Iran Hijacks U.S. Drone, a Troubling Sign of Cyber Warfare


American-Iranian relations could be strained as reports indicate that an American UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), or drone, was “hijacked” and brought down by an Iranian-cyber warfare unit. The operators of the unmanned drone reported losing control of the aircraft. More so, the downed drone apparently was only slightly damaged and was recovered by Iranian officials. It is unclear whether or not this was a test by Iran's cyber warefare organ, a true act of aggression, or a show of force on the part of Iranians. What remains clear is that an American UAV now lies in the hands of Iran.

Aside from the likely international relations ramifications that this episode will cause, it is also important to wonder how a piece of sophisticated U.S. military machinary could be "hijacked." This crisis represents a need for the U.S. military to buttress its cyber defenses, especially in regards to drones.

Iran has a history of acting out against America, in many ways, and this could be another critical situation in the already soured relationship between the two states. But it is also a very serious matter when American technology is hacked into and controlled by another operator.

This is the second time in two months the U.S. drone fleet has been hacked.

These drones have become a major part of America's military apparatus, and to ensure their continued use, they must be inaccessible to other nation's cyber systems. Immediate action must be taken against Iran to ensure they can no longer infiltrate America's military related computer networks and systems. Actions must be taken to foolproof the communication systems between ground operators and UAVs.

Whether action is taken against Iran to stop them from doing this again, or actions are taken to defend our systems is another story. What needs to happen is a reconsidering of how we allow our UAVs to operate without cyber defense or security measures.

It was also reported that the type of UAV, RQ-170 is not the most advanced UAV in use today.

This story is still unfolding. What do you think? Was this an act of aggression against America's military influence in the Afghanistan region? Was this a test? Or, is this a taste of things to come, until America acts?

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons