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Spying on Internet Users

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Beware the government's avatars, especially fear your own

By Wayne Madsen

The Department of Homeland Security is conducting massive spying on Internet users through a program called "Avatar Identity." The existence of the program was disclosed to WMR by a source who stated that the development of avatars for every user of the Internet had its beginnings with the U.S. Air Force and the Advance Research Projects Agency (ARPANET) at the outset of the fielding of World Wide Web (WWW) technology in the early 1990s.

At the core of Homeland Security's Avatar Identity Program is the reliance on genetic algorithms developed for the analysis of the stock market to come up with prime investment strategies. The program was developed through the aegis of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA), which inherited many of the invasive Internet surveillance programs from its Pentagon cousin, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA), after its programs, including the proposed Total Information Awareness program, were defunded by Congress

The Avatar Identity Program appears to coincide with another Air Force project to solicit "persona management software" to create virtual users on the Internet in order to conduct perception management campaigns to inundate chat rooms, letter to the editor, and on-line polls to sway public opinion on key issues.

It was also recently revealed that the computer security firm HB Gary Federal worked in a program to create and manage "sock puppet" Internet users to infiltrate websites to create confusion and propagate disinformation. The program was to be used to attack WikiLeaks and apparently was linked to the US Chamber of Commerce, the Bank of America, the bank's chief law firm Hunton & Williams, and two other technology firms that later withdrew from participation: Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies. More ominous is the report that it was the Department of Justice recommended the use of HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico (known as Team Themis, which would operate a Corporate Information Reconnaissance Cell [CIRC]) to the Chamber, the Bank of America, and Hunton & Williams to engage in the sock puppet management operation. The program matches recommendations from White House Office of Information Regulatory Affairs chief Dr. Cass Sunstein, who has referred to such operations as "cognitive infiltration."

However, Homeland Security's Avatar Identity program involves the creation of an avatar for every Internet user that pulls information from the actual user's Google searches, Twitter messages, Facebook postings, on-line commerce activities, and other web interactions and feeds the transactions to the avatar program. Intelligence analysts then query the avatar for details of the user's activities.

WMR was informed that the Avatar Identity Program was first developed for every known terrorist in the world. However, it has now expanded to include every Internet user and it is being aggressively used to identify and track down members of the hacktivist group "Anonymous," which has attacked the computer systems of HB Gary Federal, Bank of America, and other firms seen as waging a war against Internet freedom.

As an example of its practical use, the Avatar Identity Program records all on-line letters to President Obama sent via the White House web site, as well as any searches for Obama on the Internet.

Our source explained the avatar program by saying, "Every Internet user has a life on the Internet," adding, "but with the avatar, every user has a second life on the web." In the case of the avatar, every Internet user has a virtual "snitch" that reports their every action and movement on the web to the government.

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The solicitation for the Air Force's Persona Management program:

Solicitation Number:

RTB220610

Notice Type:

Sources Sought

Synopsis:

Added:
Jun 22, 2010 1:42 pmModified:
Jun 22, 2010 2:07 pmTrack Changes

0001- Online Persona Management Service. 50 User Licenses, 10 Personas per user.

Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms. The service includes a user friendly application environment to maximize the user's situational awareness by displaying real-time local information.

0002- Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN). 1 each 

VPN provides the ability for users to daily and automatically obtain randomly selected IP addresses through which they can access the internet. The daily rotation of the user s IP address prevents compromise during observation of likely or targeted web sites or services, while hiding the existence of the operation. In addition, may provide traffic mixing, blending the user s traffic with traffic from multitudes of users from outside the organization. This traffic blending provides excellent cover and powerful deniability. Anonymizer Enterprise Chameleonor equal

0003- Static IP Address Management. 50 each

Licence protects the identity of government agencies and enterprise organizations. Enables organizations to manage their persistent online personas by assigning static IP addresses to each persona. Individuals can perform static impersonations, which allow them to look like the same person over time. Also allows organizations that frequent same site/service often to easily switch IP addresses to look like ordinary users as opposed to one organization. Anonymizer IP Mapper License or equal

0004- Virtual Private Servers, CONUS. 1 each

Provides CONUS or OCONUS points of presence locations that are setup for each customer based on the geographic area of operations the customer is operating within and which allow a customer?s online persona(s) to appear to originate from. Ability to provide virtual private servers that are procured using commercial hosting centers around the world and which are established anonymously. Once procured, the geosite is incorporated into the network and integrated within the customers environment and ready for use by the customer. Unless specifically designated as shared, locations are dedicated for use by each customer and never shared among other customers. Anonymizer Annual Dedicated CONUS Light Geosite or equal

0005- Virtual Private Servers, OCONUS. 8 Each

Provides CONUS or OCONUS points of presence locations that are setup for each customer based on the geographic area of operations the customer is operating within and which allow a customer?s online persona(s) to appear to originate from. Ability to provide virtual private servers that are procured using commercial hosting centers around the world and which are established anonymously. Once procured, the geosite is incorporated into the network andintegrated within the customers environment and ready for use by the customer. Unless specifically designated as shared, locations are dedicated for use by each customer and never shared among other customers. Anonymizer Annual Dedicated OCONUS Light Geosite or equal

0006- Remote Access Secure Virtual Private Network. 1 each

Secure Operating Environment provides a reliable and protected computing environment from which to stage and conduct operations. Every session uses a clean Virtual Machine (VM) image. The solution is accessed through sets of Virtual Private Network (VPN) devices located at each Customer facility. The fully-managed VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is an environment that allows users remote access from their desktop into a VM. Upon session termination,

the VM is deleted and any virus, worm, or malicious software that the user inadvertently downloaded is destroyed. Anonymizer Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Solution or equal.

