Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones

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.
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  • Moderator
    I agree with the protocol. Adding a basic private/private key would add a level of protection to each mission and could easily be adjusted by the end operator as often as needed. To me it seems more like a responsibility to ensure that the system is not easily hacked.
  • I'm not convinced that it would bring anyone down on us. It could be baked in as just part of the protocol, like some other protocols are using. We could even use parts of the SSL/TLS library (without the complicated public key stuff), then it would be just another open source project using ssl.
  • Developer
    Adding crypto to our amateur UAV would certainly bring FCC, FAA & NSA attention. Shame on decision makers who didn't use the tools available for secure video links from our military drones. Will a amateur Drone become classified as munitions with a crypto system installed? NSA has plenty of work already. We really don't need crypto ready to go in our software. It should be added by the user, If they want it.
  • So should we make some plans to add encryption to the data link in our software? From my understanding, using symmetric encryption with pre-shared keys only adds a minimum of overhead. Even if there aren't serious concerns about people hacking into the links now, I think it would be best to put it in now, then if our software is ever used in a mission critical setting, it will just be there and not be painful to add on.
  • T3
    I can just imagine the meeting where the bean counters tell the engineers that to make budgetary restrictions they cannot implement an encryption its not a limitation its upgrade path that will generate future revenue....
  • Moderator
    The sad/scary part is that people become so complacent. The article indicates that they thought the adversary would not have the technology to be able to get the unencrypted transmittion...10 YEARS ago! That's 10 years to be able to develop something that could have countered the adversary's ability to intercept unencrypted traffic.

    To put things in perspective, our TVs and DVDs use more encryption then the Predator's video downlink.
  • Admin
    I tested the AC4790 modem with encryption key and it works fine.
    Jordi , are't the new TV universal rx , ( auto PAL and NTSC) ? If no, I thought they were.
  • Developer
    Thats funny, i tried to "encrypt" or add a little extra layer of privacy to my UAV system that i opted to use PAL systems here in the US. People with NTSC receivers or monitors will not catch my signal by accident... 900mhz and 1.3Ghz are so common here that is likely that someone can catch it.
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