Here’s a story I did yesterday about Iran airing the video of the captured US Drone.
Following from last week’s post on drones, here is more from Rushing on the Iranian drone [also, this post on it from Juan Cole]. Recorded Future has a revealing timeline tracing the story back to 2007. In sum, it seems like it is possible the drone was hacked, despite reports to the contrary, and there is evidently a history of incidents leading up to this which make it more comprehensible - though no less problematic for drone boosters. For instance, in 2009, to quote a WSJ article at the time,
Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.
If it only takes a $26 off-the shelf software to intercept the feed, it isn’t radical to assume a bit more investment in some custom software could result in a hack that could hijack and land a drone.
On the other hand, this portends something in relation to the original thread on the domestic use of these drones. Saturday’s story of “the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator [Drone]” received a lot of attention. The drone was used to find a few suspected cattle rustlers who authorities didn’t want to confront head on because, like any good rustlers, they were “brandishing rifles.” North Dakota police called in the drone to help hunt them down in their 3000 acre plot of property. The LA Times story (linked above) mentions that this comes in conjunction with reports of the use of Predator Drones by FBI, DEA and ICE all mentioned in the story, all “without any public acknowledgment or debate.”
While I agree it is concerning - and that there should be more public acknowledgement and debate going forward - it gives me pause to think of this in relation to the Iraqi insurgent’s $26 hack (which, after all, was into a Predator Drone like the one use in North Dakota and on the border). If the drones are primarily used for spying, how long before those kinds of software packages become something 2nd Amendment advocates find necessary to prevent government control. In 10 years, will the average North Dakota gun store have a little display hawking jamming equipment or other technology to protect against (or hack into) drones like this one? On the one hand, the average paranoid Freeman sympathizer might start stocking this stuff to protect against the unlikely surveillance of his (sic) compound - making drone hacking platforms a new growth industry for the gold-buying, water purifying, survival food market (in other words, the folks who probably don’t have anything to worry about.) On the other hand, the use of drones by ICE and DEA just ups the ante for drug runners and coyote smugglers of illegal immigrants. It should be fun for the rest of us to watch them fight it out.