American Morning

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December 17th, 2009
07:00 AM ET

WSJ: Insurgents hack U.S. drones

By Siobhan Gorman, Yochi J. Dreazen and August Cole
From The Wall Street Journal

U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds from Predator unmanned aircraft.

U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds from Predator unmanned aircraft.

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.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. B. amraam

    Teheran has constantly indicated that the sole purpose of acquiring a Nuclear bomb is for the destruction of Israel period ! That is not a defensive purpose but an act of aggression. Ahmadenajad started this whole thing by opening his big mouth.

    December 21, 2009 at 6:11 am |
  2. A. Smith, Oregon

    This sounds like a border-line propaganda piece planted by the American CIA to induce the Taliban fighters to use their laptops in hopes of zeroing in on their locations which American forces have routinely done before on Taliban leader cell phone communications.

    Taliban leaders quickly figured out if they continued using their cell phones, they would be bombed and have gone low-tech to evade such detection. This article looks like cheese bait being offered to the Taliban fighters to fire up their laptops in hopes the American communications grid will detect them and consequently bomb their location.

    December 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  3. nancy

    Great ~~ hope they can't reprogram them send them back on our soldiers.

    December 17, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  4. mike-sey

    Old story: Invent a bow; invent a better shield; invent a bigger cross bow; Perfect air bombardment; invent radar; invent chaff etc etc
    then invent the ultimate defensive weapon – the nuke.

    Ask an American and he says its for defense and deterrence. Ask a Russian or Chinese, same answer. Ask an Israeli and again its defensive. So what 's the problem with Iran having defensive weapons systems? After all they are the ones under most threat of attack judging by the sounds and actions out of Washington, Tel Aviv, London .

    So stop getting your knickers in a knot: It wasn't nukes that started the latest round of killing; It was box-cutters, wasn't it? And I'll lay dollars to doughnuts they weren't made in Iran, Afghanistan or even Saudi Arabia.

    December 17, 2009 at 10:00 am |