All your device are belong to us

Tonight I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the mobbers are with me. When I’m here, I stay in the city where I grew up, with an older family member. I tried to tell her, to warn her, in the early months of the mobbing when I believed the hoaxes I heard about them contacting her. In these days, they played back phone calls between she and I, as well as between myself and others. In these days, they seem to have used digital filters or splicing to fake the participating in the mobbing of people I’m pretty sure would never have been involved, my landlords, for example. The goal was pretty clearly to make me think that everyone I’d ever met was “working with” them. At least, this is what they used to say. The police were “working with” them, city officials were “working with” them, even my friends and family, I was to believe, had turned against me.

The sad thing is that the mobbers were so practiced that it’s hard to imagine that they haven’t done such a thing successfully to someone else. This is part of the reason why I have long figured that they got their victim wrong, at least, they got this victim wrong. They saw the strength of the anti-renter sentiment in my neighborhood and knew that no one would come to my aid. They saw some middle-aged single woman and made a bunch of assumptions about how they could “get [me] out.” At least in this, they were wrong. And as I remained and have made a point of trying to expose the felony harassment, including the complete or near-complete deprivation of privacy that I live in, the mobbers wound up in quite the pickle.

That pretty much brings us to today, more than eighteen months after the day-in-day-out harassment called “mobbing” started in an attempt to forcibly evict me from my rental home of what is now more than six years, longer than I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life.

This is tenant clearing, I figure. This is hacking for real estate, the bleeding edge of tenant clearing where the harassment travels with you, where criminal real estate speculators use sneaky dirty tricks to scare tenants out of their homes so that they can force their owners to sell at a favorable price and then tear down and build anew. This is where putting profiteering over affordable housing gets us, to speculators with mentalities the likes of those “badass” and “gangsta” investors at, investors who advocate the use of property violations to convince “reluctant owners” to sell. This is real estate mobbing, cited by the United Nations as a major cause of forced eviction.

But back to the here and now. This “mobbing” uses a blend of techniques that I have slowly been attempting to document here, usually as I am learning about them and my knowledge remains incomplete. But there is clearly a hacking component. And wireless is perhaps one of the weakest links.

As I mentioned in a post this past week, much of this year I worked for a network security company. From where I sit, it was a gratifying experience, interesting on numerous levels, from programming code, to network infrastructure, to enterprise application. The people who hired me were smart people I could relate to, and they were believers. Good people interested in stopping the wrongs that criminal hackers do.

One of the things I concluded from my experience is that “managed” devices are those devices in the enterprise. Security comes first to the corporation. Sure, you and I have software that scans our hard drives and looks for known malware, but this is of limited value in the age of mobility and mobile devices that are considered “unmanaged,” that is, left out of management even within the enterprise. It could scarcely be otherwise with portable devices that eliminate the air-gap between the workplace and home. To manage mobile devices raises an array of privacy questions, including the subsuming of private data by corporate need.

There are numerous obstacles to securing cell phones, for example, not the least of which is the capacity of cell phones to convey information using cellular signals, wireless signals, and to function as personal “hot spots.” And cell phones using wireless access on home or corporate network extend their own vulnerabilities to the network that shares wireless with them.

Comcast is a great example of this. With a service that is fundamentally and by design insecure and based on shared access through public “hotspots,” Comcast gives the criminal hacker a place at the table, yours. And if you’re being mobbed, like me, being forced to use Comcast or any household service that provides a conduit that is so easily abused gives the mobbers a direct “line in” to you.

This is what the mobber wants; remember, mobbing is like the old blockbusting updated with the newest technologies. They used to use “twitterers” to send noise on the water pipes, they can now do that and more. They can sit outside on a shared Comcast line with a packet sniffer and intercept your port 80 (browser) traffic, see your health information, the bills you pay, read your email about your troubles with family and your job. They’re not just in your living room. Heck, they’re in your pants.

You don’t have to know how to hack to put spyware on a cell phone but once its on your cell phone the criminal who put it there gets full access to all your data, as well as the ability to listen to your calls.

But what is most meaningful for the victim of cyberstalking and mobbing, is that cell phone intruders can open applications and control speakers. I haven’t quite worked out whether using a spoofed cell phone tower is what allows the mobbers to play party line with my cell phone, that is, to harass whenever I’m on the phone and, I think, even to send tones to interfere with my use of automated phone systems, but there are supposedly lots of hacks that allow for the control of speakers.

Games with cell phones are nothing new. Think about what much earlier hackers did with phone phreaking. Incidentally, when the mobbing started I did not have a cell phone. So, using the mobbers’ bag of tricks, they phone phreaked me. My cordless phone calls were probably monitored since long before I knew it but suddenly I had a “party line” with one of the mobbing houses. I shut down the cordless base unit when I walked into the bedroom and saw the “Intercom” light lit on one of the stations. When I complained to the Washington State provider I had–Century Link–I had great difficulty working with customer service to even get to someone who know what phone “phreaking” was.

