20 November 2011

Is This the Super-Spy We've Been Waiting For?

While this diminutive computer-in-a-thumb-drive bears no resemblance to Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, much less Sean Connery, it is capable of snooping and extracting information with the best of them.
Image Source

Norwegian company FXI Technologies showed off an amazing USB stick-sized portable computer prototype on Friday, Nov. 18. Code-named Cotton Candy because its 21 gram weight is the same as a bag of the confection, the tiny PC enables what its inventor calls "any-screen computing": the ability to turn any TV, laptop, phone, tablet, or set-top box into a dumb terminal for its Android-powered operating system.
Packed in its tiny body is a dual-core 1.2-GHz Samsung Exynos ARM CPU (the same processor as in the Galaxy S II), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI-out and even a microSD card slot for memory.

...When you plug the Cotton Candy into a Mac or PC, the Windows or OS X operating system recognizes it as a USB drive. You can then launch the software and run the Cotton Candy's Android environment in a secure window while you use your desktop OS outside the window. You can even transfer files between your notebook's native OS and the Cotton Candy's Android environment by dragging them off or on the USB stick's memory.

...Because the Cotton Candy is a full-fledged computer, it should be able to plug into a USB hub and connect directly to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to launch its OS. Offices or schools could set up docking terminals to support users who carry it in their pockets.
Cotton Candy's purpose is to provide a computing experience that users can carry with them and replicate anywhere they go. Imagine walking into an Internet cafe or a business center, popping your Cotton Candy into a USB port, and having your own operating system and applications take over the device. _FoxNews
Indeed. Or imagine walking into a rival corporation's headquarters, and covertly plugging a pre-programmed spy thumb computer into the rival network. Within seconds it could be relaying sensitive information wirelessly, while covertly taking over the network and all its resources.

Something similar may have happened with the Stuxnet worm in Iran, but using a simple USB drive. Imagine how much more you could do with a powerful computer that just resembles a USB drive?

In reality, this is just a waystation along the road to nano-sized spy computers capable of invisibly flying through the doors and windows of buildings, or hitching a ride on the soles of shoes just about anywhere. Entire swarms of such nanocomputers could meet at a pre-arranged time and place, taking over in a very short time whatever network-controlled resources they were targeting.

Do you want to shut down a city's water supply? What about its electricity grid, or its cell phone networks? Consider disrupting the traffic light network, or sending a barrage of false fire and security alarms to police and fire departments, as a diversion from what you actually have planned?

You see there is no need to bomb a country that depends upon a "smart grid" or embedded networks. Just take over the networks that control the grid, the water supply, communications, and government agencies. If you do it anonymously enough, your adversary or target will be vulnerable to your next move, without even understanding who was behind the disruption.

The only defense against this type of inevitable attack, is redundant systems. Look around you, to see what organisations are developing redundant systems to deal with this type of certain attack. Even more importantly: What redundant systems have you developed for yourself and your company or household?

Update: Russian hackers destroy part of the water system of Springfield, Illinois using remote hacking techniques. The onslaught has just begun.

New Update 1 Dec 2011: It appears that the Springfield, Illinois water pump burnout was caused by normal wear and tear. The "false alarm" claim of Russian hacking was caused by a routine monitoring call from Russia the owner of the American company that provides advanced networking for the Springfield plant. The owner happened to be on vacation in Russia when he received a call that there may be a problem with the plant. He made a routine remote log-in to the network using his credentials, from his Russian location. A few months later, a pump burned out. Now you know the rest of the story.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts