U.S. learns Iran has been intercepting Predator feeds for past yearWASHINGTON -- U.S. military officials said Iran has acquired or developed systems that could hack the software on advanced U.S. UAVs, including the Predator.
They said Iranian operatives used off-the-shelf software to intercept Predator UAV feeds, which allowed Teheran to monitor U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile sets off from its hangar at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in November. AFP/Bonny Schoonakker
"Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation," U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula said.
"Not if they are encrypted", said local putz and know nothing Epaminondas
Deptula, head of the air force's UAV program, said the MQ-1 Predator and other advanced unmanned platforms were employing payloads deemed vulnerable to hackers. He cited a new reconnaissance payload, "Gorgon Stare," designed to enable a UAV to simultaneously relay 10 video feeds.
The Iranian interception of U.S. UAV feeds has taken place for more than a year, officials said. In late 2008, U.S. troops captured an Iranian-backed Shi'ite operative in Iraq whose laptop computer contained files of Predator UAV videos.
Officials said Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has supplied systems to its operatives in Iraq to monitor U.S. UAVs. They said the Iranian-backed operatives, from Hizbullah, Mahdi Army, Special Groups and other Shi'ite militias, were employing the SkyGrabber program to intercept Predator video relays. SkyGrabber, designed in Russia, has been advertised on the Internet for less than $30.
"There is evidence that the same software could be used to intercept communications from our fighter-jets," an official said.
The U.S. military has not ruled out that Iran could relay the same software and techniques to Islamist insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan. Officials have acknowledged that Iran was providing support to Taliban, which has become significantly more effective against NATO forces over the last 18 months.
"I'm especially angry that people at the Pentagon knew this was a vulnerability going back to the 1990s and they didn't do anything," Rep. Jim Langevin, a Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said.
"They didn't think our adversaries would figure it out. So, you've got people from Third World countries who've figured out a way to hack into our systems. That greatly disturbs me."
Officials said the Defense Department ordered the air force and army to examine the vulnerability of UAV reconnaissance payloads to hackers. But they said the development of effective encryption counter-measures could take up to five years
Local know nothing Epaminondas retorted that for several hundred dollars per drone the video feeds could have been made unreadable in about 3 months with effort.
"Every capability comes with its advantages, disadvantages, benefits as well as potential weaknesses," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
We're doomed. These people are simply INEFFECTIVE SECOND RATERS WHO WILL ACCEPT FAILURE AND EXCUSE IT