News MalwareBytes Identifies 'Unremovable' Malware on US Government-Funded Phones

joeblowsmynose

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US Government: "Are we still not tracking everything, every single one of our citizens, says does and thinks yet?"

CIA: "Well for middle and upper class its easy, because they all voluntarily use all the social media platforms on their phones that we collect data from, so we can track them individually, but lower class people don't have mobile phones because they can't affor..."

US Government: "Well give them some damn phones then!"
 

bit_user

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which receives subsidies from the U.S. government to offer discounted cellular service to low-income Americans
Huh? The US government subsidizes cell phone service for the poor? Why is my BS detector acting up? I've never heard of such a thing.
 
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bit_user

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The FEDERAL UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND (FUSF) which is added to each phone's bill funds the low income program.
Huh. I wondered how that could've gotten through both Congress & the PotUS, any time in the past decade. But, I see that it happened more than two decades ago:

The FCC established the fund in 1997 in compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Also, I forgot that the telecoms lobby probably backed it. They get practically whatever they want.
 

joeblowsmynose

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Huh? The US government subsidizes cell phone service for the poor? Why is my BS detector acting up? I've never heard of such a thing.
All you have to do is ask "is there any reason that the US gov't might be motivated to do this?" (give people phones with tracking malware) ... if the answer is "yes" then it probably is true.

Wars are fought with information these days, and the "peace loving" masses are seen as the enemy these days just as much as after the Vietnam war. We all know the alphabet agencies are collecting all the data they can so as to gain or keep an upper hand in this info "war". So there is motivation.

Or, it could be that the telcoms companies are doing it for their own "data collection reasons"(whatever that might be), or, the hardware the are peddling for this progam was implanted with the malware at the factory, in China or something, for their spying purposes.

But considering the Gov't is specifically funding these specific phones, I'd say option one has decent chance of being true.
 

bit_user

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All you have to do is ask "is there any reason that the US gov't might be motivated to do this?" (give people phones with tracking malware) ... if the answer is "yes" then it probably is true.
That's very much how conspiracy theories get started. Conflict of interest does not imply collusion. It might give you cause to look for collusion, but it cannot be taken as proof.

You also have to ask who else would benefit from this, such as the carrier, themselves.

the "peace loving" masses are seen as the enemy these days just as much as after the Vietnam war.
In the case of propaganda, they can very much be the weapons used to swing elections or otherwise influence public policy.

We all know the alphabet agencies are collecting all the data they can so as to gain or keep an upper hand in this info "war". So there is motivation.
No, we don't all know that. How do you "know" that? What is your evidence?

Or, it could be that the telcoms companies are doing it for their own "data collection reasons"(whatever that might be), or, the hardware the are peddling for this progam was implanted with the malware at the factory, in China or something, for their spying purposes.
IMO, these are most likely.

Another possibility is that a hacker inserted the malware, possibly by attacking the systems of the cell phone carrier.
 

joeblowsmynose

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That's very much how conspiracy theories get started. Conflict of interest does not imply collusion. It might give you cause to look for collusion, but it cannot be taken as proof.
I never said it was proof, but it might be strongly supporting evidence. Every crime evaluation needs a component of "motivation".

You also have to ask who else would benefit from this, such as the carrier, themselves.
I did indeed include that possibility in my post, and also one of China spying, which you would easily believe, but somehow not believe that US spies on people? Interesting ...

In the case of propaganda, they can very much be the weapons used to swing elections or otherwise influence public policy.
And so the government just stands by and watches this "weaponized swinging"? Or does the "two party democratic" system have interest in trying to use people in the same way to swing votes with both info and disinfo campaigns. Is this not how US politics works? Are not poilitical "attack ads", often brimming with lies and disinfo, the "weaponization" of voters to meet the ends of the party's goals? Its the exact same strategy. Governments are just upset that others are now catching on to this manipulation strategy and also using it.

If you have two hours, this guy is effing brilliant and he breaks down the use, but mostly abuse of information in this day in age. The guy really sees it and says it like it is ... the entire "information ecology" is almost exclusively used for manipulation these days, from individuals and their "social" interactions. all the way to whole countries and everything in between. (trust me I think you'll like this, its definitely geared toward more intelligent people)

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LqaotiGWjQ


No, we don't all know that. How do you "know" that? What is your evidence?
Let me help with that then ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_surveillance_in_the_United_States

Perhaps scrolling down there, the NSA's "Infiltration of smart phones" section might be of use. I find Wikipedia articles are often a heavily watered down version of reality, but this is a good start.