Wireless speakers can also be used as two-way speakers, so far as I understand. And they can be accessed by IP address, which means that a hacker can control the speakers in buildings. Consider the recent impromptu pornography that rolled off of the public address systems in one Target store (

That’s what being mobbed is like. Even now as I type this from the Bay Area on an old laptop, the mobbers are using the speakers and probably accessing them using Comcast wireless technology. Last year when I would come to visit, this house wasn’t nearly so wired. And it was quiet. Then my relative added wireless capabilities to her TV, a second TV, which Comcast handles with wi-fi, a couple of iPads… suddenly there was wireless in every room. Now when I’m here, I have to sneak around unplugging the wireless at night, because the mobbers, knowing that I’m staying with an older relative, either mob more in certain voices of certain pitches or they know they can more safely mob because the older person I stay with now turns up the volume of the TV and radio significantly beyond what a person with normal hearing would do. Basically, what I do, here and at home in Seattle, is disconnect access to speakers. I mean, if a CB radio with a linear antenna can possibly put sound on speakers that are not powered, you need to keep those sine waves out of the house, away from transistors, and away from radios of all kinds.

That said, before leaving the house this morning to fly here, I removed some sound board from my windows to let the house breathe while I’m gone. And now that I have, should you ever have the need to use sound board, while it’s great to measure it to fit tightly into your windows, that’s not the thing to do in a damp climate like Seattle. Instead of having a leisurely bowl of hot chocolate with bread and jam, I had to spend my time this morning using Windex to get the mold that was beginning to grow off of windows and sashes. Word from the wiser, don’t put the sound board against the window panes. Lean it against the windows of the rooms you’re working in and then spend the extra time to take it down and put it up every day. Let the air circulate; let the sun come in. It’s all part of learning how to live in harassment.

Tip to an investigative agency that might finally be taking an interest in me–please, please, please, the holidays are upon us, please get the scumbucket mobbers off of me–I am in the Bay Area at least through Tuesday night. If there’s any way to detect someone sending harassment into the Comcast TV system, please do. When the TV is on, the mobbing is on, and the sound level increases and decreases with the volume. They use other things and if any knowledgable investigator is involved, you probably can figure out how they do it. But anything with a radio, they seem to have it covered.

In Seattle, I used to have Comcast. I hoped the new Century Link fiberoptic service would be more challenging for them to hack. But the TV works off of a wireless card in the router, even though the line is private. And the mobbers haven’t missed a beat. I got the DVR service in hopes of recording the harassment but am not sure whether the recording is off the air or whether the harassment is put into the TV system in a way that the DVR service will record. Also, because I have no quiet room, if I play back a recording with harassment, I can’t be certain whether the harassment is on the recording or is being projected at me in another manner as I listen. Anyway, if you want good forensic proof, you typically need someone qualified to assess these things. I want forensic proof for a criminal investigation. Pretending that I can wholly get that on my own would be like the victim attempting to gather the fingerprints of the thief after a break-in.

The mobbing opened to harassment on my computer, through speakers. Despite having worked in high tech for years, it was disorienting and confusing. The harassment has always included a fair amount of disinformation so, though this post is already much too long to detail the bot hoax, I was led to what was probably a false conclusion, that there was a bot on my machine, a root kit. What did I know from root kits? I’m no hacker. Lots of people in high tech don’t know what a root kit is. I had to explain it again and again to the people I was working with at Microsoft, and to Microsoft Security. You see, I dutifully took great pains to report the situation to Microsoft Security to protect the corporate network from any risk owing to any malware that might have been put onto my computer over the shared Comcast line that even then seemed the greatest point of vulnerability. Can you imagine? Let’s see, what did I say to the woman who finally consented to see me from Microsoft Security? Something like, “I can hear them on my machine”? Or was it, “I hear voices on my machine”?

You can imagine how that went over. Needless to say, my contract of more than two years was ended within weeks.

Anyway, between devices that are left out of management and public utilities and services that are essentially designed without security, the consumer is at the mercy of the hacker, the tenant and the home owner are at the mercy of the real estate mobber. In light of incidents like the use of the Target public address system to play pornography and the growing awareness of cell phones and wireless systems as low-hanging fruit for hackers, corporations are beginning to face the need to at least make decisions about whether and how to manage devices on the premises and not just devices on the network. But consumers who don’t understand the risks they take are forced to use technologies from monopolies that are tantamount to putting your private information on the web. It might even be like making yourself available for monitoring, or mobbing, even if no one is mobbing you.

One last thing before I sign off for the night. I keep going back and forth about whether these are tenant clearers, in other words, criminal speculators or investors who use hacking as one tool in their arsenal, or whether some of these people might really be hackers who find it lucrative to work for real estate speculators. When the whole thing first started, a friend from Microsoft told me that it’s not hard to put a rootkit on a system and I know now that there are a lot of recipes for hacks or software, like spyware, for people who want what hacking can give them without learning hacking. I have to say, I hope it’s the first possibility, that is, criminal real estate speculators just expanding their tool kits to include hacking techniques. You’d think any decent hacker could make more money doing penetration testing with the business interest these days in penetration testing. People who attempt to invade someone’s privacy to find ways to coerce, blackmail and harass them from their homes are psychopaths of a different kind. Either that, or they think whatever money they make is easy money because they will never be caught. Why? Because being hacked, hoaxed, and pranked out of your home is, at least as of yet, not even recognized as a crime.




One response

  1. Pingback: Mobbing and wireless networks: Data in, and data out | On being mobbed: The account of an ongoing bid to harass a legal tenant out of her Seattle neighborhood

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