US Spy Chief Admits They Might Spy on You Through Your Appliances


james clapper

US spy chief James Clapper did not name any specific agency but admitted there will likely be surveillance on Americans via smart-home devices. He testified to congress that it is a distinct possibility.

He admitted they might spy on you through the Internet of Things. More and more devices from appliances, TVs, cars, phones, smart meters are now connected to the Internet and to one another.

On Tuesday, James Clapper told the Senate that as part of an assessment of threats facing our nation, “In the future, intelligence services might use the [Internet of Things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper said.

Clapper didn’t say which agency would use our household appliances. Most security experts say it’s a given that they will.

Domestically, “homegrown extremists” are the greatest terrorist threat, rather than Islamic State or al-Qaida attacks planned from overseas according to Clapper. Clapper cited the San Bernardino and Chattanooga shootings as examples of lethal operations emanating from self-starting extremists “without direct guidance from [Isis] leadership”. Therefore, the need for domestic spying without warrants.

In a 2012 speech, then CIA director David Petraeus called the surveillance implications of the internet of things “transformational … particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

Petraeus said that web-connected gadgets will ‘transform’ the art of spying – allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.

‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,’ said Petraeus.

‘Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters –  all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.’

Petraeus was speaking to a venture capital firm about new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously  ‘dumb’ home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems…”, according to the Daily Mail UK

During testimony to both the Senate armed services committee and the intelligence panel, Clapper cited Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State as bolstering their online espionage, disinformation, theft, propaganda and data-destruction capabilities. He warned that the US’s ability to correctly attribute the culprits of those actions would likely diminish with “improving offensive tradecraft, the use of proxies, and the creation of cover organizations”.

The White House’s new cybersecurity initiative, unveiled Tuesday, pledged increased security for nontraditional networked home devices. It tasked the Department of Homeland Security to “test and certify networked devices within the ‘Internet of Things’.” It did not discuss any tension between the US’s twin cybersecurity and surveillance priorities.

Connected household devices are a potential treasure trove to intelligence agencies seeking unobtrusive ways to listen and watch a target, according to a study that Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society released last week.


Source: The Guardian