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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Verton

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?