back to article Air-to-ground rocket men flog top-secret mobe-crypto to Brad in accounts

Don’t believe what you see at the cinema - James Bond doesn’t use a Sony mobile. Today’s British spies are kitted out with a BlackBerry for email and a Motorola for voice. The Motorolas use a protocol called Sectéra for scrambling which comes from General Dynamics, which does stuff for the US military, including system …

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Bronze badge
Devil

British spies

"the Motorolas use a protocol called Sectéra for scrambling which comes from General Dynamics, which does stuff for the US military, including system integration."

I guess the US military wont mind to spy at the spies. Spy vs Spy redux? :-)

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Megaphone

Re: British spies

Sometimes AlReg posts under such an irrelivant/vague tag line that u curse them for if the content would have gone unread... Plz avoid to thrust overly of your ever aww inspiring sarcasm. "Air-to-ground rocket men" WTF is that supposed to mean describing GD and android !?! .... you could have labeled articles... "Yankees pondering dual boot or rooted androids for helping Anonymous"

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Silver badge

James Bond..

would use a Sony mobile..hesitantly... after it's been "improved" by Q.

The whole idea of proper spy equipment is that it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and in reality is something else entirely.

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Joke

Re: James Bond..

Does Q improve ducks too?

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Coat

Re: James Bond..

[ubiquitous Sir Terry Quote]

What do you think the ducks in the pond were, eating the crumbs.... etc.

And yes, even the one that sank.

mine's the slightly oversized old-fashioned one that screams "subterfuge" .

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Re: James Bond..

James Bond would use whatever 'phone the sponsors of the latest mission are touting, surely ?

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Gold badge
Unhappy

Does it need pointing out.

Walking through customs with one of these is about as good as a sign saying "I am an Intelligence Officer of a foreign power who you probably don't like."

Perhaps something a little less obvious?

Just a thought.

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Holmes

Re: Does it need pointing out.

You probably pick it up from the Embassy, it having beed delivered via diplomatic bag.

But getting stopped with it by the police could be uncomfortable...

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Bronze badge

Re: Does it need pointing out.

Well if it is properly designed, there will be nothing visible or even in the usual settings to distinguish it from any other Android handset so being stopped by the cops in South Nonexististan or the Democratic Socialist Republic of Free Ruskazia won't turn up anything or even raise suspicion that you're not really there to set up a purchasing agreement with a small business or whatever your cover is.

Generally this kind of thing is well hidden, its either under no control by the user at all, or if a user is able to manipulate security related settings the control panel for the classified module is hidden behind a fake app, i.e. that "Angry Birds" app on Joe Spook's phone has nothing to do with flinging birds, but only if a certain area of the screen is touched at a certain time, otherwise it functions exactly the same as the real app.

Unless the issuing agency or unit does something uncharacteristically (or characteristically depending on who it is) stupid like putting the agency seal, Army/Navy/Air Force/Marine Corps insignia, or the US Seal on their SIM cards or if it says PROPERTY OF US GOVERNMENT somewhere easily found there would be no way to tell. Its not like they're going to stick a blue (Confidential), red (Secret), or Orange (Top Secret) sticker on it like most information systems with classified information handling tasks do.

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Silver badge

Dual boot == information leakage

So they can only make super secure, un-trackable calls on the secure OS. Fine. They get some down time, so re-boot to look at some cat videos on the unsecure OS. Oopsie. Now they can be tracked..

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Silver badge

Re: Dual boot == information leakage

The way I see it, when the phone switches modes, the other one shuts down, so as long as the phone is in secure mode, any tracking malware on the insecure side is not operating. And it better be a persistent malware, too--it has to be able to survive a reboot.

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Silver badge

Re: Dual boot == information leakage

Right. But if, for instance, you suspected that Sgt Bloggs is special forces, you can now potentially determine where they are operating by tracking the personal side of Sgt Bloggs phone, because you previously inserted tracking data there.

You couldn't do anything when they are using the secure side, but once you've tagged them as special forces, and got malware on to the insecure side, you can then track the insecure side whenever they use it. Get one, you'll probably get the whole squad.

