After an internal review, the US Navy’s Inspector General is strongly suggesting troops of all branches stop taking personal “smart” devices into harm’s way, according to the Washington Free Beacon. More concerning however, is the fact that two mapping applications intended for secured devices have been used on personal tablets and phones.
The IG’s findings were cited in a Marine Corps force-wide message in late June warning commanders that the applications are only used on military-issued “hardened” hand-held devices that are not connected to cellular or civilian Wi-Fi networks, not personal devices troops purchased commercially that are far more susceptible to malware and hacking.
The fact that the programs were leaked onto personal devices now means with absolute certainty they’re compromised. This is on top of the security hazards painfully pointed out by the use of things like Fitbit in theater. Further, the reliance on high-tech solutions to what amounts to shortcuts in training will cost lives in the near future. Phones and so-called smart devices are a problem as it is; another device requiring a battery, another point of failure, another thing leaders become reliant on. But the devices themselves are fully exploitable- a phone or tablet renders a wealth of intelligence value in many ways when recovered by the opposing force- and it will be. I know from experience in capturing Taliban and al Naqshibani phones. Free Beacon goes on:
Cybersecurity experts and weapons engineers familiar with the hacking vulnerabilities in military systems point to the Russian hacking of Ukrainian soldiers’ hand-held electronic devices to demonstrate the danger.
“The Ukrainians very quickly found out that was very dangerous,” Lin said.
Ukrainian troops in 2016 started using a cell phone app that allowed artillery men to shoot howitzers in seconds rather than minutes.
After they showed off the technology on YouTube, Russian military intelligence hacked into the app, giving them a backdoor that allowed full access to the device that showed each soldier’s exact geographic location.
I covered this App in an earlier article here on American Partisan. The bottom line is this- we’re not ready for an electronics warfare-skilled opponent and likely never will be. The Russians and Chinese have been working overtime during the last twenty or so years picking up lessons of our missteps and are demonstrating what they’ve learned in both Syria and Ukraine. We are forgoing the basics in lieu of convenient and expensive solutions- which never are. High tech is nothing more than an enabler to the skills we already have. As I cover in every class I teach, the real solution is between the ears. Keep it low tech, keep it simple, and the basics will win.