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Porn, recipes found on Toronto's dead drop

Posted by Lauren Souch / December 31, 2010

Dead drop TorontoWhenever I think of two people secretly exchanging information, I envision money bags left behind loose bricks and secret documents hidden in a hollowed out book. As it turns out, this method of sharing information has a name - it's called a dead drop.

In October 2010, Berlin-based media artist Aram Bartholl decided to modernize the idea and created five USB dead drops in New York City.

The idea is simple: a USB flash drive is embedded into a wall, building, or other public space using cement. After that, anyone can access the drive and leave and take files as they please.

Dead drop TorontoIn early November,a dead drop appeared in Toronto. I was finally able to satisfy my curiosity about what was on the drop - and who placed it there - this week. According to the read me file on the USB, "Q_worker_006" installed Toronto's only dead drop on November 1, 2010. No other information about the creator is given.

However, there's a photo on the drive of the drop being installed - and the exif data on the photo revealed it was emailed from an iPhone 3G belonging to Matthew Bennett. Quite a few files have collected on the drop in the two months since its creation - at installment, drops usually only contain an information file about the project. It's up to the public to decide what to add, delete, and keep on the drop.

Dead drop TorontoThe drop currently contains twelve recipes, including some popular brand names - Cadbury Crème Eggs, Ms. Field's Cookies, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Other than recipes, there's not very many text files - though there is a rather interesting list of fictional drug use in movies (with hyperlinks!) and a guide on how to make a homemade stun glove using a disposable camera.

Dead drop TorontoOf course, there are also a number of pictures loaded on the USB - 45 to be exact. For some reason, I was not surprised to find roughly 40% of the pictures are either half-naked women or porn. The other photos on the drop include random pictures of people (some taken at the drop site), cartoons, comics, and assorted photography.

For those interested in creating their own drop somewhere in the city, Bartholl provides a how-to guide on his website.

Discussion

21 Comments

sharpshooter / December 31, 2010 at 03:29 pm
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Fak yeah, porn!!!!!!
Richard / December 31, 2010 at 03:54 pm
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I never knew Toronto had its very own USB glory hole
jonny / December 31, 2010 at 04:07 pm
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sounds interesting, where is this located?
saltspring / December 31, 2010 at 04:15 pm
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Very adventuresome. But how do you know it's not like sleeping with a skank? God only knows what kinds of infections your computer has now.
Jeremy replying to a comment from saltspring / December 31, 2010 at 05:54 pm
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No kidding. If I was a hacker looking for novel ways to sucker people, I'd consider this except that I wouldn't have thought that many people would be dumb enough to plug into it.

If I were to connect to this, it would be with a non-windows, non-osx machine that I didn't mind wiping before connecting to any network afterwards.
belvedere / December 31, 2010 at 06:06 pm
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ewwwwww. no condom for ur usb cable? man i hope u r more discreet personally.
electric / December 31, 2010 at 07:49 pm
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Just like an apple user to go sticking their proboscis into random holes in a wall!
makaphatt / December 31, 2010 at 11:58 pm
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"Toronto's only dead drop"
lolz orly? you know the whole point of dead drops are that they're secret, right? Meaning that there could be dozens (of actual ones), you just wouldn't know about it. And they probably don't come with an information file.
Collin / January 1, 2011 at 10:53 am
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looks like a great way for perverts & criminals to distribute illegal content!
Justin / January 1, 2011 at 10:58 am
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I knew exactly where that was from the last picture, and low and behold, it's a 10 second jog from my office.

Prepare for MUCH more porn.
Joseph replying to a comment from Justin / January 1, 2011 at 02:04 pm
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Now I know exactly where your office is!

Prepare for a visit.
Justin replying to a comment from Joseph / January 1, 2011 at 07:26 pm
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Come on down, free party hats and beatdowns for intruders!
Gustavo / January 1, 2011 at 08:23 pm
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Great way to get a virus!
Gustavo replying to a comment from Collin / January 1, 2011 at 08:38 pm
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@Collin,

"Looks like a great way for perverts & criminals to distribute illegal content!"

