Thursday, December 17, 2009

Iraqi Hackers crack Military Dones

For now, insurgents have only gained access to the video feeds from drones, but it appears that using off-the-shelf hacking tools they have gained valuable intelligence about American military operations in Iraq. This highlights the fact the age of dual-use technology is not just about making better toys available to the rest of us, but also about putting sub-standard security into some of our military hardware. This needs to be rethought before any war with a "real" enemy.

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.

U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds from Predator unmanned aircraft.
The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas.

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