Predator Drone Video Feeds Hacked By Insurgents

Predator Drone Video Feeds Hacked By Insurgents

It is said that anything that can be hacked, will be hacked, and that pretty much anything can be hacked. In this case, the Wall Street Journal was the first to report the sad tale.  It reported on Thursday that Iranian-backed insurgents in Iraq are using a software package, SkyGrabber, one that costs a mere $25.95, to download imagery from the much used Predator drones.

Apparently, the reason SkyGrabber works on what one would think is a secure transmission is because the over-the-air transmission can't, quite obviously, be all that secure unless it is encrypted. Incredibly, it is not. Or at least, was not, as the U.S. is working on the issue, and have been for some time.

In fact, the "hacking" discovery was made late in 2008 when U.S. forces captured a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July of this year, U.S. military forces found other drone video feeds on more militant laptops. This has led some U.S. officials to believe that militant groups, believed to be trained and funded by Iran, were routinely intercepting Predator drone video feeds.

Worse, the U.S. government has known about the issue with the lack of encryption since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, according to both current and former officials. However, the Pentagon "assumed" insurgents wouldn't be aware of how to exploit it, they added.

This shows that while many feel that insurgents are simply non-technical guerrillas, that is no longer the case. These local adversaries are definitely not working out of the Stone Age.

While the video feeds were compromised, officials were quick to point out that the actual Predator drones themselves were not. In other words, insurgents could view the video feed, but they could not hack into the drones themselves and control them. That is still something you might see in a B-sci-fi movie.SkyGrabber is from a Russian company named SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software's developers, told the WSJ that he was unaware of its military potential. He said "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." 
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"Worse, the U.S. government has known about the issue with the lack of encryption since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, according to both current and former officials. However, the Pentagon "assumed" insurgents wouldn't be aware of how to exploit it, they added."

Just because they live in the desert doesnt make them stupid! Jesus the best part of most of them are educated in highly expensive schools like (Harvard, Oxford and others... )

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>> "...only free legal content".

LOL... I read their web page: "It intercepts satellite data( movie, music, pictures ) that downloadind [sic] by other users and saves information in your hard disk. So, you'll get new movie, best music and funny pictures for free." "If you want to have newest software for free, SkyGrabber is your choice."

Having them "for free" implies you would otherwise have to pay for them. It's a piracy tool!

I'll bet they are not liking the newfound attention.

Regarding the title "Predator Drone Video Feeds Hacked By Insurgents":  That's a little bit sensationalistic, no?  The insurgents just used publicly available software to download unencrypted video streams.  They are not so much hackers as they are script kiddies.

Non-technical people have been doing this kind of thing for decades.  As a kid:  I would crank (yes, had a hand-cranked dish) our satellite dish to relay satellites and watch transponders that had the raw network feeds.  It was pretty hilarious to see the squeaky clean MTV Spring Break VJs dropping the F-bomb continually every moment when they weren't live on the main channel.

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Betcha them terrorists aren't even paying for the piracy tool like honest law-abiding pirates. Dang'em.

But given the Patriot act, maybe the authors of this program can be ...investigated... by the always-polite FBI, who are always careful to uphold the civil rights of the people they ...investigate.

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I don't think the Patriot Act applies in Russia. Also, I don't believe it has anything to do with patriots. :)

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>I don't think the Patriot Act applies in Russia.

Oh, right! We're still pretending that Russia is not a country set up by the US to make it look like there are legitimate alternatives. I'm writing this piece of fanfic about it, see, and...

The Patriot Act applies wherever we want it to. Haven't you read *** Cheney's autobiography?

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I'm dumbfounded by the fact that the streams were not already encrypted. Even if, for some reason, insurgents in the middle east were dumb (which they are not), there are other highly sophisticated countries to think about. What if last year's conflict between Russia and Georgia had led to U.S. intervention? (Although i doubt it would have) Russia would have intercepted the feeds effortlessly. This needs to be fixed quickly.

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Real time encryption of flight data plus video feeds is a hard nut to crack. It can be done, and quite easily too, but it's not a fast enough process with today's equipment. Not fast enough to work instantaneously over long distances. Very rapid frequency hopping might be a viable alternative ,........

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