Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones

You knew this was coming – how long before the hackers work out how to turn them back around and aim them at us? As reported in the Wall Street Journal:

Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes’ systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America’s enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington’s growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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5 Comments on "Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones"

  1. Word Eater | Dec 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm |

    Unprotected video feed used for our high-tech weapons? I am shocked, shocked I say.

  2. doesn't make any sense, army must be getting lazy,
    i remember when i was in the infantry all the time spent updating the commo fill
    we even delayed a major combat op because of encryption issues and now they dont even encrypt the fancy pants drones

  3. SecretSteve | Dec 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm |

    I called this shit last year. When all the fighting is done by remote-control…blocking or (even better) duplicating the control signal becomes the battlefield.

    This is why the military will soon turn to drones that don't require remote-control. Yay, Skynet!!

  4. The military does not disclose their weaknesses quite this readily. I ask what is the reason we are being allowed to know this, for what effect? I believe this my vary well be a pretext for some “false flag” attack against Americans home or abroad, or just more fear mongering. We don't know what we are not supposed to know.

    • Tuna Ghost | Dec 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm |

      You may be giving the military too much credit, remember a couple years ago when flash drives containing very sensitive military personell information started popping up in Afghanistan street markets? There are consequences to making technology easier for everyone that are hard to predict.

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