(On July 19, 2008, Steven Rambam, Pallorium's Senior Director, was honored to be a featured speaker at the "Hackers On Planet Earth" (H.O.P.E.) convention. Mr. Rambam spoke on privacy and investigative issues to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 1,500 people, with a video feed to a second room containing an additional overflow crowd. The bi-annual H.O.P.E. conventions, sponsored by 2600 Magazine, are attended by thousands of investigative and computer experts and enthusiasts. During the seminar, Mr. Rambam also announced the upcoming publication of "Stealing Your Own Identity", a book co-authored with Rick Dakan.)

Steven Rambam at The Last Hope

Steven Rambam speaking at The Last Hope
crowd attending speech at The Last Hope Steven Rambam, Reggie Montgomery and Rick Dakan during Q&A session

(L - Steven Rambam speaking / C - HOPE audience / R - Steven Rambam, Reggie Montgomery and Rick Dakan during Q&A session)


(Excerpts of related media coverage.)

"... Avatars beware: Private investigators scouring Second Life (REUTERS)

Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:13pm PDT

Be careful, that avatar on your sim could be a real-life private investigator, sent in to report on what you’re up to in your Second Life.

Last weekend, veteran private investigator Steven Rambam of detective firm Pallorium came to New York to give a talk about privacy and investigation techniques at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference. After Rambam told attendees how he tracked down one target inside Second Life, Reuters caught up with the private detective to find out what happened.

Rambam’s client told him this story: Twenty years ago as a child, he had been molested by one of his grade school teachers, a trauma he never fully recovered from. “The client believes/d that pedophiles don’t ‘retire’ — I absolutely agree — and he wanted to prevent the target from molesting anyone else,” Rambam said in an email. “We were retained to investigate, gather evidence, and if evidence was found then convince the target to retire from teaching.”

So Rambam started looking into his target — now an assistant principal — and discovered the man was a Second Life user. Pallorium investigators logged into Second Life and tracked down the man’s avatar, only to discover his Second Life identity was a leather-clad dominatrix (pictured below).

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. “The avatar by itself would not have been conclusive evidence of anything,” Rambam said. “The most significant evidence that we gathered was collected old-school: we identified other possible victims, interviewed them, and one person told a story very similar to what we’d heard from our client.”

But Second Life users should be aware, Rambam noted, that investigators are increasingly well-versed at using the virtual world.

Rambam caught a lucky break in tracking down the man. When Kevin Alderman hired private investigators to track the real-life identity of avatar Volkov Catteneo, Alderman had to work from IP addresses. Without giving away the tricks of his trade, Rambam said he came across his target’s avatar name “during a very preliminary phase of our investigation.” ...".

The Last Hope - July 19, 2008

"...July 20, 2008

The Internet -- a private eye's best friend (CNET)

(CNET: Elinor Mills)

NEW YORK -- For private investigator Steven Rambam, the Internet is his most valuable tool in helping to find missing persons and your competitor's dirty secrets

(PHOTO: Steven Rambam, director of investigative agency Pallorium, tells the crowd at the Last HOPE conference that "privacy is dead.")

But while the intelligence business is booming, individuals are losing the battle to protect their privacy with every blog post, Google Web search and online photo, Rambam, director of the Pallorium investigative agency, said in a keynote session late on Saturday at the Last HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference.

"Anything you put on the Internet will be grabbed, indexed, cataloged and out of your control before you know it," he told CNET News after the session. "The genie is out of the bottle. Data doesn't stay in one location. It migrates to hundreds of places."

Information that he used to have to search for or dig up in far away places is now available at his fingertips. All types of information is being digitized, older stuff is being scanned and put online and it's all being aggregated into uber-databases that are being sold to marketers, government agencies and anyone else who can pay, he said.

Rambam says he searches on social networks to find photos of what people he is researching look like, the first step in any investigation. He gets a lot of other vital data from those sites, like hometown, age, relationship status, school and work history, hobbies, and friends and acquaintances to interview. With Twitter, he can often see where they are right now, or at least in the recent archived past. ... " .

The Last Hope - July 19, 2008

Radar O'Reilly (Tech Blog)

"...I made the trek to a steamy hot NYC this weekend to attend one day of the three day Last HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference at the Hotel Pennsylvania. There was too much going to adequately cover it here (or even take it all in), but a few things stood out.

Steve Rambam's eye opening talk on the death of privacy for example. For a solid three hours in front of a standing room only crowd he weaved back and forth between the Orwellian theme of how our privacy is being ripped from us by everyone from Google to Choicepoint and the theme that seemed even creepier to him, self contribution. Over and over he expressed disbelief at how willingly we post our personal details everywhere from Twitter to Facebook while thanking us all the while for making his job as a private investigator that much easier. What the marketers and government don't actively take, we actively give. Naturally I twittered the whole thing.

Cell phone tracking; artificial-intelligence-assisted reality mining; 3000 cameras per square mile in Manhattan; facial, activity, and even gait identification software; government outsourced investigative databases shielded from FOIA requests; UAV-based license plate scanners; beating anonymity by correlating multiple datasets; unanticipated database repurposing; and on and on... Finally I could twitter no more and left the venue hurriedly fashioning a tinfoil hat from a burger wrapper while consigning myself to doubling the dosage on my meds.

I will say this though, there was something deliciously ironic about standing in a room chock full of hackers all listening at rapt attention to a three hour chillingly dystopic harangue on privacy loss while nearly every single one of them was wearing an RFID tag around their necks. Even better, the tag was tracking their every move around the venue and was linked to a comprehensive self-contributed profile. ...". 

... "...I expect video for some of the talks will pop up here and there. In the meantime, if you are interested, these guys videotaped every session and made DVD's. If you don't already suffer from paranoiac delusions I would highly recommend Steve Rambam's session ...".



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