Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reading Mission Control Data Out of Predator Drone Video Feeds

Kingcope posted the following whitepaper on the Full Disclosure mailing list today.

There have been recent reports of insurgents intercepting unencrypted U.S. Predator drone video feeds in Iraq and Afghanistan. The predator drone video feeds were sent in some cases from the predator drones without any encryption technology so the insurgents were in a rather simple situation to intercept the video feeds and save them to hard disks and share them among each other. WSJ states that a software called “SkyGrabber” was used to read the video feeds. The intention of this software is to read images and videos off the air by using
satellite antennas.

After doing some research on the issue we found that in the predator video feeds aside from image data there is also mission control data carried inside the satellite signal to the ground control stations. It is theoretically possible to read off this mission control data both in the intercepted video feed and saved video data on harddisks.

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