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The Military Government Security United States

Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us? 448

Posted by Soulskill
from the smart-phones-are-way-smarter-than-smart-bombs dept.
JonZittrain writes: This summer, ISIS insurgents captured Mosul — with with it, three divisions' worth of advanced American military hardware. After ISIS used it to capture the Mosul Dam, the U.S. started bombing its own pirated equipment. Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

We already require extra authentication at a distance to arm nuclear weapons, and last season's 24 notwithstanding, we routinely operate military drones at a distance. Reportedly in the Falkland Islands war, Margaret Thatcher was able to extract codes to disable Argentina's Exocet missiles from the French. The simplest implementation might be like the proposal for land mines that expire after a certain time. Perhaps tanks — currently usable without even an ignition key — could require a renewal code digitally signed by the owning country to be entered manually or received by satellite every six months or so.

I'm a skeptic of kill switches, especially in consumer devices, but still found myself writing up the case for a way to disable military hardware in the field. There are lots of reasons it might not work — or work too well — but is there a way to improve on what we face now?
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Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us?

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  • Like DRM? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Matt_H (34421) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:39AM (#47826053) Homepage

    As desirable as it would be in the case if ISIS, wouldn't implementing such kill switches on weapons be as ineffective as DRM for copyrighted material, with undesirable side-effects for "legitimate uses" and plenty of workarounds for "illegitimate" users?

    • Just use a relay... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:45AM (#47826153) Homepage

      I am reminded of Asimov's story "The Mayors," in Foundation (first published in Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1942, in which an "ultrawave relay" disables the warship that the Foundation sold to the Anacreonian navy when the Anacreons try to use it against them.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:50AM (#47826257) Homepage

      Hell with kill switches. Lots of fucking C4 buried in hidden compartments and a remote KABOOM switch would have been better.

      Go ahead take our gear.....

      • Yeah, and soon as the bag guys find out about that, they can start blowing up the stuff while "our side" was still using it.
        • by mlts (1038732)

          Easy fix... one time pads. Tank number 128 gets a transaction, it decodes it using the OTP it has in a secure part of the controller, then blows e-fuses on the other equipment.

          Since there isn't a need for public key encryption, having a remote site and the tank share a pad is feasible and as per basic crypto theory, if the key is as long or longer than the encrypted communication, there is no feasible way to break it. An attack would have to be done at the remote site, or at the tank itself.

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            absolutely, dirt simple and uncrackable by the worlds best. Worst case is you lose the remote destruct ability if you lose the servers with the remote detonate pads.

            • by fnj (64210)

              Your servers with the pads will get Pwned so fast it will make your head spin.

              • Re:Like DRM? (Score:5, Interesting)

                by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:47PM (#47827335)

                Your servers with the pads will get Pwned so fast it will make your head spin.

                Indeed. We have already had American soldiers kill other American soldiers [wikipedia.org] because they objected to our wars. It would be much less risky to leak the pads to our enemies, or use the pads to wipe out all our weapons. How would the "destruct" signal work anyway? It would need to be a radio signal, which means an antenna and battery on each weapon. So when the enemy captures the weapons, the first thing they would do was break off the antenna and take out the battery. Anyone who thinks we can send out the destruct signal before they could do that has clearly never dealt with the military bureaucracy's decision making process.

                When I was in the Marines, we had a much simpler solution: Thermite grenades [wikipedia.org]. Every artillery battery, and every tank platoon had them. If equipment ever had to be abandoned, we were trained to toss a thermite grenade into the breech of each weapon, and to place another grenade on the engine block. If the Iraqi Army was too incompetent to do this when they were overrun by ISIS, then they never should have been entrusted with the weapons in the first place.

                • Thermite grenades, small amounts of ordinary plastic explosives, even pistols for electronics ... sometimes the old ways are best.

                  Forget the James Bond movie gizmos, that only works in Hollywood.

