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Jacob Appelbaum: Futuristic-Sounding "Radar Wave Devices" Can Help NSA Monitor Your Computer Usage

December 31, 2013
Story
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Guests

Jacob Appelbaum

independent journalist and security expert

At the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany, independent journalist and security expert Jacob Appelbaum revealed the existence of a futuristic-sounding device described as a portable continuous wave generator. It’s a remote-controlled device that works in tandem with tiny electronic implants to bounce invisible waves of energy off keyboards and monitors to see what’s being typed. It works even if the target device isn’t connected to the Internet.

AMY GOODMAN: Another key speaker Monday was independent journalist and security expert Jacob Appelbaum, who has been on Democracy Now! In this clip, he shows a slide with a futuristic-sounding device described as a portable continuous wave generator. It’s a remote-controlled device that works in tandem with tiny electronic implants to bounce invisible waves of energy off keyboards and monitors to see what’s being typed. It works even if the target device isn’t connected to the Internet.

JACOB APPELBAUM: This is a continuous wave generator or continuous wave radar unit. You can detect its use because it’s used between one and two gigahertz, and its bandwidth is up to 45 megahertz, user-adjustable, two watts. Using an internal amplifier, external amplifier, makes it possible to go up to one kilowatt. I’m just going to let you take that in for a moment. Who’s crazy now? Now, I’m being told I only have one minute, so I’m going to have to go a little bit quicker. I’m sorry.

Here’s why they do it. This is an implant called RAGEMASTER, part of the angry neighbor family of tools, where they have a small device that they put in line with a cable in your monitor, and then they use this radar system to bounce a signal—this is not unlike the Great Seal bug that [Léon] Theremin designed for the KGB—so it’s good to know we’ve finally caught up with the KGB—but now with computers. They send the microwave transmission, the continuous wave. It reflects off of this chip, and then they use this device to see your monitor. Yep. So there’s the full life cycle. First they radiate you, then you die from cancer, then you win?

OK, so, here’s the same thing, but this time for keyboards, USB and PS/2 keyboards. So, the idea is that it’s a data retro-reflector. Here’s another thing, but this one, the TAWDRYYARD program, is a little bit different. It’s a beacon. So this is where, probably, then they kill you with a drone. That’s pretty scary stuff. They also have this for microphones to gather room bugs, for room audio. Notice the bottom. It says all components are common off the shelf and are so non-attributable to the NSA—unless you have this photograph and the product sheet.

AMY GOODMAN: That was independent journalist and security expert Jacob Appelbaum speaking in Hamburg, Germany, at the Chaos Communication Congress. We will link to his full speech at democracynow.org.

This is Democracy Now! And an update right now on the story in Egypt: One of the four Al Jazeera reporters has been released. Al Jazeera cameraman Mohamed Fawzy was released from detention. The three other journalists remain detained—correspondent Peter Greste and producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, what’s some of the good news of 2013? Stay with us. =


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