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.

Views: 347

Comment by Toby Stein on December 16, 2009 at 11:54pm
hmmm... Interesting
Comment by IraqiGeek on December 17, 2009 at 2:31am
The only surprising bit in the article for me is that "the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it". Seriously?!

They operated satellite links that cost loads of money per minute to operate but don't bother to spend a few extra dollars to encrypt them?!!!!!!

People have used programs like skygrabber since the summer 2003 as a means to get a sort of "free net access" as those programs capture all the downlink traffic on a given transponder. People who were/are into this sort of thing tend to move their satellite antennae to just about any satellite that is known to provide internet services in the hope of capturing "useful" traffic data. Given how widespread this practice is overthere, and teh fact the links where unencrypted, I'd hardly call this a "hack"
Comment by Overwatch on December 17, 2009 at 5:36am
Once again, higher-ups have decided that security-through-obscurity is cheaper than real security and hence better.
Comment by Patrick Egan on December 17, 2009 at 8:27am
It appears that the Iranians are paying attention.
Comment by paul hubner on December 17, 2009 at 9:23am
I'm a security penetration tester. While I am not surprised that this has happened due to poor security architecture, I am very surprised this flaw was not far more widely known. When you combine geeky engineering types (like us!) with an irresistible, testosterone laden subject matter (those cool drones) and easily accessible software, one would expect there would already have been an iphone app created years ago!

Come to think of it - anyone want to write an iPhone App ;-)
Comment by bGatti on December 17, 2009 at 9:27am
I agree; it was far more irresponsible to use unencrypted data feeds than to let two random-yet-searched individuals into the whitehouse - which means congress should drop the superfluous and hold a hearing with Boeing & Lockheed to see if they are in the 21st century - internet-wise. Based on their cellphone superstitions though, I'd say I know the answer... ring memory anyone?
Comment by Patrick Egan on December 17, 2009 at 10:02am
No, the vendor community is a few years behind the curve, they work at a more bureaucratic pace.
Comment by Jack Crossfire on December 17, 2009 at 11:09am
Happens all the time on 72Mhz.
Comment by TopperS on December 17, 2009 at 11:16am
I think IraqiGeek is most realistic. I'll bet most likely someone over there simply found the video by accident. Then word spread quickly. The Govt and security people like to imagine it's a big well thought out hack to CYA without making them look dumb. If they enemy was just a bit smarter you don't look so dumb. Vs their complete stupidity was found out by accident and exploited on purpose.
Comment by Patrick Egan on December 17, 2009 at 11:20am
I don't take the Iranians for fools.


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