THE TIBERIUM BLOG - recent events, threats, and all things cyber

I’ll be watching you

The 1983 song ‘Every Breath You Take’, written by Gordon Sumner, known professionally as Sting, so-called because he used to wear a black jumper with yellow stripes, is up there on our list of creepy tracks.

It joins Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now‘ (a cover of Tommy James & The Shondells song) and everything that Paul Francis Gadd AKA Gary Glitter ever wrote in our top ten.

If only Mr Sting knew at the time (perhaps he had a crystal ball) how many organisations were really watching every step we make, at least online in 2021, he may have changed some of the lyrics. It must be time for a re-work? Recommended lyrics in an email, please.

Everybody had a hunch, especially paranoid IT types with a tinfoil hat always to hand, that mass surveillance was a real thing, even before Edward Snowden’s big reveal in 2013, which outed the NSA, GCHQ and agencies the world over for mass indiscriminate surveillance.

In the UK, Snowden did the dirty on the Tempora system , which if you believe only half of what you read is staggering in its breadth. What actually happened after these revelations and subsequent investigations and court cases in the UK and USA are outside this blog’s scope. Hands up if you thought they have stopped. Yes, you at the back in the trenchcoat and sunglasses.

It may be argued that some of these nation-state revelations served to condition people to the reality of surveillance and that in turn has led to an acceptance of the vast data gathering, processing, selling, and revenue-generating activities of big tech companies.

We often hear people say, “well, I don’t care. I have nothing to hide”. If you hear someone say this, point them in the direction of an article like this. It real is a big deal, and the big boys of tech are getting away with mass surveillance, no doubt.

This week, `Big Tech Detective‘ released a plugin for the chrome browser that identifies and blocks callbacks to Google,  Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft as you browse unrelated Internet material.

Like anybody who has worked in telephone-based IT support (pretty much all of us, I would wager) and has asked the punter at the other end to do something very straightforward and then hear a keystroke/mouseclick combination which is clearly well outside the instruction. We have all looked at the amount of outbound traffic generated by a simple browsing operation (just by looking at the flickering lights on the router) and probably could never be bothered to look into it.

This browser extension does just that. The results are astonishing even when you eliminate traffic to innocuous cloud hosts supplied by the big boys. For instance, a single local newspaper page generated 166 requests to Amazon, 77 to Google and 1 to Microsoft in El Regs tests. The article is really worth a read.

One of the project’s suggestions is to break up the retail and hosting sides of these businesses, regulated with a Chinese Wall similar to those used in Investment banks , and then they woke up. Actually, maybe buy an Amazon share for the day this happens.

We have all heard the expression ‘no such thing as a free lunch’, and as long as we consume free technology, surveillance will prevail.

Of course, the methods used to track an individual’s business centre on location and browsing history using cookies and of course, the hackers and organised crime outfits are abusing these for their own nefarious activities and the big boys to bypass, for instance, browser privacy defences. Custard Creaming them, so to speak.

This paper identifies an incredible rise in DNS based tracking evasion using CNAMES. A big problem coming down the pipe, summarised very neatly by Thomas Claburn here.

Monitoring the behaviours of browsers and communications with parties third is an incredibly good way to identify imminent exploit, such as Ransomware. Tiberium’s managed service, powered by Azure Sentinel, integrates with Microsoft Defender to stay on top of endpoint activity and automatically protect your environment, much much faster than the speed of a ticket.

Our decades of experience building, running and continuously improving Security Operations have driven us to build something quite special, which we would love to show you.

Please contact us for a chinwag and a demo. We are very confident that we can cost-effectively defend and continuously monitor and measure the security profile of your business.

Have a good weekend.

The programming language Python was 30 years old this week, the hammer 3.3 million. Good tools stand the test of time. We are very confident in ours.

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