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Greek, U.S. Officials Tapped For Years

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the privacy-is-not-a-right dept.

Privacy 236

Bruce Schneier posts on a story being reported in the Seattle Intelligencer. Greek and U.S. officials in Greece apparently had their phones tapped for over a year before the 2004 Olympics. From the article: "It was not known who was responsible for the taps, which numbered about 100 and included Greek Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis and his wife, and the ministers of foreign affairs, defense, public order and justice. Most of Greece's top military and police officers were also targeted, as were foreign ministry officials and a U.S. embassy number. Also tapped were some journalists and human rights activists." Schneier gives a bit of technical background on how the tapping was accomplished.

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Well duh (3, Interesting)

DarkClown (7673) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636632)

does this surprise anyone? it's the admissability in court that's really the big deal, as well as being able to point to the use of it in ongoing investigations between agencies and oversight.

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636729)

did you read the article you moron? wait, I know the answer to both.

Re:Well duh (4, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636741)

You don't tap foreign officials for things to be "admissible in court" - you tap them so that you get the information of what their plans are. Of course, in some states no-party phone taps are legal (I believe that Arizona is one - I'd have to recheck) if you own the phone service, and in most states one-party phone taps are legal (tough luck people of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington who want to tap a phone call that they're taking part of). None of these would cover tapping someone who'se phone you didn't own, but then again, the federal government tapping a foreign government's phones doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of domestic wiretap law.

Really, though, is this such a surprise? I'd think a foreign government would have to be bloody daft to accept any sort of tech built in the US where any sensitive communication is going to take place. You can make a no-click phone tap from a modem; you think that the US government can't do better? Or do you think that the Bush admin has the scruples not to tap its allies?

Re:Well duh (4, Informative)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636801)

For the curious, here's a list [rcfp.org] of how each of the fifty U.S. states handle tape recording of telephone calls.

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637105)

MOSSAD

hello CIA, MI5

Re:Well duh (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637144)

Interesting. I'm in Texas, so I looked up the appropriate statute. Here's a snippet:

Under the statute, consent is not required for the taping of a non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication. See definition of "oral communication," Texas Code Crim. Pro. Art. 18.20.

Now, I wonder just how closely they define "electronic communication"? Ignoring the fact that even a basic Bell telephone is electronic communication (as is a tape recorder for that matter), what if the signal travels over an IP network? Or is inside a PBX? And if that's legal because the final product is rendered audibly, what about recording the output of one of those old handset couplers?

Hmm.

Re:Well duh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637168)

Why do you specifically point out the Bush administration? I would imagine that most administrations since at least 1945 have had spy operations against allies. I'm sure right now we have assets (be it human or electronic) in place in the UK, and I'm sure they were there well before the Bush administration.

Please friggin quit dropping Bush's name wherever you think there may be Evil(tm) going on. He's done some bad stuff, but lets not get carried away.

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637265)

" Why do you specifically point out the Bush administration? "

Well, duh, it is a hot-topic item these days for that administration. And what a obvious way to start a long thread of political jabber.

Re:Well duh (1)

undeadly (941339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637419)

Why do you specifically point out the Bush administration? I would imagine that most administrations since at least 1945 have had spy operations against allies. I'm sure right now we have assets (be it human or electronic) in place in the UK, and I'm sure they were there well before the Bush administration.

Yes, this has gone on for a long time, including financing of political groups. However, Greece is a NATO member and thus a close ally to USA, but is still treated ths way. Just imagine (or better, read some) what USA does to non-allies.

Please friggin quit dropping Bush's name wherever you think there may be Evil(tm) going on. He's done some bad stuff, but lets not get carried away.

Bush Jr is scary, really.

Re:Well duh (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637375)

Hasn't "tapping one's allies" been an industry standard best practice ever since factions and allies were first invented, more than five thousand years ago?

Re:Well duh (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637413)

Or do you think that the Bush admin has the scruples not to tap its allies?

I don't see why you think our government was doing the tapping. Every country spies on every other country - in recent years just off the top of my head I can think of incidents where the US government was spied on by Russia, France, the Phillipines, China, and Israel. Those were efforts that were discovered by the FBI - I'm sure they're just the tip of the iceberg.

I'm sure the US embassy already has recording devices on all the phones; it's hard for me to believe US spies would tap the US embassy.

Re:Well duh (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636875)

Wiretaps aren't all about court cases. They're about information. Information is power, especially when it comes to public officials and conversations that are thought to be private.

