You know those state of the art airplanes – the unmanned drones the US has flying in Afghanistan, well these Predator Drones at a cost of over $4 million apiece send video of their targets in an unencrypted format allowing insurgents and terrorists to see what is being sent. In other words terrorists could monitor the location of these planes and avoid being attacked by simply staying indoors (I am not sure if in-cave is a word but you see where I am going with the thought) when a plane is near.
The worst part is the video streams can be intercepted with a $29 piece of software called SkyGrabber.
I almost choked on my coffee when I read this Wall Street Journal article detailing the excuses for broadcasting unencrypted video to enemies of the US. With all the state of the art encrypted IP communications software on the market – much of it free like Skype, how does the military have an excuse not to use any of it?
Granted, these are military systems and they communicate using the C band of the electromagnetic spectrum – it is unknown by me if they use Internet Protocol at all.
The point is, now that we know that insurgents are monitoring the video feeds of these drones, isn’t it time to retrofit them with encryption?
I have grown up with this illusion that the US military has the toughest encryption systems in place and that these people who have unlimited funds do things better and safer than corporations. Apparently I was very wrong as there are so many off the shelf and free encryption systems consumers can use for a variety of communications and the US military decided not to implement any.
If any of you in the industry can help the US government with an encrypted video solution please do. I hope there are some Military RFPs regarding video security technology hitting the street soon.