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Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the smart-phones-are-way-smarter-than-smart-bombs dept.

The Military 448

JonZittrain writes: This summer, ISIS insurgents captured Mosul — with with it, three divisions' worth of advanced American military hardware. After ISIS used it to capture the Mosul Dam, the U.S. started bombing its own pirated equipment. Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

We already require extra authentication at a distance to arm nuclear weapons, and last season's 24 notwithstanding, we routinely operate military drones at a distance. Reportedly in the Falkland Islands war, Margaret Thatcher was able to extract codes to disable Argentina's Exocet missiles from the French. The simplest implementation might be like the proposal for land mines that expire after a certain time. Perhaps tanks — currently usable without even an ignition key — could require a renewal code digitally signed by the owning country to be entered manually or received by satellite every six months or so.

I'm a skeptic of kill switches, especially in consumer devices, but still found myself writing up the case for a way to disable military hardware in the field. There are lots of reasons it might not work — or work too well — but is there a way to improve on what we face now?

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Like DRM? (5, Insightful)

Matt_H (34421) | about two weeks ago | (#47826053)

As desirable as it would be in the case if ISIS, wouldn't implementing such kill switches on weapons be as ineffective as DRM for copyrighted material, with undesirable side-effects for "legitimate uses" and plenty of workarounds for "illegitimate" users?

Just use a relay... (4, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about two weeks ago | (#47826153)

I am reminded of Asimov's story "The Mayors," in Foundation (first published in Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1942, in which an "ultrawave relay" disables the warship that the Foundation sold to the Anacreonian navy when the Anacreons try to use it against them.

QUESTION? (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about two weeks ago | (#47826597)

Who is "us" in this story? Why the inclusive pronoun? Nobody attacked me. Nobody attacked the United States or United Kingdom.

Examine your thinking and question your assumptions - or other people will do your thinking for you - manipulating your self-interest and good will to ends that do not serve you well.

Re:QUESTION? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about two weeks ago | (#47826859)

Who is "us" in this story?

*I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together*

Re:QUESTION? (0)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about two weeks ago | (#47826907)

Nobody attacked the United States.

James Foley was an American. So was Steven Sotloff.

Re:Like DRM? (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about two weeks ago | (#47826257)

Hell with kill switches. Lots of fucking C4 buried in hidden compartments and a remote KABOOM switch would have been better.

Go ahead take our gear.....

Re:Like DRM? (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about two weeks ago | (#47826369)

Yeah, and soon as the bag guys find out about that, they can start blowing up the stuff while "our side" was still using it.

Re:Like DRM? (2)

mlts (1038732) | about two weeks ago | (#47826551)

Easy fix... one time pads. Tank number 128 gets a transaction, it decodes it using the OTP it has in a secure part of the controller, then blows e-fuses on the other equipment.

Since there isn't a need for public key encryption, having a remote site and the tank share a pad is feasible and as per basic crypto theory, if the key is as long or longer than the encrypted communication, there is no feasible way to break it. An attack would have to be done at the remote site, or at the tank itself.

Re:Like DRM? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about two weeks ago | (#47826607)

absolutely, dirt simple and uncrackable by the worlds best. Worst case is you lose the remote destruct ability if you lose the servers with the remote detonate pads.

Re:Like DRM? (1)

fnj (64210) | about two weeks ago | (#47826743)

Your servers with the pads will get Pwned so fast it will make your head spin.

Re:Like DRM? (1)

claar (126368) | about two weeks ago | (#47826757)

> Worst case is you lose the remote destruct ability if you lose the servers with the remote detonate pads.

More like worst cast is it accidentally is triggering due to component failure or impact from a high-moving projectile/explosive..

Re:Like DRM? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826277)

Shouldn't have left the shit behind in the first place. Why use technology, instead of common sense?

Re:Like DRM? (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about two weeks ago | (#47826673)

Several opportunities could have averted the disaster that is Iraq...

Not left the country until we'd established a true core of military lifers with a culture to stand behind it.

Collected all of the previous Iraqi military's weapons and not left them with the ex-soldiers that we fired.

Not disbanded the previous Iraqi military, and instead molded them into the defense and Gendarmerie to actually keep the country from going into chaos post-defeat.

Put enough boots on the ground that the country wouldn't have gone into chaos post-defeat.

Not kicked-over the government so completely that its leader fled, leaving the power vacuum.