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636992)

Court? Court? We don't need no fucking court! The President will will just declare you an "enemy combatant" and then disappear^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H detain you until terrorism the world over is defeated.

Re:Well duh (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637020)

it's the admissability in court that's really the big deal. . .

When I arrange with a confederate to look at your poker hand and signal me what you're holding, it ain't so I can tell people about it.

KFG

Well, I'm surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637369)

They have phones in Greece! Who knew?

Acceptable, no? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636658)

We were tapping them to protect them from terrorists. They should be grateful but no, it's Blame America First and Give Comfort to Our Enemies.

Interesting (-1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636659)

. It "conference called" phone calls to 14 prepaid mobile phones where the calls were recorded.

That was clever. How did they get access to the phones to flash the programming? Phones worked fine otherwise. Makes me think someone had access to them at the factory. How else would they be able to get the source. Or would they need it?

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636752)

Or, are their specific areas of the phone ROM designed for including new and inovative istructions as our fearless leaders (or paying advertisers) require?

Re:Interesting (2, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636753)

> > It "conference called" phone calls to 14 prepaid mobile phones where the calls were recorded.
>
>That was clever. How did they get access to the phones to flash the programming? Phones worked fine otherwise. Makes me think someone had access to them at the factory. How else would they be able to get the source. Or would they need it?

One of three ways:

1) A backdoor in phones for snooping; either placed there by design/regulation in concert with the manufacturer, or slipped in by means of some clever hackery. Read "Reflections on Trusting Trust" for just how clever said hackery could be.

2) By means of the normal process whereby automated firmware updates can be delivered to phones. Same sort of way a Tivo or satellite/cable decoder can be "updated" remotely. Except that the "update" only went to the "right" phones. Sort of a variant on #1.

3) Or the old-fashioned way: the same way a virus/worm author gets access to flash your BIOS, or overwrite the material on a hard drive. Sent 'em some HTML that exploited a flaw when rendered. Sent 'em a .JPG with corrupt headers.

A mobile phone is a computer with a writable storage device on it. Computers run code. Computers do what they're designed to do, unless the code they run contains flaws - in which case they do what they're told to do, which may not be what the designer intended, but it's precisely what the cracker intends.

Re:Interesting (3, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636759)

No need to get all so "conspiracy FUD" about the phone companies loading code onto your phone. From the first article it says that "spyware" was loaded onto the central Vodafone server. Which is obviously the best place to attack the system. That way you can use the entire network as your spy infrastructure.

Re:Interesting (1)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636773)

They didn't have access to the phones. They just altered the programming in the phone exchange.

From the article:
Roussopoulos said the surveillance was carried out through spy software installed in the central system of Vodafone, the mobile telephony provider that served the targets.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636781)

Did you actually read the article?

It said that they discovered malicous code, presumably somewhere in the cellular phone routing infrastructure, such that calls placed to and from those numbers were intercepted and duplicated to the other phone numbers.

It didn't say anything about the cellphones that these people owned being compromised, they implied that it was the cellular network itself that was compromised!

That's quite a major hack!

Re:Interesting (4, Interesting)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636795)

How did they get access to the phones


They didn't have to.

They (whoever "they" is) did it all from the telephone company switch.

This is exactly the same mechanism that is used for "proper" (IE: court ordered, law enforcement initiated) taps.

A command is issued in the switch that makes any future calls to or from the "target" phone part of a conference. The 3rd party in the conference would normally be a one-way audio device, that is connected to the police recording equipment.

In this case, it appears that the monitoring party was another cell phone (a pre-paid one, hard to track down who it belongs to).

The "hack" in this case, is really just an un-authorized use of an existing function in the telephone switching platform. It only takes a couple of commands, from a login with appropriate permissions, to do this.


All that stuff in the movies "..what was that, did you hear a click?" is bogus. I've been involved in a lot of testing of these and you can't tell that there's anything out of the ordinary going on.

Re:Interesting (3, Interesting)

ale3ns (453301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636813)

I'm currently in Greece right now. What they officialy announced was that malicious code triggered a feature of the Ericsson systems Vodafone is using that "duplexes" phone calls. This feature is disabled in Greece by default (or should be anyway) because it is illegal. What is being heavily debated over right now is this: Once Vodafone's administrators found out about the malicious code and the whole illegal setup, they immediantly shut it down, hindering the task of finding the location of the 14 numbers almost impossible. So the question is, if you where in the Vodafone administrator's shoes, would you immediantly shutdown the obviously illegal code, or inform the police before taking action about it?

