US Military Database Full of Classified Data Ends Up on eBay (And Costs $68)

US Military Database Full of Classified Data Ends Up on eBay (And Costs $68)

The data sold could endanger the lives of thousands of people living in Afghanistan. These are the informants who worked with the United States after 9/11 to stop the Taliban.

It’s unclear how a military device full of personal data moved from battlefields to Afghanistan to an online auction site. Secure Electronic Recording Group, or See IIit looks like a shoebox, but inside there are photos, biometric information, names and surnames Terrorists, spies and secret agents.

Matthias Marksa German security researcher, found the ad on eBay, and priced it $149 (Then it fell to $68) send SEEK II home. Inside he found more than what was promised in the product description. Fingerprints, iris scans and the personal information of 2632 people. He purchased others, his goal is to study data collection and then delete all information to protect registered users on the military device.

The problem is that file SEEK II is not an isolated case. After a short search we discovered that they are currently for sale on eBay Five military devices Same model for less than $300.

Biometrics at war

It is one of the many effects of a vast system of Pentagon biometric collection After 9/11. Metadata on the device revealed that it was last used in the summer of 2012 near Kandahar, Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden He was killed in Pakistan a year ago, and his identity will soon be leaked thanks to facial recognition.

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By 2012, the American war effort was waning and Americans were the greatest fear The Taliban infiltrated in disguise. SEEK II was the right device for tracking moles within bases through biometric recording. the “Commander’s Guide to Biometrics in AfghanistanIn 2011 he described face, fingerprint and iris scanning as a “relatively new” but “critical” battlefield capability to “effectively identify insurgents, verify local and third-country access to our bases and facilities and connect people to events”.


The SEEK II has a monitor, keyboard, and mouse pad, all very small. The fingerprint reader is protected by a plastic cover, and unlocks to allow the device to scan its iris and take photos. Matthias Marx, as explained by L The New York Timeshe tested the device on himself, and after entering his information, a message appeared on the screen asking to connect to the US Special Operations Command server.

It starts like this, then goes further. Marx with a group of researchers from Chaos Club for PCa European hacker association, bought six biometric capture devices on eBay, nearly all of them Less than 200 euros. The goal was to understand whether or not the Taliban could have obtained the biometric data of those who helped the US in the war.

“It’s disturbing that (the US military) didn’t even try to protect the data,” Marks explained to the New York Times. “They didn’t care about the risk or ignored it.” In fact, all the information has appeared Easily accessible and unencrypted. Sensitive and unprotected data could endanger, for example, the lives of those who remained in Afghanistan after helping Americans in the war.

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How did they get on eBay?

to me Defense Logistics Agencywhich handles the Pentagon discharging millions of dollars in excess material each year, devices like the SEEK II should have been destroyed immediately, and should never have been launched, much less made it onto the online auction platform.

It is not clear how this could happen. The first SEEK II was sold by Rhino tradeInc., a Texas surplus equipment company, and was purchased through a state equipment auction. Instead, the second SEEK came from Techmart, an eBay seller from Ohio, who did not explain how he obtained the device. eBay’s policies generally prohibit the sale of products that contain personally identifiable information. Rhino Trade and Tech-Mart accounts are therefore at risk of being suspended.


“The irresponsible handling of this high-risk technology is unbelievable,” Marks explained. “It is incomprehensible to us that the manufacturer and former military users have no interest in selling used devices containing sensitive data online.” Marks, after completing the analysis of the biometric devices, decided It will delete personally identifiable information. Inside the device, he found thousands of information about terrorists, collaborators, or even people stopped at checkpoints. But it is only a first step, in fact the case of SEEK II raises new concerns. The device Marks bought is one of many circulating on the web endangering registered people.

Belqis WillyResearcher Human Rights Watch who wrote about the use of biometrics in Afghanistan, told German public radio Bayerischer Rundfunk that American collaborators or spies affected by the breach should be given the opportunity to leave Afghanistan and refugee status request. Even a former policeman in hiding changed his name because they didn’t want the Taliban to capture him. It is no longer safe. This system means that they really have no way to protect themselves.”

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