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Meshnet Digital Armor To Protect Tanks

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the web-facing-armor-plating dept.

Security 164

An anonymous reader writes "General Dynamics Canada and Secure Computing have partnered to develop Meshnet, a hardware/software firewall designed to protect networks and digital devices inside tanks and other military vehicles from hostile computer and virus attacks. Without adequate protection a tech savvy enemy can infiltrate networks, manipulate information, and deny crews the data they need to participate in modern warfare. Exactly such an event happened last year to an Israeli crew, when hackers from Hezbollah eavesdropped on their communications. 'The system uses Secure Computing's off-the-shelf Sidewinder Security Appliance ... Sidewinder consolidates all major Internet security functions into a single system, providing "best-of-breed" antivirus and spyware network protection "against all types of threats, both known and unknown," according to Secure Computing.'"

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Please continue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335595)

Deposit 50 cents to continue. 30, 29, 28.... game over.

It apparently runs Linux (0)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335603)

Before anyone asks...

"best-of-breed" antivirus and spyware network protection

It apparently does run Linux!

Re:It apparently runs Linux (0)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335745)

pfft, it said best of, not really-good in

It's running VMS :-P

Re:It apparently runs Linux (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335845)

pfffft. It said best-of-breed. Clearly it's running OS/360.

The 800 LB gorilla in the room... (3, Insightful)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335833)

No one wants to suggest the obvious, which is systems like this should never require antivirus and spyware support. For mission critical systems, the only thing they should use is embedded devices where the only way to install additional software is by flashing the firmware on the device. Also, use of a hardened kernel would be nice...

Re:The 800 LB gorilla in the room... (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335981)

How are they meant to install their bonzai buddy on that?

Re:The 800 LB gorilla in the room... (2, Informative)

krazytekn0 (1069802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336035)

The problem with this is that the spec-writers for government contracts don't know anything about the products they are trying to buy. Therefore we would end up with job specs at my old job that said stuff like, "1 piece tank with no seams that is 6' tall by 6' diameter, delivered and set in place." Which would normally be ok except the only doors on the facility are 30" wide. So one could imagine that the spec for these systems had some kind of requirement for the vendor to remotely update many tanks/vehicles at a time but they have to be totally impervious to virii and/or malware. Something that most of us know is completely impossible but some purchasing guy for the Army doesn't give a rats ass about because it's not his problem and it's not his money, it's the vendor's problem and my money.

Re:It apparently runs Linux (2, Informative)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335853)

It apparently does run Linux!


No, It doesn't. According to the PDF in the article:

Administration system requirements OS - MS Windows 2000 or XP CPU - Intel (1 GHz minimum) Memory - 512 MB minimum Drives - 300 MB of available disk space, 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy disk drive, CD-ROM drive Monitor - 1024 x 768 or higher Network interface card - access to your firewall network Browser - Internet Explorer 4 or later; Netscape 4.x or later Model 2100 & 2150 - 2U platform Model 1100 - enterprise 1U platform Model 410 & 510 - small 1U platform Application (layer 7) throughput example* Operating at virtual wire speed over a Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Fast Ethernet Ethernet 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2.2 Gbps 4 HTTP Application Defenses 2200

I'm no security expert, but those don't sound like "strong links" in the chain.

Re:It apparently runs Linux (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336113)

The OS is a hardened version of BSD. To make any kernel level changes, you need to boot into a non-operational mode (has no network functions).

The management can be done through a windows system (currently a pyton application) or via command line.

Re:It runs on snake oil. (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336289)

Exactly. It's the same old story with military hardware salesmen. The put words in nice brochures that attract the senior officers who don't understand the details. Look at the words used in the ad.

"The system uses Secure Computing's..... " makes it sound secure.
"off-the-shelf.... " makes it sound 'cost effective'
"...Sidewinder Security Appliance..." makes it sound like a cool offensive weapon
".... consolidates all major Internet security functions into a single system" makes it sound like they have everything in a small box (perfect for in a cramped tank i hear them say),
"..providing "best-of-breed" ".... sounds like they had to compromise... I feel it slipping...
"...protection against all types of threats, both known and unknown.." see that!? protects against 'unknown threats'... Wow... if you read far enough down the brochure you'll find the snake-oil salesman will advertise the snake oil.

I deal with this kind of stuff every day. As the parent pointed out, you don't need to dig very far to find that the system uses the largest target OS out there with arguably the most exploits available to 'hackers'.

I've dealt with enough military equipment to know that if I had seen something along the lines of Trusted sun/vxworks OS, TEMPEST tested to xxxx, MIL-STD-461E (or similar) DO-178B for environmental... NISP Chapter 8 and 9 compliant... Common Criteria (ISO/IEC 15408) etc... then it'd be worth taking a second look.

