Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected
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. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance. The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.
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.
Intelligence reporter Siobhan Gorman discusses how hackers were able to gain access to U.S. military drones, and what type of information insurgents accessed.
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, the person said. "It is part of their kit now."
HERE'S something from the SkyGrabber's site about this program (I'm just pasting a part of it) :
This program sounds a little bit like a bittorrent program in that it grabs things whether it's legal or not, according to the news on it being used on drones.
SkyGrabber is offline satellite internet downloader. It accepts free to air (FTA) satellite data (movie, music, pictures) by digital satellite TV tuner card (DVB-S/DVB-S2) and saves information onto a hard disk. So, you'll get new movie,
best music and funny pictures for free.
You don't have to keep an online internet connection. Just customize your digital satellite TV tuner card (DVB-S/DVB-S2) to satellite provider and start accepting free to air data. SkyGrabber has simple and attractive GUI, powerful filter system and flexible settings. If you want to have the newest legal software for free, SkyGrabber is your choice.
- Filtering information by the types of files ( mp3, avi, mpg and etc. )
- Filtering information by IP, MAC addresses
- Simultaneous work on the internet and handling satellite data
- The monitoring system resources
- Showing progress downloads
- Handling TCP, GPE, IP, MPE packages
- Handling HTTP responses (200, 206)
- Support dreamboxes
Supported digital satellite TV tuner cards:
The SkyGrabber uses own media engine that supports the following manufacturers of digital satellite TV tuner cards: