The military may spend billions on research and development, but not all spy technology needs to be specialized or expensive. By adding flash memory, antennas, and some plastic casing to a PogoPlug mini computer, security researcher Brendan O’Connor has created a tiny computer capable of being dropped out of a drone, thrown over a wall, or abandoned in the field without compromising security or incurring a loss of anything but $46 worth of parts. The Linux-based F-BOMB, or Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors, is designed to be highly configurable, capable of connecting to anything from a barometer to a GPS. It runs on AA batteries, and any data that's collected — like a record of security vulnerabilities — can be sent back over a Wi-Fi network.
While it's being presented at hacker convention ShmooCon today and looks like it could put together in a garage, the F-BOMB was actually funded by DARPA's Cyber Fast Track program for inventors. O'Connor says its low cost could let agencies hide large numbers of the computers without worrying about having to recover them, and the lack of custom parts would make them difficult to trace. Only a little bigger than a deck of playing cards, the F-BOMB can also be hidden almost anywhere. The computers may be slated for military use, but we wouldn't be surprised if similar devices started turning up in all sorts of places.