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US Sentinel Drone Fooled Into Landing With GPS Spoofing

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the here-droney-droney-droney-droney dept.

The Military 647

McGruber writes "Following up on the earlier Slashdot story, the Christian Science Monitor now reports that GPS spoofing was used to get the RQ-170 Sentinel Drone to land in Iran. According to an Iranian engineer quoted in the article, 'By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain.' Apparently, once it loses its brain, the bird relies on GPS signals to get home. By spoofing GPS, Iranian engineers were able to get the drone to 'land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the remote-control signals and communications.'"

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The truth slowly comes out (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389250)

The more important aspect of the truth that's slowly leaking out is that U.S. officials are finally admitting [cnn.com] that it was on a spy mission inside Iran and dropping that ridiculous cover story that it was just flying around Afghanistan and accidentally may have strayed into Iran (oopsy, whoopsy, did we cross your border?!?).

Of course, most non-idiots have known for some time that the CIA and Mossad have been in a state of undeclared war with Iran for several years now--assassinating their best nuke scientists and engineers, spying on their facilities, helping fund the Green movement, releasing Stuxnet and other viruses aimed at sabotaging them. etc., etc. But die-hard apologists (who seem to think that all those people at the CIA just stare at the wall all day, I suppose) have refused to accept this. These are probably the same people who believe the Pakistani government when they claim they had no idea Osama Bin Laden was in that compound in Abbottabad and that they're still our good friends (please keep sending us your money, infidel allies). But I digress.

Re:The truth slowly comes out (4, Insightful)

Aldhibah (834863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389320)

You mean the CIA has been actively trying to halt the nuclear weapons program of a nation who is opposed to the United States? Surely you jest!

Re:The truth slowly comes out (5, Insightful)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389494)

With apologies to Under Siege 2:

The US government is spying on Iran's nuclear ambitions. We (Americans and Iranians) know about the spying. And they know that we know. But we make-believe that we don't know, and they make-believe that they believe that we don't know, but know that we know.

Everybody knows.

Re:The truth slowly comes out (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389756)

I know it's hard to believe. And SPYING to do it, no less!!!

Re:The truth slowly comes out (5, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389762)

Halting would be one thing, but the reality is that the CIA started off trying to prevent Iran restarting a nuclear weapons program that had already been halted, then it moved to trying to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons in a couple of decades that it would not likely be able to ever deliver. It is now trying to stop Iran having deliverable nuclear weapons in two years.

The assassinations, sabotage of equipment and virus infestations have led to a massive increase in Iran's investment and a net acceleration of the program.

As halting goes, this is a total, unmitigated disaster beyond all possible imagining. Doing absolutely nothing at the start would have been sounder policy, based on data available. Doing bugger all once the program had started would still have given us ten years WE DON'T HAVE ANYMORE.

Whatever lunatic thought up the program needs their head examined because this is the kind of absolute failure of intelligence (and wits) plus absolute failure of strategy that has led to the US spending $1tn on achieving bugger all in the Middle East this past decade. $1tn we taxpayers have to fork up. $1tn we don't have, won't have and will never have because we're going to now be pulled into another $1tn disaster. WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY ANYMORE, EITHER!

Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, and by that standard half of CIA HQ should be locked up in a padded cell. This is inexcusable stupidity beyond all comprehension.

Re:The truth slowly comes out (5, Insightful)

sbrown123 (229895) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389846)

You mean the CIA has been actively trying to halt the nuclear weapons program of a nation who is opposed to the United States?

Maybe a better, simpler solution is to build good relations with those who oppose you? This current strategy doesn't seem to be working very well and looks like it will only end with lots of people getting killed.

Re:The truth slowly comes out (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389334)

So, the Iranians admit to spoofing GPS positions and this *isn't* used as an excuse to say 'the Iranians tricked it into crossing the border'? Color me impressed.

Re:The truth slowly comes out (5, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389616)

So, the Iranians admit to spoofing GPS positions and this *isn't* used as an excuse to say 'the Iranians tricked it into crossing the border'? Color me impressed.

When Coke originally changed the recipe and then had to do a LOT of backpedalling to restore the original flavour (and get the sales back), the CEO made a wonderful comment on the whole thing. People were accusing Coca Cola of doing this on purpose to drive sales. Keough answered this speculation by saying "We're not that dumb, and we're not that smart".