Re:Interesting (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636940)

I'd start routing them calls from a random set of teenagers phones.

That's to protect the targets from being further owned and in hopes of getting the black hats to attempt a fix (Fuck the teanagers; Is there time?).

Re:Interesting (2, Interesting)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637087)

This feature is disabled in Greece by default (or should be anyway) because it is illegal Disabled, sure, but it's a standard Ericsson (and every other phone switch maker, as well, I expect) feature. The code to make it happen is part of the system, and all that is needed to turn it on is a handfull of commands (restricted level commands typically issued by Ericsson).
The collection of Ericsson cell phone switches that I am currently sitting beside (4 of them) have a lot of features available in them, that my employer hasn't bought, and are not enabled. All it'll take to enable those features is a call to Ericsson with a purchase order.

My wild-assed speculation is that this "hack" was done by an employee, or former employee) who was probably recieving more than one income..

Re:Interesting (1)

ale3ns (453301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637216)

You're probably right (I know nothing about telephone switches). That is what most experts are saying here also. Which brings us to the next interesting fact. A day before the whole thing went public, a vodafone employe, the one in charge of the department commited suicide. Vodafone says this has nothing to do with the taps. People who knew the guy, said he was concerned about some issues at his job, but surely he wasn't suicidal. This brings a hollywood like turn in the whole story. I'm guessing organized crime. But the list of people being monitored doesn't reveal this clearly...

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636821)

Well actually the phones themselves were not at any way 'changed'. It was a software change in the Vodafone system that when one of the phones being spied on rang, a conference call was made to one of the 14 phones that were set for spying, and presumably the phone was recorded. That is what makes this case so strange. It was a software change made in the central computer system of Vodafone so only someone from the inside could have done it. And as Greek Vodafone people say, their system gets software updates only through the "mother-company" Vodafone.

Re:Interesting (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636933)

I'd guess that they probably got access at some stage during shipping, not at the factory, and swapped outbound phones with ones modded in at their leisure.

Never underestimate the power of even a simple device to spy. My favorite spy tool of all time was a plaque given to the US Embassy at Moscow by the Soviets in 1946. The US inspected it and determined that there was absolutely no way it could be bugged. It was ;) It was a hollow cavity resonator - it had a large open space in the center with a simple wire in it. The vibration changed the capacitance between the diaphragm and the post plate, but there was no power source. It was not a bug on its own, but when the Soviets would broadcast a strong radio signal, an induced current would induce currents and stimulate a return broadcast at varying frequencies using the wire as an antenna, with frequency determined by the distance between the diaphragm and the post plate (which was determined by the sound impacting the diaphragm). I.e., a simple arrangement of metal became an FM transmitter when you broadcast radio waves at it.

Re:Interesting (2, Informative)

chrisjwray (717883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637086)

I always liked this [parascope.com] story about the xerox machine in the Russian embassy doing more than just copying documents.

Re:Interesting (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637412)

That setup used rather primitive (by today's standards) technology, a modified movie camera that recorded the doc images on film -- putting the Xerox tech who swapped the film out at some risk, I imagine.

Consider that today's copiers (and printers) are all digital and that it would be pretty trivial to have them store copies to flash memory for easy retrieval, either by a tech "running diagnostics" or over the wire or even wireless. (Heck, many copiers already have the built-in smarts to disallow copying/printing of currency, what's a little more firmware hidden away in there?)

Now, for the truly paranoid, consider how much of that stuff is made in China these days.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637199)

In europe its remote flashing, the phone service provider can remotely flash cell phones on their network. For instance 3 (www.three.com) does so.

Gotta admit (0)

ELProphet (909179) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636663)

It's still a hell of a lot better than Sony.

Geek phones tapped? (3, Funny)

tlay (793463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636668)

Did anybody else think that the article was
"Geek U.S. Officials Tapped For Years"?

I dunno...maybe that's just because I was on \. I was thinking that.

-TLAY

Re:Geek phones tapped? (3, Funny)

scheme (19778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636731)

Did anybody else think that the article was "Geek U.S. Officials Tapped For Years"?

I seriously doubt geek anythings but especially geek government officials would be getting tapped on a regular basis.

Re:Geek phones tapped? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637047)

I seriously doubt geek anythings but especially geek government officials would be getting tapped on a regular basis.
You kidding?

I'd hit it.

I'd hit it like the fist of an angry God.

Re:Geek phones tapped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636732)

wtf is \.?

Re:Geek phones tapped? (1)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636865)

Sorry budy, backslashdot.com is somewhere else. This is /. (slashdot)!

