Thursday, January 21, 2016

Loose Tweets Fry Gunships

"'Is a badge on Foursquare or a check-in worth your life?' That question, now commonly asked by the U.S. Army of its soldiers, is not rhetorical when even terrorists are taking advantage of geo-tagged data. For instance, when American military forces received a new fleet of AH-64 Apache helicopters at their base in Iraq, some deployed soldiers uploaded photographs of themselves in front of their new choppers to facebook.  Unbeknownst to them, their phones had accidentally embedded their GPS coordinates in the photographs. Not only were insurgents monitoring the soldiers' Facebook postings, but they were also downloading the photographs and analyzing them for useful intelligence. The longitude and latitude information embedded in the photos allowed the terrorists to launch a series of precise mortar attacks that directly targeted and destroyed four of the newly arrived Apaches on the compound."

p. 143-144, Future Crimes.  Marc Goodman


  1. The phones didn't "accidentally embed their GPS coordinates". There's a setting that used to be switched on as standard. Now - after incidents such as this - it's switched *off* as a default. I think it's called customer feedback....

  2. I'm surprised digital security isn't tighter -- to the extent of denying soldiers networked devices -- in combat zones.

  3. Part of it is that these things simply aren't thought about. Plus the people making the rules 'in theater' can't know or be aware of everything. No one imagined that this simple data could be picked up as used by enemies to call in GPS rocket attacks. Isn't the 21st century fun!!! Oh, and you can't really deny soldiers their phones (not easily anyway). Plus remember Grenada? The marines called in airstrikes with their cellphones because their issued radio's didn't work properly!


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