Dead Drop Software Online Communication
Is it possible to share information in the digital age without being connected to the Internet? That is one of the proposals of the Dead Drops, a movement that begins when a participant inserted a USB drive into a crack in the wall and fixed with a little cement.
Pendrives can be found by chance or seen by passers-by with an attentive look, although there is also a more direct way to get to them: consult the precise coordinates that are published on the site http:/deaddrops.com only a couple are on the Argentine map, both in Santa Fe.
What stimuli justify the move? The game is one of them. Aram Bartholl, the German multimedia artist who placed the project’s original flash drive almost six years ago, confesses that in part Dead Drops is the consummation of a tantrum from his childhood. The Berlin’s citizen says that as a child, he wanted to be a spy, and the name of the movement (dead mailboxes) refers to a method of espionage that allows the exchange of information without the need for secret agents to expose their gathering.
Nor does Bartholl hide the links of his proposal with that of Geocaching, a 100% geek game that consists of burying treasures (with books, discs, pen drives) and then sharing the geographical location in forums dedicated to this practice, so that other participants go hunting, GPS in hand.
Dead Drops also finds momentum in art and relies on some exciting analogies, for example, the one Bartholl shares in dialogue with the nation: “probably Dead Drops is an artistic project because I said it is. At this point, we could return to the classic question about what art is, which is not relevant to me. Yes, the image of a USB drive nailed to a wall is relevant, and that is the key to the project: to convert houses and the city itself into storage units.”
Anonymity and risks
Bartholl likes to say that Dead Drops is an”offline anonymous network of file sharing in public spaces.” This statement invites us to reflect on our habits on the Internet and, at this address, on the threat to privacy.
“It is usually said that the Internet is a public space, although I believe it is not. A public space supposes anonymity, and the Internet has become a tool of total control, ” says Bartholl.
Three years before the disclosures of Edward Snowden, the former CIA agent who revealed maneuvers of espionage to governments, businesses, and men on foot, Bartholl had already installed on a wall in New York the first USB Dead Drops. He says he doesn’t remember what he introduced into it, although he points out that he usually shares his artistic works. In all cases, these recipients of information contain a text file that explains the project in general and invites others to join to share information “consciously and without political-economic rules.”
According to Bartholl, “it started as a small initiative and overgrew.” To date, there are some 1600 pen drives in the world, most of them in Europe and the United States.
Does the critical look at Internet Security mean Dead Drops is a space of trust? Practice shows no. Connecting a flash drive of unknown origin involves numerous security risks, first of all, in the software field.
“The moment we connect a USB stick to our device and access its content, there is an exposure to both malicious code and exploits that could compromise our security. While running a malicious code without user interaction is less common, it is not impossible,” explains Pablo Ramos, head of the ESET specialist’s Latin American Research Laboratory. In this regard he adds that “one of the most latent cases was known as BadUSB, a threat that appeared in 2014 and that would allow an attacker to execute code simply by connecting a USB memory to a computer”, and that “with vulnerabilities of this kind, simply by connecting to the computer any USB exists a risk of infection, but the probability of occurrence of such situations is low, even there are patches on the different operating systems”.
The Dead Drops experience could also pose other risks that are rarely impossible. For example, being the victim of a physical attack on the equipment (a laptop, a tablet, etc.) when it is connected to a flash drive that can generate a short circuit. One remedy for this trance is to dedicate a reading time to the comments that appear in the detail of each of the Dead Drops of the world, on the project website.
Another case focuses on the type of information that is shared in these units. Last year, The Express publication reported the appearance of a flash drive in Cologne, Germany, which contained a step-by-step bomb-making, as well as chemical formulas for producing synthetic drugs.
In that case, the man behind Dead Drops claims that anonymity will soon cease to exist and that his project is one of the survivors of impersonality. “We can still send a letter anonymously, we can still pay with money anonymously, although this will soon not be possible. It’s true; there could have been a USB drive in Cologne with instructions to set up a bomb. But it is also possible to reach Anarchist Cookbook in just three clicks, ” he says about a volume published in 1971 that contains information to make bombs and drugs. The artist concludes: “in Dead Drops, knowledge is cemented on a wall. You go to the site, you don’t know if the flash drive will still be there, or what its content is, and it’s true, it can contain a virus, it can involve risk. Now, why do we think we’re safe on the Internet? “asked Bartholl.