8.30 …they plot, but Allah (also) plotteth; and Allah is the best of plotters.
Millions of dollars spent on drones and yet a $26 software which wasn’t even designed for military purpose puts the US to shame. The vulnerablility may be corrected but — a point to remember from military history — sometimes behemoths can be cut down to size by a well placed blow – the best laid plans thwarted by a seemingly chance occurence, a stroke of genius, … anything. The present vulnerability may not be very significant, but it does act as a reminder that you can plan and invest millions and billions of dollars into the latest military hardware, and yet a single vulnerability, a single innovation at the right time and the right place can prove to be a decisive factor in turning the tables.
But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Robert Burns — To a mouse
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.
Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S. is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.
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.
The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software’s developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept drone feeds. “It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet — no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content,” he said by email from Russia.
Iraqi Militants Hack $4.5m Predator Drones With Windows Shareware
“…Iraqi militants have been able to intercept video feeds from the Predator surveillance drones with a simple Windows app. To rephrase, an iconic symbol of our military superiority can be foiled for $26…”
Are U.S. Drones Really Being Watched With a Simple “Satellite Internet Downloader?”
“Either the WSJ hasn’t taken their anti-crazy pills or there is something severely wrong with the military industrial complex. I’m betting on both.”