There are a number of ways in which government agencies, hackers and spooks can steal data from your computer, however Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, an American multinational corporation that makes and sells airplanes, rotor craft, rockets and satellites etc, would love to have the ability to deliver spyware through drones.
The plan is described in internal emails from the Italian firm ‘Hacking Team‘, which makes software programs that can remotely infect a suspect’s computer or smartphone, accessing information and recording calls, chats, emails and more. Recently, hackers were able to penetrate Milan-based company earlier this month and they released hundreds of gigabytes of company information online. Wikileaks has published them here: https://wikileaks.org/hackingteam/emails/
Among the emails is a recap of a meeting in June of this year, which gives a “road map” of projects that Hacking Team’s engineers are currently involved in.
The request seems to have originated with a question from the Washington-based Insitu, which makes a variety of unmanned systems, including the small ScanEagle surveillance drone, which has long been used by the militaries various countries, including the United States. Insitu additionally markets its drones for law enforcement.
An Insitu engineer wrote to Hacking Team this April: “We see potential in integrating your Wi-Fi hacking functionality into an airborne system and would be interested in starting a dialog with one of your engineers to go over, in more depth, the payload capabilities including the detailed dimensions, weight, and power specs of your Galileo System.” (Galileo is the title of the latest version of Hacking Team’s spyware, generally known as Remote Control System.)
In an internal email, a Hacking Team account supervisor suggests that they could do so using a “TNI,” or “tactical network injector.” A TNI is a portable, physical device, which an operator can use to plug into a network the target is using — such as an open Wi-Fi network in a restaurant or a cafe. When the targeted individual uses the Internet for any task, like reading the news or watching a video, the device intercepts that traffic and injects the malicious code that secretly installs Hacking Team’s spyware.
Hacking Team gained notoriety in recent times as human rights and digital security advocates discovered traces of its spyware on the computer systems of journalists and political activists from Ethiopia, Morocco and elsewhere. The leaked information confirmed that Hacking Team sold its merchandise to many countries with dubious human rights records, and also to agencies in the USA, where the use of such spyware continues to be the subject of controversy.