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Drones intercepted with a 25-dollar software

dicembre 18, 2009 Technology No Commenti

Drone

Iraqi insurgents have found an unlikely and cheap ally to fight the highly technological weapons deployed by the US Army in war zones of that country.

In spite of the billion dollars spent on the US military research for complicated reconnaissance and surveillance systems, these systems can be thwarted by a simple piece of software called SkyGrabber, used to download music and movies via satellite, which can be used not only to intercept leisure contents, but also to pick up transmissions send to the ground station from military UAVs.

In fact, some of these unmanned aircraft used for aerial video surveillance use unprotected transmission channels, which can be easily accessed by a mobile phone equipped with SkyGrabber, which would be able to see what the drone sees and react accordingly, thus neutralizing its job.

With the Obama administration, US forces are highly relying on usage of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in Iraq and Afghanistan, in order to minimize the risk for armed personnel, without losing control of areas where sending troops could be too risky either on a military or political standpoint.

Unfortunately this change of policy must deal with their enemies, who keep on finding cheap ways to fight the overwhelming military and financial superiority of the US forces. This latest method has been revealed by probing a rebel chief’s laptop, where a wide library of drone-shot movies was found.

Similar footage has been later found on other Shiite militants’ laptops, which lead analysts to think that there is a network using this method, probably financed by Iranian Shiites. To fight this menace, they are now working on an encryption system which would make interception impossible.

Spying a mobile phone

dicembre 17, 2009 Technology No Commenti

listen

If you need to be reassured on your wife’s fidelity, or want to make sure that a business partner is trustworthy, you might have thought about eavesdropping their conversations; at this point the problem is, how to do it without raising any unnecessary attention.

Instead of using complicated and expensive radio devices to intercept these calls, the safest and most effective way is to turn the mobile phone into a listening device, by using a spy phone.

Thanks to is, you will not need to worry about the distance between you and the person under surveillance, as the phone itself will secretly inform you as soon as it is engaged in a call, either incoming or outgoing, allowing you to listen in real time; it will also send you a copy of any text message sent or received, without giving out any visible sign and leaving no tracks.

Spy phones, at first sight, look just like your normal phone. The difference lies on the inside, where a piece of software, absolutely invisible for its user, has been installed, which carries out the functions outlined above, and does it in an absolutely invisible way.

On top of this, thanks to a spy phone, you can also intercept conversations taking place around the phone, even while it is turned off!

Just call it from a preset number, and the phone will answer without lighting up its screen. The same thing happens when calls or messages are forwarded towards the same number. Furthermore, if the phone is equipped with a GPS positioning system, you will also be able to track down its user’s whereabouts at all times!

In short, a spy phone is your best friend in case you need to intercept some conversations, as it delivers a complete and constant surveillance, no matter how far is your unfaithful partner or spouse… and all this without trouble, as you just need to have your phone with you, and all you do is sit back and wait for the information.

It looks like a whale, but it can fly!

dicembre 17, 2009 Technology No Commenti

GlobalHawk

The UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) aircraft Global Hawk Block 40, manufactured by the California-based Northrop Grumman, leader in this specific field, has just flown its maiden flight, approximately two hours time, over a bright California sky.

Its configuration has been specifically designed to operate on a long range, at altitudes normally outside range for this kind of aircraft, while carrying a radar whose purpose is to support military aircraft operating in the area, while identifying fixed and mobile targets.

Global Hawk, with its peculiar shape that reminds of a whale, is capable of flying at an altitude of approximately 60000 feet (over 18000 meters), for around 32 hours at a speed of almost 340 knots. Thanks to its radar, it can detect targets with all weather conditions, even the most extreme, in rough and inhospitable war zones, without putting anyone’s life at risk.

This HALE (High Altitude, Long Endurance) system is automatically operated through a software controlled by a ground based pilot, who is sending not flight commands but operating instructions to the on-board computer. Based on these instructions, the program will only intervene when necessary; otherwise the flight will carry on as per a preset flight program.

This electronic control also covers takeoff and landing, allowing pilots and ground operators to concentrate only on the mission and not on flight operations.

When fully loaded, this unmanned aircraft weighs over 16000 kilos, half of which is made up of lightweight composite material, while the fuselage is an aluminum monocoque.

Find your way back home safely, thanks to your cellphone

dicembre 9, 2009 Technology No Commenti

Walk Back Home

If you find yourself in a city that you don’t know, you may happen to take a wrong turn and, along with losing your way, you might end up on the wrong side of town, where you could have unpleasant encounters and your safety might be at risk. If the city in question is San Francisco or Washington, though, a GPS system comes to the rescue, giving us directions to reach our destination without going through dangerous neighborhoods.