Re:Geek phones tapped? (1)

tlay (793463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636928)

Oh shoot...I've been on windows too much today.

-TLAY

Re:Geek phones tapped? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636963)

Did anybody else think that the article was
"Geek U.S. Officials Tapped For Years"?


No, but at first I thought its too bad how broke they are, and maybe they should be given a raise?

Re:Geek phones tapped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637152)

Did anyone else think that the article was
"Geek U.S. Officials Tapped For Years"?

No, when I read it I thought it said:
"Greek, U.S. Officials Trapped For Years"

Re:Geek phones tapped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637359)

At first glance, I thought it read "Greek and U.S. Officials Trapped for Years.

I'm glad it's Friday.

Re:Geek phones tapped? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637567)

Did anybody else think that the article was
"Geek U.S. Officials Tapped For Years"?

Close, I came up with:

"Geeky U.S. Officials Trapped For Years".

Words are fun. =)

Post-Intelligencer (0, Flamebait)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636679)

That would be the Seattle *Post*-Intelligencer.

Good thing there's no editor or anything...

Court?? (1)

Mad-Mage1 (235582) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636684)

I sincerely doubt they were looking for "evidence" for a trial...I also doubt that it was either Greece or the US that did this. The conference calls were probably setup from the provider (Vodaphone's) side, not actually installed on the phone itself.

Re:Court?? (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636696)

In which case, since it wasn't government-ordered, the provider is guilty of illegal wiretapping. Vodafone is going to have to pay up big for this.

Re:Court?? (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636700)

Can you say Israel boys and girls?

I knew you could.

Re:Court?? (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636744)

The conference calls were probably setup from the provider (Vodaphone's) side

What's to stop Vodaphone from doing this with all of their phones? I imagine a few corporate executives would be looking long and hard at their mobile phones if they knew they were potentially tapped at purchase. The possibilites for corporate espionage are limitless, but perhaps the discovery of a few unauthorized corporate wiretaps is what it'll take to make people take a harder look at warrantless wiretapping in general.

So? (0, Troll)

garrett714 (841216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636705)

Greek and U.S. officials in Greece apparently had their phones tapped for over a year before the 2004 Olympics.

Mod me troll like I'm sure you troll mods will, but honestly who the hell cares about this? People are getting tapped constantly in the US and elsewhere, how is this story even remotely interesting to anybody but the person who posted it and the mod who let it through?

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636848)

What's interesting is the *how* of it. As well as the fact that the tapped the PM of Greece. Imagine if someone tapped good ol' Bushy's cell phone. Now *that* would be something, wouldn't it? Well, this isn't much different.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636858)

Maybe because it's tapping at the highest government levels including the P.M? Kinda the same as Bush/Blair getting wiretapped just has a smaller impact cause it's only Greece after all.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637121)

<i>People are getting tapped constantly in the US and elsewhere</i>
Do you think you have any privacy?  Where have you been?

Re:So? (4, Insightful)

javaxman (705658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637297)

honestly who the hell cares about this? People are getting tapped constantly in the US and elsewhere, how is this story even remotely interesting

It's interesting in many ways :

- it confirms what was previously just expected/suspected.

- The way in which it was done ( by installing software on the carrier's cell network that 'conferenced in prepaid phones' ) is definitely interesting.

- It was discovered.

Oh, and I've not read this anywhere else, but there's a post here which gives a few other details, including the mysterious "suicide" of one of the local security officials... not that I can tell you that it's anything real other than some radom dude posted something here, but still, that's interesting too, especially if true.

Anyway, I find it much more interesting than another RIM article or another CSS&HTML book review.

Re:So? (1)

DevanJedi (892762) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637350)

The fact that people were tapped is not what makes the story interesting; if you actually RTFA'd you would know that there was malicious code in the mobile phones that "conference called" calls to other numbers where they were then recorded.

Re:So? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637450)

I found it pretty cool. Malicious code at the phone company's central office used to serupticiously record the conversations of top government officials and foreign diplomats? Way cool from a technical/geek standpoint.

Where technology exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636716)

Abuse of technology will also exist. This is exactly why it is critical to have laws to moderate such abuses. Judicial oversight is critical. At least we know it must not have been anybody in the "West" who did the tapping... Nobody in the "West" would EVER tap a phone without judicial oversight...

Too bad (1)

VisceralLogic (911294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636728)

Koronias issued a statement saying the company removed the spyware immediately after it was located, and informed the competent state authorities.