I think this can very much also apply to this situation. The US government wasn't dumb enough to openly admit to spying and the like, but they weren't smart enough to concoct your excuse before the cat was out of the bag.

Re:The truth slowly comes out (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389860)

you can see it this way but considering the whole discussion in Israel about strike against Iranian nuclear lunatics one may say it is a perfect occasion to show the lunatics that the landing may indeed be hard and they may face opposition from infidels. In one sense it is a good thing that may have caused rethinking in some circles, alas nobody seriously expects that Iranian hardliners actually would ever give up or?

Re:The truth slowly comes out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389698)

The problem is that your "die-hard apologists" will keep believing that people at the CIA stare at the wall all day. Evidence does not convince these people.

Re:The truth slowly comes out (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389914)

ever since I saw 'Men who stare at goats' I understand the truth and it is that CIA people most likely do stare at things, these being goats, walls etc and sometimes strange things happen....

What I really wanted to say is this however: now I became jedi and all those CIA and evil souls in teheran beware!!!

Can't trust that it was in Iran (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389912)

That was my first obvious guess. We've been doing reconnaissance overflights of hostile countries since at least the Cold War.

But now the Iranians claim they effectively had control over the aircraft. If true, they could have easily jammed it in foreign airspace and led it to an Iranian landing. I trust them to tell the truth less than I trust the CIA.

Iraq? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389284)

Following up on the earlier Slashdot story, the Christian Science Monitor now reports that GPS spoofing was used to get the RQ-170 Sentinel Drone to land in Iraq.

I'm not sure how having the drone land in Iraq is supposed to benefit the Iranians...

Re:Iraq? (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389662)

I'm not sure how having the drone land in Iraq is supposed to benefit the Iranians...

If you have a bazzillion of these things flying around in Iraq, and probably very few whizzing around Iran, it seems a better training ground.

Re:Iraq? (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389804)

Iraq is a suburb of Iran, thanks to an ill-advised, expensive, badly-planned and utterly botched invasion that rivals only Operation Market Garden in the degree of utter failure.

Somewhere in the engineering process (4, Funny)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389316)

I just know somewhere in the process of the multi-billion dollar drone development project someone must have said, "You know. I think a self-destruct mechanism might be a good thing to add." Of course, I can also imagine someone saying, "Yeah, they'll never even see it. It's stealth."

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (2)

SomeWhiteGuy (920943) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389380)

Could you imagine the headline if it had exploded in Iranian airspace?

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (4, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389450)

Or crashed near some homes and self destructed while some kids were dragging it home.

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (3, Funny)

laughing_badger (628416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389384)

This supposes the drone is not full of weaponised swine flu virus. #tinfoilhat

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389456)

I'm surprised that it didn't have some sort of dead-reckoning or inertial system as a backup in such cases. If the dead-reckoning says "whoa, it is physically impossible for you to be anywhere NEAR where you think you are so ignore the GPS, go on inertial" ...

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389526)

> I'm surprised that it didn't have some sort of dead-reckoning or inertial system as a backup in such cases.

Betcha they will now.

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389638)

I'm surprised that it didn't have some sort of dead-reckoning or inertial system as a backup in such cases. If the dead-reckoning says "whoa, it is physically impossible for you to be anywhere NEAR where you think you are so ignore the GPS, go on inertial" ...

Oh just RTFA already. You broadcast spoof coordinates that are identical to the actual ones and then drift them. The GPS, and inertial system if present, would see mistake it as a strong breeze or sensor drift.

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (4, Insightful)

rabtech (223758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389748)

I'm surprised that it didn't have some sort of dead-reckoning or inertial system as a backup in such cases. If the dead-reckoning says "whoa, it is physically impossible for you to be anywhere NEAR where you think you are so ignore the GPS, go on inertial" ...

You forget that these things are designed by bloated defense contractors. These are the same people that were caught transmitting unencrypted video signals from spy drones that enemies were recording OTA.

It wouldn't shock me in the slightest if it really was that easy to hijack the drone. It also wouldn't shock me that they didn't build-in any destruct safe-guard that erases all software, blow all fuses, and use the battery to burn the internals. In fact wrapping an Li-ion polymer pack around the control board then purposely putting the battery into overload to make it catch fire seems a reasonable way to handle it. Have it listen for a short encrypted destruct packet over shortwave that is encrypted with a one-time pad so they can blast the destruct signal at high power and have it bounce all over the world. I'm quite sure you could make it incredibly difficult to block that simple short destruct signal.

