May 9, 2013

"Taking over the controls of a drone is beyond the capabilities of members of such militant organizations."

"For that to happen they need to hack into the private encrypted network of the Pentagon or physically overpower the links between the drone and GPS with airplanes, which these organization do not have."

Okay, then.

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian said:
"It is the stated position of the U.S. Air Force that their safeguards would prevent the occurrence of such events as are depicted in this film."

58 comments:

Mogget said...

Taking over the controls of a drone is beyond the capability of members of such militant organizations."

Yet. I have to think that there might be folks who would read something like that and consider it a challenge...

Tim said...

The comments on the story are more interesting than the story itself.

Seems Obama voters think conservatives and Republicans are just like al Qaeda.

Nice.

David said...

The science is settled.

Mitchell the Bat said...

My concern is that our Jihadi friends might take control of our television sets.

If we're forced to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits, the terrorists have won.

The Drill SGT said...

You don't need to take over the controls. Watch you need is to jam the signal, causing us to lose positive control over the drone. Which is what may have happened with our high tech stealth drone over Iran. Absent positive control, most drones have a recovery plan embedded, but things go wrong and drones crash when on their own...

cubanbob said...

The capabilities may be beyond what a terrorist group is capable of but is it beyond the capabilities of a terror aiding and abetting nation?

The Drill SGT said...

PS: spoofing the drones GPS loc program seems to work well:

Google Texas drone hack
----------------------

When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security dared a Texas university research group to bring down a flying drone, the team accepted the challenge and did just that.

Turns out it's not too difficult to hack a drone.

Nor too expensive, for that matter. RT reports that the University of Texas at Austin scientists, led by Professor Todd Humphreys, managed to bring down a flying drone with a spoofer costing just $1,000. The research group gained control of the University-owned drone by using a device to hack its GPS system, according to Scientific American.

Bob Ellison said...

It's the ABM treaty all over again. At some point, people in power and people in academia, and especially people in the US State Department, will begin arguing that continued drone use and development, and continued work to harden drones against attack and take-over, is an evil thing. This will begin as a cleaving issue that both conservatives and liberals support, for different reasons.

Then, thirty or forty years later, some bold POTUS will say "don't let's be stupid and abandon technology in the interest of political correctness."

Scott M said...

If losing control of an armed drone to militants is even a possibility, the most sensible thing to do is to simply remove the hackable link. Give the drone an advanced set of protocols and remove human decision-making from the loop.

You can tie the whole thing into a large computer network back at base for the downloading of mission instructions prior to launch and uploading post-action briefs after landing. Call it Skynet. Yeah, that's it. That's the ticket.

Palladian said...

" It is the stated position of the U.S. Air Force that their safeguards would prevent the occurrence of such events as are depicted in this film."

Robert Cook said...

Given that hackers have in the past successfully penetrated supposedly secure government websites, it seems purely hubris for the US to claim taking control of a drone is beyond the capabilities of members of militant organizations.

That aside, what ye sow so shall ye reap: other nations and perhaps even private organizations will almost certainly develop or acquire their own drones in future, and then we won't have a monopoly on remote controlled long distance bombing, and they won't be alone in being on the receiving end.

Lauderdale Vet said...

Amusing. In the last episode of Castle someone hijacked a drone to murder someone in NYC.

How timely.

James said...

Didn't Iran hijack a U.S. drone two years ago and then taunted Obama about it?

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/12/iran-did-capture-a-secret-u-s-drone/

What's to stop them from sharing that knowledge with others?

James said...

How Iran hacked super-secret CIA stealth drone

"More damage is being dished out to the US intelligence community as sources in Iran admit to hacking the CIA’s lost drone and bringing it down with not much more than computer navigating know-how.

Engineers with the Iranian military are admitting to the Christian Science Monitor that the dramatic disappearance of a multi-million dollar stealth drone aircraft suffered by the United States two weeks ago was indeed a result of their own doing, claiming now that they managed to hijack the system inside the craft with ease and bring it to a safe landing without incident.

The United States originally denied they lost a drone over Iran before changing their story and insisting that they lost contact with the craft during a surveillance mission over neighboring Afghanistan. Iranian officials quickly corrected Americans by displaying footage of the spy-plane and revealing that it was apprehended over 100 miles from the country’s border with Afghanistan."

