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Privacy Security Hardware Technology

Transparency Grenade Collects and Leaks Sensitive Data 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the while-appearing-to-be-a-totally-innocuous-grenade dept.
Zothecula writes "If you thought WikiLeaks was a disruptive idea, the transparency grenade is going to blow you away. This tiny bit of hardware hidden under the shell shaped like a classic Soviet F1 hand grenade allows you to leak information from anywhere just by pulling a pin. The device is essentially a small computer with a powerful wireless antenna and a microphone. Following 'detonation,' the grenade intercepts local network traffic and captures audio data, then makes the information immediately available online."
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Transparency Grenade Collects and Leaks Sensitive Data

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  • In before wiretapping laws...
  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:32PM (#39116549) Journal

    They put some bugging hardware in a cool looking case, they're probably selling it (I tuned out after looking at the pictures) and somehow they got on Slashdot. What I want to know is, where do I purchase the marketing grenade? They're not telling. That's where the real money is.

    • by definate (876684) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:39PM (#39116641)

      It's not marketing, like you'd think. If you RTFA...

      "The Transparency Grenade was created in January 2012 by Julian Oliver for the Studio Weise7 exhibition at Labor 8, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, curated by Transmediale 2012 Director, Kristoffer Gansing."

      And on their webpage you get more information...

      "The Studio Weise7 exhibition brings together a series of works that frame a volatile interrogation of our increased dependence on machines, computer networks, databases and digital automation. The works consist of curious devices, software and circuitry, each representing a unique, critical engagement with the challenges of our "techno-political condition". In doing so, they serve as triggers for discourse, code for study and tools for deployment."

      So this device is them attempting to market an idea, and their art, rather than a product.

      • So this device is them attempting to market an idea, and their art, rather than a product.

        So what you're saying is that they are marketing something and now Slashdot is helping them. i.e. It is marketing like the OP thinks. Why does it matter if it is a product or art? (It's a rhetorical question.)

        • by definate (876684) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @07:02PM (#39118285)

          Since you obviously want me to respond to your point, I will.

          The op said...

          "...they're probably selling it...where do I purchase the marketing grenade? They're not telling. That's where the real money is."

          So, no. It's not like like the OP thinks. He believes this is a product, that some company is selling. It isn't.

          More so...

          "So what you're saying is that they are marketing something and now Slashdot is helping them."

          This only holds if you consider anything where someone attempts to communicate anything to anyone else, as marketing. That could be correct in a technical definition of the term, however it would be wrong in the casual definition of the term which is synonymous with "commercial advertising".

          If you think "Yes, this advertises the gallery/artist/idea", then you'd be correct, and every single piece of art in history, has been "marketing". Additionally, every single academic paper, would also be "marketing".

          • by anagama (611277)

            You can add to your retort this:

            The core concept will continue to live on as an application for Android devices and server-side software. See the section Android application below for more.
            * * *
            Thanks to a generous donation from Scott Robinson (@quadhome), development of an Android application is underway, for rooted Android devices. This will mimic some of the functionality of the grenade, with the TG program running 'invisibly' on their phone as a backgrounded application. A GUI will be provided for confi

      • So this device is them attempting to market an idea, and their art, rather than a product.

        Still, we must not allow a Transparency Grenade gap!

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:40PM (#39116651) Journal

      Well the problem is that you tuned out after looking at the pictures.
      It was made for an art exhibit in Germany and the creator is working on making an app for Android phones that will mimic the basic functionality.

      The open sourcing and commoditization of hardware is bringing us the kind of technology that once required the R&D budget of a large company or the CIA..

    • Funny, and I agree.

      Also, if it is intended as a joke, I'm not quite getting it, so I'm going with the idea that it's a mistake.

      Your tag should read "For all intents and purposes", not intensive purposes...

  • But if you do, maybe it coud sniff out the RFID data in passports:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/02/21/1933213/damaged-us-passport-chip-strands-travelers [slashdot.org]

  • johnny appleseed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phoenix666 (184391) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:34PM (#39116567)

    Combine this with intel's solar powered chips and you can spread them like johnny appleseed where they're needed. Or, as a variation, set them up as fileservers with copies of music, movie, and media files and seed them everywhere until the *IAA's give up the ghost for good.

    • I like the solar powered idea - then you can throw your grenade and just leave it for a while.

    • Combine this with intel's solar powered chips and you can spread them like johnny appleseed where they're needed. Or, as a variation, set them up as fileservers with copies of music, movie, and media files and seed them everywhere until the *IAA's give up the ghost for good.

      For that matter, just replace the solar powered lighting in front of intended target's residence or place of business
      with a similar unit that has all the goodies inside.

      Claiming intellectual property on that one. Good til the end of the year I suppose. [nytimes.com]

      -AI

  • by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:35PM (#39116583)

    "He had a weapon in his hand."

