US biometric capture devices being sold on eBay: NYT
US biometric capture devices seem to have found their way onto eBay, exposing sensitive information to potential malicious buyers.
A device used by the United States military to capture the biometric data of mainly Iraqis and Afghans sold on eBay for $149.95, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The sale was done back in August and the buyer was a German security researcher.
The device, SEEK II, was sold with its memory card still inside. It contained the names, nationalities, photographs, fingerprints, and iris scans of 2,632 people, jeopardizing their privacy and identities, as it is being sold with sensitive information still on it.
The individuals are reportedly suspected and known to be terrorists, as well as people who worked in collaboration with the US government in Iraq and Afghanistan during Washington's occupation of the two countries. The list also contained people who had been stopped at checkpoints.
US military leaders at the time thought that collecting biometric data would help root out Taliban agents inside US bases in Afghanistan, amid a string of incidents involving Afghan forces attacking American troops.
Over the past year, a small group of researchers at the Chaos Computer Club, a European hacker association, bought six biometric capture devices from eBay to analyze them in light of concerns that the Taliba had seized these devices in light of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Two out of the four SEEK devices bought by the Chaos Computer Club contained sensitive data, with the second one having been used for the last time back in 2013 in Jordan. It also contained the fingerprints and iris scans of US service members.
It is not known how the SEEK devices made it onto eBay, with the Pentagon declining to comment on the obtained data as it had not reviewed it yet.
The Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in August following an incredibly chaotic withdrawal of US troops and the end of the US occupation of the country.