Remember when we wrote about the webcams on your iMac and how you don’t really know whether or not they’re watching you? Well, they just might be if you happen to be working for NATO or the Dalai Lama. Just last week, a Canadian report from the Information Warfare Monitor revealed that a China-based electronic espionage network had infiltrated approximately 1,300 computers in over 100 countries including Belgium, the United States, India and the United Kingdom.
The rather Hollywoodishly titled ‘Ghostnet’ was discovered after Tibetan officials requested an investigation into its computers, out of fear of hacking by Chinese parties. The search, conducted by IWM, not only confirmed their fears, but also revealed security breaches in other countries. Ghostnet was used to access and steal sensitive information, and was even capable of activating the webcams and audio systems on the computers it infected .
Now we don’t want to be the ones to strike fear into the hearts of our readers, but in our experience, there is never one case of something. So in this case, one could argue that the internets are infested with these sorts of networks, we just don’t notice them. Either because no one is looking for them, or because the ones you might ask an investigation from are the ones who are running the whole sham themselves. To quote Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies: ‘The internet was never built with security in mind. As institutions ranging from governments through to businesses and individuals depend on 24-hour Internet connectivity, the opportunities for exploiting these systems increase.’
So there you have it. Even the director of the investigation is pretty much justifying outright paranoia, so who are we to argue? Those who want the entire skinny on this case can find IWM’s 53-page report by Googling for ‘Ghostnet’. But that’s strictly at your own risk, because now more than ever, you never know who’s looking over your shoulder. This network is the first to be discovered, but it could very well be the jagged tip of an iceberg that goes a lot deeper than we can even begin to fathom. So, in the light of these disturbing events, we, the self-proclaimed advocates of civil disobedience, would like everybody to mention the words ‘biological’, ‘gasmask’ and ‘infidels’ at the end of every phone call from now on. It might not make any difference, but it’ll surely fuck up the working hours of whoever might be listening in.
Enjoy your era of technological superiority.