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DARPA-Funded Hacker's Tiny $50 Spy Computer Hides in Offices, Drops From Drones

By Forbes

February 1, 2012

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U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency security researcher Brendan O'Connor has developed the Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors (F-BOMB), a sensor-equipped surveillance-capable computer that can be assembled for less than $50.

The Linux-based F-BOMB is designed to be placed into an irretrievable position to collect data and send it back to the owner over any available Wi-Fi network. "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 $400 or $500 for every use," O'Connor says.

The F-BOMB comes in various versions, including one that affixes to the Parrot Drone, siphoning power from the drone's rechargeable battery and allowing the user to hover over a target, land it on a roof, or drop the F-BOMB from a hook attachment on the drone. A version of the F-BOMB that runs on a module of AA batteries also is available for situations in which power is unavailable.

O'Connor says a major advantage to using off-the-shelf parts is that the F-BOMB can be left behind without its components revealing who built it.

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