Quote: 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.
Apparently, the downlink between the UAVs and ground controllers isn't encrypted, which allows the feed to be viewed. Encrypting it would add to the price, isn't very easy since they use proprietary systems that aren't compatible with off-the-shelf encryption programs, and it could make sending data to troops in the field more difficult. But the best part of the story is that the military knew about this since the UAVs were used in Bosnia in the 1990s, but "assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it". Good work there, guys, makes me proud of my Air Force.
Flighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8868 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3449 times:
Just shocking. As we speak, rage over the robot drones (body count 400+) is roiling Pakistan. They are kicking our diplomats out, as well as probably spawning new terror cells. I believe the drone killings will result in additional American deaths here in America.
UH60FtRucker From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3415 times:
The data link can be encrypted. The issue is that some chose not too, for sake of expedience. As the article mentioned some simply assumed that the insurgents would be too stupid to tap into the feed.
It's a stupid lesson to learn, really. Just as some discovered early on that the insurgents were listening in on unsecured radio transmissions.
What people need to understand is that yes, your average Haji bad guy might be an idiot... but his sponsor(s) isn't. And more often than not, the sponsor in Iraq was the Iranians or Syrians: both of whom are far more technically competent.
One of the biggest things I tried to impress upon the new pilots I flew around with in both Iraq or Afghanistan... was that the moment you stopped respecting and fearing the bad guys, was the moment they jumped up and bit you. Always act as though they were smart killers, who knew what they were doing.
Anyway, I'm sure this embarrassing episode will drill that same lesson into their heads.
Burkhard From Germany, joined Nov 2006, 4424 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3297 times:
Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 4): What people need to understand is that yes, your average Haji bad guy might be an idiot
He ain't. Most of them, or at least their instructors, have been trained by many secret services for years, the CIA among them until 2000 approx, now more the Chinese - the US just do not understand that they have no superiority, neither on knowledge, nor on money, nor on motivation, and that the technical superiorty is only one component on this battlefield.
There is no communication method from a flying object to ground that is not decodable with todays possibilities. Of course making it so easy was a stupidity, that may have cost many lifes.
I completely disagree. Having gone up against plenty of them... the majority are untrained, undisciplined, unintelligent thugs. Yes, deadly as could be, but idiots nonetheless.
What they do have plenty of, is motivation, religious zeal, and aggression. Their sponsors are well funded and educated, and they equally enjoy plenty of motivation, zeal and aggression.
But Haji isn't the well trained super soldier you paint him as. He's generally a poor, unemployed, poorly educated male between 20-29. He is not well versed on Islam, but knows enough to by, and has enough interest in it to be easily coerced by the religious propaganda. He's a drone. The Iranian or Syrian agents teaching these men know this, quite well. So unlike the west, who trains their men to be well-rounded soldiers with technical competence; the insurgents are trained to do what they are told, fire when told to fire, and die when told to die.
It's a centralized system of control. A handful of insurgents are well trained and educated. They are the ones who conduct the rock drills, who tap into communications, who conduct intelligence gathering, plan movements to contact, etc. They in-turn control the drones, who do the dirty work. It's an efficient system for a group that suffers from a large pool of uneducated recruits. They know their weaknesses, and adapt accordingly.
...but to say that the average raggie is a well trained, smart, soldier... well that's laughable.
STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16944 posts, RR: 51
Reply 7, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3270 times:
Picking up on what UH60FtRucker wrote, I encourage everyone who hasn't seen it to watch the CNN/HBO special terror in Mumbai. They have all the phone calls between the terrorists on the ground in Mumbai and their handlers/controlers in Pakistan and elsewhere.
The guys in Mumbai carrying out the attacks were a bunch of really naive, un educated killers who just did whatever their handlers/controlers told them to do.
Spacepope From Vatican City, joined Dec 1999, 3017 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3262 times:
Quoting Flighty (Reply 1): As we speak, rage over the robot drones (body count 400+) is roiling Pakistan. They are kicking our diplomats out,
Yeah, except they're not. The Pakistanis are so enraged that they were requesting their own drones to get in on the action. All of that drone intelligence and attacks used by the Pakistanis in their latest South Waziristan operations came from where...
As for the complaints, the kicked dog barks loudest.
Par13del From Bahamas, joined Dec 2005, 7838 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 3017 times:
Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 3): Anyway, I'm sure this embarrassing episode will drill that same lesson into their heads.
Unfortunately my friend, the lessons learned in war are hard ones that those who did not fight or see the conflict only as a stepping stone in a military career quickly brush aside and bury.
We all need to have confidence in the forces that protect us, whether police or military, those who lead and run the organizations are sometimes just careless for no good reason.
Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 3): It's a stupid lesson to learn, really. Just as some discovered early on that the insurgents were listening in on unsecured radio transmissions.
Why would anyone think that the enemy would not be listning in, hope they did not discover that one because persons got hurt or heaven forbid died.
Guess they were shocked when an Iranian made drone made a foray on an intel mission.
The grunts on the ground have enough to overcome without having to deal with their own leaders "mind games".