                  My Dad spent some time in armored cavalry as both a blacksmith/welder and as a driver. I'm going to have to ask him how much damage he could do with a mechanic's ball been hammer and a couple of minutes.
            • by claar (126368)

              > Worst case is you lose the remote destruct ability if you lose the servers with the remote detonate pads.

              More like worst cast is it accidentally is triggering due to component failure or impact from a high-moving projectile/explosive..

              • by Lumpy (12016)

                Are car airbags going off on people as they drive? nope. If the incompetent Automotive industry can safely put explosives in the face of car drivers I think a military contractor can do the same on a larger scale but more robustly. Component failures dont fail to EXPLODE if you design things right. They are not using arduinos and raspberry pi's.

                and a projectile large enough to penetrate the vehicle and still have enough energy to detonate C4 would have already destroyed the vehicle.

          • Re:Like DRM? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:27PM (#47826989) Homepage

            Assuming the tank is capable of receiving the signal... Defeating such a system could be as simple as wrapping the antenna in tin foil. If the tank requires a signal to operate at all, then the enemy would just invest in signal jamming equipment.
            DRM schemes are inherently ineffective, and often cause more trouble for the legitimate users...
            The best thing they can realistically do, is have a very comprehensive understanding of the weapons weaknesses, and deploy appropriate countermeasures against them.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Or when they are being overrun they should just destroy the hardware so that it doesn't fall into enemy hands. Of course there is also an argument for why you don't sell hardware to unstable regions. Course we have a long history of doing it so stopping now would be problematic at best.

      • I think you're on to something. You don't need to blow the tank up to make it inoperable though. A command that simply instructs the engine and/or transmission to enter a mechanically unsound state and cause a major failure would work well enough.

    • by s.petry (762400)

      As desirable as it would be in the case if ISIS, wouldn't implementing such kill switches on weapons be as ineffective as DRM for copyrighted material, with undesirable side-effects for "legitimate uses" and plenty of workarounds for "illegitimate" users?

      Yes it would, so technology is not the answer. Remember that these are not US weapons we sold to someone through proper channels, which could 'potentially' have legitimate benefit of some type of kill switch. These are weapons that were captured. Why were they captured? Mostly because it was deemed 'too expensive' to move shit out of the country after withdrawing troops, so we 'sold' shit to Iraq and left. Think really long and hard about that one. Then think long and hard about the fact that the US w

      • by Bartles (1198017) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @01:35PM (#47827883)
        Stop saying "we" and "us". I searched this entire page of comments and there was only one hit on the name of our President. It's time to start blaming the person responsible for making these decisions. Strike that. It's long past time.
        • Re:Like DRM? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by s.petry (762400) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @02:14PM (#47828427)

          "We" is the US and it's citizens which are responsible for putting politicians in office. "We" are responsible for educating people in society about basic concepts like Liberty and Freedom, and what a Republic is supposed to be. "We" are responsible for warning and educating people to tyranny and where it has taken hold in the US. "We" are responsible for demanding an end to the escalation of the Police state within our borders and the lack of protecting the same. "We" are responsible to take action, and "We" have not yet done so at scale.

          I am partially responsible for where we are today, and admit myself as part of the problem. I spend several hours a day doing my part to educate others to issues and educate myself to keep reality in focus. When will "you" admit to yours and do something other than claim it's that other guys fault?

  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:40AM (#47826069)

    Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

    No. Next question.

    Any system that's trusted to grant or revoke capabilities must have done way to be authenticated. Any authentication system can be faked with sufficient knowledge. You can control how difficult faking the system can be, or how much knowledge is needed. But it cannot be eliminated.

    Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

    • by tomhath (637240)
      Disabling a piece of equipment before it falls into enemy hands is quite simple. Especially if one of the pieces of equipment you still have in your own hands is a working tank, with a working cannon.
    • Mod up 1000+ (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bjdevil66 (583941) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:15PM (#47826749)

      I immediately thought of the 1st episode of the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, where 99.9% of their modern military force was rendered inoperable. No. Thank. You.

      The best "kill switch" is to kill the idea of leaving a ton of advanced military hardware in the hands of less-than-solid governments in the first place (no matter how much defense contractors want to sell their wares). You'd think we would have learned from Iran and the F-14s we left in Iran in the late 1970s as the Islamic Revolution took place.

      • Re:Mod up 1000+ (Score:4, Interesting)

        by stoploss (2842505) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:54PM (#47827443)

        Actually, the Iranian F-14 debacle contains the kernel of a workable approach. Fighters require scads of maintenance and parts to keep flying. Iran lost that channel. I would be surprised if they actually had a single airframe in combat ready status even only 10 years after the seizure.

        I propose all arms going to third parties be given rounds with propellants / explosives that chemically degrade over time. Yes, this would be sensitive to storage conditions, but make them stable enough for, say, 18 months viability in the desert. At least that would keep us from having to worry about Stingers we gave away 3 decades ago.

        If the third parties reverse engineer how to create/bind/mold a replacement propellant or explosive, then I believe they deserve to be able to shoot it at us... they earned it.

  • by scubamage (727538) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:40AM (#47826071)
    You cannot permanently defend technology with more technology, just add timesinks. If you create a killswitch, you add multiple attack vectors - either the people who control access to the killswitch themselves, the people who designed the killswitch, or the possibility of brute forcing or exploiting that killswitch.
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:41AM (#47826081)

    They don't put disable switches in them because the first thing someone would do is figure out how to disable them. So ISIS would have just disabled the Iraqi equipment, seized it, re-enabled it then disabled the switch.

    Not even to mention what would happen to US forces if their equipment contained similar devices.

    • Re:Silly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:47AM (#47826173) Journal
      The idea is to have a timer that would automatically disable the equipment unless it received an enable signal, either from a satellite or removable medium. It's possible to make such a system that is, at the very least, very difficult to tamper with. Many of the systems on tanks and so on are computer controlled and if the computers stop working then it's a lot less valuable. The goal of such systems is similar to that of crypto: it's not to prevent the enemy from ever using the tanks that they've stolen, it's to prevent them using them quickly. If you have a few weeks to bomb the stolen equipment before it can be used, and the enemy has to invest a lot of high-tech resources into cracking the systems, then that's probably good enough.
      • Re:Silly (Score:5, Informative)

        by TWX (665546) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:05PM (#47826589)
        If I were a soldier for the US military or the legitimate owner of the equipment that I'm trying to use, I would be concerned that something would disable the equipment at exactly the wrong time, or that I couldn't use it when I needed it because of some snafu.

        Humvees, tanks, planes, helicopters, even ATVs don't even have keys because when it's time to use it, you don't want to be fighting with the equipment itself, and trying to track down a key, or to enter a passcode, or to do other such things could mean the difference between life and death. Given how harsh a warzone can be to the equipment in the first place, there's no good reason to push your luck by adding more ways to disable stuff.

        And you can't use something like personal credentials either, for many electronics, because you don't know who will end up using it. If two companies taking a break together are attacked, every man grabs whatever can to defend, even if it's not his humvee's .50 cal, or not his M72, or not his M60. They need to all be able to use any, and to use the military's organizational structure itself as the safety measure.

        As for Iraq, I don't think they'll survive as a country for the next decade. They're bickering about who's in charge when the enemy is literally at the city gates. The Kurds will declare independence and are probably better equipped to fight ISIS than the official central government, and the Shia/Sunni divide will become more pronounced. That's the thing when removing strong-men from power, the power-vacuum is vast and simply wasn't well-enough accounted for, and the middle-east will be paying for that for a long, long time.

        This is what he meant when he said, "never get involved in a land war in Asia".
      • The idea is to have a timer that would automatically disable the equipment unless it received an enable signal, either from a satellite or removable medium.

