Good morning Team! Today’s mission is a stealth-based operation. Our training is designed to help us identify, avoid, and misdirect whenever possible the current crop of technology designed to track us. The government, being bolstered by private technology developers has integrated surveillance software and hardware into our everyday lives.
I have had a long, beautiful romance with the XBOX360 and I was excited when the prospect of our love affair transforming into a three-way Ménage à trois when bringing the optional Kinect home went from a fantasy, to a very likely reality.
The Kinect went from lusty fantasy to a frighteningly real possibility that I’d be bringing home a mistrusting, useless waste of hardware whose main job was to spy on me and report me to her superiors! The Kinect is designed to monitor our body movement and allow us to have a completely immersive experience in our video games. Imagine playing a video game and not having to hold a controller. Just thrusting your arm will send your blade through the guts of your enemy!
If you’re like most of us, you were so busy looking at the graphics and clever movements that actuate the Assassin, you barely noticed the thin, black rectangle on top of the television. Go take another look.
That thin black bar is the Kinect, it watches your movements, can differentiate between every single person in the room, and monitors everything from your heart rate to your relative position in the room, and it never turns off. As long as there is power, it is “watching.” None of my friends in my Technology Dept. can give me a plausible scenario wherein they would leave a camera on and waste precious resources if that data wasn’t being collected. Who wants to be able to access the video records of what goes on in your home and have the ability to watch you and your family in real time, high definition stereo TV?
I’ll give you three guesses, but you’ll only need one.
Right now you’re convinced that so long as you don’t bring a piece of technology with a camera into your home, you’ll be safe.
I enjoy learning about current technology as well as what’s on the horizon. Google Glasses have been on my radar for quite a while. Now that they are, I may regret being so eager. Take a few minutes and watch this boring video of security breaking up a fight.
Take note at 1:07. Notice the girl with the phone in her hand. She’s recording what’s going on. She’s not the only person using a phone to record what’s happening. People move, either to not be recorded or to not get in the way of her recording. Either way, they know the score. Did you notice anyone reacting to the person recording this video? Nope, not a single one. That’s because the camera is embedded in the glasses, the Google Glasses. They have the ability to record audio and video. They see and hear everything the wearer sees and hears, quietly and inconspicuously. Lets not forget that they are first and foremost a new way to interface the internet, but having a camera on deck at all may be a far more tempting feature. My concern is the same as the one I shared about the Kinect. Can a device like that even be truly turned “off?” Who will be able to access the data you record?
Further still, I’ll throw this log into the fire of skepticism and doubt we’re building, and I said WE because if you’ve read this far you’ve already embraced the paranoia.
Can what you see be manipulated?!
If Google Glasses can superimpose images of the internet and pictures on command, it stands to reason that it can also put images in front of your eyes when programmed to! Imagine walking down the street and having flashes of commercials shoved in front of you. Even worse, what if government sponsored messages start to appear in times of civil unrest or election season? Think about it.
Still, at least the last two pieces of technology won’t get you killed. I saved the best for last, because it just might make you realize that next time you get into your car that you haven’t just taken your life into your own hands, you may have just handed your life over to anyone sophisticated enough to kill you with your own car!
Two Words: Michael Hastings
Let me bring you up to speed on Michael Hastings, just a cursory look at his last few hours alive:
“Hey [redacted] the Feds are interviewing my ‘close friends and associates,'” read the message dated June 17 at 12:56 p.m. from Hastings to editors at the website BuzzFeed, where he worked.
“Perhaps if the authorities arrive ‘BuzzFeed GQ’, er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.”
Hastings added that he was onto a big story and that he would, “need to go off the radat [radar] for a bit,” according to KTLA in Los Angeles.
15 hours later, he crashed his car into a tree going over 100 miles per hour. No skid marks, no swerving of the steering wheel. He just drove directly into a tree. He conveniently died at a time when he had made several high-profile enemies in the government. I’m not here to discuss who is behind his death. I want to discuss the methodology. Watch this 27-second video that was reportedly taken by a security camera.
Michael was driving a 2013 Mercedes C250 coupe with mbrace2 technology. I have no idea how safe that technology is or is not, I can however postulate that any technology can be hacked. I’m not alone in my realization that there are many, many ways to remotely hack and control computers far more complex that the one in his car.
Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke has gone on record and specifically said:
“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” Clarke told The Huffington Post. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard.”
“So if there were a cyber attack on the car — and I’m not saying there was,” Clarke added, “I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”
Are we having fun yet!?
For a few excellent ways to avoid surveillance technology, check out Your Revolution Will Be Televised and That’s Why You Will Fail!