U.S. Military Plans on Spying on Foreigners Through Their Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, etc.
Getting final approval Yesterday, the Navy and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology department have approved a contract with "Obscure Technologies" for $177,237.50 to...
"fund the development and delivery of computer forensic tools for analyzing network traffic and stored data created during the use of video game systems" according to the doc posted on fbo.gov.
The document goes on to explain the purposes of the project to create the following...
-Hardware and software tools that can be used for extracting data from video game systems.
-A collection of data (disk images; flash memory dumps; configuration settings) extracted from new video game systems and used game systems purchased on the secondary market.
-A final report between 10 and 20 pages to include the following information:
-Detailed account of issues involved in extracting forensic data from a series of game consoles
-Technical information regarding how information can be extracted from video game systems
-Any engineering decisions that were made and why
-What work remains to be done
Any failings of the approaches followed
Then it goes on to explain the "rational justifying use"...
"This project requires the purchasing of used video game systems outside the US in a manner that is likely to result in their containing significant and sensitive information from previous users. "
According to report by foreignpolicy.com...
(Law enforcement agencies contacted the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate for help on a tool to examine gaming console data. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) then asked the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) to execute the contract and spearhead the research because of the expertise of Simson Garfinkel, a computer science professor at the NPS in Monterrey, Calif. -- hence the U.S. Navy contract.)
The project, called the "Gaming Systems Monitoring and Analysis Project," originated in 2008, when law enforcement authorities were concerned about pedophiles using video game consoles to find victims. "Today's gaming systems are increasingly being used by criminals as a primary tool in exploiting children and, as a result, are being recovered by U.S. law enforcement organizations during court-authorized searches," says Garfinkel, a computer forensics expert.
The ultimate goal is to "improve the current state-of-the-art of computer forensics by developing new tools for extracting information from popular game systems, and by building a corpus of data from second-hand game system that can be used to further the development of computer forensic tools," Garfinkel said in an email to Foreign Policy.
DHS is aware of the domestic privacy issues, which is why it says it intends to target consoles from overseas. Why go abroad? "We do not wish to work with data regarding U.S. persons due to Privacy Act considerations," says Garfinkel. "If we find data on U.S. citizens in consoles purchased overseas, we remove the data from our corpus."
Who is Obscure Technologies?
Finding any information on this company was not very fruitful...
From Manta.com (may be outdated)...Obscure Technologies in San Rafael, CA is a private company which is listed under consultants-business (unclassified). Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $10,000 and employs a staff of 1.
A search with the California Secretary of State shows an "OBSCURE TECHNOLOGIES, LLC" which was started in 2009, in San Francisco. However the current status is oddly "CANCELED".
cortera.com had them listed as having the headquarters in an apartment in Frisco...
governmentcontractswon.com site has Obscure listed as having a contract in 2009 with the "Navy Inventory Control Point" for "Other ADP & Telecommunication Services" for $64,149.
The owner Gregory R May says It will be interesting to see, because its new to us as well. A lot of this stuff hasnt been done. Were not sure how complicated it is. 148;
So why did the Navy choose them...
"Obscure Technologies is the only US company that appears to offer the purchasing of used computer equipment for access to the contained information as a commercial service."
The owner has a BA in Computer Science from George Washington University and was manager of "Computer Geeks" for nearly 4 years. Since then it seems he mostly worked as editor-in-chief for the trulynet.com network sites, originally just trulyobscure.com.
Then it goes on to explain all the fancy equipment they have (which more or less has nothing to do with information retrieval). Kinda funny was how they say the company "maintains strategic relationships with local specialty CMs for reflow and BGA soldering." So the local xbox repair man can help him with rrod's he gets, lol.
Probably the main reason they were picked is because of the following claim...
"Obscure Technologies has experience in this area, its lead scientist having previously reverse engineered the Microsoft XBOX."
The full Navy Doc detailing the contract...