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back to article Canadian spookhaus says airport Wi-Fi slurp didn't invade privacy

The chief of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), which has been accused of slurping airport Wi-Fi traffic in a story aired on CBC, has denied wrongdoing to a Canadian Senate committee. As part of the never-ending drip-feed of spook secrets served up by Edward Snowden, CBC News alleged that CSEC used airport …

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Trollface

The reasons stated could be true

ON The other hand, they may not be true!

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Anonymous Coward

Assume all 3rd party WiFi tapped

Airports and other international travel portals such as harbours are tagged as high risk places in most countries as they are the main point of access and thus also used by any Bad Guys™. I sidestep the question if these are the genuine article or People Who Have Seriously Pissed Off a Government.

It's fairly logical to assume that as much monitoring is going on as possible - as a matter of fact, it may be one of the main argument for free WiFi in the first place.

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Silver badge

Re: Assume all 3rd party WiFi tapped

Exactly my thoughts!

Never trust that your data is secure when you connect to a third party wifi network!

But considering most of us carry phones, and I bet most of us turn them on as SOON as we land, I expect to be trackable down to the cell tower level at any point, maybe even down to a few square meters....

IF the spooks are interested in you for any reason, then they will track you, I just think the leaders of the nations should just ensure spooks have warrants for any data tapping, just so they don't go on fishing expeditions, all data tapping should be targeted and then accountable after the fact, so they learn from mistakes, I.E. they target the wrong guy, at the least an apology letter is needed with a note confirming all data was destroyed.

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Re: Assume all 3rd party WiFi tapped

A good rule of thumb to remember is 'If you're not paying for the product, you are the product'.

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Childcatcher

Re: Assume all 3rd party WiFi tapped

Whether or not those reassurances settle those who believe their privacy has been invaded is another thing.

I was out in a public place using a resource that is free for everyone to use and am now outraged that my privacy has been invaded right there, out in pub... oh... wait...

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Gold badge

We don't believe you, CSEC...or you either, CSIS! We'll see your ass in court to have this out once and for all, without the weasel words, misdirections or deception. None of this pussyfooting around in parliament. To the judge with you!

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Unhappy

Well, I figured that the canuck sigint spooks would get outed before too long

But if all they are getting is metadata through a wifi node, how do they know that those people they tracked were not Canadian?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well, I figured that the canuck sigint spooks would get outed before too long

my 'phone Wi-Fi chip unique MAC address (today) is 40:B2:C7:xx:xx:xx,

my 'phone OS is broadcasting all previously connected to Open SSID's in clear - in the vain hope that my ever scanning Wi-Fi might find that AP again - (Yes that means "Frenchy's Adult Superstore", "King Faisal Mosque Freenet","European Parliament EP-EXT Network", "Fort Meade Lodging WiFi" etc)

metadata - what is it good for? (absolutely everything! is the answer)

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Re: Well, I figured that the canuck sigint spooks would get outed before too long

@Marketing Hack: They already have records of all Canadian citizen's WiFi MACs so it's easy to filter them out, to be in accordance with the law. :)

@AC: You need an auto-Forget app; or go through them yourself and 'Forget' them if they might cause you problems.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well, I figured that the canuck sigint spooks would get outed before too long

>go through them yourself and 'Forget' them

Because I rather assumed that all those Canadians died at Vimy ridge so I didn't have to practice John Le Carre-esq trade craft to protect myself from my own government.

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Big Brother

Re: Well, I figured that the canuck sigint spooks would get outed before too long

@ Frank Ly

So they avoided snooping on Canadians in this exercise--by snooping on them in previous exercises? :)

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Don't forget Dieppe

"I rather assumed that all those Canadians died at Vimy ridge so I didn't have to practice John Le Carre-esq trade craft"

I think they died because the various governments concerned didn't give a crap about any dead Canadians:

Wikipedia on Dieppe

Objectives included seizing and holding a major port for a short period, both to prove that it was possible and to gather intelligence.

Kinda got it the wrong way around didn't they?

Never wonder why?

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Silver badge

Re: Well, I figured that the canuck sigint spooks would get outed before too long

IMEI and MAC addresses are what they like - but they can be changed.

I change my IMEI weekly - if you roam out of country (which makes IMEI swapping redundant) just pop in to your Cellco and have them update the IMEI they have on record.

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Vic
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Re: Well, I figured that the canuck sigint spooks would get outed before too long

> I change my IMEI weekly

Probably not good advice, as it's frequently illegal to do so.

US Law governing IMEI change

UK Law governing IMEI change

There will doubtless be similar laws in other jurisdictions, but someone else can look those up.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

According Canada's The Globe and Mail, the prime minister's national security advisor told the committee that he was “not totally persuaded” that CSEC had “tapped into airport WiFi”.

