Riding the subway in DC, rolling the dice in Vegas, touring NYC? TrapWire is watching you

Big brother is already here. With the latest release from Wikileak’s Global Intelligence Files — 5 million emails hacked by Anonymous from intelligence company, Stratfor – Americans are now aware of TrapWire, an existing sophisticated surveillance system used by the government and many corporations. But before you fret about the government breaking down your door as a consequence of a compromised algorithm, take note: Most people shouldn’t have much to worry about, unless you engage in criminal activities.

Stratfor partnered with TrapWire in August of 2009, to promote each other’s products and services. Stratfor provides the analyses and reports tied to terrorism surveillance and pre-operational activities to TrapWire, while TrapWire has been offering Stratfor introductions to senior security officials. As The Global Intelligence Files emails have indicated, there have been significant discussions regarding TrapWire’s efficacy and the entities that have sought its services.

Through existing CCTV cameras that you’ll find at just about every intersection or a major corporation today, TrapWire’s “TrapWire Critical Infrastructure” can integrate a facial and pattern recognition monitoring rules-based algorithm to collect data over time. The data can be “matched” by TrapWire between the organizations that have installed TrapWire, to identify pre-attack activities hinting at terrorism or criminal activities in different locations. For example, the algorithm will take note of a suspicious individual patrolling a DC area subway, who had appeared to patrol New York City’s subways just a day earlier. Note that New York City subways have been hardened with 500 cameras sporting TrapWire, and is now probably among the last places you’d want to attempt an attack. TrapWire would then alert law enforcement, which would take its own measures to monitor and thwart an attack.

As the emails and TrapWire’s website has indicated, the technology is already prevalent in the United States government, many multinational corporations, and overseas government entities including UK’s MI5 and possibly Nigeria. It’s used by The Department of Homeland Secturity, local law enforcement agencies, the FBI, CIA, U.S. Secret Service, and likely just about every other government security agencies that exist today. In fact, according to an email sent in February 2011 by Stratfor’s CEO, Fred Burton, “TrapWire is in place at every [High Value Target] in NYC, DC, Vegas, London, Ottawa and LA.”

But so far what we can ascertain from the emails is that TrapWire’s existence is not yet all encompassing. Its primary installation efforts have been focused on “iconic targets” or high-value targets for terrorism (including areas for tourism), Federal institutions, followed by locations with mass transportation. Correspondence indicates that TrapWire has been installed in Vegas casinos surveillance systems, in other private companies that can foot the steep bill, and even around the homes of former United States Presidents. But unless you live in a major city, you likely have not yet been subject to being monitored for walking to your local supermarket.

The emails have in fact indicated TrapWire’s successes with upending very real terrorist threats in the United States. For example, TrapWire had uncovered an al Qaeda terrorist plot in September of 2010 when the system connected the dots between suspicious individuals who were surveying a financial institution, an entertainment center and a government building in Los Angeles.

With CCTV cameras just about everywhere, there’s a very real probability that TrapWire could be the sole intelligence system watching our streets. The thought of a computer monitoring your every movement may put you at unease, unless you’re a drug lord or a terrorist, you should probably be more worried about losing your job, or inevitable data plan hikes by Verizon and AT&T. At this point, there’s no evidence that TrapWire has been employed anywhere for non-security purposes.

Does that mean the system is foolproof? Not quite. We’d be more worried that terrorists or criminals will be able to work around the existing systems than an everyday citizen getting caught up in false accusations. For example, an email indicates that all it would take to divert the attention of law enforcement would be to paint oxygen canisters with the yellow and black radioactive symbol.

In this day and age, we may have to come to grips with the reality that we’re going to be monitored 24/7 – if not by the government, then by the corporations that have purchased similar, more affordable surveillance and facial recognition technologies.

Product Review

Packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a breeze

With an integrated spotlight, crystal-clear video, and color night vision, this device makes home security a cinch. Here's why we like the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired as a great choice for outdoor home security.
Smart Home

Ring adds color night vision to wired security devices and HDR to wireless ones

Ring rolled out color night vision to its wired security products with cameras such as the Spotlight Cam Wired. At the same time, Ring added HDR control to its battery-powered security devices including the Video Doorbell 2.
Smart Home

Abode Systems taps HelloTech for professional security system installations

Abode Systems has been expanding into the smart home security market and will enhance its technology with a new partnership with tech support firm HelloTech, which will install its security systems for a fee.
Computing

500px reveals almost 15 million users are caught up in security breach

Almost 15 million members of portfolio website 500px have been caught up in a security breach. The hack occurred in 2018 but was only discovered last week. Users are being told to change their 500px password as soon as possible.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.
Emerging Tech

InSight’s heat probe will dig 16 feet beneath the surface of Mars

New images from NASA's InSight mission to Mars have confirmed that the lander succeeded in setting the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument onto the surface, from where a self-hammering spike will burrow downwards.
Emerging Tech

White spots on Ceres are evidence of ancient ice volcanoes erupting

Scientists are pouring over data collected by NASA's Dawn mission to learn about the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright white spots observed at the bottom of impact craters. They believe that these spots are evidence of ice volcanoes.
Emerging Tech

NASA to launch SPHEREx mission to investigate the origins of our universe

NASA is launching an ambitious mission to map the entire sky to understand the origins of the universe. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer (SPHEREx) mission will launch in 2023.
Emerging Tech

Probes exploring Earth’s hazardous radiation belts enter final phase of life

The Van Allen probes have been exploring the radiation belts around Earth for seven years. Now the probes are moving into the final phase of their exploration, coming closer to Earth to gather more data before burning up in the atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

How can digital art created on obsolete platforms be preserved?

As the lines between art and technology continue to blur, digital art experiences become more commonplace. But these developments are raising an important question for art conservationists: How should digital artworks be preserved?