An excerpt: "According to the document, the NSA has set up task forces assigned to several smartphone manufacturers and operating systems, including Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iOS operating system, as well as Google's Android mobile operating system.[119] Similarly, Britain's GCHQ assigned a team to study and crack the BlackBerry.[119] "

There's literally hundreds of articles on the topic ...
https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/8/20905678/fbi-violated-americans-privacy-rights-court-ruling-fisc-surveillance-nsa


I think it was actually a US president that once said: "The grandest conspiracy of all, is one so unbelievable, that no one would ever believe it could be true" -- I'm not sure he if he was referring to some existing "conspiracy" scenario, or if it was guidance. Either way, interesting ... and a true sentiment.
 
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bit_user

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I'm putting my money on "current ultra-pro-business government allows it because its allowing telecoms to profit off the poor."
The only problem I see with that, is that it presumes they even asked. I think they probably just did it, as there's likely nothing in their government contract that would prevent it.

I wonder if non-classified government contracts can be obtained through FoIA requests...
 

bit_user

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I never said it was proof, but it might be strongly supporting evidence. Every crime evaluation needs a component of "motivation".
It's not evidence, but rather a motive. Most of us have a motive to steal money, but most of us don't do it. A motive barely gets you out of bed, in the morning.

I did indeed include that possibility in my post, and also one of China spying, which you would easily believe, but somehow not believe that US spies on people? Interesting ...
I didn't say it was China - just agreeing that the production line was a plausible opportunity for some malicious actor (hacker, etc.) to get the malware inserted. No idea who it is, or what's their objective. I doubt if it was a Chinese State actor, as that would be a pretty bold move that I'm not sure they'd consider worth the risk. It could be just someone trying to steal credit card numbers or running a botnet on these phones.

And, in fact, the US Constitution is quite clear that the government is not allowed to do it. And while Snowden found 4th Amendment violations, that doesn't mean it now happens on a whim. Government employees all take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and I trust that most of them hold true to their word. If not, then nonsense like this tends to get found out, and hopefully litigated to expose the perpetrators and hold them to account.

And so the government just stands by and watches this "weaponized swinging"? Or does the "two party democratic" system have interest in trying to use people in the same way to swing votes with both info and disinfo campaigns.
I think you're confusing straight-forward political advertising with disinformation campaigns that pretend to be something else. Paid political ads are supposed to indicate themselves as such, and identify what candidate or organization put them out. I presume that means campaigns can't employ bot nets or professional trolls, but I don't know if that's ever been tried in court. Maybe we'll get to find out, this year.

Is this not how US politics works? Are not poilitical "attack ads", often brimming with lies and disinfo, the "weaponization" of voters to meet the ends of the party's goals? Its the exact same strategy. Governments are just upset that others are now catching on to this manipulation strategy and also using it.
Anyway, candidates aren't supposed to use government resources for campaigning. So, that should largely rule out the US government sponsoring trolling of its own people.

If you have two hours, this guy is effing brilliant and he breaks down the use, but mostly abuse of information in this day in age.
I don't watch conspiracy-tube videos. Once you start down that rabbit hole, pretty soon you end up in a world unrecognizable to our own.

Here's a good BBC podcast, on the subject:



Perhaps scrolling down there, the NSA's "Infiltration of smart phones" section might be of use. I find Wikipedia articles are often a heavily watered down version of reality, but this is a good start.
You've got to check the sources on that stuff. As you know, people believe some pretty weird things, and then they can go edit a wikipedia page. So, I mostly cite Wikipedia on non-controversial subjects.

Yes, that's why the NSA's mass-surveillance is bad. However, it's not what you were suggesting. You said:

We all know the alphabet agencies are collecting all the data they can so as to gain or keep an upper hand in this info "war". So there is motivation.

Which is something different than this was. It wasn't the FBI trying to enact some propaganda plot - they were using the database for their criminal investigations. That's still not okay (the court upheld their use of it without a warrant), but it doesn't back up your point about them being nefarious.

That's exactly the sort of thing these conspiracy nuts do - they muddy the water. When they get some loosely-related evidence, they try to use it to back up points that it doesn't support. And they try to make up in quantity what they lack in quality, which doesn't work. If I give you 100 bad arguments to back up a claim, the claim is still only as valid as the strongest argument I gave. All of the others are just noise.
 

