“The Mask”

A lot of discussion revolves around the subject of harm versus good when it comes to advanced technology.  A great deal of this sort of discussion inevitably deals with spying.  Anything from our cell phones being tapped to wired internet searches, there is no doubt that technology has affected our privacy.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Kaspersky Lab security researchers released details about a secret, spying organization known as “The Mask.”  The official name of the Spanish-speaking group is “Careto” which translates to “The Mask.”

Kaspersky Lab is an international computer security company based out of Russia.  Researchers at Kaspersky Lab first discovered “The Mask” through emails the spy organization was sending to random users.  “The Mask” would send out emails with fake links to major sites.  The links would install malware to the receiving computers that allowed “The Mask” to obtain documents like encryption keys.

 

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According to researchers, “The Mask” has been operating since 2007.  The purpose of the group is not exactly clear.  They are likely working for a government.   This can be inferred due to the group’s advanced operations.  The big unknown in the situation is the nation that they are working for.

Kaspersky Lab researchers began their investigation on “The Mask” about a year ago.  Last week, as Kaspersky Lab’s report was being published, “The Mask” went offline and discontinued their operations.  It is possible and likely that the group will come back and do things a little differently so it will take new efforts to detect the actions of “The Mask.”

Most people are aware that their internet searches may not be private and their calls could be tapped, but Kaspersky Lab’s report brings this issue to a new level – our level.  The ethics behind this kind of spying is a major debate, but possibly, out of our control.  As technology advances, who knows how far spying could be taken and how much privacy we will be entitled to.

 

By Bridget Devine

Resources

O’Brien, C. (2014, February 10). Meet “The Mask”: Possibly world’s most advanced computer spy outfit. chicagotribune.com. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-meet-the-mask-possibly-worlds-most-advanced-cyberspy-outfit-20140210,0,7781938.story

4 thoughts on ““The Mask”

  1. Bridget, I completely agree. It’s like what we talked about in class last week: we are entering an age where people are forced to choose between privacy and comfort. One of the problems of using a laptop, the Internet, or even a cell phone is that the information that can be retrieved from them can be accessed somehow. Furthermore, people are more vulnerable to deception is a scary thing to think about.

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  2. I also find the debate between privacy and comfort a tricky one. With this particular example, individuals have to click on the link in the email, and so the process of being spied on still has some responsibility on the user (clicking on that link.) However, as the user has less and less agency over how much information they share, either willingly or unwillingly, the more unethical the process becomes.

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  3. It’s interesting that most of these technologies are used to protect us against potential harm, but most of the time, I find these invasions of privacy to be threatening. While most of us know that we’re being monitored, it doesn’t feel real unless it’s completely proven. We’re being manipulated into handing over personal information due to our societal dependency on technology.

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  4. This is a really great blog post. Of course I want to feel safe but part of that feeling of personal safety is privacy. Groups like “The Mask” freaks me out a bit.

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