Hacker Obtains Sensitive Manuals for Military Drone, Tank, Etc.

 In Military, Technology

How did a hacker manage to snag a maintenance manual for an MQ-9 Reaper Drone as well as a list of Airmen who worked with them? How about  the specs for an Abrams Tank? Those and other sensitive documents were stolen by a hacker and placed on the “dark web” for sale. Fortunately a cybersecurity group called Recorded Future revealed the chink in our armor and is working with law enforcement to fix it.

According to Defense One,

Recorded Future officials said they got involved last week when they noticed a suspicious-looking online advertisement for the manuals, a list of airmen within a unit assigned to the drone’s maintenance, and more. They contacted the thief, who said that he had hacked his way to the materials after an Air Force captain with the 432d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada failed to properly set transfer protocol settings on his NETGEAR router, a widely-known vulnerability.

The hacker used a search engine called Shodan that allows users to search unsecured Internet of Things devices and happened upon the captain’s router by chance, whereupon they used the vulnerability to exfiltrate the docs from the captain’s computer, including—awkwardly—his certificate of completion for Cyber Awareness Challenge training.


The materials stolen are not “classified” but they are regulated as sensitive and could easily provide our enemies with helpful information. The hacker, a new member of a Hacker’s forum, offered the files for $150. The hacker also managed to snag non-drone related files such as an M1 Abrams Tank maintenance manual, a tank platoon training course, a crew survival course and documentation on improvised explosive device mitigation tactics were also among the files discovered. The distribution of these types of documents is limited to miltary and contractors, unless proper authorization is received..

Creech Air Force Base in Nevada has been the hub of drone operations since the early 2000s according to Defense One.

“I’ve been personally investigating the dark web for almost 15 years, and this is the first time I’ve uncovered documents of this nature. This type of document would typically be stolen by nation-state hackers. They wouldn’t be offering it on the dark web, and certainly not for $150.” Andrei Barysevich, director of advanced collection at Recorded Future

image via Recorded Future

Featured photoof Reaper Drone US Air Force

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