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New 'Riot' software raises stakes in cyber spying

US defence contractor Raytheon has developed spy software capable of detailing complete profiles of social network users and even tracking their movement.

Raytheon, the world’s fifth largest security firm, calls the software Riot – standing for Rapid Information Overlay Technology. According to The Guardian, the company says it has not yet sold the software to any clients, but it has been shared with the US government as part of a joint research project to develop a national security system capable of analysing “trillions of entities” from cyberspace.

As demonstrated in the video above, which has been obtained by The Guardian, Riot collects vast amounts of data from social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to build extensive files on a given user. Its capabilities include taking advantage of the latitude and longitude automatically embedded into photos taken on smartphones, thus locating exactly where pictures have been captured.

Riot also tracks where people have ‘checked in’ on applications like Foursquare to compile graphs predicting the future movements of a person.

The ease in which third parties can obtain personal information and spy on citizens is demonstrated vividly by Riot, which is sure to reignite privacy concerns over the use of data we post on social media.

The cyber solutions offered by defence contractors like Raytheon are likely to be in high demand in the coming years, given the recent news that President Obama has been cleared by Washington officials to escalate conflict in the cyber sphere when necessary.