Amateur hackers compromise US military drones

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

Militant groups operating in Iraq have reportedly used off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from a number of US Predator drones.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the $26 Russian SkyGrabber application has been deployed by Iranian-backed insurgents who routinely exploit an unprotected communications link between the unmanned craft and ground control stations.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) was reportedly informed of the flaw during the 1990's, but mistakenly assumed that enemy combatants would be unable to take advantage of the vulnerability.

Unsurprisingly, the DoD insists there is little evidence that insurgents have ever taken control of the drones or interfered with their flight paths. ??

"There did appear to be a vulnerability," an anonymous defense official told the WSJ. "There's been no harm done to troops or missions compromised as a result of it, but there's an issue that we can take care of and we're doing so."

Meanwhile, SkySoftware developer Andrew Solonikov claimed he was unaware that the application could be exploited to steal unencrypted drone feeds.

"It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet - no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content," said Solonikov.
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