Re:It runs on snake oil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337069)

BSD is the largest target OS out there? The standard joke is that BSD is dying, not that it isn't secure.
Don't confuse the workstations with the firewall.
The system they are talking about is based off the MESHnet NAU, which is compliant with MIL-STD-461E, TEMPEST, MIL-STD 810D and a whole bunch of other standards as well.
http://www.gdcanada.com/content/detail.cfm?acronym=NAU&page=2 [gdcanada.com]

Re:It runs on snake oil. (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337339)

yeah, that'll teach me for not reading TFA and the link... but relying on the GPP's post saying it was on XP with ie... Looks like a reasonable piece of kit. Thanks for the link.

Yum. eating my own words is tasty.

Re:It apparently runs Linux (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335859)

No, it runs SecureOS, which is listed as a BSD/OS.

Re:It apparently runs Linux (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336741)

Well, yes, but according to this product overview (PDF warning) [www.inet.it] ,

Intuitive Windows-based GUI The rack-mounted G2 Enterprise Manager server and the dynamic security policies for hundreds of distributed appliances are always managed over the network within strongly authenticated, encrypted sessions from a highly intuitive, next-generation Microsoft Windows software package. You only have to authenticate once to manage all of your appliances from one place. Easily view individual security policies or enterprise-wide policies from the same user interface.

Again, I don't pretend to be an IT Security Specialist, I just find it interesting that for all the preparation to create a 'hardened system' that there appears to be a single point of failure which is a Windows based management console that provides a one stop shop to administer all devices in the system.

Why? (3, Funny)

msi (641841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335615)

Or just shoot any one coming towards you with a laptop!

Re:Why? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337099)

Or just shoot any one coming towards you with a laptop!

First, the military has their own set of frequencies that they operate with. Your typical D-link PCMCIA wireless NIC won't allow you on the network.
Second, military vehicles have their own network. It's not like they are pulling up Google Maps to see where the enemy is. ("Hey Johnson, go out side and wave while I look at the map. There we are."

With these two things in mind, it takes quite an infrastructure just to intercept military traffic. Off the shelf components wont' cut it. While it may be possible to "tweak" a receiver to listen at the range of frequencies used by the military, it's probably cheaper to receive assistance from a government, like Russia or Iran in this case.

In the case mentioned in TFA, I'm willing to bet that the Israelis were transmitting in the clear, or non-encrypted and on a single channel. The US military network uses encryption as well as a pre-set frequency hopping method that even makes it nearly impossible to listen to the encrypted static. The inventor of the CINGARS radio can not calculate the next frequency that the radios will be hopping to and it hops frequencies hundreds of times per second. The only way to eavesdrop on US military traffic is to actually capture a radio that has the freq-hop-set programmed into it. This hop-set changes at regular intervals (daily, weekly, whenever) so even this would only last a short time.

So while the US military my be interested in

meshnet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335617)

why do i get the feeling this software is going to have some gaping holes in it?

But will we still be able to... (1)

DreamingDaemon (1185117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335627)

use their wifi to play WoW?

Umm? (2, Interesting)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335629)

Is there some deficiency in the military's current ability to kill people that I am not aware of? Or are they preparing to defend against extra terrestrial attacks? Isn't this the second military research story for week?

Re:Umm? (2)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335703)

No, they are still as deadly, it is just that if a hidden guy with a wireless laptop could trick a nearby MBT crew to fire on their own troops, it would be bad news.

Re:Umm? (0, Flamebait)

gb506 (738638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335847)

No, they are still as deadly, it is just that if a hidden guy with a wireless laptop could trick a nearby MBT crew to fire on their own troops, it would be bad news.

Odds are good that it wouldn't be bad news to pembo13.

Re:Umm? (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337373)

Is any trickery [wikipedia.org] necessary?

Re:Umm? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337435)

Old WWII saying:

When the Krauts open fire the Brits take cover
When the Brits open fire the Krauts take cover
When the Yanks open fire EVERYONE takes cover

Re:Umm? (1)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336129)

Is there some deficiency in the military's current ability to kill people that I am not aware of? Or are they preparing to defend against extra terrestrial attacks? Isn't this the second military research story for week?

There are all ways deficiencies in preventing troops and equipment being destroyed.

Modern warfare tends to be very collateral, in some of the theatres presently it is difficult to impact expensive targets - a group of soldiers with an RPG are not as financially damaging as one of your own multi-million tanks being destroyed.

Sanity check: (5, Insightful)

Jennifer York (1021509) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335631)

Do anyone think the Hezbollah reference is a little bit odd? How does intrusion detection and firewalls stop someone from eavsdropping on communications? Please point out the reference that deatils how an Isreali tank was denied information, or misled by false information.

This unsubstantiated BS as a justification for an obvious product placement requires more scrutiny. I don't doubt that there IS a chance that some enemy force could have the capability to "hack" a tank, but the "Exactly such an event happened last year to an Israeli crew" needs some evidence.

