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Iran may have captured U.S. stealth drone by hacking its GPS
Tecca ^ | December 16, 2011 | Mariella Moon

Posted on 12/17/2011 6:33:01 PM PST by upchuck

Iran may have captured U.S. stealth drone by hacking its GPS

The CIA and the U.S. military may have a serious security flaw to deal with if an Iranian engineer's story proves to be true. Speaking to Christian Science Monitor (CSM), he detailed how a team of specialists from his country hacked into a U.S. spy drone's GPS navigator in order to capture it. That's the same one the U.S. government claimed has landed in Iran's territory in early December due to a malfunction.

The Iranian specialists reportedly figured out that the RQ-170 Sentinel's weakest point is its GPS by examining previously downed American drones back in September. Using this knowledge, they designed a trap for one of the drones doing reconnaissance work in the country: "By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain," the engineer says. The team then simply programmed it to "land on its own where [they] wanted it to." The engineer asserts that the whole process is as easy as hacking into a Google account. The attack was ultimately successful, leading the unmanned vehicle to land in Iran instead of its home base in Afghanistan.

A 2003 study on GPS vulnerability indicates that the U.S. military has known about the problem for nearly a decade. If the RQ-170 in Iran's possession was indeed hacked, it means the susceptibility is yet to be fixed. This isn't the first time a U.S. drone's security was compromised: back in 2009, videos sent by stealth drones to their ground control stations were intercepted by Iraqi insurgents. And earlier this year, a virus had infected not one, but a whole fleet of unmanned vehicles.


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: bombiran; cowards; drone; gutless; iranhacksdrone; now
Need a hack-proof GPS pronto.
1 posted on 12/17/2011 6:33:05 PM PST by upchuck
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To: upchuck
What jackwad in the Pentagon allowed Micro$oft
to bid on this Top Secret system ?

2 posted on 12/17/2011 6:36:09 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: upchuck
Of course GPS would be the weakest point but I'm sure these stealths are viewed in real time....someone took a coffee break??

Best bet....Obama forget to issue a "destroy" call.

3 posted on 12/17/2011 6:38:15 PM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: upchuck

What are the chances they would have tried this if GWB was still in office?


4 posted on 12/17/2011 6:41:23 PM PST by ItsForTheChildren
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To: upchuck

None of this rings true at all.

Even a novice design team would build in at least triple layer watchdog systems.
There is no way a simple loss of GPS would cause all the systems to fail. Furthermore,
corruption of one system by trojan or virus would not take out the other watchdog
systems. These systems are kept isolated from each other by code base and power supply
and in some instances they have different design teams to ensure against sabotage.

Any one of the redundant systems would either result in the drone returning to friendly
airspace or the destruction of the craft.

GPS is not the sole method of determining the crafts location. They can follow terrain
just as a cruise missile can by referencing mapping data. GPS can give a drone pinpoint
navigation but that is overkill, within a few hundred yards is sufficient and even the
old system of inertial guidance can handle that.

The notion that the craft sustained damage because the landing strip is not at the same
altitude as the real one somewhere in Afghanistan is absurd! A sophisticated drone does
not rely on GPS to determine height above a runway, such a task is child’s play for even
a low dollar radar altimeter system. A remote controled plane enthusiast could build such
a system for his toy planes.

You simply cannot jam the communications system of a drone from the ground! They have
a link to low orbit satellites and the antenna for this is atop the craft and shielded from
a signal located on the ground. A break of this link would also result in a countdown to
self destruct that could only be halted by an encrypted code sent back from the drones
control point.

There is much much more I could say, I will say that this whole story strikes me as ridiculous
in the extreme.


5 posted on 12/17/2011 6:44:04 PM PST by Bobalu (even Jesus knew the poor would always be with us)
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To: upchuck
Sure..we're working on that now.
6 posted on 12/17/2011 6:48:10 PM PST by bayouranger (The 1st victim of islam is the person who practices the lie.)
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To: Bobalu
sounds like you know what you're talking about.

thx for the perspective.