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Re: Dual boot == information leakage

I don't think you've quite thought this through.

How exactly do you acquire Sgt Bloggs in the first place? OK, so you've managed that somehow (let's assume he was wearing an "I shot Bin Laden + I am The Stig" t-shirt), what additional benefit is there from being able to possibly track this target some of the time? OK, so you've justified this nonsense somehow, how do you make the link between what are essentially 2 different handsets? Guess? Or assume that the developers were so incompetent that they have allowed a unique identifier to be associated with secure and insecure operating modes?

If you are able, somehow, to get close enough to Sgt Bloggs to compromise his phone, what's the point in planting "tracking data", you already know where he is and can use the same techniques used to locate him in the first place.

Even if you have practical answers to the problems indicated above it is worth keeping in mind that this article is a journalist's impressions of a sales demo, all the stuff about military/spy usage sounds like pure speculation as it's all unsourced.

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Silver badge

Re: Dual boot == information leakage

I don't think you've thought through what I wrote.

I'm not saying you can track the secure side. I'm saying that you can track the insecure side - this is the basis of all targeted advertising.

If you can identify an asset whose location you wish to track, and can positively track the insecure side of their phone, then when they switch to the insecure side, you can track their location. This is information leakage about the location of the phone, leaked from the insecure side. It is irrelevant there is a secure side, because the two cannot be in different locations.

If you are able, somehow, to get close enough to Sgt Bloggs to compromise his phone, what's the point in planting "tracking data", you already know where he is and can use the same techniques used to locate him in the first place.

Obviously, with targeted attacks, the first step is identifying your target and infecting them. Dumping lots of 'Free mobile XXX' flyers outside bars in Fort Bragg for instance, soldiers wouldn't do that on the secure side of their phone, they'd switch to the insecure side.

Whammo, a bunch of infected devices. Watch their locations as they pop up..... Fort Bragg, Fort Bragg.... Oh look, Sgt Bloggs wanted some down time in Abbottabad. Bosh, information leakage about the location of personnel from their "secure" phone.

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Silver badge

Re: Dual boot == information leakage

Wanna bet SOP is that the phones are locked to secure mode during operations? By the time the phone's insecure again, they're probably back at a base. Little good that does you then since you can't predict where they'll go from there.

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Black Helicopters

Realy?

"When the phone is in standard mode the screen is edged in green, and while it's in secure mode it has a red border"

Better hope none of their operatives are red/green colour blind then.

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Silver badge

Re: Realy?

If the phones are only issued to elite forces, odds are you'd wash out of those forces for having a disability. Used to be red/green blindness was a general reject, then it was a rejection for going airborne (because aircraft make heavy use of red and green lights).

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Bronze badge

Re: Realy?

>>"When the phone is in standard mode the screen is edged in green, and while it's in secure mode it has a red border"

Interesting. Those colors actually mean something, just so you guys know if you don't already. The five different classification levels are color coded, Green means UNCLASSIFIED, Blue is CONFIDENTIAL, Red means SECRET, and Orange is TOP SECRET. There are different procedures and handling standards for each level, so its telling if it doesn't turn blue or orange.

Also, Charles, color blindness is still a disqualification for most Army and Marine Corps MOS/Air Force AFSCs/Navy Ratings depending on the severity. I know the Navy and Air Force do still disqualify from Enlistment below a certain score, I don't think the Army does though, its just most MOS require color vision.

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Silver badge

Re: Realy?

"Interesting. Those colors actually mean something, just so you guys know if you don't already. The five different classification levels are color coded, Green means UNCLASSIFIED, Blue is CONFIDENTIAL, Red means SECRET, and Orange is TOP SECRET. There are different procedures and handling standards for each level, so its telling if it doesn't turn blue or orange."

That's only FOUR classifications. In the US, that's all there are, as we no longer have a Restricted classification (we merged it into Confidential). Were you forgetting the purple CLASSIFIED color?

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Bronze badge

Yes ill email the corrections as well but in the meantime

"The Samsung version is a custom version of Jellybean built on the US National Security Association Agency’s secure security enhanced Linux"

FTFY.

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