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Officials say there is no evidence that flight control systems were compromised

The U.S. military makes heavy use of UAVs in many areas of the world for reconnaissance duties. The UAV is widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in Somalia and other locations. The drones are used to track and sometimes attack targets when needed.

The Wall Street Journal reports that enemy insurgents have been able to use a commonly available piece of software to intercept the unencrypted feeds that the drone uses between the aircraft and ground control. The software used by the insurgents to capture the video feeds was a $26 app available online called Sky Grabber.

One of the developers of the Sky Grabber software told the WSJ in an email, "It [Sky Grabber] 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."

The military claims that there is no indication that he insurgents were able to take control of the drones or interfere with their flight in any way. However, some fear that the ability to capture the live video feeds will allow the insurgents to track the position of the drones to better avoid attack and surveillance. The big fear is that intercepted feeds could be used to discover allied troop surprise attacks and lead to the death of allied soldiers.

The interception of the video feeds from the aircraft was apparently not a onetime occurrence. In the summer of 2009, the WSJ reports that the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof" that the video feeds were being intercepted on a laptop that was recovered from a Shiite militant.

A defense official James Clapper was asked to assess the interception of the feeds and concluded, "There did appear to be vulnerability. 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."

The military is working on encrypting all feeds from its drone aircraft, but adding encryption to the feeds requires not only updates be added to the drones, but updates to the control systems on the ground as well. The U.S. first learned of the flaw in unencrypted drone feeds in Bosnia during the 1990s, but the Pentagon assumed that the insurgents wouldn't know how to exploit the vulnerability.

While the evidence of feeds found was most prolific in Iraq, there is evidence that the feeds have been intercepted in Afghanistan as well. "There was evidence this was not a one-time deal," said a person close to the matter.

Fixing the security gap in the drones during the program development would have added delays according to former security officials and would have added to the cost of the drones. Even the new generation of drones called Reaper have feeds that are unencrypted.

It's unclear whether the successor to the Reaper called the Avenger will suffer from the same issue with unencrypted security feeds.

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RE: *forehead palm*
By Nfarce on 12/17/2009 12:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
The DOD.

DOD, FDA, NASA, NSA, SSA, Medicare/Medicade, GSEs like Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, and whatever government entity would run our health care. It doesn't matter - they're all government bureaucratic operations prone to multiple failures - all are examples of why we should not be turning our very livelihood over to yet another government bureaucratic operation.

RE: *forehead palm*
By Spookster on 12/17/09, Rating: 0
RE: *forehead palm*
By Nfarce on 12/17/2009 8:34:39 PM , Rating: 2
Who the F needs to wear a tin foil hat when we can all just simply see the efficient government success stories of Medicare, Medicaid, VA health care, Social Security, the IRS, the ..........

RE: *forehead palm*
By Spookster on 12/18/2009 12:16:07 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah maybe we should let the successful financials industries of wall street run them, ooh wait never mind they collapsed the economy again, ok maybe the auto industries, ohh wait they just keep running their businesses into the ground, ok well lets just keep the current insurance companies running things, oh wait they keep inflating costs beyond what anyone can afford.

RE: *forehead palm*
By weskurtz0081 on 12/18/2009 12:40:51 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, because having roughly $10 Trillion dollars in debt=success!!!

Come on man, you think the government is good at running things? Seriously?

Plus, tell me exactly why medical costs are so high, and how changing how it is paid for will fix the REAL problems.

How about this. Let the businesses run themselves, but actually have some small BUT efficient regulations that prevent some of the things that have recently happened. You know, changes in government regulation assisted in the collapse of the financial industry....

RE: *forehead palm*
By Spookster on 12/18/2009 12:42:18 PM , Rating: 2
Well lets see the government has been running this country for over 230 years and not collapsed and failed yet. How many private companies can make that claim? Having debt does not mean failure. This country will always have debt no matter who is in office and no matter what anyone does short of wiping out every country we owe money to.

RE: *forehead palm*
By Nfarce on 12/18/2009 12:53:50 PM , Rating: 2
Well lets see the government has been running this country for over 230 years and not collapsed and failed yet. How many private companies can make that claim?

The government has NOT been running companies for 230 years. That's the point , ace. Private companies (or corporations) succeed and fail in a free market with competition. But people like you want the government to run everything and all aspects of our lives from cradle to grave, right?

And by the way, it seems to me the GOVERNMENT is doing a damn fine job of cooking the debt books (IE: raising the debt ceiling) every time they outspend themselves. You tell me what company can get away with THAT accounting practice these post-Enron days there, chief.

RE: *forehead palm*
By Spookster on 12/19/2009 3:48:26 AM , Rating: 2
People like me huh? Go drink some more kool aid and buy some more tin foil.

RE: *forehead palm*
By weskurtz0081 on 12/18/2009 5:52:23 PM , Rating: 2
So, considering everything that is going on, would you say things are getting better or worse?

Do you think running a perpetual deficit is a good thing?

RE: *forehead palm*
By SlyNine on 12/18/2009 3:20:20 AM , Rating: 1
So what's better, for you're insurance CO to go down because of bad choices, or your government?

I think there is a way health care could be done that would work out, I think it is really possible that the gov could do this.

But I'm afraid they will try and fail miserably and we will all suffer from it. Not to mention our kids.

We do need better health care. I'll admit that, but we need a solution that makes sense and doesn't get caught up in bureaucratic bullshit.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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