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KL hacker goes snooping at spies’ convention

Sun 2011-Dec-25 @ +08 08:15:52 am

A KL hacker was called into action when paranoia ruled at a convention of real-life cyberspies at the KL Hilton earlier this month. The air was thick with intrigue (and snooping) — and a London-based human rights activist found he couldn’t send email because his encryption wouldn’t work.

Off to Central Market he went, to seek help from KL activists, who arranged for a hacker to check it out.

The activist wasn’t the only one feeling paranoid. The people at the convention were specialists in tapping, cracking and hacking: law enforcement agents, Internet security officials, and companies selling equipement to break into the airwaves.

“I’m concerned about my calls or Internet being monitored, because that’s what they sell,” says Meling Mudin, 35, a Kuala Lumpur-based security consultant. “When I make phone calls, I step out of the hotel, I don’t use my computer and I also don’t use the wireless services provided.”

Bloomberg reporter Vernon Silver was at the convention, prowling the lobbies and restaurants for his story.

By Vernon Silver
Bloomberg

The intelligence operative sits in a leather club chair, laptop open, one floor below the Hilton Kuala Lumpur’s convention rooms, scanning the airwaves for spies.

For three days, attendees fret about losing trade secrets to hackers, or falling prey to rival spies. Their products have become weapons to track and torture dissidents.

In the salons above him, merchants of electronic interception demonstrate their gear to government agents who have descended on the Malaysian capital in early December for the Wiretapper’s Ball, as this surveillance industry trade show is called.

As he tries to detect hacker threats lurking in the wireless networks, the man who helps manage a Southeast Asian country’s Internet security says there’s reason for paranoia. The wares on offer include products that secretly access your Web cam, turn your cell phone into a location-tracking device, recognize your voice, mine your e-mail for anti-government sentiment and listen to supposedly secure Skype calls.

He isn’t alone watching his back at this cyber-arms bazaar, whose real name is ISS World.

For three days, attendees digging into dim sum fret about losing trade secrets to hackers, or falling prey to phone interception by rival spies. They also get a tiny taste of what they’ve unleashed on the outside world, where their products have become weapons in the hands of regimes that use the gear to track and torture dissidents.

“I’m concerned about my calls or Internet being monitored, because that’s what they sell,” says Meling Mudin, 35, a Kuala Lumpur-based information-technology security consultant who takes defensive measures as he roams the exhibits. “When I make phone calls, I step out of the hotel, I don’t use my computer and I also don’t use the wireless services provided.”
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2 Comments
  1. Sun 2011-Dec-25 @ +08 16:28:55 pm 16:28

    No dark secrets, no more secret police. It’s as simple as that! 2012 cheers, bro 🙂

    • uppercaise permalink*
      Wed 2011-Dec-28 @ +08 09:23:25 am 09:23

      Keep on truckin’, man.

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