WSJ: researchers from the United States followed the military objects in Russia, with the help of mobile phones

WSJ: исследователи из США следили за военными объектами в России с помощью мобильников

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In the framework of the project under the auspices of the U.S. army a team of us researchers set up surveillance on mobile phones, which were closed to Russian entities, writes The Wall Street Journal. According to the newspaper, to achieve this, scientists were able due to the acquisition of the platform Babel Street commercial data that firms collect from their users.

In 2019, a group of Americans began to study the signals of cell phones on military installations throughout Eastern Europe. In particular, on a single object, the rocket test site at Nenoksa in the North of Russia — they detected 48 mobile devices. The phones were there August 9 — the day after a mysterious burst of radiation background, which has become a cause of suspicion that in the course of Russian missile tests an incident, writes The Wall Street Journal.

Moreover, subsequently, the Americans managed to track the movement of these devices. Some of them I visited Cuba, while others were scattered across the country from St. Petersburg and Moscow to the closed military facilities in Severodvinsk and Arkhangelsk.

However, doing this does not a career intelligence analysts, and a group of academic researchers from the University of Mississippi. All that they have done with commercial software.

Among the data they used were information on GPS, the source of which often serve as a mobile application gaming and meteorological orientation. Such data usually collects and buys advertising industry.

The purpose of these efforts was to demonstrate to the military the full potential of business data from mobile phones, which can be a source of valuable intelligence. In particular, based on the results of observation, the researchers were able to conclude the following: considering that in Nyonoksa was recorded less than all of the selected phones, this suggests either the presence of there are more stringent permit regime, than on the three other objects, or of the suspicion that the recent radiation incident became the reason for the evacuation.

In the course of surveillance of mobile phones in national government buildings and foreign embassies in Moscow, they came to the conclusion that the last time any senior Russian official or a foreign diplomat polygons not visited.

Researchers experiment proves that the practice marketing industry for the collection and resale of user data for commercial purposes can be used in other areas. Such information is available, then its use in my work, both domestic and foreign agencies involved in homeland security, law enforcement and other persons.

The places from which the researchers were able to gather cell data are of strategic importance. If you believe the documents kept at the disposal of The Wall Street Journal, in addition to polygons, the group conducted surveillance of U.S. and foreign embassies, as well as the building of the Russian Senate.

The team worked on funded by the US army unclassified project, which aims to explore the potential of commercial orientation data from “open sources” for the sake of obtaining intelligence.

“This project gave an excellent opportunity for students and undergraduates of the University of Mississippi to acquire real skills and knowledge that will bring them great benefits when they seek work,” — said on this occasion Professor David may.

Command representative for the development of the combat capabilities of the U.S. army Eadric Thompson, the Agency which funded the project said that the Pentagon has decided to invest for the reason that he was

“good potential, as it will allow our soldiers to communicate”.

In addition, according to him, the collection of cellular data does not contradict the Charter of the army in case if the observers do not have access to personal information.

The tool, which made it possible to carry out a surveillance of the personnel of the Russian entities, was sold to the academic framework called Babel Street, which is actively used by law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, military and private companies. Overall, Babel Street has positioned itself as a service monitoring of social networks, through which her clients in the public sector receive Internet data in search of information on criminal activities or other events in real time.

However, according to documents seen by the newspaper, Babel Street sold their products to organizations such as the CIA, NSA, US justice Department, DHS, DIA and U.S. cyber command, and government customers in Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Germany and other countries.

Babel Street is a part of the ecosystem of companies that accumulate data collected by the world’s largest companies and publishers of mobile applications. After receiving the information, these firms form the from it data packets to intelligence, law enforcement and military agencies. However, often consumers do not receive any notification that their information could fall into the hands of government agencies for follow-up surveillance.

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