LarsPorsena said...

"Taking over the controls of a drone is beyond the capabilities of members of such militant organizations,” said Clarke. “For that to happen they need to hack into the private encrypted network of the Pentagon or physically overpower the links between the drone and GPS with airplanes, which these organization do not have.”

_____________________________________

Well, until the Chinese give them some hints.

betamax3000 said...

This is why it is better to just make your own Drone, preferably with ordinary items you find around your home.

Tibore said...

Substance first:

While it's true that encryption methods and other mitigation factors will make hostile takeover of a drone's control mostly a small- to non-concern, it's not the entire story. Either disrupting communications or the drone's sensory apparatus is good enough to negate it. While that's still easier said than done, it's also not something that requires the same level of technical sophistication as breaking encryption.

I wouldn't frame the problem as merely needing to break encryption. The real issue is how to disrupt the drone's functions. This one writer may be concentrating on "hacking" it, but others with half a brain will realize what the truly productive methods of countering them will be, the point being that the real problem is of a different scope.

Now, beyond substance to a tangential issue: Richard Clarke. Nice guy, his heart's in the right place, but he's the sort of guy who you want to verify information from. He's got a reputation among IT security professionals as being somewhat alarmist and a bit of an exaggerator. Now granted, he's gone the opposite way in this specific case, stating that security is actually good for once, but at the same time, things he says normally needs context and additional information. He tends to point in the right direction, but only that; you normally need to look in that direction, then learn what the truth really is.

Paddy O said...

The key is to get the guy who wrote the software.

That's what Castle taught me this past week.

betamax3000 said...

For instance, my Drone will be equipped with a toaster, and have the ability to drop toasted bread on targets from high altitudes.

betamax3000 said...

When toast rains relentlessly from the sky on a clear blue sky you will know the Betamax3000 Drone has just been by.

Peter said...

When it comes to encryption, you'd think people would learn after awhile.

Last year: "It would take the lifetime of the universe to crack this encryption!"

This year: It's cracked.

Remember how WEP ("wired equivalent privacy" for WiFi) was supposed to be, well, as secure as a wire? Until it wasn't.

The story of encryption is mostly that yesterday's invulnerable encryption ... gets cracked. And replaced, until ...

And so it goes. You'd think people would learn to be more modest when making claims about the security of an encryption system.

betamax3000 said...

clear blue day.

furious_a said...

"Taking over the controls of a drone is beyond the capability of members of such militant organizations."

I disagree because...cross Bradley Manning with Nidal Hasan. Could have been a drone command center instead of a communications center where personnel were apparently allowed to bring personal communications devices and removable drives on their duty shifts.

betamax3000 said...

The key is for the toast to be at the perfect point of toastedness before being deployed.

betamax3000 said...

The Betamax3000 Drone can also deploy toasted bagels for crowd control situations.

betamax3000 said...

I was smart enough to not buy all eighteen toasters at the same time, of from the same place. Plausible deniability.

betamax3000 said...

Unbuttered toast from high altitudes can be very abrasive.

Phil 3:14 said...

To be fair, the scenario of "Dr. Strangelove" and "Fail Safe" didn't happen; nor did we even come close.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't guard our precious bodily fluids.

edutcher said...

Hate to say it, but Cook has a point.

War is very often doing what "can't be done".

Sarge's point is, of course, technically the most feasible, but, if we're going to talk James Bond scenarios ("Never Say Never Again"), this is certainly one of them.

rhhardin said...

I use rot-13 for important communications.

Nonapod said...

If they use keys with at least 256 bit encryption it's unlikely to be brute forced with anything outside of a quantum computer (and even then probably not in a realistic time frame).

Aridog said...

Yep, sho' nuff...then thar militants could never figure out drones. That's why there are 20 pages of drone toys available at Amazon ...they don't scale up, right? Never mind civilian larger models like The Focal Plane by Rotary Robotics...

Your enemies love it when you underestimate them. Really.

Reminds me of those IT experts who used to think a mere PFC couldn't possibly download data from multiple global sources without much trouble...and hand it all off to boot. Oh, wait ...

betamax3000 said...

