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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

LOUDAUTO: NSA Exploit of the Day

Today's item from the NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog:
LOUDAUTO (TS//SI//REL TO USA,FVEY) Audio-based RF retro-reflector. Provides room audio from targeted space using radar and basic post-processing.
(U) Capabilities
(TS//SI//REL TO USA,FVEY) LOUDAUTO's current design maximizes the gain of the microphone. This makes it extremely useful for picking up room audio. It can pick up speech at a standard, ofice volume from over 20' away. (NOTE: Concealments may reduce this distance.) It uses very little power (~15 uA at 3.0 VDC), so little, in fact, that battery self-discharge is more of an issue for serviceable lifetime than the power draw from this unit. The simplicity of the design allows the form factor to be tailored for specific operation requirements. All components at COTS and so are non-attributable to NSA.
(U) Concept of Operation
(TS//SI//REL TO USA,FVEY) Room audio is picked up by the microphone and converted into an analog electrical signal. This signal is used to pulse position modulate (PPM) a square wave signal running at a pre-set frequency. This square wave is used to turn a FET (field effect transistor) on and off. When the unit is illuminated with a CW signal from a nearby radar unit, the illuminating signal is amplitude-modulated with the PPM square wave. This signal is re-radiated, where it is picked up by the radar, then processed to recover the room audio. Processing is currently performed by COTS equipment with FM demodulation capability (Rohde & Schwarz FSH-series portable spectrum analyzers, etc.) LOUDAUTO is part of the ANGRYNEIGHBOR family of radar retro-reflectors.
Unit Cost: $30
Status: End processing still in development
Page, with graphics, is here. General information about TAO and the catalog is here.
This one is kind of cool, I think.
In the comments, feel free to discuss how the exploit works, how we might detect it, how it has probably been improved since the catalog entry in 2008, and so on.

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