The FBI's Spyware: Is it Watching You?

Jul 19th 2007 11:02AM
by Terrence O'Brien

Privacy advocates, prepare thy letter writing hands. A student at
Timberline High School, outside Seattle, Washington, has recently been
arrested for calling in repeated bomb threats. That, you should have no
problem with.

The scary part is the manner in which he was caught and convicted. Josh
Glazebook, 15, taunted authorities via e-mail and even created a MySpace
profile called Timberlinebombinfo (shown), which used the alias Doug.
It's through this profile that the FBI was able to track down Josh.

Using a fake profile, the FBI sent a message to Timberlinebombinfo that
installed a hacker-style trojan horse on his PC. The FBI spyware
collected a wide range of information including the computer's IP
address, MAC address, open ports, a list of running programs, the
operating system type, version and serial number, preferred Internet
browser and version, the computer's registered owner and registered
company name, the current logged-in user name, the last-visited URL and
the IP Address of every computer it connects to. Phew...

The FBI was able to install this program without a suspect or wiretap
warrant because "under a ruling this month by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals ... Internet users have no 'reasonable expectation of
privacy' in the data when using the Internet."