Cobham PLC is a surveillance vendor who sells to some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusing governments; in 2014, they provided a catalog of cyberweapons and spy tools to Florida Department of Law Enforcement, from whom it leaked.
The catalog is part of the ongoing transfer of military/nation-state style weapons and tools to local law enforcement departments — the surveillance equivalent of the armored cars, rocket launchers and grenades that the LA school police bought a couple years ago.
The catalog is full of nasties, including a cellular jammer that will kill mobile service if the cops decide that the people in their vicinity shouldn’t be able to get the word out about what’s going on; Stingray-alikes that let cops harvest the identities of people at a given time and place, and trackers for cellphones that let cops follow someone based on their phone’s unique radio identifiers.
Elsewhere in the catalogue, Cobham boasts of a corporate history going back more than 70 years, brags about tripling in size since 1997, and talks about “clients and partners in over 100 countries.” Among the company’s stated goals are “to keep people safe and to improve communications.”But the proliferation of spy tools like those sold by Cobham is actually eroding safety, according to Tynan. “As we move to a more connected world where cars, toys, fridges, and even implantable devices contain miniature cellphone technology, the capability to cause harm using one of these devices becomes ever greater,” he said. “It is unacceptable for our modern critical infrastructure to be so vulnerable to such interception,” and therefore “it is vital that the international standards that underpin our communications are built to the highest security standard possible.”