Not invaded in the first place.

Like DRM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826615)

Exactly. There's a reason hummvees and tanks don't have locked ignition switches. It goes something like "Holy shit, we're about to get vaporized! Start the truck! Start the truck!"

Re:Like DRM? (2)

s.petry (762400) | about two weeks ago | (#47826875)

As desirable as it would be in the case if ISIS, wouldn't implementing such kill switches on weapons be as ineffective as DRM for copyrighted material, with undesirable side-effects for "legitimate uses" and plenty of workarounds for "illegitimate" users?

Yes it would, so technology is not the answer. Remember that these are not US weapons we sold to someone through proper channels, which could 'potentially' have legitimate benefit of some type of kill switch. These are weapons that were captured. Why were they captured? Mostly because it was deemed 'too expensive' to move shit out of the country after withdrawing troops, so we 'sold' shit to Iraq and left. Think really long and hard about that one. Then think long and hard about the fact that the US was/is supporting the FSA and other groups aligned with ISIS/ISIL (or whatever the fuck they are being called today).

Yeah yeah, I know.. big shock and the politicians never knew that this would happen...

No. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826069)

Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

No. Next question.

Any system that's trusted to grant or revoke capabilities must have done way to be authenticated. Any authentication system can be faked with sufficient knowledge. You can control how difficult faking the system can be, or how much knowledge is needed. But it cannot be eliminated.

Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

Re:No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826259)

More than this, they can be bypassed with enough knowledge and unrestricted physical access.

Re:No. (1)

tomhath (637240) | about two weeks ago | (#47826407)

Disabling a piece of equipment before it falls into enemy hands is quite simple. Especially if one of the pieces of equipment you still have in your own hands is a working tank, with a working cannon.

Re:No. (1)

pastafazou (648001) | about two weeks ago | (#47826549)

Never mind the fact that nobody would want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on equipment from a foreign supplier that could be shut down remotely by that foreign power.

Re:No. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about two weeks ago | (#47826721)

They do it all the time. Look at Iran's F-15s, which became little more than scrap metal when the US government banned sales of spare parts.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826713)

How about if some important part of the aiming or guidace systems was on a small removable card?

Then it's less about faking authentication than having to recreate a part of a complex weapons system with no plans or schematics.

Mod up 1000+ (3, Interesting)

bjdevil66 (583941) | about two weeks ago | (#47826749)

I immediately thought of the 1st episode of the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, where 99.9% of their modern military force was rendered inoperable. No. Thank. You.

The best "kill switch" is to kill the idea of leaving a ton of advanced military hardware in the hands of less-than-solid governments in the first place (no matter how much defense contractors want to sell their wares). You'd think we would have learned from Iran and the F-14s we left in Iran in the late 1970s as the Islamic Revolution took place.

The first rule of technology (2)

scubamage (727538) | about two weeks ago | (#47826071)

You cannot permanently defend technology with more technology, just add timesinks. If you create a killswitch, you add multiple attack vectors - either the people who control access to the killswitch themselves, the people who designed the killswitch, or the possibility of brute forcing or exploiting that killswitch.

Silly (2)

rahvin112 (446269) | about two weeks ago | (#47826081)

They don't put disable switches in them because the first thing someone would do is figure out how to disable them. So ISIS would have just disabled the Iraqi equipment, seized it, re-enabled it then disabled the switch.

Not even to mention what would happen to US forces if their equipment contained similar devices.

Re:Silly (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about two weeks ago | (#47826173)

The idea is to have a timer that would automatically disable the equipment unless it received an enable signal, either from a satellite or removable medium. It's possible to make such a system that is, at the very least, very difficult to tamper with. Many of the systems on tanks and so on are computer controlled and if the computers stop working then it's a lot less valuable. The goal of such systems is similar to that of crypto: it's not to prevent the enemy from ever using the tanks that they've stolen, it's to prevent them using them quickly. If you have a few weeks to bomb the stolen equipment before it can be used, and the enemy has to invest a lot of high-tech resources into cracking the systems, then that's probably good enough.

Re:Silly (4, Informative)

TWX (665546) | about two weeks ago | (#47826589)

If I were a soldier for the US military or the legitimate owner of the equipment that I'm trying to use, I would be concerned that something would disable the equipment at exactly the wrong time, or that I couldn't use it when I needed it because of some snafu.