        Right, but now all the enemy has to do to entirely disable your tank in the field is to disable (or block) the receiver. An enemy with good signals jamming can disable all your armour. Not ideal.

      • The idea is to have a timer that would automatically disable the equipment unless it received an enable signal, either from a satellite or removable medium. It's possible to make such a system that is, at the very least, very difficult to tamper with. Many of the systems on tanks and so on are computer controlled and if the computers stop working then it's a lot less valuable. The goal of such systems is similar to that of crypto: it's not to prevent the enemy from ever using the tanks that they've stolen, it's to prevent them using them quickly. If you have a few weeks to bomb the stolen equipment before it can be used, and the enemy has to invest a lot of high-tech resources into cracking the systems, then that's probably good enough.

        Everything you suggest is possible to implement, but herein lies the fault of engineering thinking: logistics. The logistics of maintaining such a system in a manner that is sufficiently secure are just too damned complex to consider them as practical.

        If the equipment stole by ISIS could be disabled by default by not receiving the *good-to-go* signal then every other equipment with similar protection is open to jamming. ISIS fighters (and most fighting forces for that matter) are technically savvy enoug

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Many of the systems on tanks and so on are computer controlled and if the computers stop working then it's a lot less valuable.

        I'd be inclined to think most of them, even if they're not really hooked up almost anything runs on ICs these days. How much is really pure mechanical/hydraulic anymore? Forget things like navigation, communication, targetting and such, how good is a tank if the engine won't run and the gun won't fire because the IC controlling the fuel injection and barrel rotation and firing mechanism all need a 128 bit "wake-up code" from the central system?

        And the central system is using full disk crypto and the key to

  • No (Score:4, Informative)

    by GlennC (96879) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:41AM (#47826089)

    Next question.

  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:43AM (#47826111)

    "pirated" is not the verb you want there, it's "stolen". To equate piracy with theft is purely political and thus retarded and dilutes the meaning of both words.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AvitarX (172628)

      I assumed it was like how pirates would steal ships, and then use them.

  • by peragrin (659227) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:44AM (#47826135)

    Digital restrictions do not work in the real world. With this the military is going to have to pirate it's own equipment to use it.

    I can see it now a soldier out in the field goes to fire a rocket launcher and it goes oops sorry we can't connect to the DRM server please try again later.

    Name one DRM scheme that hasn't been cracked?

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Name one DRM scheme that hasn't been cracked?

      DIVX [wikipedia.org]?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      You;re comparison to DRM is, well naive.

      The big issue with DRM is that it' used for things that anyone can buy. That's its weakness. IT's also used to limit digital distribution. WHich is just 1's and 0' and as such, easy to duplicate by it's nature.

      That's different then a custom device, that shoots a physical payload, to be used by a limied number of specific users

  • by TheMeuge (645043) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:46AM (#47826165)

    So what the enemy needs to do to win is to get disable codes?

    Given Pentagon's contractor efficiency and reporting requirements, the choices will probably be in a plaintext file accessible from the internet, in a budget report.

  • Here's an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:49AM (#47826243) Homepage Journal
    How about we just stop invading other countries where we know people don't like to see Americans? If we had opted out of the second Iraq war, we could have saved thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and our own collective faces on the international stage. To top it all off we wouldn't need to be having this discussion at all. We didn't accomplish anything with that war.

    I know that is not a popular opinion here, but it is the truth.
    • I know that is not a popular opinion here, but it is the truth.

      I think many or even most of us here agree with that view, even if a small minority vigorously disagrees.

    • Re:Here's an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by m00sh (2538182) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:34PM (#47827111)

      How about we just stop invading other countries where we know people don't like to see Americans? If we had opted out of the second Iraq war, we could have saved thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and our own collective faces on the international stage. To top it all off we wouldn't need to be having this discussion at all. We didn't accomplish anything with that war. I know that is not a popular opinion here, but it is the truth.