This system, called Stumble Safely, has been developed by a software house based in Washington, a city where crime rate is always on the rise, and is based on a range of data including addresses of bars and nightlife venues, public transport locations, and crime statistics based on the crime location.

In short, by gathering in real time the data coming from the city police database, and by matching the data against the nightlife database, the system is able to give you advice on whether or not you should go to a certain bar tonight, or drive on a certain road on your way back home.

This risk location system allows its users to display in real time, on their smartphone or PC, any dangerous situations nearby; it also informs them about open venues and provides useful info such as taxi companies numbers, open pharmacies, police stations and so on.

For the moment this system is being tested in San Francisco and Washington DC, but should the test be successful, it would surely be a useful tool to enjoy an evening out with friends or come back home (or rather, stumble) safely after a day at work or a night shift.

Electronic voice changers

dicembre 9, 2009 Technology No Commenti

Voice Changer

Living in the age of telecommunications and of information accessible to anyone anywhere, means that often we may find ourselves facing unpleasant situations, caused for example by the fact that our phone number may end up in the wrong hands due to the extreme accessibility of data for those in the know.

To protect us from any possible intrusion of our private life that takes place by phone, the most common solution is changing your phone number or having it removed from public directories. This solution though, aside from being inconvenient if you are using your phone for work and have to inform all your contacts about your new number, still has a degree of risk, as a smart detective could easily trace your number.

Instead of changing your number, you can think about changing your voice! All you need is a small electronic device, connected to your landline or mobile phone, and you will be able to pretend that you are someone else.

Thanks to an electronic voice changer, in fact, it is possible to select preset options, to make your voice sound like a man, a woman, an older person or a kid, as you like.

All this happens in a completely natural way and without metallic sounds, as the voice changer works on the different frequency ranges of the human voice, altering the pitches thanks to an algorithm which changes the voice without peaks that may sound artificial. Furthermore, it is also possible to add sound effects like a barking dog, a crying infant or a doorbell ringing, giving you an excuse to close an unwanted call.

To save you from creditors, sales people, ex boyfriends who just don’t get it, instead of changing your address or your phone number, just change your voice!

An armor for dogs, to protect our faithful friends in war

dicembre 6, 2009 Technology No Commenti

K9 Storm

For armed forces men deployed in difficult war zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as for policemen patrolling our cities, the presence of a dog, aside from being a valuable operations support in patrol operations, is also an important psychological support especially for those who are away from home.

This makes it important that our four-legged friends can enjoy the same protection level as their two-legged handlers, of course without hampering their possibility to move or without causing them pain.

According to these needs, the first dog armor has been created, manufactured in Canada by K9 Storm; aside from providing passive protection from bullets, it also allows the handler to stay in touch remotely with the dog.

This is achieved by using a small camera, microphone and speakers which, embedded in the armor and connected wirelessly to the handler, allow him to see what the dog sees thanks to the camera, and to send him commands via the audio system, up to 250 meters away from him.

This armor is the result of 11 years of work and fine tuning by K9 Storm founder; his work was mostly aimed at minimizing discomfort for the dogs, who can suffer from being overloaded or from the heat, especially if they have to wear it for long hours. The Intruder model, with camera and microphones, weighs below 250, and while being light on the dog, it certainly is a bit heavy on the financial side, as it sets you back some 20,000 US Dollars.

But for our four-legged friends, no price is too high!

Smell Rats? Get the Trap

dicembre 4, 2009 Technology No Commenti

Wire Tapping Device

Just six months into marriage and Amit had a change of job. The corporate firm was offering a better package and he accepted the offer.

This move surprised his wife Neeta. Amit always weighed job satisfaction more than money. He was happy with his current job profile. So, why shift? But she left the matter to Amit as it involved his career.

Neeta was happy that Amit started returning from office in a fresh mood, smiling, whistling. Probably he was enjoying his new job. But as days passed, he started neglecting her presence. He hardly talked to her but used to engage in telephonic conversations. Their outings were reduced as he returned late.

Neeta smelled rats and decided to get the ‘inside story’. She wanted to monitor Amit’s conversations as he attended calls from the phone placed in bed room.

After searching internet, her mind was set on STR-TEL Wire Tapping Device. It was easily installed on the telephone line to be monitored. A very sensitive outer microphone of this device could discreetly pick any noise or conversation from her large bed room. And its operation was quite easy. She had to dial the number of the telephone to be monitored, wait for first free signal, enter the numeric code and listen.

