Tags: War on Terrorism | robot | drone | hacking | weapons | terrorists | security

Expert: Terrorists Hacking Into Robots, Drones to Use as Weapons

By    |   Thursday, 16 April 2015 11:00 PM

The "day of robo-hacking has arrived" – and America's security and defense systems are totally unprepared, Defense One reports.

The rise of the criminal and terrorist unmanned aerial vehicles – UAVs – is "completely incompatible with our current security paradigms… our security and defense mechanisms were meant to protect us from offending human criminals, not robotic ones," author Marc Goodman writes for Defense One.

In a chilling history of the threat, Goodman traces robo-hacking by Iraq's Shia militants of American drones to as early as 2009.

"Using a $26 piece of Russian hacker software known as SkyGrabber, commonly sold in the digital underground to steal satellite television signals, the insurgents were able to intercept the video footage emanating from the classified Predator drones," Goodman writes.

"[A]s the Americans were watching the insurgents, the insurgents were watching back, providing them with a tactical advantage and vital intelligence on coalition targets."

It wasn't a first, Goodman reports.

The Department of Homeland Security uses drones to protect the border – but discovered in 2012 they weren't so secure.

According to Goodman, University of Texas at Austin students discovered a way to hack the drones – and even tried to tell Homeland Security, which blew off the young nerds, arguing DHS unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, were "unhackable."

"After months of back-and-forth, officials were finally persuaded to participate in a demonstration by the students, at which point the UT wunderkind seized the flying robot and began flying it sharply off course, leaving DHS officials with their jaws agape," Goodman writes.

They did it by changing the coordinates on the drone’s GPS usig hardware they'd built for under $1,000, Goodman writes.

The students' professor, Todd Humphreys, told Goodman afterward: “In five or ten years we’ve got 30,000 drones inhabiting the national airspace…. Each one of these could be a potential missile to be used against us.”

These days, Goodman warns, Iranians have taken notice, using the same technique to "jam the communication links of an American RQ-170 Sentinel drone overflying their country, forcing it into autopilot mode."

In one hack, a drone "followed its programming and returned to base in Afghanistan, or so it thought," Goodman writes. "In reality, the Iranians had successfully spoofed the UAV’s GPS signals, flying the robotic soldier right into the hands of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."

Terrorists also are turning to robots as weapons, Goodman writes.

"In both Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorists have deployed … vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices… commonly known as car bombs, to destroy multiple buildings and rock entire neighborhoods, with some vehicles’ containing up to seven thousand pounds of explosives," he said.

But potential abuse of self-driving vehicles is only the beginning, he writes.

"Criminal techies can attach to drones, including firearms," Goodman writes. "YouTube is already replete with hobbyists showing self-built remote-controlled flying robots that perform elaborate tasks such as tracking and shooting people with water pistols and paint balls—a pastime ideal for criminal or terrorist adaptation."

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The "day of robo-hacking has arrived" – and America's security and defense systems are totally unprepared, Defense One reports.
robot, drone, hacking, weapons, terrorists, security
Thursday, 16 April 2015 11:00 PM
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