      Under the sanctions, Iraqis were suffering. The child death rate was soaring, there were food shortages and there were thousands of deaths. The power of Saddam Hussein was actually growing and he was getting richer and more powerful while the population was suffering.

      Which was all caused by the first Iraq war which was the result of arming Saddam Hussein so that he would fight Iran. We were fighting Iran because they were hostile to us because of supporting the unpopular Shah dictator. We supported a military coup that put the Shah in power because oil was nationalized by then Iranian government. The Iranian government nationalized the oil fields because they were outright owned by foreign oil companies and didn't think it was fair. I don't know what happened before that.

      Just a chain of dick moves and greed all the way.

      Other nearby countries using their oil resources wisely have done very well and are the countries with the highest per capita.

    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      So we should invade countries that like America?

      Are you a fool?

      Of course we choose to invade our enemies, not our friends.

      Iraq was a bad war, but it was bad because there was no real reason to do it. That is why we didn't accomplish anything with the war.

      The fact that the people did not like us was not relevant.

      Your opinions might be more popular if you scrape off the foolishness you precede it with.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kheldan (1460303)
      Sure thing buddy, great idea. Let's see how you feel about your own ideology when you wake up one morning to find Islamic Jihadists pointing guns at you and informing you that you need to convert to Islam, immediately, or face execution, or that you are now subject to Sharia Law whether you like it or not, and that your daughters will have acid thrown in their faces for having the gall to actually go to school to learn to read, write, and do math. As distasteful as it may be, you have to face the reality of
      • by GlennC (96879)

        If you're that concerned, you are cordially invited to get your buddies and some guns and head over there yourself.

        I'm sure you'll be able to distinguish between the ISIS fighters and our allies.

        Show everyone how a "Real 'Murrican" takes care of business.

      • Radicalization is caused by war. It's no coincidence that the Taliban resulted from decades of chaos in Afghanistan, or that ISIS resulted from years of chaos in Syria and Iraq. If you stop starting the wars, you stop creating the terrorists and no longer have to fight them.

  • The US has not given the Iraqi military "advanced" weapons. They currently have no air defense at all except what the US provides them. The most advanced weapon system they have is the M1A1 but even that has had a lot of tech and armor stripped from it.

    • by fnj (64210)

      If you believe there is anything special about the Iraqi M1A1s, you believe in the tooth fairy. Hint, here's how this works. The M1A1 is developed, some of the M1s are sold off and some are upgraded to A1. The M1A2 is developed, some of the A1s are sold off and some are upgraded to A2. There is no mysterious assembly line wasting money building degraded versions of first line battle equipment.

      The most the Iraqi stuff is, is a little (insignificantly in the scheme of things) behind the US stuff in the latest

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:51AM (#47826267)
    Is to stop taking sides in disputes inside hostile (but sovereign) nations and supplying the "good guys" with our weapons.
  • If the weapon is sufficiently fiddly and delicate, and the attacker has limited time to subvert it, a variety of means might work (many of them already explored with nukes and/or SALT arms reduction verification stuff in the late cold war); but for simpler, more durable, gear, and hardware subject to prolonged attack, Not Happening.

    In particular, nukes are (relatively) easy to secure because they include a fair amount of conventional explosive, improper detonation of which will produce a mess but a fairl
  • by guacamole (24270)

    As soon as it becomes known that the weapons exported by US have a "kill switch" or the equivalent, a lot of users will simply stop buying them.

  • Easiest "Fix" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dracos (107777) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:58AM (#47826417)

    Bring it all back home. For all the hullabaloo about letting technology getting into "enemy hands", including export restrictions, the "let's just leave a bunch of military hardware in the Middle East" scenario was apparently never considered a risk.

    Of course, it's too late now for the Mosul equipment, but the same thing could happen anywhere else in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    It's almost as if the belligerent, short-sighted idiots are still in charge.

