Recently, in the name of national security and information leakage, the United States has cracked down on Chinese technology enterprises. Who would have thought that the old trick of “catching thieves” was completely exposed because of a small American company with a very special background.
on August 7, local time, the Wall Street Journal reported that a small US company with ties to the US defense and intelligence community has implanted its software into more than 500 mobile applications, enabling it to track the location data of hundreds of millions of users around the world.
it is reported that although there are not a few private companies buying and selling location data, it is unusual for companies closely related to the US National Security Agency to collect such data directly.
this small U.S. company in Virginia, named anomaly six, was founded by two Americans with intelligence backgrounds.
the company’s marketing materials agency said they were able to extract location data from more than 500 applications, and some of the data was obtained through software development kits that were directly implanted into the applications.
if consumers allow the app containing the software to access the GPS coordinates of the phone, the company can obtain the location information of the phone through the SDK.
how does the company make a profit? SDK makers like anomaly six sell consumer data to make huge profits. And then give a lot to the app publisher.
the privacy data of users and consumers in the United States is sold. Do they know? Obviously, the answer is No. Most privacy provisions in the United States do not disclose whether the SDK toolkit is embedded in the application.
according to the Wall Street Journal, it is not clear which apps anomaly six works with and declined to comment on the grounds of a confidentiality agreement. In the field of commercial data sales, the cooperation between data companies and application developers is usually strictly confidential trade secrets.
according to the Wall Street Journal, in the view of many U.S. government departments, it is legal for federal agencies to obtain mobile data from advertisements. Several federal law enforcement agencies are using such data for criminal law enforcement, and many US military and intelligence agencies are also acquiring such data.
anomaly six is not the first company to engage in data trading, nor is it the first company to cooperate with the US military. The company’s two founders left Babel street in 2018 to take over the “old owner” business. Finally, he was sued by the “old boss”.
The Wall Street Journal wrote excitedly in its article: “Babel Street’s lawsuit against anomaly six and its founders two years ago provides us with a window into this highly competitive, highly secretive market that provides user data as a product to the U.S. government.”
it is understood that Brandan huff, the founder of anomaly six and a former U.S. Army counterintelligence officer, was responsible for handling Babel Street’s relationship with the Department of defense and worked for many other defense contractors. Another founder, Jeffrey Heinz, also served in the U.S. Army and dealt with Babel Street’s relationship with the Department of justice, cyber command, private federal agencies and intelligence agencies, court records show.
Babel street has a product called “locate X”, which mainly includes extracting location records of millions of users from consumer applications.
according to Babel Street’s lawsuit, the two founders of anomaly six resigned and began to develop a product to compete with the company. Anomaly six declined to comment on the lawsuit. The lawsuit was settled out of court last year.
according to the contracts and user agreements seen in the Wall Street Journal, Babel street did not publicize “locate X” publicly, or even constrained its customers and users to keep it confidential.
according to court records, the “locate X” developed in accordance with the opinions of US government officials is widely used by US military intelligence agencies, which are committed to collecting “open source” intelligence, that is, information obtained from open sources. Babel street also has contracts with the U.S. Department of homeland security, the U.S. Department of justice and many other private agencies, according to federal contract data.
according to court records and interviews, the founder of anomaly six spent most of his career working closely with the U.S. National Security Agency.
“anomaly six is a small enterprise owned by veterans, which processes and visualizes location data from mobile devices for analysis and insight.” we use detailed location data from a large number of first-hand resources to provide insight into teams, behaviors and patterns.
although the fight between Babel street and anomaly six has only exposed the tip of the iceberg of information monitoring in the United States, we can roughly see what these companies are doing behind the US.
it is understood that Babel street and anomaly six combine intelligence collection methods with social media data, satellite images and consumer data in the private sector by combining intelligence collected in a relatively traditional way.
after all kinds of information are integrated, the so-called “life mode” analysis can be integrated. In this way, the habits and behaviors of potential intelligence targets can be fully understood, and the possibility of predicting their future behavior can be provided.
in the data extracted from the application, each phone usually has an alphanumeric identifier, which is not associated with the name of the phone owner. But over time, analysts can infer ownership of the phone – for example, where it is at night and where the owner might live at night.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that as part of the U.S. Army program, academic researchers use Babel Street’s software to monitor the movement of equipment in Russian military facilities.
mobile phone users have no idea that when they install weather apps, games or any other seemingly harmless app, their private location data will be collected, sold and analyzed.
high threat organizations such as “formula” and “Soren’s eye” are backed by the United States; the “prism gate” incident, which caused a great stir in the world, was initiated by the United States; it was the United States that frequently launched “cyber warfare” against other countries Today, more than 500 applications are embedded with tracking software, and the U.S. military is still inseparable.