King_V

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The only problem I see with that, is that it presumes they even asked. I think they probably just did it, as there's likely nothing in their government contract that would prevent it.

I wonder if non-classified government contracts can be obtained through FoIA requests...
I'd agree with that. I mean, call me a bit of a cynic, but I give it roughly even odds that they either just did it, and the too-business-friendly politicians noticed, and politely looked away... or they had the balls to ask/demand, and the too-business-friendly politicians agreed.

And then shouted "Exploitative policies FTW, FUN, AND GODDAMN PROFIT!!" while slamming Red Bulls. Or speed balls? I don't really know, neither one of those is my thing.
 

joeblowsmynose

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I don't watch conspiracy-tube videos. Once you start down that rabbit hole, pretty soon you end up in a world unrecognizable to our own.
What I shared is the exact opposite of anything conspiracy related. Its about making sense of the world around us within an information ecology that is almost entirely strategic.

Nothing to do with anything "conspiracy" - its so far above that its not funny. I don't work in the realm of "conspiracies" but in the realm of "sensemaking". The term "conspiracy" has been weaponized in itself to assist in preventing people from asking hard questions and getting to the truth. There's a lot of kooks out there - I wholeheartedly agree.

I see my intentions are being misunderstood here. Sorry.
 

bit_user

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What I shared is the exact opposite of anything conspiracy related.
Okay, maybe I read too much into what you were saying.

Nothing to do with anything "conspiracy" - its so far above that its not funny. I don't work in the realm of "conspiracies" but in the realm of "sensemaking". The term "conspiracy" has been weaponized in itself to assist in preventing people from asking hard questions and getting to the truth.
If you want to get to the truth, try to stay rooted in the facts and try to resist flights of fancy.

I see my intentions are being misunderstood here. Sorry.
No need to apologize. I don't claim to know your intentions, but I can tell you that I don't agree with statements like:

We all know the alphabet agencies are collecting all the data they can so as to gain or keep an upper hand in this info "war".

I don't believe there's good evidence to support this conclusion.

I honestly believe the NSA collected surveillance data on US citizens in their attempts to prosecute the war on terror, and that the FBI merely utilized this data to go after criminals.

However, having this data around certainly creates the opportunity for abuses (i.e. worse than what the FBI did). That's why I'm opposed to it - because it can and quite possibly will be abused, as long as it exists.
 

joeblowsmynose

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I honestly believe the NSA collected surveillance data on US citizens in their attempts to prosecute the war on terror, and that the FBI merely utilized this data to go after criminals.

However, having this data around certainly creates the opportunity for abuses (i.e. worse than what the FBI did). That's why I'm opposed to it - because it can and quite possibly will be abused, as long as it exists.
The court cases already show this abuse ... and just because there isn't a public court case to show it, certainly doesn't mean it isn't happening ... it was happening in secret all they until they get caught ... so to think that things happening in secret don't happen because you don't know about it is a logical fallacy. There's no way these gaencies are collecting all this data without using to what they perceive as their fullest advantage ... that would be inefficient and not becoming of such an agency.

I think you got me completely wrong. If you watched 15 minutes of that video you would see that.

Almost nothing is truly as it seems ... Take Christian celebrations for example ... Christmas and Easter. Great "Christian" celebrations .. right? They are Pagan celebrations. Christmas is Saturnalia - the Pagan celebration of lighting lights and giving gifts, at the winter solstice. Easter is the celebration of the Pagan goddess Estore, the goddess of fertility - hence why bunnies and eggs are associated with Easter. These two celebrations outdate the Christian religion completely. (ok maybe you are atheist and not surprised, but to 99% of people this is "blasphemous conspiracy theories!")

So who would believe such a "conspiracy"? Maybe those educated enough to know better? Algebra is "conspiracy" to those who don't have any grasp of it.

The very swift and dismissive labeling of people as "conspiracy theorists" without actually considering what they might have to say first, or allowing them to explain or answer questions on the topic does not much more than allow people to fervently deny that which they don't know anything about, but would have a hard time believing - only to the benefit and protection of those involved in real conspiracies.

You didn't believe that Alphabet agencies spied on people (or collect their data) -- the court case with the FBI I presented proved it (along with many others and ongoing court cases, and Ed Snowdens leak, and many other sources)-- it wasn't a "conspiracy theory", it was just info you didn't have ...

I'm not saying kooks don't exist (like flat earthers) ... they certainly do.
 