Strawberry Pop-Tarts strike from Above: the Betamax3000 Drone has Arrived!

MisterBuddwing said...

I've always found the disclaimer at the end of Fail-Safe (1964) a tad more ominous than Strangelove's:

THE PRODUCERS OF THIS FILM WISH TO STRESS THAT IT IS THE STATED POSITION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE THAT A RIGIDLY ENFORCED SYSTEM OF SAFEGUARDS AND CONTROLS INSURE THAT OCCURRENCES SUCH AS THOSE DEPICTED IN THIS STORY CANNOT HAPPEN

For some reason, the lack of a period at the end is a bit perturbing to me...

betamax3000 said...

Toaster Waffles! They will never know what they will be Hit with next!

The Betamax3000 Drone has Let Go of its Eggos!

Paul Zrimsek said...

Even if they could get hold of the required Hollywood Hacker Display with the improbably large green-on-green text, they probably don't have the equally required Hot Brunette With Glasses.

betamax3000 said...

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission...

Aridog said...

I wasn't clear...to me, it isn't about an enemy taking over one of our drones, it is about an enemy devising a simpler drone suited for their needs and using it against us. The technology is all over the place...defeating some one else's encryption is the least of the issues.

Best parallel example of low tech fucking us up...IED's in Iraq and Afghanistan....hell even way back in Vietnam and buried re-worked artillery shells.

I'd hope our conceit doesn't continue to harm us.

AprilApple said...

Hillary! Clinton's big lie.

bpm4532 said...

It's impossible until it's not.

wyo sis said...

We do the difficult immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.

AprilApple said...

No self-destruct sequence. Like in 007 movies?

AprilApple said...

oh wait.. mission impossible.

Lem said...

Don't you first have to miniaturize a jihadi?

CWJ said...

I recently saw Clarke on ABC and was surprised he was still around. How is it that Richard Clarke is still an authority on any of this? My recollection of him in the wake of 9/11 was as an attention whore willing to run his mouth beyond his actual knowledge. I think its been over a decade since he was on the inside, and I trust there has been much technical change since he was in a position to actually know any of this.

Shawn L. said...

"Amusing. In the last episode of Castle someone hijacked a drone to murder someone in NYC.

How timely."


Especially since the linked news article was from ABC News. Is this life imitating art? Or a promo for Castle imitating as news?

Synova said...

Heh... watched that episode of Castle last night.

Seeing Red said...

Castle just had an episode on that.

Seeing Red said...

No one will ever fly planes into buildings.

gbarto said...

That would require "airplanes, which these organizations do not have."

Leland said...

If the drone is flying by GPS, then all that is necessary is spoofing GPS. Otherwise, I'm with the Drill SGT, jam it.

Kirk Parker said...

"...cross Bradley Manning with Nidal Hasan."

How about Hasan all by himself? One rogue drone operator could do a lot of damage, couldn't he? It's not like these things have dual firing controls a la ICBM's, do they?

Kirk Parker said...

And of course, one way to describe that is it's just hacking into a different part of the control system.

Scott M said...

"It is the stated position of the U.S. Air Force that their safeguards would prevent the occurrence of such events as are depicted in this film."

Is that irony? Prior to last week, I'm pretty sure the Air Force had a stated position against sexual assault, but damned if the officer in charge of making sure it doesn't happen wasn't arrested on charges of sexual assault.

Smilin' Jack said...

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian said:
"It is the stated position of the U.S. Air Force that their safeguards would prevent the occurrence of such events as are depicted in this film."


cf. also Fail Safe:

[FINAL CREDIT]: The producers of this film wish to stress that it is the stated position of the Department of Defense and the United States Air Force that a rigidly enforced system of safeguards and controls insure that occurrences such as those depicted in this story cannot happen.

TerriW said...

Rhhardin: I'm a firm believer in rot-26.

Sam L. said...

It may BE beyond, now, but as Mogget said...

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Elsewhere in the 80-page tome, the magazine calls upon the “Ummah,” the community of Muslims all over the world, to hack and manipulate U.S. drones, identifying drone attacks as “one of the utmost important issues that the Ummah must unite to come up with an answer to.”

Now I'm really mad. Ending a sentence with a preposition, indeed!