Of course you must remember that it would be highly beneficial for Iran to claim they brought it down on purpose. Why you would tell your enemy how you did it publicly is beyond me.

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389780)

Or even switch to star tracking for navigation (the SR-71 used a star tracking system for navigation long before the rise of GPS).

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (4, Insightful)

ironjaw33 (1645357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389830)

I'm surprised that it didn't have some sort of dead-reckoning or inertial system as a backup in such cases. If the dead-reckoning says "whoa, it is physically impossible for you to be anywhere NEAR where you think you are so ignore the GPS, go on inertial" ...

This reminds me of a cruise ship running aground [ieee.org] because a GPS antenna came unhooked. The crew was supposed to use LORAN to verify the GPS every hour, but they didn't.

In some ways, the US may have learned just as much from this as the Iranians. Losing one unmanned aircraft to learn of a serious exploit that has implications far beyond drones might not be such a bad result.

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (2)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389854)

How much does an inertial guidance system weigh? I know they try to make these things as light weight as possible, could it have been left out deliberately?

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (4, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389530)

A movie-style self destruction system like you're imagining (effectively computer controlled bombs planted all over the device) are a lot more dangerous to the ground crew than is really acceptable for all but the most closely guarded secrets. Having the computers and crypto gear self-wipe in event of capture is already standard procedure and probably happened here, but having the thing go up in a giant fireball because some tech accidentally shorted something while working on the bird is just not acceptable.

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389736)

Who needs bombs, Just climb to max altitude and do a nose dive from 50,000ft.

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389844)

No bombs needed for a self destruct. Just put the drone into 'permanent' climb mode.... let gravity do the rest.

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389576)

From a backseat engineering perspective, having some degree of local failsafe to back up the GPS would have been a good plan...

The fact that GPS can be spoofed is not exactly a new discovery. "GPS Simulators" that provide a spoof GPS signal(for convenient testing of GPS gear in RF-enclosed environments only, of course...) are commercially available test equipment. Not inexpensive; but totally off-the-shelf. And, given how many commercial and military applications rely on GPS tracking or timekeeping it isn't as though there aren't plenty of people who would be able to make money or gain advantage by mucking with the signal. Detecting stealth aircraft is something of a specialty problem, fooling GPS units is one that would actually have fairly broad applications.

A compass and some accelerometers(or even a view of the sun and an RTC) are a lousy substitute for the accuracy of GPS; but they do provide a sanity check that could keep you going in approximately the right direction, at least enough to hard-land somewhere nominally friendly, if GPS cannot be trusted...

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (4, Insightful)

Bugs42 (788576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389798)

A compass and some accelerometers(or even a view of the sun and an RTC) are a lousy substitute for the accuracy of GPS; but they do provide a sanity check that could keep you going in approximately the right direction, at least enough to hard-land somewhere nominally friendly, if GPS cannot be trusted...

It's almost certain that this drone DOES have an inertial navigation system - the problem is, how do you know when to use it? The way they usually work is that the navigation system computes two solutions: a hybrid GPS/INS solution to use most of the time, and a backup inertial-only solution. The inertial-only solution doesn't get used by the flight computers unless GPS is out entirely or there's some other very obvious problem. If you spoofed a GPS signal with real coordinates and slowly guided it away, how could the nav system see there's something wrong?

Re:Somewhere in the engineering process (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389852)

... how much weight would these explosives add? surely there are many solutions that are more efficient from an aerospace engineering POV.

nice hack (5, Insightful)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389324)

putting aside allegiances for a moment and looking at this from a purely engineering standpoint: bad ASS!!

Re:nice hack (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389398)

I am glad I was not the only one who thought the same thing. Hey, can we hire the person from Iran who came up with that one?

Re:nice hack (5, Funny)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389476)

They probably outsourced it to someone in India.

Re:nice hack (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389838)

Probably the same guy in India the US military outsourced the design and construction of GPS to.

Re:nice hack (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389628)

They're working quite closely with Russia on their nuclear program. They probably did this for a bit of fun. A jammer and some GPS spoofing is not very hard for another government.

Re:nice hack (3, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389646)

Start by firing the persons from the US who *didn't* think of it ?