Humvees, tanks, planes, helicopters, even ATVs don't even have keys because when it's time to use it, you don't want to be fighting with the equipment itself, and trying to track down a key, or to enter a passcode, or to do other such things could mean the difference between life and death. Given how harsh a warzone can be to the equipment in the first place, there's no good reason to push your luck by adding more ways to disable stuff.

And you can't use something like personal credentials either, for many electronics, because you don't know who will end up using it. If two companies taking a break together are attacked, every man grabs whatever can to defend, even if it's not his humvee's .50 cal, or not his M72, or not his M60. They need to all be able to use any, and to use the military's organizational structure itself as the safety measure.

As for Iraq, I don't think they'll survive as a country for the next decade. They're bickering about who's in charge when the enemy is literally at the city gates. The Kurds will declare independence and are probably better equipped to fight ISIS than the official central government, and the Shia/Sunni divide will become more pronounced. That's the thing when removing strong-men from power, the power-vacuum is vast and simply wasn't well-enough accounted for, and the middle-east will be paying for that for a long, long time.

This is what he meant when he said, "never get involved in a land war in Asia".

Re:Silly (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about two weeks ago | (#47826609)

The idea is to have a timer that would automatically disable the equipment unless it received an enable signal, either from a satellite or removable medium.

This them becomes a soft spot for enemies. If you use satellites, then this becomes a major weakness in a fight against any first or second world country as they will start shooting satellites down. In the case of some sort of USB like key, that then becomes a top priority to capture for the enemy.

If you have a few weeks to bomb the stolen equipment before it can be used, and the enemy has to invest a lot of high-tech resources into cracking the systems, then that's probably good enough.

In the case of ISIS, the US had plenty of time to bomb this hardware before it became an issue. For whatever reason, those in charge chose not to. It's standard practice for the military to bomb its own downed aircraft during a conflict to ensure the enemy doesn't get any useful goodies from it.

Re:Silly (2)

Jon Peterson (1443) | about two weeks ago | (#47826689)

The idea is to have a timer that would automatically disable the equipment unless it received an enable signal, either from a satellite or removable medium.

Right, but now all the enemy has to do to entirely disable your tank in the field is to disable (or block) the receiver. An enemy with good signals jamming can disable all your armour. Not ideal.

Re:Silly (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about two weeks ago | (#47826753)

The idea is to have a timer that would automatically disable the equipment unless it received an enable signal, either from a satellite or removable medium. It's possible to make such a system that is, at the very least, very difficult to tamper with. Many of the systems on tanks and so on are computer controlled and if the computers stop working then it's a lot less valuable. The goal of such systems is similar to that of crypto: it's not to prevent the enemy from ever using the tanks that they've stolen, it's to prevent them using them quickly. If you have a few weeks to bomb the stolen equipment before it can be used, and the enemy has to invest a lot of high-tech resources into cracking the systems, then that's probably good enough.

Everything you suggest is possible to implement, but herein lies the fault of engineering thinking: logistics. The logistics of maintaining such a system in a manner that is sufficiently secure are just too damned complex to consider them as practical.

If the equipment stole by ISIS could be disabled by default by not receiving the *good-to-go* signal then every other equipment with similar protection is open to jamming. ISIS fighters (and most fighting forces for that matter) are technically savvy enough to constantly jam signals - eventually, they will jam one piece of equipment operated by us or one of our allies.

With such "enabling" equipment in place, then such an incident (jamming one of our own) is probabilistic-ally bound to happen. And that will most likely mean death.

Another option would be to use dongles that activate such equipment, but then again, logistics. How do you procure them? How do you rotate them? What do you do if you lost the dongle, or if the dongle (and/or whoever that carries it) is blown to bits?

The only realistic solution would be to wire equipment sold/transferred to some (not all) allies with electronic keypads that are possibly redundant (multiple interfaces within a tank for example), with multiple paths and fault-tolerant. Such keypads would be on rotation with operating crews knowing the combinations.

But then again, what happens if the operating crew is killed or incapacitated? Another crew would be unable to deploy the equipment. Multiple equipment/crew sets could share a keypad combination schedule, but then, all you have to do is capture and torture enough crew operators to spit the combinations.

Then there is training and the logistics of adding and removing such contraptions (because you do not want such contraptions in *our* equipment).

Logistics and the realities of war make it hardly unlikely to see any such contraptions in the field, me thinks.

