Data Retrieval from an Unlikely Device – Satellite Connected Ocean Buoy


At VTO Labs, we are frequently engaged by organizations needing to retrieve data from unusual devices.


In November 2019, an industry colleague reached out for assistance with an embedded device. It was described to us to be a “marine GPS” device with little other description.

The device arrived to us as a series of intact, assembled circuit boards outside of the original enclosure.


Our crack team of investigators quickly were able to identify that the circuit boards came from a satellite connected ocean buoy. A variety of manufacturers have created buoy positioning and tracking devices for maritime operations. The industry marketing describes these devices deployed individually to monitor fish populations and movement or attached to drift nets to geolocate where the drift nets move across the ocean.

The question posed to VTO was “is there data that exists on this ocean buoy?”


The short answer is “yes”.


After the first data acquisitions came off the device, we knew the exact manufacturer and model of the device. We were able to retrieve data from two different data storage locations on the ocean buoy. Data artifacts from the device like serial number, satellite account number, and user information could tie to a specific individual or agency. Data artifacts from the device and it’s connected systems provide information regarding geographic location, temperature, time and date stamps.


VTO Labs is often called when there are no tools, no training, no guidance on how to deal with a device but you still need the data.

If you would like to learn more about our efforts regarding satellite connected ocean buoys, please reach out to see our interrogation report on this device.



​© 2020 VTO, Inc.

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