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Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones (WHAT?)
WSJ ^ | 12/17/09 | SIOBHAN GORMAN, YOCHI J. DREAZEN and AUGUST COLE

Posted on 12/17/2009 3:15:05 AM PST by Mikey_1962

WASHINGTON -- 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.

The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.

The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: drones; hacks; reaper; uav
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"There did appear to be a vulnerability," the defense official said.

Gee, Ya think?

1 posted on 12/17/2009 3:15:05 AM PST by Mikey_1962
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To: Mikey_1962

The Chinese are supplying them with the info on the backdoors they installed in the software in the electronics they sold us to put on our military hardware!

Just kidding. The Chinese are holding on to that info for the day when it’s really useful. ;^)


2 posted on 12/17/2009 3:19:06 AM PST by saganite (What happens to taglines? Is there a termination date?)
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To: Mikey_1962

I find it hard to believe that the video from a surveillance drone is not encrypted.


3 posted on 12/17/2009 3:24:01 AM PST by AlexW (Now in the Philippines . Happy not to be back in the USA for now.)
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To: Mikey_1962
The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control.

Well, duh.

4 posted on 12/17/2009 3:25:03 AM PST by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: Mikey_1962

Whoever it was that made the brilliant decision not to use a secure encrypted link needs to be tossed out of the military at the very least.


5 posted on 12/17/2009 3:26:29 AM PST by SpaceBar
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To: Mikey_1962; Landru; stephenjohnbanker

Terrorist last words, “Allah shit!”


6 posted on 12/17/2009 3:32:40 AM PST by 1776 Reborn
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To: Mikey_1962

No prob. It’s part of a secret plot to make it easier to spot the terrorists, and the goofballs fell for it. Now we just look for the guy with a dish strapped to his mule.


7 posted on 12/17/2009 3:32:45 AM PST by ArmstedFragg (hoaxy dopey changey)
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To: saganite

Your hypothesis will probably prove to be correct.

Back in the day when I was doing weapons systems design, foreign nationals were pretty much barred from obtaining the required security clearances.

But what the hell. We can get stuff for our systems MUCH cheaper if we use Chinese engineers and build it offshore.

A real sad state of affairs.


8 posted on 12/17/2009 3:34:11 AM PST by EEDUDE
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To: 1776 Reborn; Landru

“Terrorist last words, “Allah shit!”

” Alu Goodbye!!!!”


9 posted on 12/17/2009 3:39:13 AM PST by stephenjohnbanker (Support our troops, and vote out the RINO's!)
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To: Mikey_1962
The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. 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.
Sorry but I just have to say it. Idiots! ;-)
10 posted on 12/17/2009 3:39:47 AM PST by Tunehead54 (Nothing funny here ;-)
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Probable consequences of this happening elsewhere...

Imperial Japanese Army ... sepiku.
German Wehrmacht... transfer to the eastern front.
Soviet Red Army ... Siberian gulag.
Us ... lateral job reassignment to accounts receivable.

11 posted on 12/17/2009 3:41:18 AM PST by SpaceBar
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To: saganite
SkyGrabber is offline satellite internet downloader. It intercepts satellite data( movie, music, pictures ) that downloadind by other users and saves information in your hard disk. So, you'll get new movie, best music and funny pictures for free.
12 posted on 12/17/2009 3:52:38 AM PST by x_plus_one (once you take the red pill; its impossible to re-submerge yourself in the lefts illusions...)
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To: x_plus_one

The website is in Russian/English and has excruciatingly poor English grammer. It’s so bad that it sounds like a Russian Govt attempt to disseminate free software to interrupt drones and other items.


13 posted on 12/17/2009 3:55:38 AM PST by x_plus_one (once you take the red pill; its impossible to re-submerge yourself in the lefts illusions...)
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To: Mikey_1962

If it were up to me I would make it deceptively simple to monitor the frequencies they think are being used to provide the video link. But then I would change the frequency being used and transmit false info directly to their receivers! Send ‘em info that made it look like the drones were somewhere else entirely, all the while honing in on them for a missile attack.