No (3, Informative)

GlennC (96879) | about two weeks ago | (#47826089)

Next question.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826101)

Look at what the Viet cong managed to accomplish. Even if a piece of equipment can be secured with sophisticated means, the parts could still be salvaged and built into something else.

It does not matter in any case, as the maxim that physical security is required for any security still holds valid. We cannot secure something if it is in the physical possession of an enemy.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826105)

No.

Theft is not piracy (4, Funny)

kruach aum (1934852) | about two weeks ago | (#47826111)

"pirated" is not the verb you want there, it's "stolen". To equate piracy with theft is purely political and thus retarded and dilutes the meaning of both words.

Re:Theft is not piracy (3, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | about two weeks ago | (#47826181)

I assumed it was like how pirates would steal ships, and then use them.

Re:Theft is not piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826393)

Fully agree. Have you contacted the people at Pirate Bay to tell them that they should properly change their name to File Thief Bay, or do you want me to do that for you?

Re:Theft is not piracy (1)

TWX (665546) | about two weeks ago | (#47826715)

It would be more like, "the unauthorized duplication of files in contravention to copyright status bay". Doesn't have the same ring to it.

Re:Theft is not piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826495)

Well, this is more like actual piracy (you know with real pirates that actually steal things) the problem is the term 'piracy' has been politicized and diluted with a new digital meaning.

Re:Theft is not piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826553)

The language changes, retard. If it did'nt, we would still be going "thee" and "thou". Verily, and shit.

What's wrong with keys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826117)

If the stuff requires complicated keys, you can take/destroy the keys and leave the gear.

Re:What's wrong with keys? (2)

Obscene_CNN (3652201) | about two weeks ago | (#47826301)

Because when someone is shooting at you you tend to drop the keys or forget them or lose them. This is why tanks don't require keys now. Someone was attacked and got taken out because they were fumbling with the keys.

You can't put killswitches in export materiel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826121)

No one would buy it if a foreign power could disable it. Instead, you get what is often called the "export version" or, more colloquially for Russians, the "monkey model." I can assure you that whatever might have been captured in Mosul might have been of American origin and might have actually done some of the things reported, but it has nowhere near the capabilities of the real deal.

Get a magic marker... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826129)

Cause security and things like that can't ever be bypassed or anything...

DRM (2)

peragrin (659227) | about two weeks ago | (#47826135)

Digital restrictions do not work in the real world. With this the military is going to have to pirate it's own equipment to use it.

I can see it now a soldier out in the field goes to fire a rocket launcher and it goes oops sorry we can't connect to the DRM server please try again later.

Name one DRM scheme that hasn't been cracked?

There is a kill switch (1)

chubs (2470996) | about two weeks ago | (#47826145)

There is a kill switch for military equipment. It's called drones.

shooting yourself in the foot (3, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | about two weeks ago | (#47826165)

So what the enemy needs to do to win is to get disable codes?

Given Pentagon's contractor efficiency and reporting requirements, the choices will probably be in a plaintext file accessible from the internet, in a budget report.

Gee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826177)

Maybe not sell U.S. military equipment to anyone.... I know it will reduce the profits of companies that like to make big money off of war and death, but so the fuck what.

Military equipment MUST just work on demand!! (1)

Obscene_CNN (3652201) | about two weeks ago | (#47826233)

Military equipment MUST just work on demand!!! Our fighting men aren't going to want their tank to shutdown right in the middle of combat and have to enter a new key code. There are very good reasons why stuff tanks don't require keys and that discovery was paid for with blood. It sounds like some idiot with no clue on combat requirements wants to impose a technical problem on our fighting men to solve a political problem.

Here's an idea (5, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about two weeks ago | (#47826243)

How about we just stop invading other countries where we know people don't like to see Americans? If we had opted out of the second Iraq war, we could have saved thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and our own collective faces on the international stage. To top it all off we wouldn't need to be having this discussion at all. We didn't accomplish anything with that war.

I know that is not a popular opinion here, but it is the truth.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about two weeks ago | (#47826633)

I know that is not a popular opinion here, but it is the truth.

I think many or even most of us here agree with that view, even if a small minority vigorously disagrees.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

pastafazou (648001) | about two weeks ago | (#47826653)

Not an issue of whether it's a popular opinion or not, it's a useless opinion. You can't change the fact that the 2nd Iraq war was started, so stop bitching about it.