Re:nice hack (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389414)

I have my doubts... no aviation system should rely solely on one data point for navigation. GPS is good, but easily jammed, counting on it in a military situation is questionable. The story would also imply that the Iranians cracked the encryption that military grade GPS uses, which would be far more concerning than merely losing a stealth drone. Until I hear otherwise, I'll have to doubt that the drone has no inertial navigation, VOR navigation, or compass & dead reckoning system.

Re:nice hack [easy, really] (5, Informative)

Thagg (9904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389728)

You don't have to crack the encryption. You can just record and playback the signals from the satellites, with appropriate time delays, at an intensity several orders of magnitude higher than the drone would receive the signals from the satellites.

Re:nice hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389782)

When your military grade GPS signal is jammed, does it fail over to a dumb unencrypted connection?

Re:nice hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389892)

If you ask Mr. Occam: The navigation system was most probably set to fall back to the public L1 C code if both L1 and L2 P codes were being jammed. Falling back from L1 P to the orthogonal L1 C actually is viable if you assume that an undecipherable signal means that the decryption keys are missing.

Re:nice hack (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389906)

Ummm, these are the same guys that broadcast unencrypted video from these same drones. If the drones actually had encryption hardware, don't you think they'd be using it everywhere? Ergo, they're not using military-grade GPS (which doesn't really have much meaning ever since they shut down the jitter they added for civilian systems making them equal in resolution to military systems).

Re:nice hack (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389428)

Engineering over politics, that's the spirit! High five!

Re:nice hack (2)

DigitalGoetz (2510424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389452)

It's a simple and cunning means of scooping up years and billions of dollars of research. The fact that it was so easily captured is simply the blind faith that the military and intelligence community put into GPS systems. It's been reported a few times now that there are methods of exploiting, or at least disabling, GPS for certain regions. It's just sad that the billions of dollars didn't include someone as crafty as the Iranian engineer or engineers who came up with the drone-trap plan.

Re:nice hack (3, Interesting)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389746)

Being captured is not a problem, in fact it is a lobbying positive since it means that the Military Industrial Complex now needs more money to carve out a technological lead. The worst thing that can happen from a funding perspective is that the US military is perceived as so far ahead that it can't be technically challenged.

Re:nice hack (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389604)

My thought was not so much on the bad-ass nature of Iran's engineers, but rather the distinct lack of bad-ass-ness among the American engineers.

Between stuff like this and Chinese hackers (and now Chinese aircraft carriers, apparently), it's becoming more and more clear to me that the US military needs to get its eye back on the ball.

Re:nice hack (4, Insightful)

Strudelkugel (594414) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389644)

putting aside allegiances for a moment and looking at this from a purely engineering standpoint: bad ASS!!

My guess is that the real story behind this incident is very different from what we might be getting from any source.

Military using common GPS? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389342)

So, first of all, this is just really neat. It sounds like something that would happen in a movie. That's some movie-hacker shit right there.

That aside, the thing that really worries me here is that the military's GPS was able to be spoofed in the first place. One would think that the GPS the military relies on would be encrypted or something, y'know? How difficult is it to spoof military GPS?

Re:Military using common GPS? (2)

oh-dark-thirty (1648133) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389444)

My understanding is that the only difference between military and civilian GPS is the accuracy. From gps.gov (take with a grain of salt, of course) "... military users can perform ionospheric correction, a technique that reduces radio degradation caused by the Earth's atmosphere. With less degradation, PPS provides better accuracy than the basic SPS."

Re:Military using common GPS? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389458)

Yeah, I'm fairly sure this came up in a Bond movie. The one where the bad guy wanted TV rights to China. So he got some US military coding ring or whatnot that could send out properly signed GPS signals, and made some ships move into Chinese waters starting a war.

Re:Military using common GPS? (5, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389482)

GPS is mostly unencrypted. There are some bits (the highest precision bits) that can be pseudo-encrypted so only the military has the most accurate positioning information available, but that obfuscation has been turned off for a number of years now. The GPS signal is too weak and low bitrate to make super secure. Drowning out GPS is relatively easy to do too, because the signal is so ridiculously weak to begin with.

I wouldn't be surprised if the next generation drones (and revisions of the current gen) have more inertial navigation equipment that is trusted over GPS in cases where the GPS suddenly shifts position in flight. Inertial navigation won't get a bird home safely (the error bars get really really big over time), but it might let the thing fly away from the GPS jammer/spoofer.

Re:Military using common GPS? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389850)

Drone: "GPS jamming detected; requesting assistance, switching to star tracker navigation" seems like a simple message to send over a high-frequency satellite communications link

Re:Military using common GPS? (3, Insightful)

Erik Noren (926115) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389522)

There's no secret or trick to it - you just broadcast the same way as a GPS sat (the protocol is well documented) and since the broadcast is local, it's more powerful than Satellites. People use GPS jamming devices to get out of paying tolls in the US - that's just broadcasting noise on the right channel. Spoofing is more refined - broadcasting actual offsets in the right channel. Really, military grade equipment should use some inertial tracking as well to prevent sudden-location shifts common with spoofing. But hindsight, weight limitations, etc.

Re:Military using common GPS? (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389840)

"People use GPS jamming devices to get out of paying tolls in the US - that's just broadcasting noise on the right channel."

Care to explain? Automated toll collection systems use license plate cameras to detect evaders.
Not quite sure how GPS figures into that.

Re:Military using common GPS? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389536)

One would think that the GPS the military relies on would be encrypted or something, y'know? How difficult is it to spoof military GPS?

You know its been the militaries GPS all along - we civilians are just allowed to play with it. History of GPS [wikipedia.org]

Re:Military using common GPS? (5, Interesting)

Bugs42 (788576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389538)

One would think that the GPS the military relies on would be encrypted or something, y'know? How difficult is it to spoof military GPS?

Very. The military GPS signals are encrypted with some pretty large keys that are changed every 24 hours IIRC. However, the nav systems will probably fall back to using the civilian GPS if the military signal is unavailable for some reason. My guess is that you could drown out all the real GPS signals with noise, then feed the target some spoofed civilian signals to get it to go where you want.

Re:Military using common GPS? (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389868)

The military GPS signals are encrypted

Wrong. The P-code is the encrypted GPS signal. P-code != military because:
1. Non-military government agencies can also use the P-code (NASA,CIA).
2. Some military assets do not use P-code (this drone).

Re:Military using common GPS? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389558)

> It sounds like something that would happen in a movie.

You can bet it'll be in the script for Mission Impossible V.

Re:Military using common GPS? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389648)

That is what doesn't make a lot of sense. GPS has to signals. One is the commercial signal and the other is the military signal. The Military signal is encrypted so it doesn't make a lot of sense that the Iranians could "spoof" it. Jam it yes but spoofing seems a bit much.
I am shocked that something like this doesn't have a celestial navigation system as a backup.

Re:Military using common GPS? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389732)

We're all taking the word of an unnamed unsubstantiated "Iranian Engineer" as gospel?

A much better explanation (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389362)

Than Iranian UFOs [beforeitsnews.com]

FAIL (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389382)

Another kind of piracy SOPA will not stop

Why... (4, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389402)

was an expensive military drone using civilian GPS? The military has encrypted GPS signals (the P codes), which I very much doubt have been cracked. I'll bet someone made a decision to fallback to relying on unencrypted signals, instead of self-destructing after X minutes, upon loss of the encrypted signals.

Re:Why... (3, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389600)

Either that or the drone was considered low-value enough not to even merit having access to the P codes.

If it didn't have P code access, chances are likely there isn't much of real value for the Iranian reverse engineers.

Re:Why... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389658)

Because the public bitched about the military budget too much.

Encryption and self-destruct mechanisms cost serious money and the American (civilian) mentality is "well you ALMOST never use/need those things so just skip over those things and save a couple million dollars!"

Re:Why... (1)

Ries (765608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389718)

What would be the purpose of giving your enemy a remote to detonate your drones? =)

Re:Why... (1)

bheilig (516136) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389742)

Thanks for posting this. When decrypting the P code the receiver is operating in AS mode (anti spoofing). The module that is used to decrypt it is called SAASM for Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module. All military receivers have them. So I had the same thought.

It's also possible it did not have current decryption keys.

Bad month for Drones (4, Interesting)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389404)

Also, there was the 2nd drone crash that happened recently after the Iran one, here. [csmonitor.com] They didn't cover this one as voluminously it seems. And now we see this.

Bad month for US drone interest and parties involved.

The drone landed in Iran (2)

Olli_Niemitalo (1626637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389472)

not Iraq as the summary says.

