The F-bomb

Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at
Tue Jan 31 19:16:57 CST 2012


Security researcher Brendan O'Connor is trying a different approach to 
spy hardware: building a sensor-equipped surveillance-capable computer 
that's so cheap it can be sacrificed after one use, with off-the-shelf 
parts that anyone can buy and assemble for less than fifty dollars.

At the Shmoocon security conference Friday in Washington D.C., O'Connor 
plans to present the F-BOMB, or Falling or Ballistically-launched Object 
that Makes Backdoors. Built from just the hardware in a 
commercially-available PogoPlug mini-computer, a few tiny antennae, 
eight gigabytes of flash memory and some 3D-printed plastic casing, the 
F-BOMB serves as 3.5 by 4 by 1 inch spy computer. And O'Connor has 
designed the cheap gadgets to be dropped from a drone, plugged 
inconspicuously into a wall socket, thrown over a barrier, or otherwise 
put into irretrievable positions, to quietly collect data and send it 
back to the owner over any available Wifi network. With PogoPlugs 
currently on sale at Amazon for $25, O'Connor built his prototypes with 
gear that added up to just $46 each.

"If some target is surrounded by bad men with guns, you don't want to 
have to retrieve this, but you also don't want to have to pay four or 
five hundred dollars for every use," says O'Connor. "The idea is that 
it's as close to free as possible. So you can throw a bunch of these 
sensors at a target and get away with losing a couple nodes in the process."

Homemade as it may look, the F-BOMB is more than a hacker hobby. _ 
_O'Connor says his one-man security consultancy Malice Afterthought 
received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract earlier 
this month to develop the devices as part of the Cyber Fast Track 
program, which awards small sums to inventors. [Read more: 

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