Some cool research was displayed today at Shmoocon. (and there will be plenty more over the next two days.)
But this was cool enough to get an article up on Forbes.
The F-BOMB (Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors) is a tiny computer that runs on AA batteries and costs about $50 in off the shelf parts. Security researcher Brendan O’Connor created it through a small grant from DARPA (the defense branch that brought you the Internet.)
Now the idea from a military perspective is to toss/drop these around enemy locations to collect data and report back. The reporting back is the problem, since you need to connect to it via wifi connection.
If you are dropping these in place from unmanned drones, I assume it’s too dangerous to send in personnel. So how are you going to get a wifi connection back to these? Maybe they’d just have a return-to-sender mailing label attached to them and the terrorists would just drop them in the mailbox for us.
The more effective use of this technology (also pointed out by the inventor) is in penetration testing. If you can sneak this into a target’s headquarters, then you just need to sit outside with your laptop and pull down whatever it finds for you. It could potentially find open or weakly protected networks and scan them for vulnerable hosts. When encountering an insecure network, it could even establish a connection and serve as an access point.
It’s certainly a neat bit of technology, and it the DoD can adapt it to have extended battery life and upload directly to military-controlled satellites rather than using wifi, it would definitely be useful for scoping out hostile territories.