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Boeing probed Hacking Team tech for wireless drones

Potential incorporation of remote hacking stalled over non-disclosure dispute.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Boeing appears to have considered incorporating wireless hacking hardware from the cybersecurity firm Hacking Team in drones produced by one of its subsidiaries.

Emails leaked in the 400GB attack on Hacking Team, which took place in early July, show that Boeing’s subsidiary Insitu contacted the security firm after a showcase at an Abu Dhabi defence conference in February of this year.

Giuseppe Venneri, mechanical engineer intern at Insitu, wrote in an email to Hacking Team account manager Emad Shehata that his firm saw potential in a wireless hacking tool developed by the security firm.

"We see potential in integrating your Wi-Fi hacking capability into an airborne system and would be interested in starting a conversation with one of your engineers to go over, in more depth, the payload capabilities including the detailed size, weight, and power specs of your Galileo System," he said, referring to Hacking Team’s remote hacking hardware.

Following that conversation it is unclear whether an agreement between the two companies went any further, a dispute having taken place after Venneri sent over a standard non-disclosure agreement from Boeing.

Giancarlo Russo, chief operating officer at Hacking Team, wrote to Venneri: "I saw your document and it will require additional legal verification from our side regarding the applicability of ITAR [International Traffic in Arms Regulation] and other US law.

"In my opinion, for a preliminary discussion our non-disclosure agreement should be sufficient to protect both companies and as you will see it is including mutual provision for both parties and it will make things easier and faster for us."

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Venneri insisted that the non-disclosure form had been signed by "lots" of companies outside of the US, but after that it seems the conversation petered out.

Asked about the deal, Eric Rabe, chief marketing officer at Hacking Team, told CBR: "We are not confirming the authenticity of any of the documents published on the Internet July 6."

Boeing has yet to respond to requests for comment.

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