Re:Sanity check: (3, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335709)

So, lets say I'm connecting to my computer via SSH, and I'm a savvy individual, I notice a keyswitch, etc, and won't connect if I see something like that (suggesting a man in the middle).

No you think "great, it'll be hard to evesdrop on my conversation, I'm running SSH, it's encrypted!"

So, now some hacker comes along and wants to observe me. He *could* go after my SSH traffic, and try to decode it, but look! I'm not running a firewall or intrusion detection software. He figures (correctly in most cases), it will probably be easier to hack into my system, and put monitors there.

So, without a firewall, he got in easier, and without an intrusion dection system, I didn't find out. I now have a "new" ssh client, that copies everything over to his/her system, all network traffic is sent in duplicate, the keylogger is collecting all my paswords, etc, etc, etc...

You still haven't said how he would do that. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335857)

So, now some hacker comes along and wants to observe me. He *could* go after my SSH traffic, and try to decode it, but look! I'm not running a firewall or intrusion detection software. He figures (correctly in most cases), it will probably be easier to hack into my system, and put monitors there.

HOW does he do that?

Does he send you an email with an attachment named "nude girl.jpg.exe" that you open?

Does he send you an HTML email that exploits a vulnerability in Outlooks/IE?

Does he use a worm to attack the vulnerability in your SSH daemon?

Does he leave a floppy disk on the battlefield that you boot to see what's on it?

HOW does he crack your system? And HOW does this firewall prevent that?

Re:You still haven't said how he would do that. (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336021)

There are a lot of ways to hack into a system, it varies on the system. Cracking a Windows box is different from a Linux box which is different from a FreeBSD box which is different from a Solaris box. If there are many applications running, one of those could be the culprit.

The best answer that can be given without more information is simply - they try stuff until they get some indication of the quality of the user, and the OS. At which point, they pick their method and target.

The firewall can make this a lot more difficult. The intrusion detection can be a good alert if the firewall (and other security measures) fail. It's a two part system, don't just focus on the firewall. A good thing to do is take a page out of the FreeBSD handbook (probably taken from elsewhere) - Assume the bad guys know more than you do; You should still secure your systems as good as possible, but expect them to get cracked. Ensure that it takes as long as possible for the hackers to get anywhere, and set thing up so that you find out about inconstancies as soon as possible.

Yeah, you go with that. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336259)

There are a lot of ways to hack into a system, it varies on the system.

No, there are not. There are very few avenues to crack any system.

#1. Attack the daemon listening on an open port.

#2. Trojans.

#3. Exploiting a vulnerability in an app when fed specific data (IE is a good example).

#4. Viruses that attach themselves to other apps.

The best answer that can be given without more information is simply - they try stuff until they get some indication of the quality of the user, and the OS. At which point, they pick their method and target.

Yeah, you've just repeated yourself without explaining how the firewall is supposed to do anything.

Cracking a Windows box is different from a Linux box which is different from a FreeBSD box which is different from a Solaris box.

No, it is not. They all have the same, limited, avenues of attack. There is nothing "different" about that.

Re:Yeah, you go with that. (1)

archen (447353) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336651)

You seem to miss exploiting the tcp stack itself, although I'm not sure a firewall would help you there much either. It seems like this is another job for IPSEC more than anything.

How about making that #7? (2, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336893)

Since the tanks PROBABLY aren't running fiber or CAT 5 between them ... we're talking radio signals. So yeah, if they can attack TCP/IP or exploit a vulnerability in the transmission itself ...
http://docs.lucidinteractive.ca/index.php/Cracking_WEP_and_WPA_Wireless_Networks [lucidinteractive.ca]

And as you've noted, a firewall would NOT be much help.

Particularly, as noted in the article, and "off the shelf" firewall.

Re:Yeah, you go with that. (2, Informative)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336717)

#5 social engineering. The secretary will let you in, and she's easily tricked.

Good point. And #6. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336807)

Yep, if you can get the codes from someone else ... you're in.

Which brings up #6. Backdoors and simple passwords. If your tank's system "admin" account has the password of "USA", well ...

And let's not forget about "debug" accounts and such that are hard coded and NOT mentioned in the documentation.

Re:Yeah, you go with that. (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336891)

Yes, those are the avenues of attack, but if I said "attack an open port" (the primary one that firewalls defend against), then you would say "which and how", which is where the the main variety comes in.

Of course, I could simplify it further to two routes of attack:
1) Attack the autonomous systems of the computer
2) Attack the user

You are limiting the options to a set that suits your argument - you are assuming the hacker has the same lack of imagination as yourself (note: do not miscontrue that as a personal attack, you are not infinitely imaginative, so you have some lack of imagination, as does everyone else).

In either lumping (yours or mine), firewalls tend to only be good for option #1 (although #3 and #4 may be prevented as well in yours), but they still help, especially when the user doesn't completely understand his/her own computer. But, again, I state THIS ISN'T ONLY A FIREWALL.