They already have a way to distribute illicit content... its called The Internet :)
David / January 2, 2011 at 02:47 am
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lol at all the computer-illiterate folk.

First of all, OS X is a Unix based operating system (*BSD to be specific) meaning that:

1) it's much (MUCH) less vulnerable to file permission based attacks (I'm looking at you Windows; i.e. running as Admin by default)
2) it doesn't fall victim to autorun attacks (again, Windows - and in 2011 still?). OS X doesn't have autorun support like Windows' famous "autorun.inf" file.

And branching from those 2 main points, even if a malicious OS X binary were contained in the dead drop, the user would have to execute it with root privileges. Meaning that the user would have to explicitly execute as root user through sudo in the command line (a normal user does not have system-level privileges by default - this is what the "root" account in Unix-like operating systems is for, and is something that has to be explicitly accesssed - none of that "double-clicked by accident" bs...).

So yes, your best bet would be connecting through a *nix OS (might I take this time to recommend Debian GNU/Linux). Hell, even Windows would be okay if you have a autorun (which != "AutoPlay") disabled and a decent AV.

And another thing, please don't go around bashing people who use technology which you have no knowledge of - educate yourselves.

One more thing - hacker != cracker; stop spreading ignorance people (you'd think this day and age with services like Google this wouldn't be a problem
Jeremy replying to a comment from David / January 2, 2011 at 02:50 pm
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"1) it's much (MUCH) less vulnerable to file permission based attacks (I'm looking at you Windows; i.e. running as Admin by default)"

Hardly. Since Vista, normal users do not run as admin. And in os x, most of what the average user care about is still accessible. All a user's personal data as well as the entire /Applications folder is writeable. Granted, to install rootkits, some additional exploit is needed, but plenty of mischief is still possible without that.

"2) it doesn't fall victim to autorun attacks (again, Windows - and in 2011 still?). OS X doesn't have autorun support like Windows' famous "autorun.inf" file."

Autorun is probably the easiest attack vector, but it's hardly the only one. Eg, I wouldn't be surprised if there are exploitable bugs in the fat32 code running in the os x kernel that can be triggered with a properly corrupted file system. Exploiting this would take quite a bit of expertise (or just knowing the right places on the internet to look for such things), but there are lots of other potentially exploitable layers.

"the user would have to execute it with root privileges"

I'm not sure why you're so sure that root privileges are needed to do anything interesting.

"One more thing - hacker != cracker; stop spreading ignorance people "

Stop trying to force your definition of words on the general English-speaking population. The percentage of the population that uses hacker with a positive connotation is minuscule. Nobody else cares.
Lauren / January 2, 2011 at 08:30 pm
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Jonny- there's a link in the article to the info page for the Toronto dead drop. It's in the alley behind the Canadian Stage Theatre Company on Front St.
Callaway X-24 Irons / January 5, 2011 at 07:55 pm
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Stop trying to force your definition of words on the general English-speaking population. The percentage of the population that uses hacker with a positive connotation is minuscule.
Callaway X-24 Irons / January 5, 2011 at 07:56 pm
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Stop trying to force your definition of words on the general English-speaking population. The percentage of the population that uses hacker with a positive connotation is minuscule.<a href="http://www.karenmillenes.com";>CL Shoes</a>
John / August 10, 2011 at 05:05 pm
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I'm going to set up a dead drop except instead of a USB stick i am going to connect the USB connector to a 220v hookup.
chris / February 12, 2012 at 07:23 pm
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@John
You sir, are a douchebag.
@everyone else
I fail to see how the threat is any different from being connected to the internet. Dont run executables or files that can execute scripts (wmv, etc). Turn autorun off, and keep your av up to date. (also, i would put fuses in a usb cable...in case of douchebaggery)

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