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bit_user

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so to think that things happening in secret don't happen because you don't know about it is a logical fallacy.
To think that things are happening just because you don't know that they aren't is a logical fallacy. If you're unburdened by the need for proof, you can believe anything you want. That might be fine for you, but not me.

There's no way these gaencies are collecting all this data without using to what they perceive as their fullest advantage ... that would be inefficient and not becoming of such an agency.
You've been watching too many movies, or something. That's not how the US government actually works. Agencies can't just engage in public disinformation campaigns, because they think it might make them more effective. There's no legal basis for that. If anyone even tried it, it would not remain secret.

I think you got me completely wrong. If you watched 15 minutes of that video you would see that.
I've seen enough conspiracy-tube videos to know what garbage they are. That stuff can rot your brain, if you're not careful.

Social media moderators have been known to start believing in all sorts of conspiracy theories, just as a consequence of watching enough of that stuff.

Almost nothing is truly as it seems ... Take Christian celebrations for example ... Christmas and Easter.
What does this have to do with anything?

Guess what? Santa Clause is also a hoax. But, that doesn't mean the NSA is actually a cybercrime syndicate. It doesn't mean anything about the NSA, in fact. They're quite simply unrelated.

So who would believe such a "conspiracy"?
Like I said, if you want to know the truth, follow the facts and avoid the lure of flights of fancy. A lot of times, it can be difficult cultivate a BS detector, unless you have some context or related knowledge. If you're not involved in government or don't at least spend a lot of time following it, then you pretty much have to trust people who do, and who have some track record of credible reporting. In all of this, the mainstream media is not the enemy you think it is. Plenty of news organizations have a long track record of reporting on government abuses - they're not afraid to do that. But, they usually have the expertise and put in the work to make sure the facts are straight and make sense, before publishing or broadcasting the story.

People who attack the media most vigorously are usually those most threatened by its credibility. Usually crackpots and autocrats. Fortunately, the Founders were wise to protect the media, in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. That should tell you something. Not to say they're perfect, but they do get an undeservedly bad rap (broadly speaking).

Algebra is "conspiracy" to those who don't have any grasp of it.
As an argument, that falls completely flat. I mean, it's as valid as knowing about the Star Wars universe. Some people know about it, while others don't. That doesn't make it any more true or real.

The very swift and dismissive labeling of people as "conspiracy theorists" without actually considering what they might have to say first,
I did. You said:

We all know the alphabet agencies are collecting all the data they can so as to gain or keep an upper hand in this info "war".

I don't agree with that. It does not comport with the reality I know. You could choose to have a victim complex about it, or your could choose to re-examine your beliefs. It's not the same as skin color, or some other genetic trait. You can control what you believe, but not what others think about it.

If you're going to embrace some fringe beliefs, know that most people won't agree with you and that's what makes it fringe. I think most of these fringe types get a superiority complex out of thinking that they're the 1% who know the real truth, and everybody else is just lemmings. That's the allure of conspiracy theories - It's like a short-cut to feeling like an elitist. You get the feeling of knowing the rules that govern the universe, without having to put in all the hard work of learning chemistry, physics, mathematics, law, etc.

I'm not necessarily talking about you - just my theory about "fringe types", in general.

You didn't believe that Alphabet agencies spied on people (or collect their data)
Don't put words in my mouth. What I said I didn't believe is that "the alphabet agencies are collecting all the data they can so as to gain or keep an upper hand in this info 'war'."

I'd need some really solid proof of that, and part of that proof is that it's being handled in the appropriate ways and eliciting the expected sorts of reactions.

It's kind of like the old saying "pics or it didn't happen". Well, if nobody is blowing the whistle about it and telling Congress, then it's probably not happening. If Congress knew about it, they'd be going bonkers, because just imagine what Trump could do with something like that. And there are just too many people to keep the lid on something so big.

I'm not saying kooks don't exist (like flat earthers) ... they certainly do.
Just because there's someone more extreme doesn't mean that your position is suddenly reasonable.
 

bit_user

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There's no way these gaencies are collecting all this data without using to what they perceive as their fullest advantage ... that would be inefficient and not becoming of such an agency.
It occurred to me that I'm not sure how well you know your civics. So, here's how the US Federal Government works, at a very simplistic level.