Then, what she could listen to? Amit’s new firm was expanding and client were mostly the people from overseas. So he had to talk to them as per their locale timings.

Neeta regretted her suspicion but thanked STR-TEL Wire Tapping Device.

Speeding drivers may escape fines thanks to their Nokia phone

dicembre 3, 2009 Technology No Commenti

RoadPilot

If your behavior on the wheel tends to be as respectful as possible of driving rules, you most probably will not need to read any longer. But if, on the contrary, you like to push on the gas every now and then (without excesses, of course), you might think that the newest Nokia smartphone application just released by Road Pilot was made just for you.

It is a software for speed radar detection, to be downloaded from Nokia Ovi Store, and that is free to use until end of February 2010. At the end of the promotional offer, you will have to subscribe to the service for a not yet disclosed monthly fee.

This service is active on Nokia phones equipped with GPS navigation system, and allows drivers to be alerted in real time about any fixed radar speed detectors on their way, and also to send a real-time alert to fellow users driving nearby, to inform them about mobile radar stations manned by traffic police.

Basically it is a modern version of the old unwritten rule of flashing your headlights at drivers coming in the opposite direction, warning them to slow down because the heat is on. At the current stage, this system is compatible only with a dozen of Nokia models, but the manufacturers are planning to release versions compatible with other phones, from iPhone to BlackBerry, as well as GPS-equipped Sony Ericsson and Samsung models.

Personally, I prefer respecting the limits as much as I can, but for those who prefer pushing a bit more on the gas, this system could help doing it without risking of being caught. In my humble opinion, though, I would not call it a contribution to safety on the roads…

Protection from interception, a modern need

dicembre 3, 2009 Technology No Commenti

Secrets

On Italian newspapers today, wide coverage was given to the news that Carlo De Benedetti, editor of the centre-left newspaper La Repubblica, since long taking a stance on opposite positions compared to the Prime Minister Berlusconi, has found out that some hidden bugs had been planted on his car, with the obvious intention of eavesdropping his conversations during his journeys.

This shows that the political arena in Italy is getting increasingly dirty, and most of all serves as a warning to those who wish to keep their conversations private. Nowadays, in fact, privacy has turned into a value to be protected at all costs, especially for the powers that be or for those, like De Benedetti, who find themselves keeping an opposite stance to those powers.

Therefore, to keep your privacy both in your office and during your way from home to work or your business journeys, it is certainly useful that among other precautions, you also provide yourselves with an interception protection system, which accurately monitors the environment around it, simply by flooding it with a range of radio waves.

Thanks to such detection systems, it is possible to find hidden transmitters operating on a wide range of radio frequencies (for example between 1 MHz and 6 GHz), either hidden in a car or in your offices, or even buried inside a concrete wall.
There are also some detectors capable of revealing the presence of a GSM transmitter which uses the telephone network instead of airwaves.

Certainly, due to his position and visibility, De Benedetti might be equipped with such systems, and they were certainly useful to thwart this intrusion of his privacy, probably orchestrated by political rivals. But those among us who need to protect their personal and business affairs from dangerous prying ears and eyes, can certainly find comfort in a bug sweeping system, specifically tailored on his needs.

Flexible antennas, a future solution for telecommunications?

dicembre 2, 2009 Technology No Commenti

FlexAntenna

Since years, our mobile phones are no longer sporting those ugly extendable antennas, that needed to be spread out each time you answered the phone, and that had a hard (and often short) life. Nowadays, antennas are concealed within the casing of our phones, and soon we might see, in this field as well as in others, liquid metal flexible antennas.

Those flexible antennas, manufactured with an alloy of indium and gallium which stays in a liquid state, are the subject of a North Carolina State University research.
The alloy is injected inside extremely thin channels, the size of a hair. Once it is in, it forms some sort of skin which holds the alloy in place and allows it to remain liquid.

Thanks to this, antennas are extremely flexible, and since an antenna’s frequency is influenced by its shape, shortening or lengthening them means changing their receiving properties according to one’s need. Along with this feature, which makes it useful for devices already on the market, its high durability makes it ideal for applications where sturdiness is a must, for example in the military field or to monitor the condition of civilian installations such as skyscrapers or bridges.

For example, as we know, bridges stretch and expand with wind, temperature changes or the weight of passing cars. By inserting such an antenna in the right position, it would change its shape according to these factors, and would provide useful information on the bridge’s health.

Currently, the high cost of the gallium-indium alloy makes it possible to foresee its use for this kind of installations, but in a near future we might be able to see them inside our mobile phones or GPS positioning systems.

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