Video: Researchers Knock Out a $3K First Responder’s Radio With a $30 Children’s Toy

During the Reagan Administration, the ‘government waste’ meme was all about $600 toilet seats and $300 hammers. Those looking for a more contemporary example of how government procurement gets it wrong might point, instead, to Project 25 (P25), a decade old effort to provide first responders and federal officials with a reliable and secure emergency radio system.

During the Reagan Administration, the ‘government waste’ meme was all about $600 toilet seats and $300 hammers. Those looking for a more contemporary example of how government procurement gets it wrong might point, instead, to Project 25 (P25), a decade old effort to provide first responders and federal officials with a reliable and secure emergency radio system.

As it turns out, the $3,000 dollar devices are neither reliable nor secure. According to a presentation this week’s USENIX Security Symposium in San Francisco, the P25 system is highly vulnerable to denial of service attacks and snooping.

In this video from the show, researchers Sandy Clark, Travis Goodspeed, Perry Metzger, Zachary Wasserman, Kevin Xu, and Matt Blaze of the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated some of the more obvious flaws of the system, which has been adopted by federal officials as well as state and local governments. Among the more striking parts of the presentation was a P25 jamming device that the researchers created using the Girltech IMME, a (pink) texting device designed for young girls.

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Discussion

  • enduser=xts50000 on

    These guys have no idea what they are talking about, nor do they know how to program Motorola xts5000 radios. They don't seem to know the options in the software on how to program the encryption settings.

    My guess is they are a bunch of scanner buffs who are wet behind their ears.

  • Anonymous on

    What a crock. A $30 childrens toy, heavily modified, with a required radio transmitter attached to it and RE-WRITTEN firmware/software. And the ONLY thing they were able to do with it is disrupt encrypted communications, supposedly forcing ...the users to switch to the clear. Strapping the channel/talkgroup to secure only completely takes the wind out of their sails. P25 is not meant to be "secure" unless it's encrypted. As far as jamming, how is it really different from jamming anything else? And nothing in that report talked about digital trunked radios, which none of their tests would apply to. Hyper-sensationalized garbage and a waste of the readers time.

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