Iranian hackers were able to gain control of the American UAV and put it on its territory

    Some time ago, news appeared on the Internet that the Iranian military was able to land an American unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) RQ-170 manufactured by Lockheed Martin with almost no damage. The essence of the Iranian statement came down to the fact that they were able to reprogram the drone’s GPS navigation system and, replacing legitimate GPS signals, made him “believe” that he was on his territory and the landing team came from the legal owners of the device - the US air force base in Afghanistan.

    Of course, official sources completely denied the interception of the drone, which is such an advanced device that even its photo was never published. Such a reaction looks quite natural against the background of well-known scandals related toinfection of the Predator and Reaper UAV control system, as well as the incident (the Wall Street Journal wrote about it) when several hours of video were found on the hard drive of a Shiite prisoner’s laptop that was transmitted from American drones and which was considered by the US military to be completely secret (for this, by the way allegedly used the program SkyGrabber - Russian production).

    Despite the yellowness of such headlines - although quite respectable publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Discovery, Bloomberg wrote about them - a couple of days ago spoke on this subjectand former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The essence of his words was that he did not understand how the Iranian hackers had such a high qualification and, moreover, the American administration considers this a threat to the security of their state.

    Naturally, the very first thought that arises when reading such news is that the Americans are preparing the ground for future military incidents. To confirm this, it’s enough to recall the Pentagon’s statements that cyber attacks on and off the territory of the United States may well be stopped by a military strike against the guilty state.

    Nevertheless, the well-respected publication The Christian Science Monitor published an interviewwith an Iranian engineer who allegedly was directly involved in the interception operation of the RQ-170 drone, and who revealed a number of technical details of this interception.

    What did he say?

    With the help of electronic warfare (some experts believe that it could be the Russian complex 1L222 Avtobaza) Iranians broke the satellite channel between the RQ-170 and the ground control station located in the United States. In such a situation, the drone's software puts the device into autopilot mode, in which it must return to the US Air Force base in Afghanistan - the place of basing. The autopilot uses the GPS system and it is through the navigation system - by replacing or simply drowning out the signals - the Iranian military was able to deceive the drone, who considered that it had already arrived at its destination and landed almost safely in Iran.

    To the credit of the publication that published the interview, it was not limited to one opinion and asked what John Pike, an expert in data encryption and satellite communications, president of, thinks about this. He doubted the veracity of the information told by the Iranian. The essence of his objections is as follows: the GPS system is a two-level system, one level is a system for general use, the data of which is not encrypted, and the second level of the system is a level for military use, the data of which is encrypted using cryptographic P (Y) algorithms; in principle, general-purpose GPS commands can be completely replaced, but if Iranian hackers managed to crack the P (Y) encryption system, then they would not be prevented from using larger-scale attack tools in the United States,

    However, Richard Langley, a GPS expert at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, noted that Iranian military did not need to crack the P (Y) code. It is enough to just drown out the frequency at which the “military” GPS signals are transmitted by a powerful transmitter, which would cause the RQ-170 flight control system to go into autopilot mode, and then, using the same powerful “fake” signal, land the device in that place where the Iranian military found fit.

    In other words, the fact of the theft of a super-modern flying spy apparatus worth $ 6 million does not look so incredible, since the mechanism of such an operation is recognized as quite real by technical experts, and not only information publications are not shy about declaring the fact. And given the fact that in the spring of this year Lockheed Martin - the manufacturer of the RQ-170 drone - fell victim to a hacker attack , the question of what were its results makes one wonder whether there was such a period in the life of modern society when the use of computer systems can result not only in a series of unpleasant incidents, but also cause more serious consequences if they are at the disposal of people whose intentions are far from peaceful?

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