7 posted on 12/17/2011 6:49:31 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (omg - obama must go!)
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To: Bobalu
Agreed. I can not believe that even the Iranians are stupid enough to publicize a weakness if they actually found one. It is the usual muslim bluster and lie.
8 posted on 12/17/2011 7:06:24 PM PST by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: marktwain

I need to correct the previous remark. Some Muslims are good people. I have met them. Many are disgusted with the things that the islamofacsists do in the name of Islam.


9 posted on 12/17/2011 7:07:59 PM PST by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: upchuck

It is sickening our so-called leaders have done nothing about this act of war.

That is an American plane.

It was attacked.


10 posted on 12/17/2011 7:16:01 PM PST by Cringing Negativism Network ("FREE TRADERS": Self-loathing Americans)
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To: marktwain

First of all only 8% of the entire nation has flush toilets an you really think they did that plueese........give me a break.....The military lost control of it over Afghanistan and it crashed in Iran 18 miles into there nation of zero flush toilets and damn little electricity. I personally flew in and out of there for the USAF out of Rhine Main and we had to bring our own drinking water cause there’s was half mud........


11 posted on 12/17/2011 7:18:22 PM PST by straps (Electric Jack)
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To: upchuck

Hack-proof? Why? The danged digital control signal was/is UNENCRYPTED!

Of course - if anyone is surprised this happened, then they probably believe Santa Clause is alive and lives at the North Pole... Lets see:

1. spy drones fly with unencrypted transmission
2. Same-said assets have been constantly infected with keylogger spyware/trojan (someone explain how this happens... unless it is intentionally allowed...)
3. No automatic self destruct (called an “oversight” by the CIA... yea, right.
4. No automatic return-to-base function if communication is disrupted (though is quite doable and available) .


12 posted on 12/17/2011 7:33:29 PM PST by TheBattman (They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature...)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network

Did you see how Obama smirked when he said that we could ask the Iranians to give it back to us? It’s all a joke to him, what an adolescent.


13 posted on 12/17/2011 7:42:03 PM PST by cradle of freedom (Long live the Republic !)
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To: upchuck

Find it interesting how Iran, who is just now getting around to nuclear technology (we have had since World War II), has the ability to hack one of our top drones?

They can barely build nuclear weapons and an old technology. However, they sure as heck can hack one of the most secure military drones in the world?

Quite remarkable...


14 posted on 12/17/2011 8:11:03 PM PST by Sprite518
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To: Bobalu
FYI, Check out this when you get a chance.

FRegards,
PrairieDawg
15 posted on 12/17/2011 8:43:23 PM PST by PrairieDawg (Who is John Galt? And who is Barack Obama?)
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To: PrairieDawg

Yes, nice link :-)

It’s easy to spoof GPS.

What is not easy is to somehow fool the redundant on-board positioning systems so that they do not catch the sudden change of location. A sudden shift of location from somewhere over Iran to somewhere over Afghanistan is pretty hard to miss..lol :-)

The instant such a sudden change in GPS takes place the system would know it was being attacked and would no longer rely on any GPS data. It would default to another system like inertial positioning or simply look at the terrain below or check the rf spectrum footprint....there are at least a half dozen ways a drone could get its location...some are non-intuitive and not widely understood.

The fact that GPS is so easy to manipulate is becoming a plus. Many who think they are sophisticated are relying on their ability to mess with GPS as a shield against US tech functioning properly. When the SHTF our stuff will indeed work just fine and they will be a laughingstock :-)


16 posted on 12/17/2011 9:12:56 PM PST by Bobalu (even Jesus knew the poor would always be with us)
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To: upchuck
Need a hack-proof GPS pronto.

The UAV already has a hack-proof GPS. It's called INS - Inertial navigation System.

Even the cheap GPS guided JDAMs we drop have a backup INS onboard.

17 posted on 12/17/2011 9:15:14 PM PST by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: Bobalu

I think the idea was to incrementally change the data so as not to make the changes noticeable (i.e. nudge it, don’t teleport it) to the control s/w. I also would bet that our good personal friends from Russia and China would be helping out as much as possible - so it’s not just the Iranians doing the hacking. Too bad we didn’t leave a big crater and then blame it on them GPS spoofing our JDAM. Oops - sorry about that! ;-)

FRegards,
PrairieDawg


18 posted on 12/17/2011 9:32:29 PM PST by PrairieDawg (Who is John Galt? And who is Barack Obama?)
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To: PrairieDawg

Um, gradual or not there is just no way the on board systems would not know life had suddenly turned weird :-)

Remember, there would be more than one independent system watching the drone’s progress.

