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Terrorists Hack Into US Predator Drones Via Iran

Updated on December 17, 2009

Hackers hacked their way into intercepting downloads from the US Predator drones flying overhead in Iraq. The software, as cheap as $26, can easily be got on the Internet. Iran is suspect in obtaining this media and using it to intercept live video taken by the drones. This enables them to evade or monitor where the drones are flying. The Iranian supported insurgents use cheap software to seize the video link between the drone and ground unit. This last link is surprisingly, shockingly, unprotected!  Shiite fighters have downloaded a program called Skygrabber, which allows them to  capture drone video feeds. The upside of this embarrassment is that there is no way they could take control of the drone itself. The video helps the terrorists avoid roads and buildings that the drones focus on over and over again.

This interception of drone video feeds was discovered late last year when a terrorist with a laptop was captured. US troops checked the laptop and were shocked to see drone video on the computer. As time went on, by July, 2009, more evidence revealed the same things on a variety number of laptops in Iraq. Interrogations revealed that they had received the "know how" from Iran in Iran. Recent events in Afghanistan reveal similar issues now with the Taliban using laptops.

Oddly, the weak link is in the video link between the drone and ground control has has been known since Bosnia in the 90s! Encrypting the last link seems to be a difficult fix, even though, other links to satellites do not have that problem. There has been no fix because up to know, there was no need as the US did not feel the terrorists were capable of intercepting the video link.  The fix is actually complicated since the system is a decade old and newer hardware must be in place. SkyGrabber, which costs $26, was created by a Russian programmer, Andrew Solonikov, who was shocked to find out what his little program was capable of doing with some tinkering. He had designed it to steal music, photos etc.

A newer drone is being deployed armed with a Gorgon Stare camera system that allows one drone to transmit 10 videos at once versus the one video now.  This should keep the terrorists busy! They may need more powerful laptops, LOL.


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    • Singular Investor profile image

      Singular Investor 8 years ago from Oxford

      Maybe they could figure out who is watching them and drop a missile on them !

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 8 years ago

      ironically, when video is sent, it goes to a satellite and to the ground station, it is the last link that is not encrypted.

    • Singular Investor profile image

      Singular Investor 8 years ago from Oxford

      Really shocking stuff. It makes you wonder if they won't one day figure out how to take control of the drones and start using them against the US ! Or maybe we could all download the software and see what's going on. Absolutely crazy ! You'd think they could come up with something foolproof.