Earlier this week, the Association of the United States Army held its Annual Meeting and Exposition (AUSA 2015) in Washington DC, where defense & tech companies showed off their latest and greatest products. Taking a different approach than is usually found there, researchers at the Army Cyber Institute at West Point went down to demo a low-cost, rapid-build, rifle-sized device capable of performing a number of activities, like disabling a drone mid-flight. The demo was done in part to highlight the importance of supporting and funding maker activities within the military. Encouraging “tactical making”, in some cases, helps save significants amount of time and money by reducing dependence on lengthy and arduous acquisition processes.
— Army Cyber Institute (@ArmyCyberInst) October 12, 2015
ACI demos low-cost, rapid-build cyber rifle in stealthy breach of bunker w/ automated light & lock #AUSA2015 @ARCYBER pic.twitter.com/UyOxafXG1O — Army Cyber Institute (@ArmyCyberInst) October 12, 2015
Imagine 10 years in the future, an infantry team is patrolling an area and comes up on a target compound. This adversary’s bunker is equipped with electronic locks and lights, in the same way that many of our newer buildings are. In addition there’s drone providing security with some video feeds of the local area. Well, if the Army supports and funds the ability for that infantry platoon leader on the ground to rapidly fabricate a solution (in this case, the “cyber capability rifle”), then we can save lots of time and money. That infantry officer doesn’t have to send his or her requirements back to the mother ship, wait a number of weeks for it to get staffed and approved, then another several months for the contract to be developed, and another few months for it to get made. By the point, the mission is over and the tech is probably old news.
The device, which cost only $150 and took about 10 hours to build, uses a Raspberry Pi, Wi-Fi radio, Kali, and yagi antenna to take advantage of a known exploit in Parrot AR Drone 2.0 quadcopter. All of the tech was placed onto the rifle frame, making it easier for senior military leaders to appreciate.