  1. The Constitution sets forth the authorities and constraints of Government.
  2. Congress (House + Senate) passes bills that become laws by either being passed by veto-proof margins or being signed by the President.
  3. The President is the head of the Executive branch, which means he runs all of the Federal Agencies that Congress created. The Executive must adhere to the laws passed by Congress and receives its funding from Congress.
  4. Within the scope of the laws, the Executive Branch can set further rules and prioritize enforcement of the laws.
  5. If a law seems unconstitutional, or the Federal Government breaks a law, then a state or individual can try the case in court. Since judges tend to respect the decisions reached in prior cases, a legal precedent is built up around how various laws are interpreted.
  6. Congress has oversight powers, and can (normally) subpoena documents and witnesses to testify under oath. These investigations then inform further legislation and potentially impeachment.
Nowhere in that does it allow for government agencies simply to do whatever would make them more efficient, nor is this the standard by people judge what's "becoming of such an agency".

As I said, above, government employees all take an oath to defend the Constitution - not the President, or any other politician. Generally speaking, people in government do not go outside the law, because it could end badly for them, if they do.

Yes, there are abuses - some of them are even quite troubling. If you care about this sort of thing, let your Representative and Senators know that you want stronger whistle-blower protections.
 
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joeblowsmynose

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To think that things are happening just because you don't know that they aren't is a logical fallacy. If you're unburdened by the need for proof, you can believe anything you want. That might be fine for you, but not me.


You've been watching too many movies, or something. That's not how the US government actually works. Agencies can't just engage in public disinformation campaigns, because they think it might make them more effective. There's no legal basis for that. If anyone even tried it, it would not remain secret.


I've seen enough conspiracy-tube videos to know what garbage they are. That stuff can rot your brain, if you're not careful.

Social media moderators have been known to start believing in all sorts of conspiracy theories, just as a consequence of watching enough of that stuff.


What does this have to do with anything?

Guess what? Santa Clause is also a hoax. But, that doesn't mean the NSA is actually a cybercrime syndicate. It doesn't mean anything about the NSA, in fact. They're quite simply unrelated.


Like I said, if you want to know the truth, follow the facts and avoid the lure of flights of fancy. A lot of times, it can be difficult cultivate a BS detector, unless you have some context or related knowledge. If you're not involved in government or don't at least spend a lot of time following it, then you pretty much have to trust people who do, and who have some track record of credible reporting. In all of this, the mainstream media is not the enemy you think it is. Plenty of news organizations have a long track record of reporting on government abuses - they're not afraid to do that. But, they usually have the expertise and put in the work to make sure the facts are straight and make sense, before publishing or broadcasting the story.

People who attack the media most vigorously are usually those most threatened by its credibility. Usually crackpots and autocrats. Fortunately, the Founders were wise to protect the media, in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. That should tell you something. Not to say they're perfect, but they do get an undeservedly bad rap (broadly speaking).


As an argument, that falls completely flat. I mean, it's as valid as knowing about the Star Wars universe. Some people know about it, while others don't. That doesn't make it any more true or real.


I did. You said:


I don't agree with that. It does not comport with the reality I know. You could choose to have a victim complex about it, or your could choose to re-examine your beliefs. It's not the same as skin color, or some other genetic trait. You can control what you believe, but not what others think about it.

If you're going to embrace some fringe beliefs, know that most people won't agree with you and that's what makes it fringe. I think most of these fringe types get a superiority complex out of thinking that they're the 1% who know the real truth, and everybody else is just lemmings. That's the allure of conspiracy theories - It's like a short-cut to feeling like an elitist. You get the feeling of knowing the rules that govern the universe, without having to put in all the hard work of learning chemistry, physics, mathematics, law, etc.

I'm not necessarily talking about you - just my theory about "fringe types", in general.



Don't put words in my mouth. What I said I didn't believe is that "the alphabet agencies are collecting all the data they can so as to gain or keep an upper hand in this info 'war'."

I'd need some really solid proof of that, and part of that proof is that it's being handled in the appropriate ways and eliciting the expected sorts of reactions.

It's kind of like the old saying "pics or it didn't happen". Well, if nobody is blowing the whistle about it and telling Congress, then it's probably not happening. If Congress knew about it, they'd be going bonkers, because just imagine what Trump could do with something like that. And there are just too many people to keep the lid on something so big.


Just because there's someone more extreme doesn't mean that your position is suddenly reasonable.
Once again the video has literally absolutely nothing to do with anything conspiracy in the least, nor is promoting conspiracy theories my point.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic though.
 

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