[Full-Disclosure] Wiretap or Magic Lantern?

From: Feher Tamas (etomcat_at_freemail.hu)
Date: 04/07/04

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    To: full-disclosure@lists.netsys.com
    Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2004 12:26:06 +0200 (CEST)


    I wonder if the "Magic Lantern" trojan truly exists? I don't quite get
    this "Big Brother watches all Internet traffic realtime" story.

    1., The sheer volume of all traffic (IM, SMTP - including spam, P2P,
    webmail, etc.) must be too much no matter what Crays you have.
    (Imagine someone uses command line FTP right now, types "bin" and
    all the warning lights suddenly turn red at NSA HQ.)

    2., The terrorsts are not stupid, they use strong encryption and there is
    proof that PGP repels NSA.

    3., So I think it was some bugging method , either a software or
    hardware device (small thingie hidden in the keyboard).

    Regards, Tamas Feher.



    Canadian terrorist arrests a key win for NSA hackers
    by DAVID AKIN, Globe and Mail Update, 6 April 2004

    A computer hacker who allowed himself to be publicly identified only
    as "Mudhen" once boasted at a Las Vegas conference that he could
    disable a Chinese satellite with nothing but his laptop computer and a

    The others took him at his word, because Mudhen worked at the Puzzle
    Palace - the nickname of the U.S. National Security Agency facility at
    Fort Meade, Md., which houses the world's most powerful and
    sophisticated electronic eavesdropping and anti-terrorism systems.

    It was these systems, plus an army of cryptographers, chaos theorists,
    mathematicians and computer scientists, that may have pulled in the
    first piece of evidence that led Canadian authorities to arrest an
    Ottawa man on terrorism charges last week.

    Citing anonymous sources in the British intelligence community, The
    Sunday Times reported that an e-mail message intercepted by NSA
    precipitated a massive investigation by intelligence officials in
    several countries that culminated in the arrest of nine men in Britain
    and one in suburban Orleans, Ont. - 24-year-old software developer
    Mohammed Momin Khawaja, who has since been charged with
    facilitating a
    terrorist act and being part of a terrorist group.

    The Orleans arrest is considered an operational milestone for this vast
    electronic eavesdropping network and its operators. But Dave Farber,
    Internet pioneer and computer-science professor at Carnegie-Mellon
    University in Pittsburgh, said the circumstances are also notable
    because it will be the first time that routine U.S. monitoring of e-
    mail traffic has led to an arrest.

    "That's the first admission I've actually seen that they actually
    monitor Internet traffic. I assumed they did, but no one ever admitted
    it," Mr. Farber said.

    Officials at the NSA could not be reached for comment. But U.S.
    authorities are uniquely positioned to monitor international Internet
    and telecommunications traffic because many of the world's
    international gateways are located in their country. And once that
    electronic traffic touches an American computer -- an e-mail message, a
    request for a website or an Internet-based phone call, for instance --
    it is routinely monitored by NSA spies.

    "Foreign traffic that comes through the U.S. is subject to U.S. laws,
    and the NSA has a perfect right to monitor all Internet traffic," said
    Mr. Farber, who has also been a technical adviser to the U.S. Federal
    Communications Commission.

    That's what happened in February, when NSA officers at Fort Meade
    intercepted a message between correspondents in Britain and Pakistan,
    The Sunday Times reported. The contents of that message have not
    revealed, but are significant enough that dozens of intelligence
    officials were mobilized in Britain, Canada and the United States.

    The intelligence officers at Fort Meade rely on a sophisticated suite
    of supercomputers and telecommunications equipment to analyze
    of messages and phone calls each day, looking for certain keywords or
    traffic patterns.

    Internet traffic is chopped up into small chunks called packets, and
    each individual package is then routed over the Internet, to be
    reassembled at the recipient's end. The packet is wrapped in what
    computer scientists sometimes refer to as the envelope. And just as the
    exterior of a regular piece of mail contains important addressing
    information, so does the envelope of a digitized packet. These bits of
    information are called headers, and they can be valuable to
    investigators as well.

    Headers typically contain generic descriptions of the packet's
    contents, in order to let computers make better decisions about how to
    route the packet through the Internet. E-mail traffic gets a lower
    priority than Internet video traffic, for instance.

    Headers also pick up the numeric or Internet Protocol (IP) address of
    all the computers a packet touches as it travels from its originating
    machine all the way to its destination. Every computerized device
    connected to the Internet has its own unique IP number.

    Investigators could program their supercomputers to flag packets of
    information that met certain criteria, such as a certain IP number, a
    certain traffic pattern or a certain kind of content. As soon as a
    packet is flagged, investigators would apply for warrants to assemble
    the packets and read the messages' contents.


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