    • If you leave equipment in theatre you have a couple of nice options:

      1) You let your allies use it (you do have allies, don't you?).
      2) You save on transport costs back to the US and storage costs. Bunker fuel is expensive. If the Chinese can transport a container ship full of trinkets to the US .... Anyway, it costs money.
      3) If you leave the equipment, then you have to buy NEW equipment when you need it six months later. Shiney!
      4) You can always blow it up later.

      What's not to like?

    • by bjdevil66 (583941)

      It is very expensive, difficult, and sometimes even dangerous to load up all that hardware. Somebody decided it was easier to just sell to a new government that needed a real army to remain in control (which should've been a warning sign in the first place).

  • Betteridge says no [wikipedia.org]
  • by ChilyWily (162187) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:59AM (#47826437) Homepage
    Would you want a weapon that would only work if someone else said it was okay to use? It's been tried before but it does not work. BTW, did Thatcher herself figure the codes out? and disable them? I think that credit goes to good British Engineers and not to some politician.
  • Once the soldiers learn how to disable the lockout it will become unwritten standard practice to remove the lockout before relying on it, all it would take is one incident where it got locked out due to a bug or other failure. Would you want your life relying on a weapon that would stop working if it couldn't phone home?
  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:01PM (#47826519) Homepage
    "Could Tech Have stopped the mujahadeen from using our own heavy weapons against us?"
    "Could Tech Have stopped mexican cartels from using our own heavy weapons against us?"
    "Could Tech Have stopped Afghani armed forces from using our own heavy weapons against us?"
    "Could Tech Have stopped Iraqi armed forces from using our own heavy weapons against us?"

    there is no amount of technology that will intercede to short-circuit the natural conclusion of a foreign policy of wreckless interventionalism
  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:02PM (#47826527)
    Betteridge aside, what we want and should do is scuttle. Destroy the equipment before it is taken if it cannot be retrieved. There may be some logistical hurdles, but this is far easier and cheaper than retrofitting or designing new weapons with a remote kill switch.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      I'd rather a device that 24 hours after the item has been vacated started send week, and intermittent 'ping'.

      So we know there movements and location. And we can target it when its manned.

  • by penguinoid (724646)

    As usual, the answer to the headline question is "no". No one wants to buy equipment they won't own; there's always the risk of the wrong person using the killswitch; the killswitch can easily be disabled by destroying the receiver so it wouldn't even fulfill its function. I could see killswitches finding use for prison or riot gear, and maybe to prevent tech from getting captured, but as a general rule the military will avoid them like if it were equipment which could all simultaneously stop functioning at

  • We gave or sold F14's to Iran. When they pissed us off, we stopped giving them replacement parts IIRC. I suspect suppliers of complex weapons have similar leverage over the people they sell to in many/most circumstances.

    So we already have this, in slow motion.

  • The US already used its rather effective kill switch technology: precision guided bombs. Simple, effective, and just like any other solution you can dream up for this problem, expensive.
  • by Smidge204 (605297) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:05PM (#47826583) Journal

    "...but is there a way to improve on what we face now?"

    Sure there is. If you want to stymie this sort fo thing in the future, all you have to do is stop equipping foreign forces with US hardware.

    If you're not selling/giving the hardware to non-US forces, it will be very difficult for non-US forces to get a hold of it.

    Pretty simple, though that might cut into some weapon manufacturer's profits so it's probably not tenable.
    =Smidge=

  • "Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?"

    No. Of course not. If you can destroy or disable your own equipment remotely then it's only a matter of time before someone else figures out how to use or break that function on their own,.

    A much better approach would be to put a little red button on the bottom of everything and let nature take its course.

    "I hate warriors, too narrow-minded. I'll tell you what I do like though: a killer, a dyed-in-the-wool killer. Cold blooded, clean, methodical and thorough. Now a real killer, when he picked up the ZF

  • Instead of having merely a kill-switch, how about something that will blow up in their faces and decapitate them?
  • but they both have the weakness that they need a strong logistical support. So if a weapon was isolated too long, it would become useless.

