Bitterroot Bugle post categories

Global Skywatch

While we sleep


Our enemies do not.

Three news stories jumped in my face.

I want you to notice in this first one that GooGoo calls this feature “a bug“. HA! I have some ocean-front Montana property to sell to anyone believing that one.  Notice further in the article that Apple, I-Phone, Facebook and WhatsApp were caught with similar “bugs“.  Microsoft Windows has long been understood to be riddled with spyware. Reasonably safe to assume most of the Big Tech Giants are guilty. 

You buy the product, or you are the product. If they can get you to do both it is win-win for them.

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Android camera bug let hackers spy on users even if phone is LOCKED & screen is OFF

Uncovered by a cybersecurity firm, an appalling flaw could turn Android-powered devices into spying goldmines, allowing hackers to secretly snap photos and record footage with no permission required.

No stranger to security loopholes, Android designers worked hard to bar apps from accessing cameras and mics, unless users give explicit permission by ticking corresponding boxes in the operating system’s properties. But a bombshell report by cybersecurity firm Checkmarx showed how trivial it is to bypass those restrictions.

A “rogue application” found not only on Google’s Pixel smartphones, but also on devices from Samsung and other manufacturers, needed no permissions at all to have the camera take pictures and record videos as well as audio records.

Even worse, a hacker could silence the camera shutter to make recording unnoticeable. Hijacking a device was also possible if the phone is locked or the screen is turned off.

The app allowed attackers to remotely upload stolen images and footage to their own servers, requiring the frequently-given permission to access storage.

Disturbingly enough, the flaw, discovered in July but reported this Wednesday, enabled to hijack a phone’s proximity sensor which activates when the device is held up to a user’s ear or lies face down.

It said that Google fixed eavesdropping weakness by releasing a security patch later in the month; Samsung followed suit, although it wasn’t clear when.

Android’s major rival, Apple’s iOS, isn’t free of malicious bugs either. Several days ago, iPhone users began complaining about the Facebook app that turns the camera on without their permission.

Aside from that, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp messenger, warned earlier in November that a system vulnerability allows hackers to send “a specially crafted MP4 file” to its Android and iOS users.

The bug appears to be similar to the one found out this spring, which was used by hackers to infect devices with malware, disguised as ordinary calls.

It has since been dealt with, but the cyberattacks caused controversy in India because over 20 local lawyers, journalists and human rights campaigners were among the 1,400 users affected by the hacks worldwide.

So much for the #Resistance! While all eyes were on impeachment hearing, House re-authorized PATRIOT Act

House Democrats have slipped an unqualified renewal of the draconian PATRIOT Act into an emergency funding bill – voting near-unanimously for sweeping surveillance carte blanche that was the basis for the notorious NSA program.

A three-month reauthorization of the notorious PATRIOT Act was shoehorned into a last-minute continuing resolution (CR) funding the US government, bundling measures needed to avert yet another government shutdown with a continuation of the wildly-intrusive surveillance powers passed after the 9/11 terror attacks. Democrats voted almost unanimously for it, granting the far-reaching surveillance capabilities to the very same president they’re trying to impeach.

A roll-call vote on the bill was split exactly along party lines, with all 230 Democrats standing up for unconstitutional mass surveillance – including progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), who spoke out against it earlier. Two other Democrats opted not to vote, but not a single representative dared oppose party groupthink.

Not only did Democrats unanimously stand for the bill, they backed the waiver of a rule that would have at least allowed members of Congress to read it.

Monopoly? What monopoly? Big Tech defends itself from antitrust allegations with denial & doublespeak


Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple are pushing back against the US government’s antitrust investigations, downplaying their dominance of the tech sector, playing dumb, and staying quiet where they can’t obfuscate.

The Big Tech behemoths responded to written questions sent by the House Judiciary Committee – one of several antitrust probes targeting the four companies – with concerted efforts to tone down their monopolistic image – no easy feat for two trillion-dollar companies and two more that are approaching that figure. Answers were shared with reporters on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Google claimed that because “the vast majority” of clicks generated by a Google search go to websites not owned by Google, its near-complete hold on the search market – as a portal for 90 percent of all internet searches, its name has become a literal synonym for “to search the internet” – left plenty of room for competition. Google denied favoring its own services, such as YouTube, over rivals’ in searches, though one would be hard-pressed to find another video platform’s links under a Google video search.

Google’s massive data advantage in “vertical integration” of its advertising platform may allow it to target ads more precisely, but – the search giant claimed – it takes steps to “level the playing field,” giving its competitors a fair chance. Notably, it did not inform lawmakers of what those steps might be, or how it measured their effect. Last year, Google controlled 76 percent of the search ad market, a figure that was projected to grow to 80 percent this year – not leaving much room for competition.

The committee was unable to obtain much of the Google data it sought, as the megacorp pleaded ignorance of certain requested categories – i.e. claiming it lacked a “standard definition for what searches are considered ‘location searches’” when lawmakers asked to see how many searches displayed information about a business’ location.

Facebook similarly played hard to get, admitting it booted programs from its app developer platform if they mimicked a central function of Facebook and its subsidiaries too exactly, but refusing to be pinned down on this blatantly anti-competitive policy, merely stating that certain apps it removed had “violated its policies” in some unspecified way. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware), unsatisfied with the responses they received, requested more information on how and why the platform might slurp up users’ locations – especially if the users don’t want that data shared.

Amazon, too, let slip a few morsels of anticompetitive behavior – the trillion-dollar corporation asks third-party merchants to lower their prices to undercut competing sites’ prices, something that could eventually drive smaller sellers, who can’t afford to forgo profit by taking part in a price war, out of business. The e-retailing giant admits it uses data aggregated from those merchants for “business purposes” on its own site, but denied weaponizing that data to push its own products into the market.

Tight-lipped Apple shared little by way of juicy details, claiming only two employees had availed themselves of its arbitration option, but hinted it had spent “billions” on its maps app to compete (in vain, it seems) with Google Maps.

The Judiciary Committee launched its antitrust probe in June, joining a handful of already-extant probes into the ‘big four’ tech companies’ seeming dominance of the market in search, social, shopping, and devices. Several politicians have threatened to break up the massive corporations, and it’s not clear – if the investigations do turn up any antitrust violations – how far-reaching the remedies will be.