Re:Sanity check: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336241)

Ummmm...isn't the big gun and all the little guns on a tank supposed to be its main concern? If they need all this networking shit to fight maybe they need to go back to Army 101.

Re:Sanity check: (1)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336953)

It's all about knowing where to point the guns. The U.S. military, the Swedish and Norwegian Air Forces, etc. don't obsess over 3C (Command, Control, and Communications) for nothing. :)

Re:Sanity check: (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337457)

It's all about knowing where to point the guns. The U.S. military, the Swedish and Norwegian Air Forces, etc. don't obsess over 3C (Command, Control, and Communications) for nothing.

OK... That's nice. Then just what do the Danish, Polish, UK, EA, Chinese and Russian military obsess about? Random, uncontrolled violence? Cheese?

Re:Sanity check: (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335721)

I second the suspect BS motion.
The article that is being referred to doesn't provide a working link to the alledged hacking story.

Re:Sanity check: (2, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336009)

The communication is wireless. Either they were not encrypted, did not frequency hop or were jammed. Probably a combination.

Re:Sanity check: (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337417)

The communication is wireless. Either they were not encrypted, did not frequency hop or were jammed. Probably a combination.

Or the claim is just nonsense. Link please. Can the Slashdot editors PLEASE stop picking up pointless press-releases-in-a-blog?

This is embarrassing.

Re:Sanity check: (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335975)

How does intrusion detection and firewalls stop someone from eavesdropping on communications?
There are still ways for an IDS/IPS to detect network cards in promiscuous mode (without an IP address), which most hackers use to sniff traffic.

Re:Sanity check: (1)

JFitzsimmons (764599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337091)

Haha and what might those ways be?

Re:Sanity check: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336477)

The Israelis already demonstrated their own ability to feed computer systems with misleading information when the jews did 9/11.

Re:Sanity check: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337335)

Well, at least the device defends against ALL threats. It's omniscient AND omnipotent.

Matter of fact, it's God. For only $2.9Bn US per vehicle, you can have God in your tank.

Canadians, you got the strong dollar; buy a six-pack!

Only a gazillion dollars if you order now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335633)

Perfect protection against unknown attacks. What are they dreaming of at night?

Don't want to imagine (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335643)

This article begs the thought, what if a hostile force did take over the computer systems of military vehicles. With the advent of fly by wire and now drive by wire systems, the computer can pretty much take complete control over the vehicle. Add in something like Storm, which can run more brute force keygens than even the best supercomputer, and none of these vehicles are in any way secure, even with this new digital armor installed.

Re:Don't want to imagine (2, Insightful)

Sqweegee (968985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335835)

The easy option: Don't have any remote communication/data systems connected to vehicle control systems, unfortunately there's already a lot of hardware out there already.

The solution the US military will come up with: Spend trillions setting up a super intelligent AI that can defeat hackers on the fly and control all military weapons on it's own to spare ever needing to send real troops into battle again... it will be named Skynet...

Re:Don't want to imagine (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336263)

Don't have any remote communication/data systems connected to vehicle control systems, unfortunately there's already a lot of hardware out there already.

      It will be funny the day all the Predators fail to come in for landing and the guys in Nevada are left staring at a marijuana leaf on their screens...

They will need to study hard though. (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335649)

If the current defenses against phishing, spam, and botnets are any example, it's going to be a long, long struggle to keep things "clean".

Smells like bull to me... (1)

lib3rtarian (1050840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335653)

That article was so light on information, it was worthless. And for anyone that did actually RTFA (like me) the last line was SERIOUSLY ABOUT THE COLOR SCHEME OF THE TANK! Wtf!

Re:Smells like bull to me... (1)

pmarcondes (846921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336105)

And yet the author of that shallow PR stuff has never seen the inside of any armoured vehicle. They are not OD. No need to camouflage the interior of a tank!!

Did I really understood TFR? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335661)

So, defense contractors plan to use off the shelf network security tools in the future because the one currently deployed are too easily hacked. What the point in having that on the main page?

This reminds me (2, Interesting)

javilon (99157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335663)

This reminds me of Ghost in the shell, "I pwned your eyes".

Re:This reminds me (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335707)

I was thinking of Keith Laumer's "Bolo" stories actually... how long till we have a completely self-aware tank?

Re:This reminds me (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336329)

Following on along the Ghost in the Shell lines: if we do get self-aware tanks, then please don't make them as annoying as Tatchcomas! (sp?) Unless we use their grating voices to annoy the enemy to death...

Reminds me of Battlestar, Generators, Wardriving.. (1)

stoicfaux (466273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336445)

Reminds me of Battlestar Galactica and how the Cyclons hacked into a squadron of Vipers via their sensor arrays and shut them down. Granted they had placed a backdoor in the software (or found a security gap.)

Then there was that power generator that could be "hacked" and given commands to tear itself apart.

And then there's war driving where you drive around looking for wireless networks to access/hack/piggyback on.

