Aside from just the military drones that have an unprotected video feed that anyone can hack into, it has now become apparent that all of the video feeds from the military are unprotected and can be seen by anyone that wants to. The military initially developed the Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver, or ROVER for short, in 2002 to let the troops on the ground download footage from the Predator drones and AC-130 gunships as it was taken. Since then, every military airplane has been equipped with a ROVER system.
Since this technology proved so very useful to the soldiers, the military tried to field test it and make it accessible to the soldiers as fast as possible, causing them to send it out to the field with some bugs.
“[it was] fielded so fast that it was done with an unencrypted signal. It could be both intercepted (e.g. hacked into) and jammed,” e-mails an Air Force officer with knowledge of the program.
Another issue with encrypting the ROVER system, aside from having to encrypt the signal for every single airplane the military owns, is that who will you trust with the encryption keys? Should the encryption codes make it to the troops in the field that really need it? Or should it be given only to the higher ups?
Opinions vary if this is a big problem that has to be solved right now, or if there are bigger problems to focus on at the moment. Some soldiers say the video feed can only be intercepted by those that are in the line of sight of the airplanes, meaning it doesn’t help our enemies much, while other solider say that it helps them avoid our airplanes in a way that a police scanner can help criminals. Either way, the military is working on fixing this security threat and figuring out a way to only make it viewable by our own soldiers.