How “Hackable” Is The US Military? Who’s Watching You Shop?

Yet Another Subverse Video. This one from yesterday.

There’s a somewhat tepid lead-in story about NSA not fully purging phone records as the law demanded. It looks to me more like error in a few cases than deliberate malfeasance. I don’t get excited about the notion of people being less than perfect beings.

Much more interesting is the story of a CISCO contractor being fired for pointing out the “hackable” nature of video surveillance gear CISCO was selling. If I understand the story correctly, he was fired / laid off after pointing it out TO CISCO. Gee, tell your employer what to fix, get let go?

Then there’s a story of a lot of Chinese “hackable” gear still on the Approved COTS Buy list being bought by US Military and Contractors. You would think they would know to just say “Look on the label, if it says Made In China, it is a risk.” (Though frankly, given the PRISM program goals and how participants like CISCO and Microsoft and Intel have had persistent “flaws” that allowed “hacking” I have to wonder if USA made gear is any less “buggered”…)

And, just why in the world would you EVER put an IdiOT IOT hardware kit in a jet fighter? It just screams stoopid. How hard is it to say “Never connect to the internet any device you do not want hacked.”

Subverse looks like it will have some tech and hacker news, so that’s a good point. Here’s the video. 12:34 in length:

I found the story, near the end, of using giant surveillance balloons over the USA (by the military) and a surveillance plane maker using it to track traffic to / from shopping centers so as to allow stores to better target where their customers were coming from; even more creepy.

I really really don’t need places where I shop tracking my driving patterns and finding out where I live, work, and what other stores I visit. I guess I’ll need to lay out a map of known parking structures and long underground traverses where you can “lose the drone”… Maybe starting and stopping each shopping trip at the local Police Department would be interesting. Just sit in their parking lot for, oh, 20 minutes at each end of the trip.

Sigh. Privacy – it used to be a thing…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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3 Responses to How “Hackable” Is The US Military? Who’s Watching You Shop?

  1. H.R. says:

    Regarding the video surveillance of traffic to/from stores: What happened to good old data mining, where the card user is matched to the billing address?

    One of the stores I shop has a rewards program that you sign up for, giving up your name, address, phone number and email address. Rewards programs like that are pretty much BAU at most stores nowadays. Anyhow, I don’t use that store’s rewards program because it doesn’t build points of any sorts or any other immediate benefit. I do get a mailing from the store once a month with coupons customized for me based on what I actually bought. It’s great to get coupons I’ll use on items I typically buy there. Obviously they are matching up my receipts with my card and sending that to my billing address.

    What I’d like to know is how the aerial video balloons tell one Honda Civic or Subaru Forester from another. I just don’t see them as having the resolution to pick up the unique rust spots and “My kid is an honor student” window stickers that would distinguish one Civic from another.

    I also don’t understand how aerial surveillance can track someone to/from their home if they live several miles from the store unless we’re talking a very large fleet of balloons in a grid pattern, which would need to be tethered at a controllable altitude where they could slice the wings off of light planes. I’m not hearing any chatter of balloons all over hell and gone, so I’m thinking it’s a small scale pilot project if the report is true. I’m also not seeing balloon anchor pads all over the place; none that I know of in my neck of the woods.

    This report just doesn’t pass the smell test for a practical, comprehensive system. I do think that the TLAs are tapped into a lot of traffic cams and security cams, though. The balloon armada just sounds like either a government pilot project boondoggle to waste millions on something that wouldn’t work well at full scale OR a “what if” scenario that is taken to be a fait accompli.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @H.R.: It was stated as a pilot program by the maker. I believe the “balloon” is actually a blimp with motor and does a lap around the town in question. So no ropes. No grid.

    My suspicion is that “tracking shoppers” is a cover story for “police can track anyone anywhere” as their real target market… per one car vs another: They would just track each as a unique object from origin to destination. That was why I mentioned car park structures. Go in, wait, come out. Now you are a “different” car.

    Might be interesting to paint a car asphalt color….

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    It is just an application of this technology.

    Take lots of high resolution images not as video but closely spaced in time still images. Then a computer can looks at the images and piece together the movements of a single car if so tasked. as it only moves a few tens or couple hundred feet between images. It does not have to pick out the dogs on board window sticker it just needs to be able to keep track of a moving box on the ground and connect a series of images.

    There it is sitting at a stop light, next image it is 50 ft down the road after a right turn, next image it is 100 ft down the road passing the school, next image it is waiting at the next stop light etc.

    Trust me they still do data matching of users of credit cards.

    Retail stores are very very interested in exactly what neighborhoods are actually shopping at a given store. This is one of the things driving store closings or new store openings. The find that two of their stores are actually serving the same neighborhood but a nearby neighborhood does not shop at any of their stores. Solution close down one store and open a new store more convenient to the formerly missed neighborhood.

    That is why you will see an AT&T store open up in a shopping center then 2 years later relocate a mile down the road to a different shopping center.

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