Government

Security consultant alleges FBI backdoor into major wireless carrier

A computer security consultant has come forward with allegations that the FBI has direct high-speed access to the internal systems of a major wireless carrier.

A computer security consultant has come forward with allegations that the FBI has direct high-speed access to the internal systems of a major wireless carrier.

The CEO of New York-based firm Bat Blue, Babak Pasdar, won't name the wireless carrier, but he claims he chanced upon the surveillance network in September 2003. At that time, he was leading a team hired to revamp the security of the unnamed carrier's internal network.

Pasdar's allegations essentially opened the floodgate to speculations that similar arrangements could have been brokered with other wireless carriers.

The following excerpt from Wired Blogs is his recollection of what happened in 2003:

He [Pasdar] noticed that the carrier's officials got squirrelly when he asked about a mysterious "Quantico Circuit" -- a 45 megabit/second DS-3 line linking its most sensitive network to an unnamed third party. Quantico, Virginia, is home to a Marine base. But perhaps more relevantly, it's also the center of the FBI's electronic surveillance operations.

The allegation is also made more serious because it appears that the clandestine link was tied to the core network with access to billing systems, text messages -- pretty much all the systems in the data center -- without any apparent restriction.

For more information, you can read the seven-page affidavit (pdf) that he filed filed with Government Accountability Project (GAP).

Now, the culture in the East is quite different with regards to government snooping. In fact, in some countries in Asia, Internet censorship or spying is a fact of life. However, this is not the case in the United States. If the above allegations are indeed true, what implications do you see here in terms of corporate secrecy and data security?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

7 comments
alpha_jade
alpha_jade

6th amendment, ever heard of it. I believe that's the one has do with illegal searches. It requires that government, and police, agencies MUST get warrants for either wire taps, LUDs, or billing information. If this gentleman's story is true, than every subscriber to every wireless service provider is having their civil rights violated. But then their's Mr. Bush's favorite piece of legislation, the Patriot Act (nothing patriotic about it, what with the suspension of the bill of rights). So, this might actually be legal, under the Patriot Act. If it isn't, all American citizens should be more than outraged, we should do something about this type of infringement upon our civil rights. This is nothing new, just the latest afront perpetrated by this administration.

LPEAGLE666
LPEAGLE666

My compnay uses products such as viurs software and firewall software that we purchase oversees. That way the US Goverment has no control over the companies.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

I am not surprised by this. Every day I read on further intrusions by government into the private lives of citizens. The founding Fathers would have started another revolution if they were around. The beast called government today is far different in its attitude towards the citizenry than when it was first created. The shelf life of a good government is 200 years. In the US, we are way past that mark. In comes Socialism, and possibly worse.

paulmah
paulmah

What implications do you see here in terms of corporate secrecy and data security?

LPEAGLE666
LPEAGLE666

I am currently under indictment by the FBI because of my use of PGP software at our company. PGP encrypts email and also provides a Wipe utility for free space. I can tell you first hand that the FBI is completely out of control! They answer to no one and they use ever resource they have regardless of the law. With the Patriot Act, they were able to tap my phone, intercept my email and bully my internet provider without leaving any paper trail. Because there was nothing to find they were not able to use any of the information against me but when my lawyer asked for copies of all electronic surveillance he ran into a brick wall. The FBI denied there was any electronic surveillance and because there was no paper trail of warrants for my lawyer to follow because of the Patriot Act he was unable to get copies!

seanferd
seanferd

As for corporate secrets, it depends on the corporation. Many of these corp.s are already on quasi-equal terms with the gov't. They run the government and the government runs them, as needed in their mutual partnerships and bullying. Their secrets aren't secrets to the gov't, anyway, and vice versa. This has been particularly notable since the end of WWII. We are just more interested as a society again, because of newer technologies and a less than subtle implementation of information gathering. For the data of private citizens and "non-player" corp.s, it is at risk in one more known venue if this is true. The worst bit is, most of it is probably pointless. We already had enough surveillance, etc. in place pre-9/11 to stop terrorists, we just failed at it in the "take action" phase.