Thursday, November 17, 2016

Is Technology Catching Up With My Worries?


For about $50, you can get a smartphone with a high-definition display, fast data service and, according to security contractors, a secret feature: a backdoor that sends all your text messages to China every 72 hours.

Security contractors recently discovered preinstalled software in some Android phones that monitors where users go, whom they talk to and what they write in text messages. The American authorities say it is not clear whether this represents secretive data mining for advertising purposes or a Chinese government effort to collect intelligence.

I know a carrier would be at sea and so far from cell towers needed to communicate, but would it be possible to transmit location data through the carrier's communications systems or design a receiver that would boost even weak signals from a great distance for the purpose of getting even general location information from a smart phone or other electronic device that could be taken on to a carrier by an American sailor?

Or are crews forbidden from taking any devices on board a carrier for the duration of the deployment. And if they are stopped from doing that at the start, is it really impossible to keep a sailor on shore leave from picking up a disposable phone from a friendly retailer at the docks who gets his phones from China?

Am I really off base to worry that China might not need a complicated targeting infrastructure to build a kill chain to knock out our aircraft carriers?