Drone Video Hacks -- The Cyber War Salvo

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The Air Force has staked its future on unmanned aerial vehicles commonly referred to as drones. 

This week information became public that video feeds from the drones used in Afghanistan had been intercepted. One defense official openly stated that there is a risk when using drones given they are remotely operated and use bidirectional controls based on the video feed and other data that is sent to remote locations that operate the drones. 

Those characteristics are not the problem! While the DoD scurries to encrypt the drones video feeds in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to eliminate this leak, it goes to prove once again that Security is built in and should not be bolted on later.  Decade-old components currently in use are and will be a challenge to encrypting the feeds. 

The Global Information Grid (GIG) in operation for over 25 years old, is not up-to-date and does not have the latest technologies like many of the militaries systems. When the GIG and other systems were designed and placed into operations, cyber attacks and the threat of cyber warfare was nowhere near the threat it is today and not considered to be part of the critical design criteria.

This is one example why we estimated the DoD will need to spend approximately $65 billion between 2009- 2012 to address cyber attack vulnerabilities and upgrade their critical systems.

FACT:    December 2008 - U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered copies of Predator drone feeds on a laptop belonging to a Shiite militant.

FACT:    SkyGrabber a commercially available software package from Russian company SkySoftware was one of the applications that enabled the capture of the video feeds.

FACT:    Drones account for 36% of the planes in the service's proposed 2010 budget.

-- Kevin Coleman

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