  • I think this has been covered for new programs starting about 15 years ago... PDF of under SECDEF memo [216.54.19.111]
  • by buck-yar (164658) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:17PM (#47826813)

    ... Not giving them weapons? As an American Citizen, I'd be serving perhaps 10 years for possessing an M16 machine gun that we were just giving to the Iraqis. When 2nd amendment debates pop up, few people say citizens should be allowed to own tanks, MRAPS etc, but are ok with giving it to a 3rd world country (where many of the Iraqi Army soldiers turned on us as soon as we armed them).

  • why on earth would 'we' want to disable their gear? "We" armed them to begin with, back when they were 'moderates fighting assad'.. aka, pawns to remove assad and allow a saudi-backed natural gas pipeline to run through syria from qatar - breaking up gazprom's european monopoly.

    When their false flag attacks failed to give the US the greenlight to go in, they were beefed up to the point where now they're "ISIS". "We" left them the equipment as a gift, and a few beheading videos later, the drums of war re
  • I must say ISIS took a turn that no one was expecting: after much success as a post-metal band and releasing 4 albums, they decided to re-emerge as Islamic terrorist group in Iraq.

  • For instance with tanks, if you make them drive-by-wire [baesystems.com] and you make the computer control system small enough, you can just pull the computer when you're done with the tank and take it with you.

    Of course, the enemy could counter this in several ways. They could jerry-rig the tank to work minimally without a control system, but it would not be nearly as effective. They could steal the control computer, but that's a security issue - the key components should be under lock and key and heavy guard. Or they c

  • Battlestar Galactica (Score:2, Informative)

    by Imagix (695350)
    Did you not watch the Battlestar Galactica reboot? The first thing the cylons did was send a kill code to all colonial forces rendering the entire fleet helpless. Nuked the 12 colonies immediately afterward.....
  • The only way I could see this working would be a physical disablement. If you have a weapon, be it a nuke, conventional bomb, or tank, it has all the physical hardware and chemicals it needs to work. Disabling the control equipment is a setback but, will never fully prevent someone from repurposing the core equipment. If you can strip a nuclear bomb down to its core and firing mechanisms, you can make your own driver.... maybe that is a bad example because there is likely a lot of "secret sauce" in the actu

  • When it comes to war and its strategy I trust the in depth reporting 'war nerd' only and he published a very nice article few years back 'Hi-Tech Toys vs Fanged Vermin' and the conclusion is that powerful high-tech weapons are not that much useful in urban warfare. http://exiledonline.com/future... [exiledonline.com]
  • * Fire all the technical writers and editors. I'm sure the engineers will have no trouble writing maintenance manuals using complete sentences.
      Eliminate inventory controls. Soldiers will steal anything not nailed down.

  • by hackertourist (2202674) <<ln.tensmx> <ta> <tsiruotrekcah>> on Thursday September 04, 2014 @02:36PM (#47828675)

    The French gave the British potentially valuable information on the Exocet's capabilities and limitations, and details on how it operated (e.g. its radar frequency, which you need to know if you want to use jamming).
    Despite this, 4 of the 5 Exocets launched were hits, and damaged or sank British ships.

  • by BringsApples (3418089) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @06:39PM (#47830639)
    Why not just embed the hardware with geo-tracking software of some kind, and hardcode it to specifically not blow up in certain places on the planet. Hell you could even have it blow up immediately, once programmed to explode in the area that you don't want it to. That way you can still sell your weapons, and no need to worry.
  • I call BS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @06:41PM (#47830643) Homepage

    "Margaret Thatcher forced François Mitterrand to give her the codes to disable Argentina's deadly French-made missiles during the Falklands war"

    Bologna.

    I've seen the insides of 70's era AM39 Exocet. They don't have codes. They certainly don't have remote turn-off codes.

    And then there's the fact that they worked perfectly. Six (five AMs, one SM) launches, four hits. Two sinkings. Much better results than anyone could have predicted.

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