Too bad they didn't have Symantec Genesis yet.

Goatse Tapping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636761)

Judging from that picture, must do strange things with their mobile phones in greece. Maybe they DO need to be monitored...

Why can't we have... (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636762)

a phone conversation encryptor?

Actually the idea is as old as the MAD magazine, but with today's technology it could be implemented using public keys and a tiny modem in the headset.

voice -> data -> public-key encrypted data -> voice.

Ta-da! :D

Re:Why can't we have... (0, Troll)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636868)

The Powers That Be really really *really* don't want private individuals to have private conversations. It would be too easy for them to organize their ouster.

Re:Why can't we have... (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637455)

Dude, here, in the U.S. we oust the Powers that Be every two, six, and four to eight years.

The whole thing is done in public, with intense media coverage and participation. The Powers that Be and the Powers that Wish to Be participate openly in the proceedings, and each faction's ouster plans are hotly debated at all levels of our society for months and even years preceding an ouster event.

Re:Why can't we have... (1, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636870)

One slight problem I can think of :-)

1. Build encryptor for phones to hide nefarious deeds
2. Authorities take interest in you
3. Authorities tap your phone and find out that they can't decode your speech data
4. Authorities go " .. Hmmm .. I wonder what he is hiding?" and throws mainframe full of cracking software at the problem.

At this point you are effectively putting head to head two computer systems:

1) The *hand held* device that you built to encode and decode speach in *real time* in order to hide what you are saying.

2) A multi room mega computer owned by the Authorities with a sole purpose of cracking coded data.

Wanna take bets as to which system will win in a test of wills???

Re:Why can't we have... (2, Interesting)

stanwirth (621074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637012)

The objection to "roll your own" reads:
  1. Build encryptor for phones to hide nefarious deeds
  2. Authorities take interest in you
  3. Authorities tap your phone and find out that they can't decode your speech data
  4. Authorities go " .. Hmmm .. I wonder what he is hiding?" and throws mainframe full of cracking software at the problem.

Several problems with this objection. First of all STU phones have existed for years (and they keep replacing them with STU I, STU II, STU III etc) -- well because the keep getting cracked. So your point that such a phone couldn't be built -- blunted somewhat.

Second of all, if you were conducting internet traffic on the same line as your voice traffic, both as packets, one can be disguised as the other.

This is what VOIP already does -- and is it any wonder that commercial server-mediated VOIP services are being pushed in a situation where FOSS/P2P could do? FOSS/P2P VOIP could be easily disguised as music sharing...oops! That's under attack, too. I wonder why. Is it really just to protect the poor singer/songwriter (and the profits of RIAA members)? Or is it to stigmatize and have an excuse to monitor your most likely covert channel?

Re:Why can't we have... (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637187)

I'm not saying that a phone couldn't be built .. and you point out that they are built .. but also are being cracked (which is what I was mainly alluding to happening in an arms race)

The more general point I was trying to make (and badly) was that if the authorities are interested in you, then they will bring to bare on you as many resources as matches their interest. And that any small, portable device will never be a match for a much larger, more powerful device.

Hiding your voice as another type of data stream will only work as long as they haven't yet taken an interest in you. Once they realise that it is you that they should be looking at, then I am sure all manner of data that you generate or receive will come under a very detailed inspection. Other people would call this "security by obscurity", which will minimise the risk of getting randomly caught. The whole game changes if you have been pointed out as an interesting person from some other source.

I am sure there have been much smarter people than me looking at both sides of this fence both in encrypting and decrypting data. without being too speculative, I am sure that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbers_station [wikipedia.org] is one solution to this problem.

Re:Why can't we have... (2, Insightful)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637040)

Could one not make 2 encryption devices that would go on either end of the phone conversation that are pre-populated with identical large sets of random data to be used as a one-time pad? Or some kind of real-time random number generators that share a common seed? Seems like that would be pretty tough to crack...

Re:Why can't we have... (1)

Fatchap (752787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637231)

In theory you could, but you would need to store as much random data as the combination of all of your phone calls. It by definition would threfore have to have a finite life.

Re:Why can't we have... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637010)

Why not just use VoIP and an SSL tunnel between the two people?

Re:Why can't we have... (3, Informative)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637197)

From official Greek sources, actually all high ranked officials have end-to-end encryption enabled handsets. The problem is that many officials admitted that many times they do not use this feature because of the inconvenience, since both parties have to have them enabled. The same way we do not always enable gaim encyption even though we and I our geek friends went through the trouble to set it up once.

