To catch a mobber, catch a cyber-criminal

About six months back, I wrote a post called To catch a mobber with tips that I hoped would help investigative authorities to help me. My understanding of my situation—being a victim of a real estate mobbing—continues to evolve, especially as I begin to learn more about hacking and the technologies that enable the seamless, end-to-end experience of harassment that those mobbing me strive to deliver. This blog entry offers an idea to the investigator on how forensic evidence of mobbing may be gathered.

A good portion of the harassment that is real estate mobbing, at least that done in my lakeside neighborhood in northeast Seattle, is enabled by cyber-crimes like cyber-stalking. It’s a mash-up of technologies, this real estate mobbing. While most of the longer-distance technologies may be based on types of cyber-stalking, those techniques function equally well in close proximity where, with shortened attack vectors, they are less likely to be detected and can be performed with a reduced level of exposure for a high-end customer base.

Stalking and harassment enabled by wireless network is, no matter how you cut it, a constant theme. And those manufacturers who sell wireless infrastructure and devices have created a hacking free-for-all with their lack of attention to access with privacy. Access with privacy could be a mantra with the same discouraged two-letter acronym assigned the term access point, AP. On being mobbed will in future use the term Access with Privacy with an acronym of AwP.

When the mobbing first started, I did not use a cell phone. The mobbers adapted and used phone phreaking and techniques appropriate to cordless phones to lurk and harass on speaker. These likely included the use of scanners that routinely pick up the insecure signals of cordless phones. I’m not sure how their “party call” attendance on at least my side of phone calls was achieved but every time I picked up the phone, there they were. They also made good use of speakers on the cordless phone base station and handsets to monitor and listen. After seeing the monitor light come on when I entered the bedroom, I packed away the more fully featured cordless phone with caller ID that I’d gotten just a few months before and returned to the 1970s style Bell telephone. When the party continued and my iPod classic finally died, I went to an iPhone. By this time, before I had any knowledge of IMSI catchers, and even before I saw a local contractor for satellite phones working on the lines of one of the mobbing houses, I had few illusions about keeping the iPhone private.

When I got the iPhone, I continued the same strategy of using the minimum amount of connectivity needed to communicate with the outside world. I used restrictive privacy settings that, as of late, I’ve restricted further by setting the phone to accept no phone calls. I did this in case the mobbers are accessing my speakers by silently calling into my phone—of course, I don’t know if that’s possible; I just want to rule out the possibility. I found that keeping the ringer off quiets one means of harassment. I also try to lower the volume of iTunes when I’m done with it and close streaming or other sound applications and these measures seem to produce some positive effect. Generally I keep my location hidden. I additionally set cell phone and wireless services to OFF. I even purchased a shielding case to hide the advertisement of IP and MAC address as much as possible.

Granted, I’m willing to go further than many might to make it hard for the real estate mobbers to do their dirty work. My goal is to last until I can get the scumbucket mobbers arrested, and staying power comes with not letting them run rampant over my devices. If the work of the mobber is to take control of my devices as I wrote in the blog All Your Device Are Belong to Us, my task is to make their work harder for them, to make it harder for them to get to me even when they’re working on the other side of walls in neighboring houses just ten feet away.

Another thing I do is to leave my cell phone off or at home. This mitigates the harassment; it does not stop it. The mobbers will always find another means and will jump from platform to platform to get to you. They often use the cell phones of others. This would be enabled by people who leave their wireless service set to ON all the time. Wireless is the weak point. In public buildings, they can map the network and hop from access point to access point. I’m not sure of the technique behind this yet but I am sure that I hear harassment from speaker-enabled access points nearby. Otherwise, the mobbers use the cell phones of others; this might be enabled by some kind of stalker application or by knowledge of the deployment of access points in the physical location. Or maybe they use an IMSI catcher to pick up identifying information on the smart phones active in an area. They could combine this information with knowledge of my physical location gained by store cameras, for example, to selectively target a cell phone near me for the receipt of harassing statements. Or they could broadcast to a number of phones.

Why isn’t anyone hearing anything besides me? Largely because I have been acculturated to the voices of the harassers and because human beings “tune out” environmental sound that is not of interest. This means that you don’t notice or focus on the fact that the human being near you is being harassed on  the cell phone you leave on for convenience or out of carelessness—the harassing statements have no meaning in your world. And by the by, if  you always leave your phone and wireless enabled, you might want to consider the security of your data. But when it comes to who hears mobbing harassment, there are other factors as well: The mobbers know they’re safe harassing me around people whose hearing might be more limited than mine, especially if they use voices that fall out of the audible range of the potential witness. I recently came across a slew of YouTube videos that estimate your age based on the recorded tones that are audible to you. Resources such as these are likely well used by professional harassers and if your mobbers’ clients are medical professionals, you can count on them being well aware of your age, your health risks, and the limits of your hearing. The awareness of age in mobbing has been obvious in my own case in which whenever I visit an older relative in the Bay Area, the mobbers freely harass me over wireless access point and television speakers. The mobbers also pay attention to ambient noise levels that obscure the harassment for those who are not listening for it. At other times, I’m pretty sure they mix the harassment with a background track to match the target sound track on the television. They also insert harassing statements as overlapping dialog into speech, recorded or real time, when others are nearby.

