Hacker caught selling MQ-9 Reaper drone manual, accessing drone cameras while in use

Photo credit: Recorded Future’s Insikt Group/ US Air Force

How much does it cost to get super-secret information on military drones? About $200, apparently.

A hacker was caught selling US military secrets on the “dark web,” including information on the MQ-9 Reaper drone used by agencies ranging from the US Air Force to the Department of Homeland Security and NASA.

Discovered on June 1st, investigators from the Recorded Future data security agency traced the breach of information to the hacking of a Netgear router at Creech Air Force Base. After gaining access to the router, the hacker infiltrated a USAF Captain’s computer and stole a cache of sensitive documents, ranging from info about the reaper to the list of airmen who maintain the unmanned aircraft.

Investigators soon established communication with the hacker, whom they described as being of “moderate” technical skill.

According to The Verge, the hacker claimed he “entertains” himself by watching live streams from aircraft and border surveillance footage, including footage of an MQ-1 Predator drone flying over the Gulf of Mexico.

All in all, it took the hacker about a week to find security vulnerabilities, and the price of his labor was self-set at $200.

Photo credit: Recorded Future’s Insikt Group

If this is worrying information to you, you’re right to be concerned- foreign or domestic entities with superior hacking skills may already be hard at work stealing American tech secrets and footage from vulnerable military networks.

One Air National Guardsman -who spoke to Popular Military on the condition of anonymity and works with MQ-9 Reapers- said the stealing of secrets is beyond troubling.

“It’s a scary thought that outside agents can access such footage,” he said, “to see what we see without being detected, as if looking through our own eyes. It just goes to show you how dependent we’ve become on tech and internet-based networking without fully understanding just how vulnerable these systems are.”

“It’s kind of like keeping your gun in a car without locking the door,” he added. “It could be gone long before you know it’s missing and you don’t know if it could be used against you one day. Carelessness kills. This kind of thing could do far more damage than you think.”

It is unknown exactly who the hacker was, and the United States military is looking into the incident.

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