Damn that's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389500)

It should rely on inertial navigation and only use GPS to correct itself once in a while. I can't believe there's no checking against a physical model. The thing's moving at x speed in y direction, but suddenly the GPS indicates it's actually moved instantaneously more than the % of error from the INS? Nonsense.

Re:Damn that's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389802)

It should rely on inertial navigation and only use GPS to correct itself once in a while. I can't believe there's no checking against a physical model. The thing's moving at x speed in y direction, but suddenly the GPS indicates it's actually moved instantaneously more than the % of error from the INS? Nonsense.

Yes, exactly, except that you're entirely wrong and obv. didn't RTFA. Your spoof coords are initially identical to the real coords, and then you drift them gradually. "% of error", blah blah blah, nonsense, blah blah blah won't catch that. Do you really think engineers who work on these kinds of projects are that feebleminded?

Re:Damn that's stupid (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389866)

The thing's moving at x speed in y direction,

And the thing is moving in a fluid system that has a speed of y and a direction of z. Internal nav is fine, but if you do not take into account the mass of air you are flying in you can quickly become "lost". In 0 wind the idea of a plane navigating by its own X and Y to a destination is all good. Add in windspeed and direction and now the plane has to account for drift. The only way it can know drift if is can compare its internally plotted position with a known position (GPS) or triangulate on at least three positions. (This from a pilot who got lost on his second cross country flight forgetting to verify position).

I'll agree that it is surprising that such a sophisticated system would not have redundant backups for just this reason. Add to that, if there is a loss of communication the system should compare the original takeoff spot against two nav references. If one indicates continue movement away from take off it ignores that one in error till is confirms the other. If both fail, crash the plane.

Most civil aviation planes have both GPS and radio nav to cross reference against. They could even use existing RF (DF technology) to indicate location. I see my tax dollars are being well spent in Iranian airspace.

What can solve this problem? (3, Funny)

BLToday (1777712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389512)

A man in the pilot seat.

Re:What can solve this problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389624)

I bet Gary Powers would disagree with you.

unlikely (4, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389516)

(land in Iraq, really?) Anyway, jamming isn't terribly difficult, especially when you're that close to the receiver. But "spoofing" GPS signals is a great deal more challenging. It's not the data on the gps signal, it's the timing that is the position information. If they were able to pull THAT off, they deserve the drone. and a pat on the back.

If I had to guess I'd say they were lying about doing that, possibly hoping to make the US start questioning their reliance on GPS, since it's proving such a handy arms tool.

Re:unlikely (4, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389766)

Agreed. Especially since correctly timing the spoofed GPS signals requires knowing the location of the (stealth) drone you're trying to trick.

Most aircraft use a variety of navigation methods too, not just GPS. You have inertial, radio beacons (e.g. the old LORAN system and current VOR), terrain recognition. If the military didn't specify during the design phase that the drone be able to determine its position using a variety of these different methods and to reasonably handle loss of one or several of these methods of navigation, then it deserved to lose its drone.

Re:unlikely - actually: likely (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389806)

But "spoofing" GPS signals is a great deal more challenging.

Surely not. I am certain it formed the basis for a James Bond movie back in the 90's. If the concept has been mainstream for all that time, the only real surprise is that nobody has succeeded in doing it before.

Secure GPS (1)

Ted Stoner (648616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389520)

So the upshot is to secure GPS communications to prevent spoofing using countermeasures as discussed here [globalsecurity.org] .

Cool story bro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389542)

These are the same Iranians who say they'll be mass producing clones of this thing "real soon now" and that they can "cut the hands off of" anyone who crosses them, so take their claim of how they got the drone with a similar grain of salt.

Editors: In Australia 'spoof' means 'sperm'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389546)

2283 Australian ./ers saw this title and immediately visualised the GPS antenna on the drone getting clogged with the good stuff.

Did anyone else catch that? In Iraq? Not Iran? (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389550)

From the summary: "GPS spoofing was used to get the RQ-170 Sentinel Drone to land in Iraq."

Iraq? Did it land on the border and where? Maybe I'm missing something, but wouldn't crossing a border to steal a military item be an act of war?

Or is it just a typo?

Re:Did anyone else catch that? In Iraq? Not Iran? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389808)

It's a typo, but nobody gives a flying fuck as someone is trying to get their karma up way up high...

Anyone else notice how similar this is to... (1)

BLToday (1777712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389582)

Anyone else notice how similar this is to Terminator: Salvation?

