Computer experts warns against wiretapping programs

Computer experts warns against wiretapping programs

December 29, 2008, Monday/ 17:44:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
Head of the Computer Engineering Department of Gazi University, Professor Şeref Sağıroğlu, warned against the high risk of being bugged in Turkey and the abundance of wiretapping programs used to this end."Wiretapping programs are ordered over the Internet in Turkey. They are sent to your address for $45. Anybody may find computer keyboards used for bugging purposes for YTL 800. Wiretapping earphones are only YTL 1,200. There are more than 500 wiretapping programs in Internet and can be downloaded for free," Sağıroğlu claimed while briefing a parliamentary commission established to examine allegations that a top Republican People's Party (CHP) member had been bugged.

The commission was established in July, shortly after the Vakit daily's publication of a transcript of a private meeting that CHP Secretary-General Önder Sav held in his office. Though Sav claimed that his office had been bugged, his allegations were proven false when phone records showed that his cell phone had remained connected to Vakit headquarters for 42 minutes, until the cell phone battery ran out or the phone was switched off. Sav had forgotten to disconnect a call on his cell phone, inadvertently allowing the Vakit reporter on the other end of the line to take note of everything he had said during a conversation he was having with a visitor.

Sağıroğlu termed wiretapping activities as a form of "passive attack on the privacy of individuals." He also informed the commission on how to protect individuals against being bugged.

"Wiretappers in our day attack people's privacy in a coordinated way. There are various wiretapping programs widely used in Turkey. Among these are placement of a wiretapping bug in keyboards. I recommend you to be careful about computers given to you as a present," he stated.

Sağıroğlu went on to tell that keyboards with wiretapping bugs enables wiretappers to obtain the person's computer password, which finally leads them to have access to the his or her all personal documents. Such bugs even enables wiretappers to capture images of the medium the computer is placed in through the computer's camera, if there is one. These bugs work in such a professional manner that it is almost impossible to be aware of their existence. They have the capacity to protect themselves. You have no chance to detect them unless you are a real computer professional," Sağıroğlu remarked.

He also said the wiretapping programs may be used for beneficial purposes. "For example, a boss may control what his workers are doing on their computers during the day. Almost 80 percent of bosses do it in the United States. People also use these programs to be sure whether they are being cheated by their spouses. Many couples do this. I even know spouses writing in Internet forums about their wiretapping experience. They either say they are happy to have used these programs because they no longer doubt the loyalty of their spouses or they say they want to get divorced as soon as possible because they discovered, after using these programs, that their spouses were cheating them," Sağıroğlu added.

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