    You are making it to easy for them.

    • The summary:

      This tiny bit of hardware hidden under the shell shaped like a classic Soviet F1 hand grenade

      Because only violent communists believe in the free flow of information.

      But seriously, They'd probably be better off using a Picotux [picotux.com] to forward traffic.

  • Another device that screws with your privacy. Film at 10.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:40PM (#39116653) Journal

      The powerful already have all the tools they need to eliminate your privacy. This is a tool for us to eliminate their privacy.

      • by firefrei (2569069)

        The powerful already have all the tools they need to eliminate your privacy. This is a tool for us to eliminate their privacy.

        Why is it always an "us" vs. "them" scenario? What happens if I, a lowly geek, eventually through career progression and knowing the right people, finds myself in a position of corporate power? Will you come after me too?

        I'm aware of the (correctly-quoted) saying "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely", but just going after those in power just because they AR

        • Why is it always an "us" vs. "them" scenario?

          This sort of rhetoric is necessary because Americans seem very reluctant to acknowledge the dynamic that is having an increasingly profound impact on their lives: the income disparity between a small group of individuals and everyone else. It's a combination of political correctness and a delusion that aristocracy is a "European" thing that can't happen here.

          Your situation is hypothetical, but the transformation of this nation into a banana republic of haves and have nots is all too real.

          “There

        • The powerful already have all the tools they need to eliminate your privacy. This is a tool for us to eliminate their privacy.

          Why is it always an "us" vs. "them" scenario? What happens if I, a lowly geek, eventually through career progression and knowing the right people, finds myself in a position of corporate power? Will you come after me too? I'm aware of the (correctly-quoted) saying "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely", but just going after those in power just because they ARE in power seems foolish. Not everyone in power is a dick. I admit the list of those who aren't is extraordinary low but still...[emphasis added]

          And that there is why; answered by a trustworthy source, your own experience. (And I look forward to trusting you as your career progresses, as you start hanging with the right people, as those right people decide you demonstrate profitable corporate power skills.)

    • How can we make institutions publicly accountable, and yet protect individual privacy? Institutions accumulate detailed information about individuals, and institutions can use individuals as catspaws, so it is not easy to create separate rules for institutions and individuals. We have two contradictory ethical priorities, and no clear way to resolve the problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:39PM (#39116633)

    To actually be useful, it should like like a cell phone, a pad of post-it notes, a small notebook, a random piece of garbage like a crumpled up paper or something similarly inconspicuous. Making it look like a grenade is just dumb.

  • by reilwin (1303589) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:41PM (#39116663)
    It will cause you to quite literally be blown away by law enforcement when they see you holding what appears to be a grenade.

    Joking aside, I fail to see how this is supposed to be comparable to wikileaks. While wikileaks is undeniably intended to help whistleblowers, this is a tool suitable for multiple (not not necessarily ethical) purposes. Mind, I don't see too many corporate espionage agents actually using this as is...
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      The main use would be people likely to be oppressed by the authorities. This very day we have had some really disturbing images coming from Syria, the sort of thing that might force the UN to act. There was also a lot of footage of the police assaulting, abusing and even murdering people at protests in the last decade thanks to the proliferation of video cameras, phone cameras and CCTV. Anything which makes that information harder to suppress and instantly uploads the recordings is a very useful device to h

  • Open up a dictation and it will record everything to text. The 4S has a special processor to even handle the filtering of noise. There's really nothing new here...
    • Did you miss the part where it records network traffic and streams it all to the 'net?

      • it has to be able to listen to the network traffic first... this explains why some places absolutely refuse to even entertain the idea of using wifi and stick strictly to using wired networking
  • Holy shit (Score:1, Insightful)

    by identity0 (77976)

    Holy shit, I've finally seen it, the WORST IDEA ON THE INTERNET.

    Because when you need to sneak in electronics to discreetly leak something and get away, there's nothing better to hide your tools in than a grenade. Nope, a suspicious guard might confiscate your fake MP3 player or cell phone - better hide it in a grenade!

    Soon to be joined by the fire extinguisher flamethrower and handgun checkbook!

  • by guspasho (941623) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:50PM (#39116759)

    As far as I can tell this idea is neither disruptive nor in any way similar to Wikileaks. Am I missing something?

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      Yes, yes, you are missing something. Never before has anyone conceived of a device to surreptitiously listen in on someone and broadcast that to a remote location. I mean, it's not like that is in every spy movie, Mission Impossible episode, and cop show ever created. And even more amazing, it lets you listen ON THE INTERNET! Can you imaging that?? Sound on the internet? How revolutionary. But the main feature you are missing is the fact that it is so easy to hide. No more trying to squeeze all thos

  • Here's the asterisk that's missing from the end:
    * not if it's on an AT&T data connection though, then it won't find a signal in any respectable amount of time :-P
  • I think I will quietly document this potentially incriminating meeting by WHIPPING OUT A GRENADE AND SLAMMING IT ON THE CONFERENCE TABLE.