2606 Brown Pelican Ave.
MacDill AFB, Florida 33621-5000
United States

Place of Performance:

Performance will be at MacDIll AFB, Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad, Iraq.
MacDill AFB , Florida 33679
United States

Primary Point of Contact.:

Russell Beasley,

Contracting Officer

russell.beasley-02@macdill.af.mil

Phone: (813) 828-4729

Fax: (813) 828-5111

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written for several renowned papers and blogs.

Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows.  He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.

As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.

Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club. He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.

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  1. There's something else going on with spying on Americans.  An optometrist told me that the U.S. government now requires or within the next year or two will require all optometrists to take pictures of their patients and provide the pictures and all other information about their patients, to the government, even for cash paying patients.  I thought medical infomation was private.

  2. NadePaulKuciGravMcKi says:

    HBGary Federal
    USAF
    NSA
    anon

  3. random2243 says:

    the cryptowar and the surveillance war will fight each other forever. perhaps users will one day wake up and realize the importance of networks like Tor, VPNs, and pgp. the problem is people are too lazy and end up becoming a target for mr. big brother.

  4.  
     
     
    Prevention from Avatar Identity passive attack
     
     
    Avatar Identity is a fasted spreading Passive attack, which often getting users search records and other critical records from goggle, Twitter, Face book and related sites, where users may post their credentials in form of email, messages etc.
     
     
    Al-though there is no effective mechanism available to prevent Avatar Identity, but through some precaution in uses of internet we may control Avatar Identity at certain level, which are mention below.
     
     

    Install fresh operating system, with a reliable comprehensive anti-virus including internet security that can detect and remove all kinds of passive attack, such as key loggers, cookies cleaner, dialer, spy ware etc. and that anti-virus should be updated on hourly basis.

     

    If users have to perform critical operations then Linux will be highly recommended.

     

    Install Reliable Third-party cookies clearer software, which restrict operating system to store cookies on system.

     

    Never try to install unverified software/tools on system, because there is possibility of spy ware could install along with software.

     

    Never disclose critical information such as Bank accounts number, passwords, ATM PINs etc.over Email, blogs or chatting.

     
     
    Datacom Karachi

  5. NEXT: Will (DHS) Deem 1st Amendment Activities—SUPPORT Terrorism, Hostilities, Belligerents?
    Where U.S. Government appears headed with the Patriot Act, The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 and recently introduced “Enemy Expatriation Act” that would allow U.S. Government to Strip Americans of Citizenship without evidence or a conviction—is getting Congress to grant U.S. Government (The Executive Branch) the Power to arbitrarily arrest, charge, Indefinitely Detain Americans that participate in 1st Amendment activities (on the premise) that 1st Amendment Activities appeared intended or were used to support or provoke hostilities, combatants, belligerents; terrorism and or threaten National Security.
    Is NDAA Retroactive? Can U.S. Government invoke provisions of NDAA to assert a U.S. Citizen’s past writings (protected by the 1st Amendment) supported or aided terrorists, provoked combatants or belligerents as a premise to order an author’s Indefinite Detention? The Defense Authorization Act of 2012 did more than Chill Free Speech—it may FREEZE IT! Consider: In mid-January 2012 Homeland Security announced the National Operations Center (NOC) received permission from Washington to monitor journalists and retain data on users of social media and online networking platforms. In light of (DHS) spying, monitoring U.S. Citizens, millions of Americans will increasingly not attend political meetings, peaceful protests or make comments on the Internet out of fear they might be arrested, lose their job; be put on Homeland Security’s NO Hire List, especially if they work for a government agency or contractor—that happened in Nazi Germany.
    Some observers believe NDAA included the vague term “Belligerent” in the manner it did, so U.S. Government would have authority granted by Congress to Indefinitely Detain large numbers of Americans not involved in terrorism. Under NDAA, U.S. Government can deem anyone a “Belligerent” for indefinite detention. The term “Belligerent” is so expansive and vague an American Citizen could be labeled a “Belligerent” for exercising First Amendment Rights—speaking out for or against any issue; protesting a U.S. Government Policy; agency or coalition Partner.
    Soon Americans won’t be able to arrange or attend a 1st Amendment protected meeting or other activity e.g., a doctor or business appointment without government/police knowing about it. U.S. Government is on the threshold of having surveillance cameras and drones most everywhere. TSA is expanding its checkpoints on highways, bus and train stops and ports. U.S. Government is actively monitoring without warrants—journalists, U.S. Citizens’ social networks, emails, phone calls, Internet Activity and faxes. One can only guess how much radiation is transmitted into the bodies of Americans by U.S. Government and Police covert scanning (without warrants) private homes—Americans walking on the street; driving vehicles; especially repeated scanning of “Persons of Interests”—potentially damaging their health. Had the Nazi police or Gestapo had X-ray scanners, no doubt the Nazis would have manufactured any reason or no reason to repeatedly x-ray at checkpoints, anywhere—persons the Reich deemed politically or socially undesirable, until either a targeted person was too ill to travel or dead.
    Most Americans haven’t awakened to the fact they are subject to an array of recently passed Fascist Laws including The National Defense Authorization Act and perhaps soon—the Enemy Expatriation Act that U.S. Government can unleash against the public. Congress gave U.S. Government the power to arrest and indefinitely detain Americans without probable cause or bringing charges:  Detained U.S. Citizens now have no right to an attorney or trial or right to learn the charges against them—if any. If that isn’t Fascism what is?

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