It has occurred to me that if the Century Link DVR service made a true recording of all sound transmitted to the television tuner and onto the speakers of my television, the signal of the sound track of a recorded film could be compared against the broadcast signal. If the similarities were cancelled out, what was left should be the harassment that “interferes” with the broadcast. Investigators of mobbings using techniques like the one that affects me could use such a technique to obtain forensic evidence from a distance. I do not have external speakers for my television so that should limit the possible methods that can be used to transmit sound that overlaps broadcast and can be modulated using the television sound controls.

In my case, it could be that the technique of harassing using others’ cell phones was a mobbing adaptation required to mob someone who refused to get online, who refused to, as the mobbers continue to demand, “Log on!” But, come to think of it, harassing using the cell phones of others who do not know the voices of the mobbers, do not what mobbing is or what it sounds like, and have no idea that some criminals are attempting to “mob” someone out of their home by harassing on the cell phones of others, may be standard operation for the sneaky and snarky scumbucket mobbers who think they’ll never be caught.

So, to catch a mobber, to catch those mobbing me, don’t just follow me, but keep me close, and keep your cell phone on. Sit behind me at presentations where I move away from speakered access points, follow me down the aisles of stores, look for me between access points and apart from those who sit on public benches without looking up from their devices at the wild bunnies of Redmond or those who walk fingering their devices and falling in front of trains.

Keep your cell phone visible and on. I’m not sure whether every sound that comes off of the speaker of a smart phone can be retrieved by forensic analysis. If it can, so much the better. If it might not be, an investigator should be able to get a white hat to modify the phone with an application that can record even faint sounds and signals that could be audible by an open speaker, an open jack, or any other hardware on the phone that can emit signal as sound. Collect sound without approaching or involving the mobbing victim to reduce the chances that the mobbers will know you’re after them. Through collection and analysis, you should be able to discern the pattern and content of the harassment. Based on my experiences, it seems likely that the pattern you find will represent the method of operation of a group of harassing cyberstalkers who have learned together or taught one another how to harass while evading detection.

By definition, mobbing is monitoring; victims of mobbing may have limited to no privacy. This deprivation of privacy, as well as oppressing the victim, shields criminals and their high-end customers by ensuring that they have detailed information about any contacts between police authorities and reporting victims. Any mobbing victim will be familiarized enough to the harassment so that after the forensic evidence is gathered, he or she can confirm the pattern that must exist to be recognizable to the victim. The mobbing harassment I’ve endured has a definite pattern or semantic that has on occasion reminded me of the Elaine Scarry’s references in The Body in Pain: The making and unmaking of the world to a “nomenclature” of torture and a torturer’s “idiom.” I would suggest that the semantics of mobbing varies from mob to mob depending on the tactics of the harassers and the evolution and duration of the mobbing. In my own case, for example, the entrance of words and phrases into the harassment like “Give us the bot!” and “Log on!” marks specific events in the mobbing and functions as a complement to what are perhaps standard mobbing slings like “You’re the Village Idiot.” In any case, the techniques used to mob me are surely being used by cyber-stalkers to harass others. Catch my mobbers and you will likely catch those who have harmed others and will continue to do so if they are not apprehended.

Ω

As an aside, I attended the Bsides information security conference in Redmond, Washington last weekend on the Microsoft campus, where one white-to-gray hat hacker complained about the FBI’s designation of the crimes achieved over the Internet as “cyber-crime.” My dear FBI, he thinks you should find a better term than “cyber.” As for myself, I just want you to arrest those who at the moment of this writing continue to harass me from neighboring properties, so that I can achieve, as President Warren G. Harding said in the dada year of 1920, “A Return to Normalcy.”

A further note, I just heard loud muffler sounds and went to the window to see if there was anything I should be worrying about. A guy in a black truck with a red baseball cap on had paused behind my vehicle and was taking a picture. When I got to the window, he dropped the camera, toked his cigarette, and drove on.

I love these days of early spring over Lake Washington when every day is a surprise. I imagine I might see the truck again later on, at one of the construction sites up the street. Come on City of Seattle and state and federal investigators, my remaining in my lakeside home and reporting what is going on is making me a sitting duck. You need to take an interest here because I have some novels to write, and not about money-grubbing speculators either. It is reasonable to say that there is a network of people involved in property mobbing that can be connected to those property mobbing me. You can probably haul in a good twenty to thirty people with a productive investigation at this point.  Bring the paddy-wagon. I could use a drink.

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