FBI can remotely activate Android and laptop microphones


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Nov 16, 2010
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FBI can remotely activate Android and laptop microphones


If you still thought you had privacy after all of the news you've been reading about the NSA PRISM system, or the GCHQ, then you'd be wrong. Very wrong. The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that the FBI has the power to remotely activate microphones in Android smartphones and laptops to record conversations.

This is all coming from a single anonymous former US official, who says that remotely forcing a cellular microphone to listen in on a conversation isn't something new. The FBI used something they called "roving bugs" to spy on alleged mobsters back in 2004, and further back in 2002 they used the roving bugs to keep tabs on supposed criminals using the microphone in a vehicle's emergency call system.

The anonymous US official said that there is a dedicated FBI group that regularly hacks into computers, where they use a mix of custom and off-the-shelf surveillance software which they purchase from private companies. One of the Journal's sources said that the "Remote Operations Unit" will sometimes install software by physically plugging in a USB device, but they can also do it through the Internet by "using a document or link that loads software when the person clicks or views it."

So, if you still thought you had privacy, you might want to think again. While there's riots in other countries for much less, the freedom is being sucked away from American's at a rapid rate, without much argument.

Source: WSJ: FBI can remotely activate Android and laptop microphones | TweakTown


Jul 19, 2013
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I never thought I had privacy and this isn't really anything new. ...but it does kinda stink.

Not rooted, Stock rom, just Awesome (NSA)


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Jun 8, 2010
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Well for the tin hat brigade just stuff your phone in a refrigerator or some other container with thick metal walls.

As for myself, anyone listening to my phone during the day (or night) has the boringest job in government, and that's saying something :)

Sent from my Nexus 7


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Oct 10, 2011
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It still says that you have to manually download the software first, and if they disguise the software as something that it isn't. They are violating your constitutional rights.

I realize its probably for the better good of our country. But when do issues like this cross the line between general observance, and extreme paranoia?

Common sense and not allowing downloads from outside sources would be extremely helpful. I highly doubt they have software that is complex enough to hack into your phone, and use its hardware without root. Android isn't built that way, it doesn't allow files to access hardware, only apps. It actually doesn't even let files do anything, unless their scripts, and in order for those to access hardware, you once again have to be rooted.

So I'll say this again, this is easily avoidable, by leaving "install from unknown sources" off and unchecked in your security settings. Which it should be off in the first place, unless for some reason you have to sideload an apk that you can no longer get from the market.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2


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Apr 2, 2011
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Did anyone seriously expect any nation's secret services to refrain from hacking peoples coms ?

Politicos and policing agencies, in every country have all the "national defense" and "national security" ploys you can imagine to circumvent just about any of the privacy laws out there. Top brass and big cheese are all corrupt. Power does that. "Lying without lying" by choice of words has become a science. I'm of the opinion that such intellectual and verbal acrobatics are a very thin veil which fails to cover the dishonesty, but politicos and policing agency brass obviously firmly believe it does. Perhaps it allows them to sleep better...

All countries do it to a certain extent. In the case of the US, they have so many secret and not-so-secret agencies, American citizens are probably just as watched, if not more, than citizens of countries of ill-repute for human rights violations. People in the large modern democracies just don't see it because it is not widely used to censor the population or to force them to adopt a particular dogma.

The scary part is that this could change in a single election, in just about every democracy out there. Many tyrants got to rule by first winning legitimate elections, proceeded to radicalize opinions and then quelled dissent by using any and all means, including state agencies and kangoroo courts. Google and Facebook databases could become the most fearsome catalog of "past crimes" to justify violence, imprisonements and reprisals that humans have ever had to contend with during the rise of a tyranical dictatorship

Just my 2 cents...

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