Re:Here's an idea (1)

fnj (64210) | about two weeks ago | (#47826893)

Yeah, ignore and forget it, so we never learn from history. Not good. First, heads should roll. Second, books should be written to help politicians and West Point to understand their idiocy.

Ahhh No. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about two weeks ago | (#47826245)

The US has not given the Iraqi military "advanced" weapons. They currently have no air defense at all except what the US provides them. The most advanced weapon system they have is the M1A1 but even that has had a lot of tech and armor stripped from it.

Surfire way of keeping USA weapons out of reach (2)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about two weeks ago | (#47826267)

Is to stop taking sides in disputes inside hostile (but sovereign) nations and supplying the "good guys" with our weapons.

Re:Surfire way of keeping USA weapons out of reach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826697)

And the "surfire" way for you to stop being a derp is to STFU, two-million UID boy.

My God how far this site has fallen.

I've got a call on the line, from a PAL of yours.. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about two weeks ago | (#47826271)

If the weapon is sufficiently fiddly and delicate, and the attacker has limited time to subvert it, a variety of means might work (many of them already explored with nukes and/or SALT arms reduction verification stuff in the late cold war); but for simpler, more durable, gear, and hardware subject to prolonged attack, Not Happening.

In particular, nukes are (relatively) easy to secure because they include a fair amount of conventional explosive, improper detonation of which will produce a mess but a fairly worthless yield, which offers a nice failsafe option. With devices that aren't as intrinsically touchy, you don't have the same leverage.

Here's what I don't get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826281)

We (the west) have these amazing satellites that can read a newspaper from high orbit. Don't we have weapons that can target these people whilst they are in transit from one city to another to reduce the chances of harming innocent women and children. If we can see them whilst they are travelling between cities in column formation, we should theoretically be able to surically strike them, no?

Re:Here's what I don't get... (1)

Primate Pete (2773471) | about two weeks ago | (#47826767)

Just because I can see the moon in a telescope doesn't mean I can reach out and touch it. It's a matter of physical and logistical problems, not just telemetry.

The answer is surplus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826351)

There is heavy weaponry, modern heavy weaponry, and outdated heavy weaponry. Part of the answer may be to mothball replaced or outdated hardware (yes, expensive but what isn't when we're talking the military-industrial complex), and make that what we arm the ally-of-the-week/enemy-next-year with. If it gets pirated, at least we aren't getting shot with our own best hardware.

At least outfit anything that can kill more than twenty people at once with a satellite beacon so a drone can take it out if it is stolen and deemed dangerous enough.

Composite material wearout/decomposition. (1)

Bonzoli (932939) | about two weeks ago | (#47826381)

Special rings in the chamber that corrode/expand over time or wear out like a lightbulb at 700hours-ish of usage. Guidance chips that require preauth would also work in missles/laser artillery to some degree.
I'd bet on the components breaking down as a better option as its much harder to create a good spring inside a sealed case, etc..

No (1)

guacamole (24270) | about two weeks ago | (#47826389)

As soon as it becomes known that the weapons exported by US have a "kill switch" or the equivalent, a lot of users will simply stop buying them.

missing the point (0)

amias (105819) | about two weeks ago | (#47826403)

We should not make these weapons in the first place , then we would not have these problems.

The situation in Iraq has spiralled out of control from the fallout of the second world war repartitioning of the middle east with not regard for the indigenous people.

war begets war

every time we try and fix it gets worse and now we face the possiblity that the russians and the middle east might unite against us.

we need to back away and leave it well alone and stop selling weapons to anyone.

Easiest "Fix" (5, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | about two weeks ago | (#47826417)

Bring it all back home. For all the hullabaloo about letting technology getting into "enemy hands", including export restrictions, the "let's just leave a bunch of military hardware in the Middle East" scenario was apparently never considered a risk.

Of course, it's too late now for the Mosul equipment, but the same thing could happen anywhere else in Iraq or Afghanistan.

It's almost as if the belligerent, short-sighted idiots are still in charge.

Re:Easiest "Fix" (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about two weeks ago | (#47826587)

If you leave equipment in theatre you have a couple of nice options:

1) You let your allies use it (you do have allies, don't you?).
2) You save on transport costs back to the US and storage costs. Bunker fuel is expensive. If the Chinese can transport a container ship full of trinkets to the US .... Anyway, it costs money.
3) If you leave the equipment, then you have to buy NEW equipment when you need it six months later. Shiney!
4) You can always blow it up later.

