Incidents of the Week: Iranian Cyber Army Targets Twitter & $26 Software Application Intercepts U.S. Military Satelite Feeds In Iraq

1.  Iranian Cyber Army Puts Twitter On Hold

Around 10 pm last night, popular social networking site Twitter, was apparently hacked by a group calling themselves the Iranian Cyber Army.  Iran and Twitter have had a rocky relationship since last summer when Iranian citizens spread the protests over Iranian elections to the popular web site.  During that time, links circulated on Twitter that allowed users to participate in DoS (Denial of Service) attacks on Iranian government websites.  Given the name adopted by Twitter’s hackers, it may be no coincidence that the New York Times interview with a U.S. computer security expert in June 2009 described the Twitter DoS attacks as allowing Twitter users to “‘become part of the cyber-army,’ in Iran.”


2. $26 Russian Software Has Been Intercepting U.S. Military Drone Video Feeds In Iraq

Ever since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, we laypeople have been introduced to video from U.S. military missiles right before something like a building exploded in fuzzy black and white.  Then came more advanced military drones, remote controlled airplanes, with greater resolution and improved arsenal.  If you have been craving some low res military action, it may only cost you a satellite dish and $26.  Using a $26 software package developed by Russian software company called SkyGrabber, Iraqi insurgents have reportedly been tapping into live video feeds from U.S. drone aircraft.  This news comes from a U.S. official speaking anonymously with the Wall Street Journal who reported that U.S. troops have recovered laptops used by the insurgents with “days and days and hours and hours” of intercepted military video.

The SkyGrabber software, which allows users to tap into unencrypted satellite connections, apparently has been successfully used against the military feeds because they were (you guessed it) unencrypted.  U.S. military officials commented to CNN that encrypting the signals is problematic because it slows down video transmissions that need to be seen by a number of different operators at the same time.  Query as to whether having your adversaries monitoring your battlefield surveillance will justify adding encryption to the military’s systems.  (Just remember when you do that another Russian software application is capable of decoding the WPA encryption standard.)

Lest we begin criticizing the military too strongly, however, a moment of self-reflection might be worthwhile.  The next time you connect to the Internet using a wireless connection, whether at home or at a coffee shop, ask yourself whether you are taking any precautions to prevent your activity from being intercepted or whether you are just rolling the dice that no one in 100 yards has purchased some software from Russia recently.

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