And then there are those huge zombie networks containing hundreds of thousands of compromised computers worldwide.

And the there was Vietnam. If you can't fight them directly, then use guerilla warfare. If it's easier to knock out a tank by hacking it's computer than it is to fight it directly...

Buzzword threshold exceeded (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335723)

Incoming buzzword alert!!! Run for best of bread cover against unknown threats.

Re:Buzzword threshold exceeded (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335907)

Run for best of bread cover

Isn't that when 8 track tapes of bad 70's bands rain down from the sky?

Hey, it runs BSD! (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335737)

They won't say which BSD, but who wants to bet OpenBSD or at least parts of OpenBSD have found their way into it?

Re:Hey, it runs BSD! (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335837)

They won't say which BSD, but who wants to bet OpenBSD or at least parts of OpenBSD have found their way into it?

One would think you would choose a stable, high uptime secure OS in a tank as it's fundamentally a good idea. Makes me wonder why it already isn't intrinsically firewalled. I wonder if some idiot put Windows inside the tank? I can hear it now:

Gunner: Can't fire yet, waiting for the A/V to finish scanning...

Boom, silence after. It crashed thinking the shell was in mid flight when it restarted explorer.

Re:Hey, it runs BSD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336761)

Used to be BSDI

Re:Hey, it runs BSD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336889)

Cool! At last I can play bzflag in my M1.

Skynet (2, Funny)

jandoedel (1149947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335789)

Hope it helps a bit when Skynet takes over. I for one don't welcome our Skynet overlord with his beowulf cluster of hacked tanks.

So there's me thinking... (-1, Troll)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335849)

What did tank crews do before FBW and computer-aided targetting?

Oh, that's right, they used their EYES. And fuck me if they ever missed (they didn't). They could read maps as well. They could also understand semaphore and Morse.

The sorry state of affairs today in that our boys on the field rely TOO MUCH on TECHNOLOGY is reflected in what happens when that technology FAILS. People DIE.

I run an airgun club. I also hunt. Some of my members bring along their latest-greatest rifles with electronic triggers, laser rangefinders etc, and they still can't hit the broad side of a barn. Me and a springer (low tech I know but it WORKS!) and Pez's are disappearing fifty yards downrange in numerical order. When I'm out, if a rabbit passes the crosshairs on my 4-40, it's lunch.

Re:So there's me thinking... (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336181)

How do you use your eyes to sight a target in the dark? I'd say the system on the Abrams is doing its job well, if the 95% hit percentage is accurate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_Abrams#Aiming [wikipedia.org]

Re:So there's me thinking... (2, Informative)

stoicfaux (466273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336215)

The sorry state of affairs today in that our boys on the field rely TOO MUCH on TECHNOLOGY is reflected in what happens when that technology FAILS. People DIE.

a) Technology can give you a huge advantage over The Enemy(tm). Which is why the US led coalition was able to dominate in Desert Storm.

b) Because technology acts as a "force multiplier," meaning you can do a lot more with less people/tanks/planes/etc.. Without high technology we would need many more real live people in the military. So you either pay the cost in technology or you pay the cost with a larger percentage of your population in uniform and/or in harm's way.

c) Technology requires "less skill" to use. Having infrared sensors, laser range findings, and a computerized fire control system makes the M-1's main gun very deadly. How long would it take for a gunner to get that good using just the Mark I Eyeball and human skill? People in the military should be focused on winning, and not on frantically having to look up wind speed on paper firing tables before taking a shot.

Re:So there's me thinking... (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336537)

Rabbits don't shoot back. Infantry do. They'll kill armor first if they get too close. Modern armor absolutely needs the improved sensor suite, or infantry can approach under modest cover with grenade launchers, RPG's, or other tools for eliminating armor.

Just a press release. (1)

jhoug (514751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335871)

Slashdot is now publishing press releases from military-industrial-complex vendors without any real commentary in the main post?
Yeah, the military needs firewalls at all levels of networking, but is this news?

Technology Worth It? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335893)

Exactly such an event happened last year to an Israeli crew, when hackers from Hezbollah eavesdropped on their communications.
In fact, the entire war was characterized by the overall failure of modern military technology, gadgets and intelligence to defeat an enemy essentially using little more than AK-47s, mortars, and sandbags. The entire Israeli army could do little more than advance ~2km into Lebannon. It's clear that military reliance on technological silver bullets is no match for simple numerical superiority and well fortified positions. Hezbollah even eschewed radio communications, using couriers instead, rendering a substantial amount of the high tech based Israeli hardware and personnel useless.

It comes down to something like this I think. Which is better? "Battlewide intelligence acquisition systems", or a 10% increase in manpower?

Exactly what good does all our "modern" military high tech equipment do? Does some bluetooth based worldwide communication equipment actually make a soldier more efficient, or does it just weight him down? Do tanks need the latest Wifi based external cameras streaming megabytes of information back to HQ, or do they need to, say, be less flammable.