What's not to like?

Re:Easiest "Fix" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826649)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clean_Break:_A_New_Strategy_for_Securing_the_Realm

Re:Easiest "Fix" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826895)

Consider the following: How many opportunities does the US get to run real combat exercises against *our own hardware*? How many of those opportunities can have their costs justified as a peacekeeping operation?

Seems like it would be pretty attractive to destabilize a region, load up the locals with your arms and undertrain/abandon the locals to guarantee their future capture.

Re:Easiest "Fix" (1)

bjdevil66 (583941) | about two weeks ago | (#47826777)

It is very expensive, difficult, and sometimes even dangerous to load up all that hardware. Somebody decided it was easier to just sell to a new government that needed a real army to remain in control (which should've been a warning sign in the first place).

tech not solution to social engineering problem (0)

peter303 (12292) | about two weeks ago | (#47826427)

We need leaders who understand the geopolitical situation and can use tools of negotiation. These are social issues, not tech.

Re:tech not solution to social engineering problem (1)

geekoid (135745) | about two weeks ago | (#47826691)

People whose spend there lives studying geo politics don't understand it very well.

No (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about two weeks ago | (#47826431)

Betteridge says no [wikipedia.org]

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826727)

Proposed headline: Is Betteridge's law always true?

No one wants a DRM'd weapon (3, Insightful)

ChilyWily (162187) | about two weeks ago | (#47826437)

Would you want a weapon that would only work if someone else said it was okay to use? It's been tried before but it does not work. BTW, did Thatcher herself figure the codes out? and disable them? I think that credit goes to good British Engineers and not to some politician.

Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826441)

I thought we were the Popular Front

Re:Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS? (1)

Minwee (522556) | about two weeks ago | (#47826635)

I thought we were the Popular Front

"Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?"

"He's over there."

Reality will intrude (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about two weeks ago | (#47826443)

Once the soldiers learn how to disable the lockout it will become unwritten standard practice to remove the lockout before relying on it, all it would take is one incident where it got locked out due to a bug or other failure. Would you want your life relying on a weapon that would stop working if it couldn't phone home?

The verb is scuttle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826479)

The Mosul Armory should have been equipped with an explosive capacity to render the arms and ammunition useless before they could be captured by the enemy. Such a system assumes that the Iraqi military is competent : an obvious fantasy.

stockpiles not overrun in an instant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826505)

and this is not new, ie enemies using captured weapons against others, so WTH don't these stock piles get blown up moments after being taken over? Do we really only find out about this days later?

Wasn't there a huge stock pile of explosives in Iraq left unattended during the takeover and surprise surprise they were what fueled the IED craze which killed and wounded thousands? I'm just saying, there's even recent history how completely dumb it is to leave weapons available to the enemy. Well, unless the military just enjoys a fight so they want wars/fighting to last longer. Silly I know but what else explains the pure ignorance of not directing cruise missiles, or others on these stock piles?

All it would do is add an order of complexity. (0)

flayzernax (1060680) | about two weeks ago | (#47826509)

To add kill switches that can easily be bypassed by anyone. And probably would end up being designed to be bypassed in the long run.

The problem is, how did the equipment get in their hands in the first place?

The solution is, stop putting equipment were it can be aquired by our enemies. That includes shipping it over sea, unless it's going to be physically used in active combat.

But we all know these wars are not:
A. fought to win
B. justifiable
C. directly intended for our or anyones benefit other than rich warmongers

Sure worked for the Iranian F-14s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826517)

They even destroyed the dies used for manufacturing the parts for those planes and the Iranians just made new ones.

Phrased a few other ways... (2)

nimbius (983462) | about two weeks ago | (#47826519)

"Could Tech Have stopped the mujahadeen from using our own heavy weapons against us?"
"Could Tech Have stopped mexican cartels from using our own heavy weapons against us?"
"Could Tech Have stopped Afghani armed forces from using our own heavy weapons against us?"
"Could Tech Have stopped Iraqi armed forces from using our own heavy weapons against us?"

there is no amount of technology that will intercede to short-circuit the natural conclusion of a foreign policy of wreckless interventionalism

non-standard ammo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826523)

I've been told that the US used ever-so-slightly larger ammo & guns than the Japanese in WWII, so that the US ammo couldn't be used in Japanese guns, but the Japanese ammo could be used in US guns.

