those recommendations are pointless, though, right?? For example:

    -“Install the latest updates for your operating system as well as ensure that all your installed software are updated to their latest versions.” — Assuming the OS maker isn’t in cahoots with the gov’t.

    -“Use a good Antivirus software or an Internet Security Suite.” — Assuming the AV maker isn’t in cahoots with the gov’t, such as whitelisting the special spyware.

    -“Only download apps from safe software download sites or authorized and legitimate stores like the Windows Store, iTunes or Google Play.” — Assuming said sites aren’t in cahoots with the gov’t, using valid looking apps to hide the special spyware.

    Etc. lol

  2. BCSLAVE

    Protect yourself from your government’s East German Stasi like creeps and government pedophiles who video and record you or your family naked or otherwise through smart devices connected to the internet in your home and bedrooms. Nothing creepy right?

    When you turn off your TV and they turn it back on, they are also stealing your electricity to make these films to “home invade” and profile you. The creepy government who are not whom they claim to be, are recording and making films and creating their own version of ‘Reality TV’ from you. These films like in Adolf Hitlers time, make it to rich and powerful men who sit around and j o to them?

    Pretty ladies…your targets of bully cops and out of control government scum who want to see you naked.

    Business men and woman these images or audio will be used to extort you down the road if need be. Again, this isn’t the government your Grand Dad had, its now the government of what maybe Adolf Hitler’s past supporters always wanted through a modern form of the Enabling Act.

    Don’t worry its all legal and moral just like all the crimes of German and Communist governments before – they are just looking for bad guys in your house. Or you spoke out in the new Stasi state and they claim your a criminal in some way despite continuously no evidence to their baseless claim.

    Like the Soviet Union this will only bring them closer to collapse when no one believer’s their lies any longer and their looting of the nation as brought it to its knees.

    You have been warned as history is bound now to repeat itself.

  3. Bob

    The ONLY way to prevent the government from spying on you is to stop using cell phones, landlines, satellite phones, computers, and any other devices that connect to the internet in any way, form or fashion.

    Anyone who thinks anything in this article will actually prevent it, is an idiot..

  4. System32

    The ones you should care about

    I – Disable MIC & Webcam
    II- Use TOR + VPN
    a) do not use the windows built in vpn client, go with your vpn provider app, like PIA or a manual OpenVPN set- up
    b) do not use L2TP+PSK for your VPN connections
    III – When not in use turn off your GPS
    IV – Do not install Anti-virus software. Go with Windows defender if you are on Windows.

    ENCRYPTION Encryption encryption encryption ( nsa hate does)

    V – Use Full disk encryption & Encrypt your files with TrueCrypt.
    VI – Bock all unused ports numbers, use firewall ( windows built in firewall is a good one)
    VII – Disable WebRTC in your browser, flash, do not install extensions in your browser, anyway by using tor browser you won’t be able to do that.
    VIII – Use Secure ? email services & encrypt your emails.
    IX – Use strong password and use a password manager use a strong master password for your PM. Do not COPY/PASTE those password type them.

    X – Ditch your smartphone, go OLD.

    Those are the basic way of at least making it hard for them to spy ? on you.

  5. Ed

    All very good points. I use a vpn myself, if your going to use one, pay for it and use one with a strict no logging policy, I also do a lot of my web surfing in a VM and sandboxed this way nothing gets committed to disk. Bottom line though, if your doing something bad that peaks the governments or NSA’s interest, there really is no hiding, it may take them some time and during that time you will THINK you are getting away with something but they will catch up to you.
    It doesn’t even help to use Tor these days, with the dropping of the Vault 7 bomb came the news that the government and NSA have Tor figured out too.

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