Can anyone explain the Predator Video feed hack?

The news has been reporting that the terrorists hacked the predator video feed. The software is SkyGrabber and it’s made in Russia.
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/12/17/insurgents-hack-drones/?test=latestnews
Here’s the kicker. From their web site.
SkyGrabber is offline satellite internet downloader. It intercepts satellite data( movie, music, pictures ) that downloadind by other users and saves

So, are they snooping on what I’m typing right now? :dubious:

Any techs want to explain how this works? I assume you first have to set up a satellite dish and align it. Even knowing how to do that takes some skill and a field strength meter.

How much of a threat is this to the internet?

Only if your signal is going via satellite which it almost certainly is not. Anyone with a dish tuned right can pick up a satellite broadcast. If the broadcast is not encrypted or poorly encrypted, you can decode what they satellite broadcast is.

I know with DirecTV they can fight back and zap receivers. Back in the 1990’s people tried hacking their access cards. They’d work for awhile until they were detected. DirecTV would send a signal to fry the card.

Seems like the military could do something similar with people recieving the predator signal.

Internet traffic rarely goes through a satellite. Satellite communications are very slow and very expensive compared to landlines, undersea fiber optics, etc. Even then there’s a layer of encryption, same with your cell phone, wifi network, etc.

The article assumes the drone doesnt do encryption on its video channel and someone is simply sniffing the data, the same way you can can tune a radio to listen to a radio station.

My WAG here is that there’s a layer of encryption but they are storing the data and cracking it using several PCs, or an Iranian cracking botnet, etc. Perhaps the little CPUs in these things cant do heavy encryption and it becomes feasible to crack with enough computers thrown at the problem. I doubt its anything close to realtime.

Virtually all long-haul (that is, not last-mile) Internet traffic is routed over optical fibre; copper wire is a distant second and terrestrial microwave links an even more distant third. Satellite provisioning for Internet is only used as a backup or emergency option, or for remote locations where there is no other choice. An example would be the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, which is over the horizon from anyone that could provide a terrestrial microwave link and is not located on any undersea cable runs. Their only option for Internet (and telephone) service is satellite, and that’s how they get it.

It is theoretically possible that one could compromise the Internet via a satellite connection, but doing it would be very hard and would require a good deal of luck. The high latency of satellite connection would make the sort of hacking required to compromise BGP even more difficult than it is already.

The use of the term “hack” in this article is rather gratuitous, and I’d say that Fox News is oversensationalizing the matter unnecessarily. All they did was intercept a video feed, which is likely either unencrypted or only weakly encrypted. “Hack”, to me, implies an active interaction and an element of command and control, while what is actually being described is simply a form of high-tech eavesdropping.

That was different though. DirecTV had a method to reprogram all smart cards via the satellite feed, and did some tricky stuff that actually detected and destroyed hacked cards. It only worked because the hackers were using DirecTV provided receivers and smart cards. It’s not like the pulled a Goldeneye and melted the offending hardware from space. It won’t work here, since presumably the terrorists aren’t using hacked USAF hardware to get the feed.

http://www.skygrabber.com/en/skygrabber.php

Made me think Russian, but I was wrong:

From here:

This story has legs and it’s getting bigger.

Source: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/12/not-just-drones-militants-can-snoop-on-most-us-warplanes/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WiredDangerRoom+(Blog+-+Danger+Room)