Iraqi Insurgents Hack Drones

$26 software gives access to predator's camera
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2009 7:02 AM CST
Iraqi Insurgents Hack Drones
A predator drone has its camera checked in this Oct. 25, 2007, file photo.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(Newser) – Iranian-backed insurgents in Iraq have hacked the video feed from US Predator drones using software available online for $26. Though they haven’t been able to take control of the unmanned aircraft or disrupt their flights, intercepting the video may allow them to anticipate or evade US strikes, and know which areas the drones are monitoring, highlighting a vulnerability in what has become Washington's weapon of choice in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Militants have had the capability since at least late last year, when US military personnel found drone video feeds on a Shiite militant’s laptop. This summer they found what a Wall Street Journal source calls “days and days and hours and hours of proof” that insurgents routinely intercepted feeds and shared them with many other extremist groups. “It is part of their kit now.” Officials, who are working to encrypt the feed, say the US has known about the drone vulnerability since the 1990s, but assumed our enemies wouldn't know how to exploit it. (Read more spy drones stories.)

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