Nate Anderson writes on ars technica:
What three-letter Internet acronym best fits the bizarre news out of Iraq and Afghanistan that militants there have been intercepting US Predator drone video feeds using laptops and a $30 piece of Russian software: LOL, WTF, or OMG?
Actually, all three are appropriate for something this farcical, horrible, and brain-numbing. The reason that the transmissions could be picked up easily by a cheap satellite recording program? They were broadcast in the clear between the drone and ground control. That’s right — no encryption was used.
Perhaps, you might be thinking to yourself in a mental bid to make the military seem competent here, no one could have suspected this would happen. But they did suspect it, because it had been happening for a decade already. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, included this tidbit in its report: “The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The US government has known about the flaw since the US campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn’t know how to exploit it, the officials said.”
Read More: ars technica