Stalin once asked of the Pope: "How many divisions has he got?". It shows the mindset of those whose countries actually fought in a major and prolonged conflict. For them, it was not as much about which tank could turn faster, or whose radios had a better signal. It was about how many men (and for the Soviets, women) they actually had to fight with.

I'd ask of the Western world: "How many divisions have you got?". Note; UAVs, CCTV cameras and satellites do not count towards your tally.

Re:Technology Worth It? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336123)

I bet the real reason why the Israelis didn't get further in was more political than tech. They were already bombing practically any building they wanted in Lebanon.

AFAIK Israel doesn't really want Lebanon or other countries, they want Israel. Judging from the UN Security Council "vetoes" and other similar stuff they've already got the USA by the balls.

Re:Technology Worth It? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336171)

Stalin once asked of the Pope: "How many divisions has he got?". It shows the mindset of those whose countries actually fought in a major and prolonged conflict. For them, it was not as much about which tank could turn faster, or whose radios had a better signal. It was about how many men (and for the Soviets, women) they actually had to fight with.

      Good post and I essentially agree with you, however this is a bad example. The Russians threw countless bodies in front of the German advance and slowed them down not one bit. It was only when the T-34 was mass produced and outnumbered the German tanks (despite having inferior firepower/armor) that the Soviets began to have a chance. Yes I agree that it was infantry that stopped the Germans at Stalingrad, but it was the tanks that eventually surrounded them in Operation Uranus, and pushed them back.

      I agree that technology is not the only determining factor in war, otherwise the Greeks with their spears, the Romans with their legions, and Bonaparte with his artillery would still be around. Yet all of these were eventually defeated by "inferior" troops. But it takes more than simple numbers. You still have to use those inferior troops in a manner that will actually hurt your enemy - either physically, morale-wise, or politically.

Well no, not really (4, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336443)

That conflict showed the failure of an army fighting by the rules, against an enemy that did not, and never has.

If Israel could have used the full force of its military without the world breathing down its neck, hezbollah would have been so much smoking corpses.

What this shows you is that most advanced tank cannot deal with a meat shield if there is a camera crew near. Hezbollah has become very good at using this kind of war, they had to, the more recent lebanese actions have shown they suck at military conflict. Note that lebanon could just blow the hell out of hezbollah bases and civilian casualties be damned. Suddenly the world realises that just because a shot up corpse is dressed in civil garb, does not make it a civilian.

In fact the military conflics around Israel have shown just how bloody effective modern equipment is, outnumbered in every way, Israel nonetheless manages to hold out, because they use tech to the max.

You are also wrong about the soviets, the russians were actually the one with the better gear against the germans. It just took a while for it all to come together, but it was the germans that copied soviet tech, not the other way around. The turn around came when russia learned to use the tech advantage it had and properly equip its soldiers with it. Early in the war, it had excellent tanks, but often without radios, or it had motivated troops, who lacked guns. Once that was sorted out, the germans never won a single battle against the russians. Superior tech.

Offcourse, you got to use it properly.

Iraq again shows you just how lethal tech is over numbers. The iraq army was many times greater and was wiped out.

The current conflict has nothing to do with the lack of manpower or reliance on tech. You cannot occupy a country that doesn't want to be occupied unless you are capable of dealing out massive amounts of punishment Roman style. Storm the city, kill everyone inside, tear down the buildings, plow up the ground and sow it with salt, so that you can then point to the desolate area and say, "this is what we do with those who oppose us, any questions?"

In a way, Hezbollah uses very modern weapons, western media, to fight the war. No use of radio? How do you think the images of bloodshed, real and staged made its way to the west? Pigeons?

One final note. You state that Israel only managed to advance X miles. How many miles did Hezbollah advance? Okay, yards then. Feet? Inches? So much for low tech then. Hezbollah has never once manage to threaten Israels survival. It is one of the reasons Lebanon is so fed up with them and finally took action against them and this time, the world media didn't care.

Re:Technology Worth It? (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336447)

> Hezbollah even eschewed radio communications, using couriers instead, rendering a substantial amount of the high tech based Israeli hardware and personnel useless.

I would hardly say that depriving the enemy of quick and easy communications is 'useless'. Forcing them to use slow and unreliable communications probably helped quite a bit. Maybe think of it as forcing your opponent onto a network with extreme lag times and a high rate of packet loss...

Failure to use new technology probably won't lead to victory. The first machine guns were quite unreliable for example, but they are quite popular now. I'm surprised that someone here would criticize developing technology. You are also overlooking the issue of quality vs quantity. One well trained division would destroy several poorly trained ones. I think one of the issues with Hezbollah was that they were better trained than the Israelis thought they would be.

> I'd ask of the Western world: "How many divisions have you got?".

Enough.

> Note; UAVs, CCTV cameras and satellites do not count towards your tally.

But they will count against the enemies tally...