Of course, this doesn't help if the enemy captures the guns, too.

No (2)

wbr1 (2538558) | about two weeks ago | (#47826527)

Betteridge aside, what we want and should do is scuttle. Destroy the equipment before it is taken if it cannot be retrieved. There may be some logistical hurdles, but this is far easier and cheaper than retrofitting or designing new weapons with a remote kill switch.

Re:No (1)

geekoid (135745) | about two weeks ago | (#47826669)

I'd rather a device that 24 hours after the item has been vacated started send week, and intermittent 'ping'.

So we know there movements and location. And we can target it when its manned.

No (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about two weeks ago | (#47826537)

As usual, the answer to the headline question is "no". No one wants to buy equipment they won't own; there's always the risk of the wrong person using the killswitch; the killswitch can easily be disabled by destroying the receiver so it wouldn't even fulfill its function. I could see killswitches finding use for prison or riot gear, and maybe to prevent tech from getting captured, but as a general rule the military will avoid them like if it were equipment which could all simultaneously stop functioning at a critical time.

We already do this (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about two weeks ago | (#47826541)

We gave or sold F14's to Iran. When they pissed us off, we stopped giving them replacement parts IIRC. I suspect suppliers of complex weapons have similar leverage over the people they sell to in many/most circumstances.

So we already have this, in slow motion.

The kill switch already exists (1)

RobinH (124750) | about two weeks ago | (#47826563)

The US already used its rather effective kill switch technology: precision guided bombs. Simple, effective, and just like any other solution you can dream up for this problem, expensive.

How to improve the situation (2)

Smidge204 (605297) | about two weeks ago | (#47826583)

"...but is there a way to improve on what we face now?"

Sure there is. If you want to stymie this sort fo thing in the future, all you have to do is stop equipping foreign forces with US hardware.

If you're not selling/giving the hardware to non-US forces, it will be very difficult for non-US forces to get a hold of it.

Pretty simple, though that might cut into some weapon manufacturer's profits so it's probably not tenable.
=Smidge=

Is it easy question day already? (1)

Minwee (522556) | about two weeks ago | (#47826601)

"Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?"

No. Of course not. If you can destroy or disable your own equipment remotely then it's only a matter of time before someone else figures out how to use or break that function on their own,.

A much better approach would be to put a little red button on the bottom of everything and let nature take its course.

"I hate warriors, too narrow-minded. I'll tell you what I do like though: a killer, a dyed-in-the-wool killer. Cold blooded, clean, methodical and thorough. Now a real killer, when he picked up the ZF-1, would've immediately asked about the little red button on the bottom of the gun."

Where did this idiot get his history? (1)

Obscene_CNN (3652201) | about two weeks ago | (#47826603)

Where did this idiot get his history? The Exocet missile had no kill switch. In fact British ships were sunk by the Exocet in the Falklands war. IF there were kill codes and Margret Thatcher used them disabling the Exocet missiles how did these ships get sunk?

Re:Where did this idiot get his history? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826831)

This whole article sounds bogus. The nail on the coffin of any credibility is the following quote: "I'll build a tunnel under the Channel. I'll succeed where Napoleon III failed.". Napoleon III never failed to invade the British Islands. The idea never even crossed his mind. He had no reason to go to war with the Brits. Now the author probably thought Napoleon I. Mitterrand as far as I strongly dislike him was an exceptionally cultivated man and he would never have made such a basic confusion. This leads me to think that this whole story is entirely made up. What saved the Royal Navy from a complete wipeout was that 1. the Argentineans had but a handful of Exocet and that 2. France managed to block any delivery or any transfer from third parties.

kill switch? (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about two weeks ago | (#47826619)

Instead of having merely a kill-switch, how about something that will blow up in their faces and decapitate them?

I can think of a couple of way (1)

geekoid (135745) | about two weeks ago | (#47826621)

but they both have the weakness that they need a strong logistical support. So if a weapon was isolated too long, it would become useless.

