If someone promises you "powerful online privacy and security," for a price, of course, and "ensures your identity remains anonymous," would you be inclined to believe it? Anonymizer has built a reputation as a "Trusted leader in online privacy since 1995," but the company that sells anonymity as a software service has ties to Abraxas Corporation and the TrapWire global spying system.
While I'm not implying that Anonymizer doesn't hide your IP or use an encrypted VPN tunnel, I have a problem with paying for any service that promises anonymity because that company could give you up in a heartbeat. As I pointed out when hunting for a private and secure email service, other than being located on U.S. soil, the first big flaw to make-or-break any anonymity service is a restriction in being anonymous. Anonymizer is anonymity-busting by default, since your real name is tied to the account or credit card that you use to pay the company keeping you "anonymous." This exact thing is what got alleged LulzSec member 'Recursion' busted. As TorrentFreak stated, "Many pro-privacy activists accused HideMyAss of becoming SellMyAss."
While Anonymizer uses the reasoning "I want to feel safe when I'm online" for home users, or "We need to protect our online business initiatives" for businesses, it's alarming that the "privacy" software is tied to the company selling surveillance to governments on a global scale. Do you trust Anonymizer now?
The hacker collective Anonymous has begun Operation TrapWire. According to the press release, TrapWire:
uses facial recognition and other techniques including high-end artificial intelligence to track and monitor individuals using countless different closed-circuit cameras operated by cities and other institutions, including private businesses. This program also monitors all social media on the internet. The software is billed as a method by which to prevent terrorism, but can of course also be used to provide unprecedented surveillance and data-mining capabilities to governments and corporations - including many with a history of using new technologies to violate the rights of citizens. TrapWire is already used in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Texas, DC, London, and other locales around the USA.
Although there has been some debate as to whether TrapWire does indeed use facial recognition, in this 2005 interview with Richard "Hollis" Helms, Founder and CEO, Abraxas Corp, NVTC asked "Is TrapWire a service or a product, or what does it look like exactly?" Helms replied:
It's a software application we've developed over the last two years. It runs on a server and is used across whole industries. For example, the nuclear industry has 104 civilian owned and operated nuclear power plants, and yet they don't collect or share pre-attack information. TrapWire can help do that without infringing anyone's civil liberties. It can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists. The application can do things like "type" individuals so if people say "medium build," you know exactly what that means from that observer.
Back when Aaron Barr was hacked, revealing that Bank of America was using three intelligence firms to attack WikiLeaks, there was other HBGary Federal news of developing software to make an army of fake social media friends to promote propaganda. The Tech Herald dug into who was behind the persona management software. "Internal communications from Aaron Barr say that the RFI for the persona software was written for Anonymizer, a company acquired in 2008 by intelligence contractor Abraxas Corporation. In 2010, Abraxas was purchased by another intelligence contractor, Cubic, for the tidy sum of $124 million in cash. Some of the top talent at Anonymizer, who later went to Abraxas, left the Cubic umbrella to start another intelligence firm. They are now listed as organizational leaders for Ntrepid, the ultimate winner of the $2.7 million dollar government contract."
Project PM states, "Cubic Corporation is a U.S. Military/Defence contractor, with subsidiaries including Cubic Defense Applications Inc, and Cubic Cyber Solutions, Inc. As revealed in tax filings from 2010, Cubic also wholly owns cyber security firms Abraxas and Ntrepid." Then Project PM also ties in Anonymizer. Abraxas is an intelligence contractor founded after 9/11 by long-time CIA operative Richard Helms. "Abraxas acquired Anomymizer in May of 2008, naming Lance Cottrell, founder and CTO of Anonymizer, Chief Scientist for the firm. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Allied Capital invested $52 million in Anonymizer shortly thereafter. Anonymizer was known for being one of the first corporate application offerings to promote secure and anonymous web browsing."
While I'm not sure if you might find this important, when NVTC asked Helms about partnering with any companies, Helms mentioned a "particularly interesting small company" called Sentia Group, whose software "draws on algorithms from game theory and spatial modeling to simulate the interactions between different individuals and stakeholders and can be implemented in a number of different political and social situations."
Someone thought turnabout was fair play and connected the dots to show "relationships between Cubic Corp, other companies, and individuals."
Darker Net added how TrapWire surveillance is tied to Australia and the U.K. "In 2010 Cubic Corporation signed a $370 million contract with the NSW Government to provide Sydney's electronic ticketing system for public transport. It was also awarded a $65 million contract to provide services to NSW's CityRail. It also runs the Brisbane 'go card' system." And "Cubic designed, developed and installed the Oyster Card system for London's Underground and buses."
TrapWire's management page went poof and is no longer listed in Google cache, but it is on Cryptome as a PDF, here as an image, here as Pastebin text, here as a video, or here in "initial dox" form. Although I had trouble connecting to this torrent with the "Entire mirror of deleted #TrapWire PDF documents from http://nsi.ncirc.gov & http://ncirc.gov," this Pastebin has a list of torrent download links. Any person interested in the U.S. government, SARs, the "Fusion Process" and TrapWire should have a copy of it.
All of these TrapWire global spying system articles have me pondering whether the TV show Person of Interest may be more fact than surveillance on steroids sci fi. The "TV series may be fiction but 'the machine' is like Wizard of Oz on steroids with an 'all-seeing eye' that taps into 'real' technology that can be weaponized and turned on citizens for surveillance. It happens all around us every day in the digitized world in which we live." Indeed it does as the mystery surrounding TrapWire is being unraveled a bit more each day.
Like this? Here's more posts:
- EFF: Americans may not realize it, but many are in a face recognition database now
- HOPE 9: Whistleblower Binney says the NSA has dossiers on nearly every US citizen
- NSA Whistleblower Drake: You're automatically suspicious until proven otherwise
- Doubly Ludicrous: DEA war on drugs 'failed' so why log us via license scanners?
- Perfect, persistent, undetectable hardware backdoor
- Unblinking surveillance stare: Army's 7-story flying football field-sized blimp
- DEFCON Kids: Hacking roller coasters and the power grid with cell phones
- Kingpin aka Joe Grand of Prototype This: The Birth of Hardware Badge Hacking
- Leak Police have gone crazy: Danger Room under fire for leaking imaginary weapon
- Microsoft & NYPD launch an all-seeing Big Brother crime & terrorism prevention system
- Hacking Humanity: Human Augmentation on the Horizon
- WikiLeaks dumps Stratfor email dirt on TrapWire, a CIA-connected global spying system
- Stealthy Wi-Fi Spy Sees You Through Walls Thanks to Your Wireless Router
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Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. Smith has a diverse background in information technology, programming, web development, IT consulting, and information security. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.
Smith is an independent contractor and is not affiliated with any vendor that makes or sells information technology.
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