Hacker-Controlled Tanks, Planes and Warships?

Speaking this month at the annual Army Directors of Information Management Conference in Houston, Army Maj. Sheryl French, a program manager responsible for the Army's Information Assurance Architecture for the Digitized Force, said the potential exists for hackers to infiltrate the computer systems used in tanks and other armored vehicles. Unlike in the past, today's modern tanks and ships are almost entirely dependent on computers, software and data communications links for functions such as navigation, targeting and command and control.

Although the Pentagon has always had computer security issues to deal with, "we've never had computers" in tanks and armored personnel carriers before, said French, pointing to a picture of an M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense has already tested and proven that hackers have the ability to infiltrate the command and control systems of major weapons, including Navy warships. According to a training CD-ROM on information assurance, published by the Defense Information Systems Agency, an Air Force officer sitting in a hotel room in Boston used a laptop computer to hack into a Navy ship at sea and implant false navigation data into the ship's steering system.

"Yes, this actually happened," the CD-ROM instructs military personnel taking the course. "Fortunately, this was only a controlled test to see what could be done. In reality, the type of crime and its objective is limited only by people's imagination and ability."

John Pike, a defense and intelligence analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, said that although there are well-known security gaps in the commercial systems that the Army plans to use on the battlefield, hacking into tanks and other weapons may prove to be too difficult for an enemy engaged in battle.

"The problem for the enemy is that computer security vulnerabilities will almost certainly prove fleeting and unpredictable," said Pike, adding that such tactics would be nearly impossible to employ beyond the random harassment level.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Verton

PC World
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?