Re:Technology Worth It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336455)

In fact, the entire war was characterized by the overall failure of modern military technology, gadgets and intelligence to defeat an enemy essentially using little more than AK-47s, mortars, and sandbags.

On the contrary, they had far more. Advanced rockets and surface-to-air missiles supplied by Iran.

It's clear that military reliance on technological silver bullets is no match for simple numerical superiority and well fortified positions.

Fortified positions? You gotta be kidding. Fortified positions went out of fashion with the Maginot Line. Today, if you can see it, you can hit it. If you can hit it, you can kill it. But you have to be willing to kill it. The Israelis were incredibly restrained with their attacks, which is why the Arab civilian death toll was so low from that conflict. The Israelis were hampered by a desire to minimize civilian casualties at all costs.

Compare that conflict with the more recent one when a palestinian terror group in a refugee camp threatened the government of Lebanon. The terrorists were heavily fortified in a civilian urban area. The Lebanese army surrounded them, and bombarded the camp for months, killing the terrorists, and lots of civilians.

Note that nobody gave a shit about the dead civilians. Dead Arabs only count if Israelis are nearby.

Stalin once asked of the Pope: "How many divisions has he got?". It shows the mindset of those whose countries actually fought in a major and prolonged conflict.

Stalin was from a very different era, when battles & wars were conventional, when one army fought another. Today's middle east battlefield is very different.

Re:Technology Worth It? (1)

drseuk (824707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337169)

Hezbollah even eschewed radio communications, using couriers instead, rendering a substantial amount of the high tech based Israeli hardware and personnel useless.
Let's all hope they don't upgrade their couriers then:

http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1149.html [faqs.org]

And those protected devices now slow to a crawl... (4, Funny)

securityfolk (906041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335903)

C'mon Joe, aim the turret, aim the turret!!! Sorry Jim, I can't - my system isn't responding right now - it's scanning for spyware :(

BOOM...

In reality... (2, Funny)

Javarufus (733962) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335911)

The evidence from the digital attack last year is as follows:

"The A-176 tank scope operator was panning to the North to acquire the target in question when a pop-up add appeared in the view finder alerting him of a fantastic deal on Viagra. Later alerts included free porn and offers to download virus scanning software"...

Re:In reality... (1)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336723)

The evidence from the digital attack last year is as follows:

"The A-176 tank scope operator was panning to the North to acquire the target in question when a pop-up add appeared in the view finder alerting him of a fantastic deal on Viagra. Later alerts included free porn and offers to download virus scanning software"...
This is why SpamAssassin should be integrated into tanks. It'd make mail headers a bit more entertaining, as well as reducing the general levels of spam.

Received: from sufi-isis.org (unknown [80.92.104.100])
          by epsilon (Postfix) with SMTP id 08A4663D38
X-Spam-Report:
          * 4.3 RCVD_FORGED_WROTE2 RCVD_FORGED_WROTE2
          * 2.5 RCVD_FORGED_WROTE Forged 'Received' header found ('wrote:' spam)
          * 2.4 FH_BAD_OEV1441 Bad X-Mailer version
          * 2.0 RCVD_IN_BL_SPAMCOP_NET RBL: Received via a relay in bl.spamcop.net
          * [Blocked - see ]
X-Spam-Action:
          * Turret aimed at 80.92.104.100
          * 75 mm fragmentation shell dispatched
          * 80.92.104.100 DESTROYED!!!

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335947)

Now I know for a fact you can't run Opera or iTunes on this thing!

Nice ad (4, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335983)

How do I get my products advertised as articles on Slashdot? I imagine that could be pretty lucrative. Who do I pay?

Re:Nice ad (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336321)

Zonk.

More seriously, this is at least a somewhat interesting post.

Single Point of Failure (2, Insightful)

cyberbian (897119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336001)

Any security consultant worth his salt would be aghast at the military taking up a posture that allows for a single point of failure. Defense in depth is the current mechanism of choice... talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Missing the obvious (2, Funny)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336005)

Just shoot back at the enemy. If your tanks are getting hacked, cancel the MySpace page for your regiment.

Some clarifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336013)

As I work at GDC, a few clarifications are in order.
It looks like they are actually talking about the Tactical Network Gateway, which is part of the MESHnet product group, which includes a whole bunch of other stuff.
They do actually run Windows in the tanks. Its a big step up from the old SCO Unix boxes that they used to run (And still run in Afghanistan).

Re:Some clarifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336523)

They do actually run Windows in the tanks.

Is that the American version of Monty Python's deadliest joke?

ahem (0, Redundant)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336037)

Now who would argue with a Beowulf cluster of those?

Enter your password. You now have ten seconds to comply

What is their "antivirus" protecting against? (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336173)

Is the military so stupid they're actually using Windows-based software (or software running ANY consumer OS for that matter) in battlefields? If so, there's been a major drop in their design and code standards in the past few years.