    Actually, I think their point was that they had or were developing a similar package which would use a smartphone instead of a grenade.
    • by PPH (736903)

      Actually, I think their point was that they had or were developing a similar package which would use a smartphone instead of a grenade.

      There are places (where it might be interesting to make recordings) that won't allow phones into certain meetings. DoD classified stuff is obvious. But I've worked at companies where some shifty stuff was going on. And anything that looked like it might record was looked on with suspicion*.

      *I was in such a meeting once. When I walked in, my boss spied my MP3 player (just a player) and asked me to leave it at my desk. "No recording devices allowed." So I dropped it off, came back and laid my PDA on the tabl

  • Small, off-the-shelf hardware, runs Linux, build it and collect/attack networks. Can be placed by hand or dropped from an unspecialised UAV.
    "Sacrificial Computing for Land and Sky"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm_cHb8Mm9w [youtube.com]
  • by fred911 (83970)

    So you need access to the ap and the device poisons the arp table then forwards to another server. Seems that only traffic on the ap is at risk.

  • It's a cute idea but if you really want to do something like this, figure out a way for the hardware to sit inside (and draw power from) a desktop component like a monitor or a desktop switch. Better yet, a power strip or UPS. wifi would suffer but the power would never go out. If the UPS also handled phone/eth/coax surge protection, you've also got another way to get the data out.
  • I can understand the fascination with "covert" leaks - there might appear to be a certain emotionally sensational quality about it, to the uninvolved and/or uninformed observer. When someone takes the security of a country, a governmental branch, or even a private enterprise as if it was "fair game" to breach the security of which for their own personal political statement, then it becomes dangerous. Considering so far as such statements would ultimately backfire, can we not learn to be more responsible as

    • So now the government is "private". Great news, no more taxes!
    • I can understand the fascination with "covert" leaks - there might appear to be a certain emotionally sensational quality about it, to the uninvolved and/or uninformed observer. When someone takes the security of a country, a governmental branch, or even a private enterprise as if it was "fair game" to breach the security of which for their own personal political statement, then it becomes dangerous. Considering so far as such statements would ultimately backfire, can we not learn to be more responsible as citizens and as people?

      While I generally agree with your sentiment above, I think there are situations where being able to anonymously blow the whistle on something is for the best. Where I work and live, tax authorities are corrupt. Mightn't it be nice to have a device like this streaming the demands for bribes over the 'net? If your manager is considering doing evil, might this be a way to stop it without losing your job? I agree with you that we all have to act responsibly, but when someone else isn't, sometimes action is

  • Looks like a way cool idea- obviously the "grenade" form is just a gimmick, but TFA says they're working on an Android app that does the same thing as well. It is things like these that will make us encrypt our data streams better.

    What really blew my mind though was in the first source there's a pic of him holding a torch in his mouth! And I thought I was BA for holding the soldering iron in my mouth...

  • don't let the TSA see this they may have clear the airport and make a big mess with having rebook lot's people.

  • So it's a network analyzer and an audio bugging device?

    As long as we're breaking laws, why not bug the video as well?

    I do like the idea though....

  • the Nethack Terminus [youtube.com].

    This device is seriously a must-have for every well-equipped probe team.

  • How exactly does it upload all this data onto the web if there are no nearby open access points?

      I mean if you say it "makes the information immediately available online." I'd be stupid to believe in it blindly without an explanation as to how it manages to do this. TFA links to two pages, none of which mention how this incredible feat is accomplished. :)

    If anyone happens to have an idea about how this is being done, I'd like to know.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Well I guess you set the device in an area with access points? If you have to sneak in, a different kind of wire friendly small box might be needed?
      So have access points, then you can start getting details out. Start filtering out the lawyer, advertising, accountant next door and focus in on your person of interest?
      Or just get all the spyware in while your person of interest is away for a few week but they left some of their hardware powered on.
      Your basically dropping in a small computer with a list of
  • Using a device the size of a USB stick, we can sequence your entire DNA nowadays.

    That's got a LOT more information in it.

  • Sure looks cool. But the "grenade" design might cause you a lot more trouble (including getting shot) than the transparency thingy itself. Think about "panic", "terror", "obviously armed with...". So it's by definition an example for bad design. Even the worst possible design, to be more specific..
  • This news story arguably violates US law, and as such the Terms of Service of Slashdot.

    Under U.S. Federal Code 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedure 2512. Manufacture, distribution, possession, and advertising of wire, oral, or electronic communication intercepting devices prohibited

    .. Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, any person who intentionally [..]

    c) places in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publication or disseminates by electronic means any advertisement of:

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