And, it might even be possible to use some very sensitive equipment to locate the receivers being used by them to intercept the stream. What a great way to locate a target for the drones!


14 posted on 12/17/2009 4:06:52 AM PST by jwparkerjr
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To: Mikey_1962

Does this software work for intercepting DirectTV? How about ESPN, CNBC, etc.?


15 posted on 12/17/2009 4:21:22 AM PST by LRoggy (Peter's Son's Business)
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To: LRoggy
"...Does this software work for intercepting DirectTV? How about ESPN, CNBC, etc.?..."

Probably. However, there are actual consequences if you get caught doing that.

16 posted on 12/17/2009 4:32:21 AM PST by conservativeharleyguy (Democrats: Over 60 million fooled daily!)
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To: EEDUDE
Yeah, I remember the "Clinton transition".

I got the hell out of the DoD at that point and haven't looked back.

Cheers!

17 posted on 12/17/2009 4:43:32 AM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: stephenjohnbanker; 1776 Reborn; Landru
“Terrorist last words, “Allah shit!”

” Alu Goodbye!!!!”

"Allah FUBAR"

18 posted on 12/17/2009 4:49:57 AM PST by Grizzled Bear (Does not play well with others.)
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To: jwparkerjr

That’s exactly what I was thinking. It’s the perfect opportunity to feed them false info., etc.


19 posted on 12/17/2009 4:54:22 AM PST by khnyny (The problem is Obama didn't grow up watching "Hogan's Heroes" (American exceptionalism)
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To: AlexW

I find it hard to believe that the video from a surveillance drone is not encrypted..............

I suspect the video is not encrypted, for the reason, it was intended to be readily available to field units...


20 posted on 12/17/2009 4:56:51 AM PST by thinking
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To: khnyny

I don’t think we do anywhere nearly enough to mess with the minds of our enemies. Of course, if we WERE doing it we wouldn’t know about it anyway, so maybe I’m wrong! But I would love to be in charge of messing with their minds for a few months. I would send my carrier based planes on low level supersonic flights over their population areas at all times of the day and night. On each flight I’d drop leaflets reminding them the sonic booms could just as easily be enhanced with the booms of real ordnance!


21 posted on 12/17/2009 5:08:17 AM PST by jwparkerjr
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To: jwparkerjr

LOL. You can win the war without ever going to battle. That’s the goal - or at least it should be.


22 posted on 12/17/2009 5:12:41 AM PST by khnyny (The problem is Obama didn't grow up watching "Hogan's Heroes" (American exceptionalism)
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To: khnyny

I seriously would drop leaflets all over Iran advising the citizens that the World will not let the Mullahs have access to nuclear weapons, period, even if it means a military attack against them. I would further advise the citizens that their best bet to avoid such an attack would be for them to rise up and overthrow the thugs that have taken over their country for 30 plus years. Given the choice of doing battle with those of the military who would turn against their own people and dealing with the kind of attack it would take to destroy the regime’s nuclear aspirations the former is much better than the latter.

I know this is meddling with the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, but the alternatives are much worse. I’m sure if the world considers advising a revolution to overthrow the Mullahs an act of meddling they will be much less happy with the kind of meddling it will take when the world has to move to deny Iran a nuclear capability. The choice should be theirs.


23 posted on 12/17/2009 6:03:46 AM PST by jwparkerjr
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To: LRoggy
Does this software work for intercepting DirectTV? How about ESPN, CNBC, etc.?

DirectTV signals are encrypted. The software could intercept them, but decoding would be another story.

24 posted on 12/17/2009 6:09:55 AM PST by Cooter
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To: Grizzled Bear
"Allah FUBAR"

Our POTUS-clown's so finished.
The imbecile single handedly did for the Democrat Party what the entire combined GOP & Co couldn't over 25 years.
Whadda guy.

