Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hacked From Above: A DIY Spy Plane Takes Flight

image credit: Rabbit-Hole
Nicholas West
Activist Post

As drone surveillance ramps up worldwide, there is a new threat from above with massive potential to wreak havoc: the Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform drone.*  This modified military drone was put together from parts legally obtained on the Internet by two hackers, Rich Perkins and Mike Tassey, who presented their work at a Black Hat conference back in August.

The on-board technology of the 14-pound drone has the ability to invade any wireless network, Bluetooth, or GSM, and wiretap, steal data, corrupt the network, or even shut it down completely.  Additionally, the creators pointed out that it can carry a 20-pound payload which raises the possibility of biological or radiological attacks.

But does this latest announcement reveal a weak spot in national security, or is it simply propaganda to usher in stricter Internet and communication controls with even more funding for the military-industrial complex to combat this "new" threat?.

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These "hackers" are actually intelligence agency security consultants, which makes this display suspect from the get-go.  The story was quickly picked up by CNN (please click, embedding of this video is blocked) , giving premium exposure to the DIY threat.  The CNN piece (introduced by Wolf Blitzer no less) is loaded with the usual propaganda about a shadowy hacker scenario where " you could be the victim."

The technology is implied to be something new that the bad guys can get us with, but the reality is that the American government itself has been deploying the same full spectrum of surveillance and tracking against its own citizens for decades. Sorry to break the news, but this is not a case of you
could be the victim; you have been the victim for some time now.

Let's look at the stated capabilities of this new superweapon and match it up to what we already know about the American government's ability to track, trace and database its own population and take over communications at will. Please check the "checks" to learn more:
  • Hack your personal information (check)
  • Monitor your private phone calls (check)
  • Read your private e-mails (check)
  • Spoof cell phone towers (check)
  • Break down firewalls (check)
  • Jam cellular frequencies causing denial of service (check)
  • Disrupt and manipulate Wi-Fi signals (piece of cake; you can do it to your neighbor - check)
  • Tracking your every move (check)
The purpose of this hacker drone display is supposedly "to raise public awareness" and to encourage people to "take charge of their own personal information."  The hypocrisy of this statement coming from U.S. government security contractors is almost too weighty to measure.  The U.S. government continues to eradicate the right to privacy in all of its forms, and actively thwarts self-determination such as the concluding recommendation that people always use "secure, closed networks."

We know that the new narrative from Homeland Security is one where
disgruntled lone nuts are a bigger threat than al Qaeda . This narrative is fully reinforced by the hacker drone scenario, as presumably any malcontent can just go online, buy some parts, and reproduce a drone that the military spends tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars each to create, then make it operational and shut down entire zones of communication.  The fact is that anyone can already buy an R/C airplane, but who has the technical skills and the massive databases of Echelon and the resources of the NSA's entire surveillance network to truly pull off the cataclysm suggested here?  Only people like these two paid contractors and the government they are in bed with. 

It is far more likely that this new worry of being hacked from above is nothing but a publicity stunt being used to
divert awareness away once again from the true culprits in the surveillance and tracking game -- that being well-funded and provably ruthless state operators like the creators of the Stuxnet Virus , for example -- and place it squarely upon the non-existent shoulders of another lone bogeyman yet to be determined.

* This project was recently renamed "Project Vespid" due to a lawsuit initiated by drone warriors
AeroVironment who have their own WASP drone.

Sources for this article:
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-hacker-drone-airborne-cyber.html
http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20088180-281/wireless-drone-sniffs-wi-fi-bluetooth-phone-signals/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhFrbSZEjTg&feature=player_embedded
http://rabbit-hole.org/

Hat Tip to Zen Gardner from Before It's News

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