Plus somewhere there was a real live human operator paying attention. The following is a very simplified way of explaining what would occur and what the drone’s systems would be reporting both to the operations base and to the redundant systems on the craft.

Hello, I’m crossing into Iran now, just tooling along everything is just fine.

Hello again, GPS says somehow I have inexplicably turned around and am heading back to base!?

Hello, I just checked inertial guidance and it says I’m still going in the right direction... WTF is going on!?

Hello again, I’m looking around and it sure looks like Iran to me! Please advise?

Hello, I’ve started a watchdog timer for self destruct, please advise if you want me to stop it!?

Hello? Hello?

LOL... as I said, this story is ridiculous.

Something tells me this drone is something other than is being reported!? Or else we have morons building our drones.

p.s. It is no great trick to design GPS equipment so that it can tell the difference between a GPS signal source in orbit where it’s supposed to be and one transmitting from someplace else.


19 posted on 12/17/2011 10:03:18 PM PST by Bobalu (even Jesus knew the poor would always be with us)
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To: upchuck
.


This posted story-theory appears to be bogus ...


I discovered the following information at Free Republic last night (2011-12-17) that appears to factually based ...


Regards,

Patton-at-Bastogne, aerospace mechanical engineer, work included Inertial Navigation System (INS) for both the F-35 (JSF) and the PAC III (Patriot) system ...


=========================================


Tale of RQ-170 Hijack In Doubt as Told in Tehran


Purported Iranian engineering specialists have been taking liberties with the laws of physics in their descriptions of an electronic hijacking of the RQ-170 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, say U.S. analyst.


Holes in the account start with the fact that it took days for the Iranians to discover the lost aircraft. In fact, intelligence officials at one point thought the Iranians might simply never stumble across the crash site because it was in such a remote and uninhabited part of northeastern Iran.


Electronic attack of the Sentinel is “certainly possible, but there’s no indication that they even knew it had crashed in Iran for some time,” says a veteran black-projects manager.


That scenario is validated by an aerospace industry ISR specialist, who agreed that “if they were not aware [of the Sentinel’s presence in Iran for days], then there is no reason to believe they had any semblance of control.”


And then there are technical issues that make a hijacking, as described by the Iranians, unlikely.


“Among the reasons to doubt the claim that GPS jamming had anything to do with the loss of the RQ-170 is a simple overlooked fact,” says a third U.S. analyst. “GPS is not the primary navigation sensor for the RQ-170 or for most other air vehicles. The vehicle gets its flight path orders from an inertial navigation system, which is essentially unjammable unless you want to monkey with the local gravitational field.


The GPS updates the INS and cancels its drift. So, even a full GPS blackout would simply cause the vehicle to be a bit less accurate,” he adds.


“If the GPS was ‘spoofed’ with a fake signal — and even JDAMs have anti-spoofing GPS receivers today, so that might be difficult — any abrupt change in the GPS reading would cause the Kalman filters in the GPS/INS to conclude that the GPS was malfunctioning and cut it out of the loop,” he says.


The continuing discussion of why the RQ-170 went down was renewed by a Christian Science Monitor interview with Iranian military technologists who say they were able to “cut off communications links” to the Sentinel using knowledge gathered from the inspection of at least three other U.S.-operated, non-stealthy, unmanned aerial systems (UAS).


The trick, they say, was to scramble the GPS coordinates that guided the aircraft to make it think it was landing at its home base in Afghanistan, and only imprecision in the altitude data caused the Sentinel to land with its wheels up.


The report went on to quote an Iranian engineer as saying the “electronic ambush” was accomplished “by putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain.”


www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3abca8e6e2-70ef-40a3-8c56-f83aa6fc7ade&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest


=========================================




.
20 posted on 12/18/2011 11:32:36 AM PST by Patton@Bastogne
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To: upchuck
"... may have a serious..."

And the author may have genital warts.

21 posted on 12/18/2011 11:42:38 AM PST by verity (The Obama Administration is a Criminal Enterprise.)
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