Seattle Intelligencer?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636789)

Is that like Bush and his term suiciders? I bet Webster's bones are clawing their way to his grave surface now, with sickle in hand ready to unleash the Apocalypse...

Organized Crime? (5, Interesting)

egarland (120202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636790)

This sounds like an organized crime activity to me. Lots of cash flowing around and knowing people's secrets could be just what somebody needed to get a fat contract where they could skim millions. Follow the money and you'll probably find who did this, even if you cant prove it.

I wouldn't be surpriesd if organized crime here in the US hadn't figured out a way to tap into people's phone calls. The telepone companies don't seem to care who listens to our phone calls anymore.

It's time for end to end encryption of all communications. We should get an SSL session from one handset to the other.

Re:Organized Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637234)

I wouldn't be surpriesd if organized crime here in the US hadn't figured out a way to tap into people's phone calls.

They don't need to figure it out, AT&T already owns the phone lines.

From Vodaphone Customer Service (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636793)

Vodafone - one of the country's four mobile telephony providers - discovered the tapping after receiving complaints from customers over problems operating their phones.

"Hello, Vodaphone Greece. Yeah, I've got a complaint about my service. I think someone's tapping my phone. How can I tell? Every time I talk to my wife I hear heavy breathing that isn't hers, if you know what I mean..."

Re:From Vodaphone Customer Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637421)

Absolutely hilarious. And instead of someone tapping the phone, she's having an affair! :o)

A few questions for Bush (-1, Troll)

mhollis (727905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636837)

So they're trying to justify the illegal spying on US Citizens (who have special rights under US law within their own country) in terms of spying on foreign nationals (not illegal). Essentially, this is an attempt at obfuscation.

So here are my questions:

  • When you say "We want to know who Al Qaida is calling" do you mean the real terrorist organization or "a person with an opposing political view that you don't like and that you would like to spy on." In other words, just because you call the caller Al Qaida doesn't make the caller Al Qaida.

  • Since the judge who generally handles these warrants can almost always be counted on to rubber-stamp any request made by the NSA, what exactly is it that is so illegal that you want to hide it from her?

  • Why are you refusing to even enumerate those you have spied on? Is the number so large that there might be an unfavorable reaction?

  • If there are no checks and balances on your spy operation, how can you prove to the American people that it is not illegal with no oversight? Are we supposed to just blindly trust your word after it was proven false so many times in the past (I'm thinking about the rationale for starting an illegal war in Iraq here)?

  • Why is it you say that a law, passed by Congress to prevent the illegal spying the Nixon Administration did on its political opponents is outdated? Is it due to the unlikliness that a Republican House of Representatives probably won't pass a bill of impeachment?

Re:A few questions for Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636908)

In case you hadn't noticed, no one knows who tapped the phones. But I suppose you're happy to jump to conclusions, or you just feel like cluttering the thread with pointless banter.

Re:A few questions for Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14636935)

A little perspective. Probably just solidifies your thinking (I ain't saying you're wrong).

- Hitler on Line One: There's a Long History of Intercepting Foreign Communications, and Some of It May Have Been Legal [pbs.org]
- The Falafel Connection: All Those NSA Wiretaps Are Just a Friendster in Disguise [pbs.org]

Lastly, remember how things were in WWII. Letters going out of the country were opened, read, edited, and sometimes destroyed, before they made it to their destination.

misdirected post (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637024)

I think you meant to send that here [whitehouse.gov] ... otherwise its just trolling.

Who fucking cares? (0, Troll)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636877)

If you weren't doing anything wrong, then who cares if some dick listens to you calling your wife pet names. There are obivious security issues to be concerned about with the olympics. They should be able to monitor communications to find any wrongdoing/planning/bribing/etc...

---John Holmes...

Re:Who fucking cares? (0, Flamebait)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636975)

Oh, okay. How about you you make all your inboxes publically accessible from your website? You arn't doing anything wrong, right?

Re:Who fucking cares? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636978)

Spoken like a true ignoramus. By your logic then, the government should be able to bug, film, and record everything we do anywhere since, "Hey, you shouldn't be doing anything wrong in the frist place" (mispelling intended). You should have paid attention in history class during the Nixon lessons. Then, maybe you'd understand the danger of giving our government this kind of unchecked power. It's also a violation of the fundamental rights we all have as citizens, you know that whole stupid "unreasonable search and seizure" thing? If you're American too, I pray for our country's sake that your post was intended to be satirical. If it was satire, great job impersonating a moron!

