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Martin, Engineer
Category: General
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Experience:  i'm 41 and i never stopped studying and experimenting
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The origins of Spyware

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hi, im  researching an urban myth concerning  the NSA and the advent of spyware. For a long time there were rumors on the net, which at the time seemed to be mere conspiracy theories, that all the cheap spyware on the market (like eblaster, spy agent, spector pro) were actually developed in secret NSA labs a decade prior. Now such rumors seem more likely true than not. Can any of you tell me or point me to an article or source of information that might have explored this possibility? thank you.


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i have not, but this may not be a question that is answerable, due to the nature of the information, since its likely in government hands alone.


Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX continue to look for a professional to assist you. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance while you wait.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thats okm its unanswerable. thanks anyway.

Hello and welcome. It is indeed answerable as a certitude. That said i can say that no spyware was that special to need the best mind of the country to code them. Many hackers/coders where able to do that kind of spyware. There was lot of buffer overflow security problems in many operating systems and every coder eventually like to try their hands at different things, one day doing music app, demo scene stuff and eventually a virus or a spyware just for the kick of it.

Because at one point, software distribution was mostly done with floppy and CD, future historians will be able to answer this by doing data mining of old CD recovered from dump for special marker algorithm. For all applications distributed by the net, like most purely digital data any evidence will disappear, like tears in the rain.
Martin, Engineer
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 4764
Experience: i'm 41 and i never stopped studying and experimenting
Martin and 33 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

woa, thats good stuff....I am referring to rootkit type spyware, like blaster, or web watcher. the high end stuff that can see everything inthe computer, and take screenshot and send them to an account outside the computer. This question is part of a theory ive been exploring, that the NSA invented it in the labs in the 80s, after a precedent setting case (Turk v US government) basically gave them a green light to intercept our every electronic communication free of concern that they were triggering the wiretap act of 1968 . Although there wasnt much electronic communications in the 70s, they could see the coming internet age. Their hands were tied as to phone tapping, but they had free access to tap the internet lines for decades --so they had an incentive to develop the high end of spyware, such as keyloggers like Webwatcher (which brags it was designed by an ex NSA programmer). These programs were head and shoulders above the normal spyware.So my theory was that the NSA wanted and encouraged the spread ofthis industrial strnght spyware amongst the masses, so that they would essentially have thousands of "field agents" who would surely turn in any intercepted communications on people they were spying upon. And since the NSA would be getting such information second hand, it would not trigger constitutional protections. Kind of a workaround the constitution. Does that stand up to logic, and what ya know of the origins of spyware? .

That is a very possible theory but also a flawed idea seen globally for a country as it promote the loss of technology and trade secret to other countries. The only advantage to do that would be if an agency of the government do things that advantage them to post good result to the main government even if it is incredibly detrimental to all the other department/agencies.

Early, when there was very standardized software, almost similar unix station using VI as text editor and PINE as email client and a bunch of CP/M Z80 machine, it was possible. But as soon as the different systems started in the 90's (atari, amiga, mac, acorn, PC etc...) with new OS version very often, spyware started to need to be very different as in totally different code base. If the NSA was involved at that point it was with the accord or Microsoft to let vulnerability open on purpose (because there was load of them for a long time).

If early spyware was possible for wire tapping and spy games, the modern spyware is to spy customers taste (for ad targeting) and key logger to grab password and credit card numbers (for stealing funds).

Spyware is starting to get obsolete as the computing model is moving to the cloud. Also, take the Xbox-One new Microsoft console, a system with a 3d camera that need to stay connected to the internet to be working and stay calmly into millions of living room, a pure spy dream.

The day after IMB sold their computer division to Chinese Lenovo, a lot mentioned the possibility that the Chinese will recuperate all the business fleet of computer in the world and military computers to hide spyware at the hardware level of all computer manufactured on their territory.

If you have an interest in computer security, you can start to follow the genode project:
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

awesome information...thank you very much!!!

I am glad i was useful to you.

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