The Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI, as they are more commonly known, is notorious for their covert surveillance activities which have frequently caused public outcries. The Bureau’s history with Magic Lantern is one such example. Soon after the arrest of crime boss Nicodemo S. Scarfo in 1999, the agency, which was previously thought to have the best interest of citizens at heart, began development of Magic Lantern when it realized it needed a more comprehensive monitoring solution to aid in their investigations of harassment, extortion and identity theft.
After rumors of a surveillance tool began circling, the FBI confirmed the existence of Magic Lantern – a name given to a powerful monitoring software but denied it use. However, these claims were proven false when official FBI documents presented in a court of law proved that the Bureau had been prolifically using Magic Lantern, with its use peaking in 2005.
The documents stated that the software could be remotely installed without the knowledge of the user and used e-mail attachments as its primary method of infiltration. Upon activation of the PGP encryption, the software becomes operational and places a Trojan horse onto the target system, which instantly starts logging operating system activities. Magic Lantern was also found to be capable of monitoring IP addresses, TCP/UDP ports, Web browsing history as well as storing usernames and passwords that are saved on the computer.
Another shocking discovery came in the form of security giants McAfee and Norton who were found to be working closely with the FBI and placed a backdoor in their antivirus solutions so that Magic Lantern could pass through unrestricted. This revelation led Magic Lantern to become a part of CIPAV and was subsequently banned from use by the court in 2013.
Take a look at this infographic for more info.