Drone have been used to drop bombs, spy on foreign countries and monitor how farmers work their fields. Now they could help hack into personal computers.
According to e-mails posted by WikiLeaks, military contractors may want to do just that. Boeing and Hacking Team — a Milan-based company criticized for selling surveillance software to repressive governments — were in talks earlier this year to plant malware on drones to perform such activities, according to the e-mails, which were stolen from Hacking Team in July.
According to an e-mail that summarizes the contents of a meeting between the two companies, Boeing was searching for a “ruggedized” network injector “transportable by drone (!).”
Drone and network analysts offer a scenario about how this type of technology could work:
A highly desired al-Qaeda operative is on the lam, hiding out in a bungalow in the foothills of some not-so-allied country, which may or may not be protecting him from U.S. detection. The American military could try hacking into that government’s computer network to look for intelligence, but reaching across the globe through a keyboard is pretty hard and time-consuming.
Or, the military could put an unmanned drone in the air equipped with malware to fly over the highly desired operative’s bungalow and conduct some surveillance.