Re:Who fucking cares? (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637018)

First, define "wrong". Next, imagine the evesdroppers are puritanical retentive maniacs who define "wrong" as "anything enjoyable", or "anything that does not contribut to business profits". Say a friend rings you up and asks to borrow a CD. Is it ok then for the RIAA swat team to converge on your location and take you away?

Re:Who fucking cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637082)

Do you honestly have no understanding of the level ignorance that your comment demonstrates?

Re:Who fucking cares? (4, Insightful)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637322)

I am going to tell a little story.

Once upon a time, there was a dike. It was just a simple dike, nothing special. The dike was built, as dikes are, to stop water from flowing all over. One day though, someone decided to break a little bit of the dike. Nothing too drastic. Just a little water flowing out. What's the harm, y'know? In fact, it's helpful to the people nearby, since they get some free water! Thus, the whole wasn't fixed. But this little hole soon started to get larger. Alright...well the people are getting more free water now! But this hole kept on getting larger. Eventually, the hole was so large that the dike was of no use anymore. All the people who were getting free water could now be found under that water.

Now, to come back to the topic at hand: What happens when the government finds out that it is "okay" to eavesdrop on its own citizens? That the people don't care one bit about the whole thing. The government starts to do it more often. Eventually, it is too large to stop. I could very well bring up the Nazis, but I'd prefer to not violate Godwin's law.

Stories such as these raise awareness to the fact. I remember reading a comment earlier today about how the RIAA was purposely initiating frivolous lawsuits (Such as suing the person who never used a computer.) simply to remind people that they are still actively hunting those 'evil pirates.' The more people are aware, the more they participate. For example, in the late-1700s and early-1800s, the literacy rate throughout Europe started to rise. At the same time, the level of participation within politics also rose. One of the primary causes of the French Revolution (and the Terror that followed) was the use of newspapers to raise awareness amongst the populace.

Nowadays, awareness is the first step toward action.

Re:Who fucking cares? (1)

Project2501a (801271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637358)

Yes, hi, it's called the GREEK CONSTITUTION, if you know what i mean, kthnkxbye

Re:Who fucking cares? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637457)

you don't deserve any of the freedoms that our constitution grants us. plain and simple.

I care, and so should you? (1)

Stoutlimb (143245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637479)

Something doesn't have to be wrong, for the need for secrecy to exist.

Suppose someone has an embarassing (though legal) secret? The person listening could easily blackmail the individual. Or worse yet, what if it's a business conversation, and someone listening could easily profit? You don't think the US listens to other countries business communications, and passes the info to US corporations? Or other countries would spy on the US? Interesting...

I'm convinced you're either a troll, or just incredibly stupid. Since your an American, both could be true. Considering you're a soldier, you shouldn't be metaphorically wiping your ass with the constitution. :P

First rule of phone tapping: (5, Insightful)

DysenteryInTheRanks (902824) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636885)

The first rule of surveillance is this: Always bug yourself.

"Omykod, neighbor, I just discovered a webcame in MY shower, too! Chekkidout!"

"Wow dude, someone put that same keylogger on my laptop, too! Here it is, right in the process list on my Windows Task Manager!"

"Greek Allies: Thank you for sharing your concerns that we were behind the recent suspicious rerouting of cell phone calls made by your top government officials. As you can see from the attached mobile phone company records, our embassy has been a victim of this heinous eavesdropping as well. We look forward to working with you to find the Real Perpetrators. Sincerely, CIA Field Chief -REDACTED-"

expect the expected! (1)

ILKO_deresolution (352578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636894)

uhhh Im not a goverment official...I still don't trust a land line
maybe they got used to a non-invasive goverment and said blathering blather skytzes

Like they weren't being tapped already? (2, Informative)

Gunfighter (1944) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636905)

I mean... c'mon. Everyone knows that at least one third party [echelonwatch.org] was already listening in on those conversations anyways. What's the surprise that someone else figured out a cheaper way to do it? That's just good geeks at work trying to impress the bean counters over at the GAO.

Note to self: two tinfoil hat posts in one sitting... I need to cut back on the Mt. Dews after lunchtime

Why is this surprising? (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636913)

These games are played all the time by foreign intelligence services. The most important question here is, if this was not a Greek agency that was behind the wiretapping, why didn't Greek counterintelligence know about this for so long?