Also, what's the threat? "This was reportedly the case during Israel's incursion into South Lebanon last year, where Hezbollah hackers were allegedly able to monitor IDF communications, giving the guerrillas a leg up in attacking Israeli armor." sounds like ordinary signals intelligence. You don't fight that with firewalls and antivirus software, you fight it with encryption and electronic countermeasures like dummy sources to fight tracking and traffic analysis.

MS has a version (1)

switcha (551514) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336183)

"You have aquired an enemy target. Cancel or Allow?"

Sorry folks, we're not that Sci-Fi yet (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336249)

The article makes it sound like M1s are Bolos, or something. But slow down there, McFly. The ability to "blind" a tank assumes a level of tech that's not currently available.

Sure the commander is getting info electronically. But it's not like the computer that stabilizes the gun and sight is connected to the network. Nor is the turret traversing mechanism. The article at best glosses over the systems that are networked, and at worse is FUD. From TFS it sounds like there's imminent danger that Al Queda is going to be hacking our tanks' mainframes and turning them against us. As cool as some super-networked, computer controlled, AI-powered, self-aware nuclear tank sounds, they're not in the inventory right now.

If you want the real chance to do physical damage by hacking, crack the control network of a Predator and shoot a Deuce-and-a-half with a Hellfire. That'd be real "win" for some 133t haxor in a burqa. And they'd get terrific PR (which is what Al Queda is really all about) from using The Great Satan's own weapons against us.

As far as tanks? Nothing to see here. Move along.

Crap! It's updating! (1)

centron (61482) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336293)

"We're taking small arms fire, possible RPG position sighted!"

"Ballistics are non-responsive! The whole thing is locked up! Possible enemy infiltration of system... wait, no, it's installing new DATs. 28% complete... 29%... RPG fire! Cover!"

Gaius Baltar named spokesman (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336367)

Gaius Baltar, seen with an attractive blonde collegue, assured the Congress in a special Senate Session that the integrated network was completely safe from Cylon, er uh, Chinese attack...

awesome (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336411)

first Windows for Warships [slashdot.org]

now Windows for Tanks

"officer on my mark, fire at will on target 254 delta!"

"user account control is asking if i approve or deny the action"

"approve! approve! target is acquiring cover!"

"windows firewall is asking if i should unblock port 666 for application gitty.usuckusa.exe"

"aaaaahhh!"

Re:awesome (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336703)

I wonder if Windows for Warships had anything to do with the breach of our naval exercise by the Chinese submarine...

Star Trek 2 ? (1)

UberHoser (868520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336743)

Quick, input the key to take over their Bridge !

Crap they changed it !!!

KHANNNNN !!!!

Useless... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336869)

Once again, this is just product placement.

A firewall won't do you any good when the intruders are already on your network!. Someone is apparently oblivious to the fact that tanks communicate with radio networks, and anyone within broadcast range can become a part of the network. Having a firewall won't do you any good, security wise. Having an encrypted network, OTOH, will.

While communication security is important to the armed forces, I wouldn't trust any of the contractors in the article to do it correctly. Mentioning "firewalls" and "viruses" and other computer security buzzwords only goes to show that the vendor doesn't truly understand tactical security. You don't want a firewall, you want:

  1. The ability to deny any and all unauthorised persons from connecting to your network in the first place. Here's a hint: don't connect a tank to the internet. Closed networks are good, tactically speaking.
  2. Secrecy: you don't even want the enemy to know you have a network. Your communication infrastructure (i.e. radio and ground links) shouldn't even be detectable to the enemy. Even if the enemy can't decipher your communications, the fact that there's an increase or decrease in them gives away valuable intel. You don't want that.
  3. Reliability: You want a communication infrastructure that works anywhere and everywhere, all the time. IP networks are far to easily subject to DOS attacks to be considered for tactical applications. (That is, without heavy modifications.)

I know, I know, they're trying to sell a product. But the first rule of advertising is give the impression that you at least know what you're talking about. Or perhaps they're counting on government officials to be generally ignorant of the manner in which technology works...

Re:Useless... (1)

rjforster (2130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337191)

Having a firewall won't do you any good, security wise. Having an encrypted network, OTOH, will.

But sidewinders can do encryption.

Also, Secure Computing's support lines are the best I've ever dealt with. The call is answered by a smart guy who helps you fix your problem. That's all there is to it.

Whew! (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336949)

Whew, at least we're safe from the Cylons!

Canadians with tanks.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337053)

What I want to know is what joker managed to sell tanks to the Canadians in the first place? Didn't the Canadians revert to pacifism or something after WWII? -- I want the guy that managed to sell them tanks in charge of marketing at my company!!!

There you go again (1)

h.ross.perot (1050420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337295)

"Always with the negative waves"

id4-type attack? (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337413)

Who are they getting ready to fight? China? Whose military could be sophisticated enough that the would conceive of remotely taking control of tanks and having them shoot at each other?
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