Monday, September 27, 2010

CIA Allegedly Bought Flawed Software for Drone Attacks

Elinor Mills writes on C|Net News:

The CIA allegedly purchased flawed targeting software for drone missile attacks on suspected terrorists--software it knew was faulty, and that could misdirect attacks by as much as 39 feet--according to a report in The Register based on claims made in a lawsuit.

The suit, filed by a Massachusetts-based company called Intelligent Integration Systems (IISI), involves another Massachusetts company, Netezza, The Register said in its report today. Netezza, a data warehousing company IBM has made a bid to buy, allegedly got a $1.18 million purchase order from the CIA last year to provide data warehouse appliances for use in drones, according to The Register. When combined with IISI's "Geospatial" software, the devices can be used to track movement of cell phones and pinpoint peoples' exact locations in real time, The Register said.

However, the IISI software does not run on the latest version of the Netezza appliance, which the CIA was purchasing, and when IISI said it couldn't port its software to Netezza's next-generation device fast enough for the CIA, Netezza allegedly met the CIA's demands on its own, with an "illegally and hastily reverse-engineered" version of IISI's code, The Register said. Despite knowing of flaws in the hacked software, the CIA acquired it, the news site reported the lawsuit as saying.

"My reaction was one of stun, amazement that they want to kill people with my software that doesn't work," IISI Chief Technology Officer Richard Zimmerman is quoted as saying in a deposition. The Register said Zimmerman was responding to an alleged comment by the CIA that it would accept untested IISI code in chunks.

More here.


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