Home News Iran controls US Drone with GPS spoofing

Iran controls US Drone with GPS spoofing

Iran: Using GPS spoofing technique, Iran guided the “lost” stealth US drone (RQ-170 Sentinel) to an intact landing inside hostile territory, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone’s systems inside Iran, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
The engineer explained that Iran used the knowledge gleaned from previous downed US drones and a technique proudly claimed by Iranian commanders in September, the Iranian specialists then reconfigured the drone’s GPS coordinates to make it land in Iran at what the drone thought was its actual home base in Afghanistan.
“The GPS navigation is the weakest point,” the Iranian engineer stressed. “By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain.” The “spoofing” technique that the Iranians used – which took into account precise landing altitudes, as well as latitudinal and longitudinal data – made the drone “land on its own where we wanted it to, without having to crack the remote-control signals and communications” from the US control centre, stated the engineer.
The revelations about Iran’s apparent electronic prowess come as the US, Israel and some European nations appear to be engaged in an ever-widening covert war with Iran, which has seen assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, explosions at Iran’s missile and industrial facilities, and the Stuxnet computer virus that set back Iran’s nuclear programme.
Now this engineer’s account of how Iran took over one of America’s most sophisticated drones suggests Tehran has found a way to hit back. The techniques were developed from reverse-engineering several less sophisticated American drones captured or shot down in recent years, the engineer says, and by taking advantage of weak, easily manipulated GPS signals, which calculate location and speed from multiple satellites.
The US military has reportedly been aware of vulnerabilities with pirating unencrypted drone data streams since the Bosnia campaign in the mid-1990s. Top US officials said in 2009 that they were working to encrypt all drone data streams in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan – after finding militant laptops loaded with days’ worth of data in Iraq – and acknowledged that they were “subject to listening and exploitation.”
Source: www.csmonitor.com