A U.S. soldier takes a picture with his cellphone, December 2010. The Pentagon’s spy corps is looking for better tools to collect and sift through data from mobile devices.
SpyPhone: Pentagon Spooks Want New Tools for Mobile ‘Exploitation’
By Spencer Ackerman
The Pentagon wants to upgrade its spy corps. And one of its first jobs will be finding out what’s on your iPhone.
If the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) gets its way, it’ll send an expanded cadre of spies around the world to scope out threats to the U.S. military. And it won’t just be a larger spy team, it’ll be a geekier one. The DIA wants “technical exploitation” tools that can efficiently access the data of people the military believes to be dangerous once their spies collect it.
That’s according to a request for information the DIA sent to industry on Wednesday. The agency wants better gear for “triage and automation, advanced technical exploitation of digital media, advanced areas of mobile forensics, software reverse engineering, and hardware exploitation, reverse engineering, and mobile applications development & engineering.” If the DIA runs across digitized information, in other words, it wants to make rapid use of it.
One of the emphasized cases here is “captured/seized media.” Think, for instance, of all the flash drives, hard drives and CDs that Navy SEALs seized during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Flynn wants to understand both the text they’d contain, through “automation support to enable rapid triage,” and their subtexts or metadata, using “steganography” tools to decipher coded messages and “deep analysis of malicious code/executables.” And that’s on top of “deep hardware exploitation of complex media with storage capacity” and reverse-engineering tools “to discover firmware artifacts.”