Box Cutters and SkyGrabbers
Whether it's box cutters or satellite file sharing software, this, in my view, again challenges the notion that a preponderance of troops and treasure exhausted in one part of the world is the right way to fight an allegedly global war on terrorism.
The WSJ has an embarrassing report today on how Iraqi insurgents have been hacking America's multi-million dollar Predator drones--and for under $26:
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.
The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software's developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept 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," he said by email from Russia.
My sense is that this will get exaggerated and blown out of reasonable proportion by some, but setting aside the painfully foolish system security--no encryption???--this screw up reveals a more salient point, and brings to mind an old cliche: where there's a will there's a way.
Whether it's box cutters or file "intercepting" software, this, in my view, once again challenges the notion that a preponderance of troops and treasure exhausted in one part of the world is the right way to fight an allegedly global war on terrorism. There will always be fringe elements who hate the United States and wish us harm, but trying to pick them off continent-by-continent makes far less sense to me than diverting resources toward cyber-security, not to mention biological weapons security and regulation.