Not the whole story... (5, Interesting)

Sub Zero 992 (947972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14636919)

Some more interesting details:

1) The software used was developed by Vodafone's major supplier,
Ericsson. It was installed although Vodafone does not own any licenses
to use it.
http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_polit ics_371_03/02/2006_172382 [kathimerini.gr]

2) Vodafone was notified by a Reseller, Q-Telecoms, about delays in
text message delivery, after which they undertook an ad-hoc analysis.
They found the software, supposedly a remotely activated Trojan (how
the hell could a Trojan get onto an SMS gateway?), by sheer luck, and
then disconnected the computer from the network.

3) The day after (2) the local security manager was discovered dead.
"Suicide", don't you know.

4) Ta Nea (http://digital.tanea.gr/ [tanea.gr] ) are claiming it was the CIA,
since the remote proxy used for collecting data appeared to lie in the
vicinity of the American and / or British embassies. How amateurish is
that? Their motive was "Anti-Terrorism" before, during and evidently
also after the 2004 Olympics, which is no doubt why the list of
mobiles being tracked also included those of some prominent, and very
very active (if you follow the news about bombs and firebombs at Greek
banks and ministries, you'll know what I mean) anarchists (not
commies, much more left wing than those boy-scouts).

So long,

Re:Not the whole story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637109)

They were also caught redhanded in moscow:

http://news.google.ca/news?hl=en&ned=ca&q=british+ spy+rock&btnG=Search+News [google.ca]

That stuff is far from James Bond sleek MI:7 stuff. Really lame, but then
what do you expect government salarymen to do? There is no cause anymore,
so they are just well paid under trained snoopies.

Re:Not the whole story... (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637341)

anarchists (not commies, much more left wing than those boy-scouts).

As an anarchist, I am offended by that.

...tapped for years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14637088)

did anyone else think this was about long-running sexual favours between officials in the two governments?

Re:...tapped for years? (1)

josepuerto (951665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637280)

perhaps...

Must it be the US? (1, Insightful)

ChePibe (882378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637312)

Sure, the US does a lot of wiretapping, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it was the US. But is it too quick to blame America for this incident?

As someone who has worked for the US government overseas before and studied a the subject of intelligence and international relations before, I can imagine a lot of others would love to (and probably have done) the same thing.

There's the old standbys - Russian intelligence, the Chinese, the Israelis, the British, and others. Of these, I'd say all are reasonably suspect with the possible exception of Israel (I know nothing about Israeli-Greek relations, please enlighten me if you know more on the subject).

There are regional powers that likely have the interest and capabilities to do so as well (Turkey, Cyprus, Albania perhaps).

Don't get me wrong - there's a fairly high probability the US had some hand in this and, like I said earlier, I wouldn't be shocked if the US was behind it. But I'd avoid jumping on that bandwagon too quickly without more information. There are a lot of other intelligence services out there, and they're very active in pursuing information.

Precedent counts for something (2, Insightful)

ianscot (591483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637565)

In the U.S., we're talking about a nation that seems to have bugged members of the U.N. Security Council before the big vote on a second Iraq resolution. Hans Blix, the weapons inspector, also thought he'd been tapped by U.S. spy agencies. [globalpolicy.org]

It's not like the Executive Branch has just asserted its right to basically do what it pleases in the name of fighting terrorism, is it?

I understand your list of usual suspects, but something on the level of what's described doesn't sound like the Russians. Why would they do it? (And to the same objection about the States -- they've already proven their willingness and ability...)

Re:Must it be the US? (1)

ale3ns (453301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637630)

Actually based on the phones monitored (besides the Greek officials), you have your high profile anarchists, some arabian business men if I recall right, and a phone or two in the US Embassy. It's obviously in US interests to tap those phones. Even the US Embassy phones could be explained: to monitor possible 'corruption' of US officials. Recently there was an issue of arabian citizens kidnapped by UK authorities for questioning on Greek soil. I'm not saying it was definitely CIA hands down, we don't know all the facts yet and that kind of conclusion is immature at this time. I could buy them being framed by organized crime, because anti-americanism is at its high around the world. But facts are, things are looking bad for them right now...

We know who did it (3, Funny)

slapout (93640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637434)

Come on. You know it was just the Olympic Committee making sure no one violated their trademark on the term "Olympics" [slashdot.org] . Because you know they have to protect the term "Olympics" [bbc.co.uk] so that know one else can make money off the word "Olympics" [bbc.co.uk] . If these officials where caught using the term Olympics [tmcnet.com] they could be in big trouble with the Olympic Committee. Hold on, someone's knocking on my door.....

Oh! (1, Funny)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14637559)

Wiretaps!

"Stop poking me. Stop poking me. Stop poking me. Seriously, stop poking me."
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