Hacking Military Video Surveillance Feeds

By: John Honovich, Published on Dec 17, 2009

The US military's embarrassing situation illuminates trade-offs and risks of video surveillance encryption. The Wall Street Journal released an investigative report examining how Shiite fighters in Iraq used cheap downloadable software to access video feeds from US Predator drones. You can download the software, SkyGrabber, from their website [link no longer available].

Interesting, as the WSJ notes, this is not technically hacking because the feeds were transmitted unencrypted via commercial satellite feeds.

It's likely that this is not simply incompetence but the result of operational and logistical difficulties in implementing encrypted feeds. US officials said that, "The difficulty is that adding encryption to a network that is more than a decade old involves more than placing a new piece of equipment on individual drones." Even for the US military, the cost might have been too substantial. On the other hand, the risk and the potential damages of such interception may be worse.

In the commercial sector, wireless video surveillance systems commonly are unencrypted or use encryptions so basic that a moderately technical adversary could decrypt. The difference between those scenarios and the military is the motivation to access video feeds from a supermarket's parking lot is dramatically lower than in a war zone.

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Video Analytics 101 on Mar 16, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
'CCTV' Is the Past, Cloud Video Surveillance Is the Future on Jul 08, 2019
A fundamental shift is happening. For decades, video surveillance was...
Axis Door Station A8207-VE Tested on Aug 07, 2019
Axis newest door station, the A8207-VE, claims to deliver "video...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to...
Breaking Into A Facility Using Canned Air Tested on Jan 28, 2020
Access control is supposed to make doors more secure, but a $5 can of...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
ProCam Low-Cost Open Thermal Temperature Project on May 12, 2020
An engineering professor in Switzerland is building what he hopes will be the...
Uniview Deep Learning Camera Tested on Jul 14, 2020
Uniview's intrusion analytics have performed poorly in our shootouts. Now,...
CheckMySystems Company Profile on Aug 14, 2019
CheckMySystems says that too many users respond, "I get an email when...
Fever Camera Sales From Integrators Surveyed on Jun 01, 2020
Fever cameras are the hottest trend in video surveillance currently but how...
Face Masks Increase Face Recognition Errors Says NIST on Aug 04, 2020
COVID-19 has led to widespread facemask use, which as IPVM testing has shown...
Video Surveillance History on May 06, 2020
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going...
HTTPS / SSL Video Surveillance Usage Statistics on Apr 01, 2019
HTTPS / SSL / TLS usage has become commonplace for websites to improve...
Aiphone Video Intercom Tested (IX Series 2) on Nov 05, 2019
Aiphone was one of integrator's favorite intercom manufacturers but how well...

Recent Reports

OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations are at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Norway Council of Ethics Finds Hikvision Human Rights Abuses "Ongoing" on Sep 23, 2020
Hikvision's involvement in "serious human rights abuse" in Xinjiang is...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
SimpliSafe Business Security Launched Examined on Sep 22, 2020
SimpliSafe has launched "SimpliSafe Business Security" that the company...
FLIR CEO: Many New Fever Entrants "Making Claims That The Science Just Won't Support" on Sep 22, 2020
FLIR's CEO joins a growing number calling out risks with fever / screening...
China Bems Temperature Measurement Terminal Tested on Sep 22, 2020
Guangzhou Bems (brand Benshi) is the manufacturer behind temperature...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...