I say let us raise a glass to zerO, "The Destroyer". LOL

25 posted on 12/17/2009 6:14:38 AM PST by Landru (Forget the pebble Grasshopper, just leave.)
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To: Mikey_1962

Ya mean they don’t encrypt this stuff? Hell, when I was in the Army in 1980, they encrypted voice transmissions. Why can’t these idiots encrypt video transmissions?


26 posted on 12/17/2009 6:22:49 AM PST by Little Ray (Cheney / Norris in 2012!)
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To: Mikey_1962
But, but, but . . . UAVs are supposed to be the PERFECT solution for all our air warfare needs. Who needs an Air Force with real pilots? Just put some pasty-faced videogame addicts in front of UAV monitors at some remote base in Nevada and let the REAL men fight wars on the ground. What could be simpler and more elegant?

If camel-kissing troglodyte throwbacks to the 7th Century can figure out how to hack our drones using off-the-shelf components that cost little more than family meal bucket of extra-crispy at KFC, imagine what the Russian and Chinese governments can do with their resources.

27 posted on 12/17/2009 6:27:51 AM PST by behzinlea
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To: Mikey_1962

Well..

Looks like we should go back to carpet bombing.


28 posted on 12/17/2009 6:30:12 AM PST by RandallFlagg (30-year smoker, E-Cigs helped me quit, and O wants me back smoking again?)
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To: AlexW

It’s not.
The front page Wall Street Journal today was good.
The Einsteins at the Pentagon didn’t think it necessary, as they assumed the terrorists wouldn’t know how to intercept the data!!!


29 posted on 12/17/2009 7:41:29 AM PST by HereInTheHeartland (The End of an Error - 01/20/2013)
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To: Mikey_1962

It’s absolutely inverdible that that stream is not encrypted.

For cryin’ out loud!

Heads should roll over this.

And watch what the response will be: “We need a 10 bil contract and then we’ll get right on that”.


30 posted on 12/17/2009 7:44:39 AM PST by Pessimist (u)
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To: Mikey_1962

The Age of Incompetence continues......


31 posted on 12/17/2009 7:46:28 AM PST by metalcor
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To: Mikey_1962

Don’t they know how to secure their wireless nets?

Here is a hint, you use very long passwords ... sheesh.


32 posted on 12/17/2009 7:47:40 AM PST by Tarpon ( ...)
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To: Mikey_1962

It is not a hack when software does what is was designed to do. It was bad design not the protect the transmissions.


33 posted on 12/17/2009 7:48:33 AM PST by edcoil (If I had 1 cent for every dollar the government saved, Bill Gates and I would be friends.)
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To: Mikey_1962
Already posted 4 times.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/search?m=all;o=time;q=quick;s=insurgents

34 posted on 12/17/2009 7:50:51 AM PST by hennie pennie
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To: Mikey_1962

Even though it was stupid to ever use unencrypted video, maybe this could be used to our advantage. Just like dummy radio transmissions providing false information. Let the enemy intercept unencrypted drone video that looks like we are searching for them somewhere else so they’ll feel nice and safe while a drone with encrypted video nails them out of nowhere.


35 posted on 12/17/2009 8:01:13 AM PST by Reagan is King (Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave.)
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To: jwparkerjr
But then I would change the frequency being used and transmit false info directly to their receivers!

Yup, yup. To paraphrase Sun Tzu: Deception. Deception. Deception.

Or maybe send drones all over the friggin place, transmitting data indicating a probable strike here, another probable strike there, etc. "He who defends everything defends nothing."

No doubt we're already doing this sort of thing, since our commanders have no doubt studied military history.
36 posted on 12/17/2009 8:06:15 AM PST by LearsFool ("Thou shouldst not have been old, till thou hadst been wise.")
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To: Mikey_1962

There’s no way the Jihadis did this without outside help.


