It’s bad enough that drones have been welcomed by Congress into American skies, as well as already being used around the planet to conduct surveillance and bomb select countries from remote locations.
The latest proposed addition to the drone spy program is even creepier: disposable computers with software programs funded by DARPA to be dropped as self-destructing “bombs.”
Now, not only will drones surveil and hack from above, but they will drop a payload to interface with hidden computers on the ground, completely integrating a full-spectrum data transmission and control grid.
The name of the project, as well as its announcement at a hacker convention called ShmooCon, had this non-techie convinced that it had to be satire or a hoax, but the project has also been noted by Forbes and Wired, which only serves to illustrate how far off into our dystopian technocratic police state we have wandered. It seems that we are being acclimated to how funny and cool our futuristic spy toys have become. This fun has culminated in the planned dropping of F-BOMBS (Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors) to combat “Bad Men With Guns.”
The F-BOMB introduces the idea of disposable surveillance as a guard against forensic evaluation and the ability to track the source of the drop. Creator, Brendan O’Connor, has received DARPA funding to implement a software package into his nearly non-traceable surveillance hardware as cheaply as possible with easy-to-obtain components.
Back in August, another DIY project was introduced as the Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform (since renamed Project Vespid). This modified military drone was put together from parts legally obtained on the Internet by two hackers (intelligence agency consultants, actually) Rich Perkins and Mike Tassey, who presented their work at a Black Hat conference. The release was supported by a breathless Wolf Blitzer who seized upon the announcement to illustrate the new threat of being hacked from above. Brendan O’Connor has reduced the DIY cost of similar capabilities to no more than a few hundred dollars with his F-BOMB project.
O’Connor summarizes the value and capabilities of his new Sacrificial Computing for Land and Sky concept in the video that follows, highlighting that his surveillance tool can be planted manually, or dropped from specialized drone aircraft:
Similar to the creators of the home-made WASP hacking drone, O’Connor states that he is merely exposing the vulnerabilities of networks and their users.
Despite its name, O’Connor says the F-BOMB is designed to be a platform for all sorts of applications on its Linux operating system. Outfit it with temperature or humidity sensors, for instance, and it can be used for meteorological research or other innocent data-collecting. But install some Wifi-cracking software or add a $15 GPS module, and it can snoop on data networks or track a target’s location, O’Connor adds. As is often the case with these kinds of hacker projects, he says the devices are only intended for penetration testing–finding security flaws in clients’ networks in order to fix them–and wouldn’t comment on what DARPA might do with the technology (Source)
However, this rings false (or profoundly naive), as O’Connor also has received his funding from the very organization that is at the forefront of using taxpayer money to eradicate privacy around the world, including that of American citizens. As a result, the government already can:
- Hack your personal information (source)
- Monitor your private phone calls (source)
- Read your private e-mails (source)
- Spoof cell phone towers (source)
- Break down firewalls (source)
- Jam cellular frequencies causing denial of service (source)
- Disrupt and manipulate Wi-Fi signals (source)
- Track your every move (source)
Although O’Connor said that he wouldn’t comment on what DARPA might do with the technology, his own business website Malice Afterthought indicates a solid working relationship with military intelligence:
Our principal, Brendan O’Connor, has taught at the US military’s cybersecurity school as well as working for both VeriSign and Sun Microsystems in their security divisions; he has also worked for DARPA and startups as a combination engineer, dreamer, and mad scientist capable of making even the most challenging tasks into reality.
We should all know by now that we don’t have to be technology experts to envision some rather dark applications that are no longer security challenges, but are part of an agenda to fundamentally alter our reality and perceived social contract within a supposedly free society. That reality has little to do with protecting citizens’ data and privacy, and everything to do with covering the tracks of government’s ubiquitous intrusion into our private lives, as well as ramping-up their violation of the Constitution by presuming guilt over innocence, and subjecting citizens to their mad science and mad dreams.
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Read other articles by Nicholas West here.