Presumably the Prime Minister's National Security Advisor could just ask CSEC if they "tapped into airport WiFi"... me thinks he's deliberately taking the piss out of the committee with that statement.

Rather than a tracking exercise, Forster said CSEC slurped the WiFi metadata as an R&D project. CBC quotes Forster as saying “We weren't targeting or trying to find anyone or monitoring individuals' movements in real time. The purpose of it was to build an analytical model of typical patterns of network activity around a public access mode*.”

Presumably they'd already checked the flight manifests and knew Trevor wouldn't be flying that week, so just used it as an exercise to test their "tracking Trevor's movements" system.

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Gimp

I'm calling this "Playing the American" card..

"We do this but not to <home country of data fetishist> citizens."

So what, they cross reference everything to Canadian passport holders and shoot that data over the border for the NSA to scan with their computers?

I'd suggest the first 3 words in such a sentence are honest and accurate.

The rest I think can be filed under "mendacious."

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Anonymous Coward

Canada has lead the world in proper and stringent privacy laws. Now we shall see if they have the teeth necessary to avoid the rampant paranoia and government control from their neighbours south of the border.

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LOL

When the Mounties conspired with the USSS to kidnap a Canadian Ambassador?

You canuck be serious, eh?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Watkins_%28Canadian_diplomat%29

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If we are doing as well as we are, our current government deserves no credit. We are still stuck with the "If you aren't with us, you are with the child pornographers" crowd. It is because of citizens that we still have the illusion of privacy.

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Anonymous Coward

We should have guessed...

...we were being downgraded from citizens to suspects when the no-smile policy for passport photos made them look like mug shots.

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Happy

Re: We should have guessed...

Wasn't that in the late 1980's?

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Anonymous Coward

always amazes me

that people using public wifi seem to think its private without taking any precautions,

Its a bit like the USB charging ports in Heathrow Terminal 5, now thats an attack vector that just keeps on giving to the security services.

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Re: always amazes me

Its a bit like the USB charging ports in Heathrow Terminal 5, now thats an attack vector that just keeps on giving to the security services.

Ah, you mean the Sony charging towers - they're everywhere now. IMHO a VERY clever information acquisition ruse - I must rig up a phone one day to detect the connections it experiences whilst hooked up.

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What's confusing?

They were collecting data about individuals which we don't need to worry about because it isn't data about individuals. Simples.

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Linux

All sounds perfectly legal, can't wait to start performing surveillance like this myself.

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Politicians are weaksauce technologists

The thing that REALLY burns me up, is we have a bunch of poorly educated yahoos making huge decisions about things they know absolutely nothing about.

The minister has revealed his poor hand by stating, "Oh, it's just metadata. No big deal" when he doesn't even know what metadata IS.

This is becoming a REAL problem in governments around the world.

When the internet, artificial intelligence, mass surveillance, digital currencies, etc. are challenging folks to educate themselves to participate or deal with these issues, why is it that our governing politicos are listening to industry pundits and shaping laws without consulting actual experts or the public.

Even worse, why is some yahoo that thinks evolution is an unprovable theory, global warming doesn't exist and science comes from satan in charge of a country?

Just a completely disgusting situation we have in Canada.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Politicians are weaksauce technologists

When the internet, artificial intelligence, mass surveillance, digital currencies, etc. are challenging folks to educate themselves to participate or deal with these issues, why is it that our governing politicos are listening to industry pundits and shaping laws without consulting actual experts or the public.

You should be able to see the flaw in that logic for yourself... not consulting actual experts would require politicians who would look into a subject and try to understand it, in order to understand if it needs governance and if so how to govern it effectively.

The problem is that they do consult 'experts', you might not agree with their choice of 'expert, but your elected representative does, that's why he/she picked them to be their expert advisor. With the added benefit that if the 'expert' advice which they will take no matter if it makes sense or not, turns out to be a bag of shite, they have at least a degree of plausible deniability about the negative consequences which they couldn't possibly have foreseen, after all their appointed experts couldn't see them.

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Stop

"It's only metadata"

I love the "We aren't breaking laws, we are only collecting metadata. I admit, that if we were recording data, that would be illegal" linguistic yoga.

But, is there a definition of metadata that dos not describe it as a form of data?

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Anthrax

Isn't metadata; Adrian at e-mail address X e-mailed Dianne at e-mail address Y with the subject of Anthrax at such and such time and date(?) - tagged!

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Anonymous Coward

mis-transcription

> [*The Register is almost certain that this is a mis-transcription, and the word Forster used is “node”.]

Actually the word Forster used was "nude" - blame Google's nanny-filter.

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