37 posted on 12/17/2009 8:07:45 AM PST by Catholic Canadian ( I love Stephen Harper!)
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To: Reagan is King
Hacked image


38 posted on 12/17/2009 8:09:37 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Lukenbach Texas is barely there)
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To: behzinlea
Just put some pasty-faced videogame addicts in front of UAV monitors at some remote base in Nevada and let the REAL men fight wars on the ground. What could be simpler and more elegant?

UAVs SUCK!

Videos illustrating why UAVs suck to the core. Why replace traditional maneuver warfare with push-button standoff firepower?

39 posted on 12/17/2009 8:16:14 AM PST by myknowledge (F-22 Raptor: World's Largest Distributor of Sukhoi parts!)
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To: thinking
If not, then perhaps the cheap software only allowed the transmissions to be intercepted and there was something more sophisticated used to crack the encryption.
40 posted on 12/17/2009 8:21:39 AM PST by SoCal Pubbie
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To: AlexW

The uplink, downlink to an AWACS (a few years ago at least) was not encrypted well either.

A little bird whispered in my ear years ago about a young lieutenant who uploaded a simple virus and brought a joint military operation to a standstill because of it to make his point about security.

The little bird is not in the Army now...


41 posted on 12/17/2009 8:32:58 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly posting without reading the article carefully since 2004)
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To: SoCal Pubbie

If you read the excerpt, you can surmise the rest of what is in the article:

“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.”

In the article itself it is stated “The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. 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.”

Some of the drones do not have encryption on the downlink, so there is no hardware needed to unencrypt non encrypted data in the first place.


42 posted on 12/17/2009 8:33:37 AM PST by jurroppi1 (America, do not commit Barry Care-y!)
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To: Mikey_1962

I think the word to look for here is “encription”.


43 posted on 12/17/2009 8:36:24 AM PST by exnavy (God save the republic)
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To: Abathar
The little bird is not in the Army now...

...and the feeds still aren't encrypted.

A very close friend works in data security. It's an area frequently overlooked and considered unimportant. I suspect it'll take a big hit to get anyones attention.

44 posted on 12/17/2009 8:38:59 AM PST by FourPeas (Why does Professor Presbury's wolfhound, Roy, endeavour to bite him?)
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To: jurroppi1

Guilty of not reading carefully!


45 posted on 12/17/2009 8:40:49 AM PST by SoCal Pubbie
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To: khnyny

Shoot em some old Billy Mays commercials or some XXX so we can taget the crowd of ragheads around the video display.


46 posted on 12/17/2009 8:46:20 AM PST by dusttoyou (libs are all wee wee'd up and no place to go)
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To: Mikey_1962

Yeah, but we can see them seeing us seeing them. In other words, it’s much as it’s always been! :-)


47 posted on 12/17/2009 9:05:35 AM PST by LibWhacker (America awake!)
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To: Mikey_1962
Uh, an unencrypted data channel to a remotely-operated weapons platform?

Sorry, I'm calling BS.

There is no way something like that could have made it through procurement, testing, or deployment.

Unless Muslims or ChiComs on the inside of the Defense Dept. managed it all the way through. And even I'm not *that* paranoid.


Frowning takes 68 muscles.
Smiling takes 6.
Pulling this trigger takes 2.
I'm lazy.

48 posted on 12/17/2009 9:08:08 AM PST by The Comedian (Evil can only succeed if good men don't point at it and laugh.)
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To: jwparkerjr
I like the way you think!

That was my first thought as a countermeasure.
I have to believe that encrypting the real signal should add no serious complexity and weight to the system.

An electronic version of Enigma, so to speak.

49 posted on 12/17/2009 9:09:56 AM PST by Publius6961 (…he's not America, he's an employee who hasn't risen to minimal expectations.)
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To: hennie pennie
Already posted 4 times.

So?

I haven't seen it four times.

Didn't you get the memo?
I am the center of the universe!

50 posted on 12/17/2009 9:13:27 AM PST by Publius6961 (…he's not America, he's an employee who hasn't risen to minimal expectations.)
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