Humans: We found a way to shut down the machines with this special code.
Skynet: heh-heh.
Humans: Oh no, the special code was a ruse and doesn't work. We're all dead.
Skynet: :)

BOOM.

GPS spoofing (4, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389586)

Those GPS spoofers got to Slashdot too, apparantly, fooling the editors into thinking that the drone landed in Iraq.

Re:GPS spoofing (2)

ph1ll (587130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389894)

Yeah, how could the Slashdot editors confuse Iran and Iraq? One is an oil-rich country who's government was toppled by Britain and America and the other is... oh, wait...

Question Is.. (1)

Metadex (2514832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389592)

Are we still flying these over Iran or other potentially hostile territories while a solution is implemented?

GPS 0 COMPASS 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389610)

'just means they will put a compass in the next one. Let see them thwart a compass!

Turn your car into a drone. [goo.gl]

Iraq != Iran (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389630)

Following up on the earlier Slashdot story, the Christian Science Monitor now reports that GPS spoofing was used to get the RQ-170 Sentinel Drone to land in Iran.

FTFTFS. TFA got it right. They got the drone to land in Iran.

By spoofing GPS, Iranian Engineers were able to get the drone to 'land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the remote-control signals and communications.

So they hacked our drone and tricked it into venturing into their airspace. Obama needs to put on his big boy pants and demand they return it immediately. Until proven otherwise, they've admitted that it was only in Iran because they deliberately tricked it into crossing the border. They don't get to claim finders keepers for that.

Or maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389656)

It's a trojan horse somehow, ...

Geeks are all the same... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389670)

FTA:

"We all feel drunk [with happiness] now," says the Iranian engineer. "Have you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied many-fold."

No 'hey does this make sense?' code in the drone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389692)

I'm guessing that this type of thing has not happened before so no one thought of it, but it seems a little bit of code in the drone that did a kind of double check would have made sense.

Something along the lines of: Hey, I was just flying over Iran (insert GPS coord's here) and now suddenly I've traveled x thousand miles to my home and I should land. Hmm, that doesn't make sense, maybe I should do: 1) blow myself up, 2) fly for a little while longer to see if I get sensible data, 3) ?

If a spy drone could be made to land that easily, it really concerns me about what other 'bugs' exist in the automated military hardware that exists.

So my question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389700)

Is how the hell was our super high tech 'stealth' spy drone spotted in the first place so it COULD be spoofed? Looks like the billions of dollars spent coming with *that* model went to good use.

Re:So my question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389836)

It too is a spoof...

It was filled with advanced technology (to Iran) - 8-track players,
AM radios, and a VHS camera.

wings and tails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389712)

They probably have the real helicopter tail section from the Bin Laden snuff operation.

And we want these things armed ... why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389768)

Wow. Just... wow. Good thing no one has thought to put any, say, sidewinder missiles on these puppies. How hard would it be to take one over and blow the crap out of....

Wait, never mind.

Can I get a: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389776)

USA! USA! USA!

How did they know to do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38389784)

Whas China involved in sending Iraq information on these drones that would allow them to be compromized?
China has hacked into pretty much everything and stolen with impunity from everyone including defence contractors... (Oh, no, where're not a war with China either...)
Could China have passed technical specifications of these drones to their ally Iran?

propaganda - Military uses Encrpyed GPS (2, Interesting)

Taelron (1046946) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389796)

This story sounds like more propaganda spin.

The GPS network satelites broadcast two signals:
Encrpyted - Used by the US Military
Unencrypted - Everyone one else (Including pilots, car navigation, your hand held gps...)

The Accuracy of the encrypted signal is much higher than the unencrypted signal. In fact the Military has the ability to vary the degree of accuracy and drift of the unencrypted gps signal. They use to vary it daily to keep enemys from using it against us. A practice that has subsided now that air travel and other services rely so heavily on GPS. Yet the Military still maintains and excerts the ability to manipulate the gps accuracy in any zone.

Its much more difficult to "spoof" an encrypted signal.

And images of the bird show damage to the wing indicating it smashed into something hard enough to dent and tear the carbon composite outer skin.

And what happens.... (3, Interesting)

GigG (887839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38389814)

What happens when Iran or some other country uses this technology to cause one of our manned combat aircraft or worse yet a civilian aircraft to overfly their airspace and then they shoot it down?
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