Thursday, December 17, 2009

Woops! The Pentagon missed this one... $25 US for something that can be protected for 50 cents. The Russian authors are selling it to seal HBO movies

The internet is abuzz with news of U.S drones being hacked with a Russian software program. Clearly, US always enjoys a technological edge over its adversaries in wars. However, in a recent development as reported in WSJ, US feeds from US Predator drones were compromised. According to reports, feeds from US Predator drones were intercepted and recorded by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, using the $25 piece of software called SkyGrabber. Insurgents in Iraq took control of the pointless drones using the SkyGrabber. They downloaded video feed with the software, which is essentially a satellite network snooper. Precisely, this is a sort of packet or token sniffing that is popular with teens ...


The Iraqui insurgents pointing the satellite dishes into air and watching the downloads. The Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feed from an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. According to the sources, they regularly captured the drone video feeds. It is used to intercept and record television feeds.

The incident warns military against the apprehensive shadow cyber war. It is sheer lack of intellect on the part of US military and intelligent use of satellite-intercepting software on the part of insurgents. This becomes clearer with in a few lines from WSJ that reads

U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.

In the summer 2009 incident, the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof" that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups.

This would mean a blotch on US military that boasts with a superior digital-age technology.

The cause of security breach was explained by Declan McCullagh in a note

This apparent security breach, which had been known in military and intelligence circles to be possible, arose because the Predator unmanned aerial vehicles do not use encryption in the final link to their operators on the ground.

(By contrast, every time you log on to a bank or credit card Web site, or make a phone call on most modern cellular networks, your communications are protected by encryption technology.)

It could be interpreted that the final link between the drone and the operator is between a satellite flying around in space. That final link remains unencrypted for unexplained reasons which makes it vulnerable to anyone with a even cursory knowledge of network communications. To be more clear with the reason, we need to learn that it's not critical communications data that will put our troops at risk, so the extra $50 on encryption is unjustified

So money matters for U.S military?

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