Office of SECDEF policy memo (1)

JeffOwl (2858633) | about two weeks ago | (#47826639)

I think this has been covered for new programs starting about 15 years ago... PDF of under SECDEF memo [216.54.19.111]

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826655)

More like "Would ISIS exist in the first place if USA didn't train the taliban and extremists during the communist era to act against the Soviets, which includes dear Bin-laden, and then left them to seek other justifications to use their newfound talent and equipment after Soviets collapsed?"
Or:
"Would ISIS exist if USA didn't trigger a domino of events starting from the documented removal of Mossadegh in Iran who was the first democratically elected leader, with the Shah, because Mossadegh wanted to up the oil price to fair margins that would benefit Iranian people and bring some order and civilized advancement to them,
which lead to the known revolution and Iran becoming what it is today, while afterwards the USA supported Sadam Hussein in the Iraq-Iran war only to later remove him because "lol dictator" which left a power vacuum that enabled fundamentalists who are much worse than a simple dictator."
Or:
"Would ISIS exist to this extent if USA didn't supply the rebels and terrorists and the "Free Syrian Army" with money and weapons that ultimately ended in ISIS hands, which includes the reporter who was beheaded recently who was attached to an FSA regiment before they changed allegiance to ISIS."

I could go on.
Point being, tech can't stop shitty politics.

How about this (2)

buck-yar (164658) | about two weeks ago | (#47826813)

... Not giving them weapons? As an American Citizen, I'd be serving perhaps 10 years for possessing an M16 machine gun that we were just giving to the Iraqis. When 2nd amendment debates pop up, few people say citizens should be allowed to own tanks, MRAPS etc, but are ok with giving it to a 3rd world country (where many of the Iraqi Army soldiers turned on us as soon as we armed them).

false/misleading question premise (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about two weeks ago | (#47826815)

why on earth would 'we' want to disable their gear? "We" armed them to begin with, back when they were 'moderates fighting assad'.. aka, pawns to remove assad and allow a saudi-backed natural gas pipeline to run through syria from qatar - breaking up gazprom's european monopoly.

When their false flag attacks failed to give the US the greenlight to go in, they were beefed up to the point where now they're "ISIS". "We" left them the equipment as a gift, and a few beheading videos later, the drums of war repeat.. oh, what's that you say? "We" might need to go into Syria to "defeat the barbarians"? how convenient. bad kabuki.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826817)

1) Missiles are different than tanks. The "boots on the ground" physically use tanks. Missiles, by definition, are controlled or fired from a distance.
2) Military equipment such as tanks MUST be available to use at a moment's notice. You can't wait for a computer to confirm authentication/authorization before being allowed to drive, aim, or fire it. This is the reason tanks don't have ignition keys.
3) All DRM can be broken eventually. Once broken, it will be used against you by your enemy.
4) A computer can't prevent a diesel engine from starting. A battery and some re-routed wires will easily get around it when you have physical access to the vehicle/device. You prevent physical access to your server rooms for similar reasons.
5) If your hardware requires remote (radio/satellite) communications to enable them, they can be jammed or spoofed.
6) Adding built-in weaknesses to your military equipment just makes them weaker and vulnerable.

To Return US GOV weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826835)

Small drone that finds the equipment and infiltrates humvees and bugin hiting buttons to it broadcast it location. For weapons have a small drone at blazing speed knocks the weapon out of their hands and breaks the weapon or the enemy.

Disable them?!? Hell, no! Self-Destroy them!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826839)

Build-in audio/video monitoring technologies, as well as kill switches (both to stop them, maybe seal them & - if necessary - kill occupying pirate users of them). Simple deterents... "You steal it... It kills pirate drivers."

ISIS took a strange turn (2)

edxwelch (600979) | about two weeks ago | (#47826883)

I must say ISIS took a turn that no one was expecting: after much success as a post-metal band and releasing 4 albums, they decided to re-emerge as Islamic terrorist group in Iraq.

This is about 2 things! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47826899)

Money, and oil. Always has been, and always will be.

We're in the Middle East for oil. Regional stability, means more money, presumably, for the US from oil production. As for the equipment that was left there? It's cheaper for us to leave it there, than bring it back. THIS situation with ISIS, is a consequence of that. Hindsight is 20/20 here...

Sorry, but we could have avoided this situation if that gear was repurposed elsewhere globally, brought back home, or made useless by ordinance.

On a sidenote, since ISIS was apparently known about since 2006 (earliest I could find...), did no one in the entire US Intelligence sector think their momentum and acceleration was a possibility, and US military gear might not have been a target? Ho hum....

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