First: The Pentagon has announced that the drone Iran captured is likely from the U.S.Second: Iran claims to have spoofed it.
Spoofing is when a group of hackers overloads that connection and then convinces the confused drone that their connection is legitimate, thus taking over control of the drone.
After the Pentagon announced that Iran’s captured drone is more than likely a U.S. Scan Eagle, Iran issued a statement in response saying that they can count on “the talent of their youth” and their “electronic warfare” to counter surveillance tactics on behalf of the U.S.
The Scan Eagle, now a decade old technology, can be spoofed by a group of skilled hackers. The Scan Eagle, and other drones like it, are susceptible to spoofing because there’s a constant “link” between the operator and the drone itself.
The newer generation of drones, for example the X-47B, cannot be spoofed. Engineers fixed the security concern when they enabled the onboard computer to conduct all navigation, effectively separating operators from constant direct control.
That’s where the word “autonomy” comes into play. No, we’re not looking at SkyNet and Terminators wandering a post-apocalyptic landscape (at least not yet). The autonomy means that the human is “on the loop” rather than “in the loop.”
The drone can be corrected, redirected, or brought back at any time (on the loop), without having to maintain a constant running connection (in the loop).
Hackers, like the ones Iran boasts to have, will have a much harder time hijacking this next-generation drone technology, and the U.S. won’t have to endure the embarrassment of first denying, then confirming that one of their drones was possibly hijacked.