Great idea to help "military intelligence"

Read this:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/11drone.html?hp=&pagewanted=all
Apparently, the drones are capturing so much video information, that
the military has to hire thousands of analysts who watch those videos closely.
I have a suggestion.
First, let me digress and mention the fact that my site algebra.com has hundreds of volunteer math tutors who help students for free. They do so just because they like to (and they like the thank you letters). Some people are true addicts and do dozens of questions per day.
In light of this, I would think that there are at least thousands of bored American patriots, with plenty of time on their hands, who would want to help the military fight the war.
And the suggestion is to let them watch the current videos, as captured by drones, and comment on the activities that they observe. There is a few very basic things that could be done to ensure that "wrong people" do not interfere with military operations: they can be assigned to people on a random basis, without them knowing the actual area where the videos are being taken, and second, more than one volunteer wuld be assigned per video (so that purposely "not noticing" some acttivity would not be helpful to terrorists). Third, every signin would have a reputation, based on how they agree with other observers.
Some very basic security like requiring an SSN and income from latest IRS form 1040, would also cut down on the number of potential disrupters.
The volunteers, obviously, would simply highlight current goings on and recommend a military analyst to have a second look. They would not be authorizing strikes or anything like that.
I would think that with the actual quality of drone video, some very basic instruction should be enough to prepare people for the job at hand.
All that it really requires is a streaming website, database system, and a authorization system.
What'cha think?
i
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I want to underscore and restate, that the system can be so organized, that the payoff to our enemies, from participating in this "dronetube", would be minimal.
i
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On Jan 10, 7:18 pm, Ignoramus27261 <ignoramus27...@NOSPAM. 27261.invalid> wrote:

Sounds like a good idea to me. Common sense ideas like this could save the country billions and make us all safer. DL
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Thanks.
I know for sure that I would be personally participating, if admitted.
i
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On Jan 10, 8:36 pm, Ignoramus27261 <ignoramus27...@NOSPAM. 27261.invalid> wrote:

Not so sure here. I have some experience in security and still try to maintain situational awareness and take notice of anomalous behavior. But even in one's own culture it's very easy to misinterpret what you see - I've called the cops on a real estate agent and a business owner cleaning up on the weekend, and considered it one Sunday afternoon while sitting in the car and eating lunch. A string of alert men was entering the back door of a nearby office building a minute apart, each glancing around first rather than staring straight ahead as most people do. I drove casually past the front to check the office list on the sign and noticed "Emergency Preparedness" on one. Later I found out that they were TSA agents planning an exercise at the nearby airport.
I would have no clue of the significance of say four Afghans riding in the back of a pickup truck. I know they face Mecca to pray but very little else of their normal habits, which is necessary in order to recognize abnormal ones. The clues are subtle, like driving past good parking spaces, and when they know they may be watched they make changes. I think observers would need quite a bit of training.
Open in front of me is an Air Force manual for volunteer ground observers from 1955, to train them to tell Soviet bombers from the flood of routine air traffic. It looks like a week or two of evening classes would be needed to teach the details of aircraft and the reporting system, and then a fair amount of practice before the false alarm rate dropped. The British system in WW2 didn't start off too smoothly.
#217734
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So what if it does take a volunteer forty or fifty hours to train? One instructor could probably teach the basics to a class of twenty to thirty or so. Helluva lot cheaper than paying 30 Government workers full salary and benefits. Maybe that would be a good program for unemployed folks that want to do something.
DL
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

This sort of distributed labor thing has been getting a bit of attention lately. There was a group using donated time to search Aerial photos for evidence of Steve Fossett's crash site. A friend of mine is associated with "Galaxy Zoo" which is using volunteers to classify thousands of items found in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. As I understand the way these systems work, random images are presented to the viewer, they either tag the pic for what they think it shows (Galaxy Zoo), or they flag it as meriting a second look (Fossett). In both cases, several people see each image, and a consensus is built about the contents. A disrupter would only get themselves labeled as unreliable for too many false positives or too many missed calls.
If there is a task, like finding roads, trails, and dwellings over a large area, you could flash pictures at people, if 5 people mark a picture as interesting, it pops up on the intel officer's desk. The software could be set up so that once a picture was tagged, it could ramdomly show up in more queues, to rapidly determine if it needed more attention.
Stuart
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wrote:

sounds cool iggy, good/great idea. :-) of course they won't do something that makes sense and saves money. (i'm not saying that to be discouraging, just a sympathetic remark.) reminds me of the "ground observers" of WWII (which i'm told my grandfather participated in.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_Observer_Corps
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On Jan 10, 8:36 pm, Ignoramus27261 <ignoramus27...@NOSPAM. 27261.invalid> wrote:

I mentioned your idea in rec.aviation.military, without divulging your name yet. http://groups.google.com/group/rec.aviation.military/browse_thread/thread/356ac296ac60b2c3 #
jsw
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http://groups.google.com/group/rec.aviation.military/browse_thread/thread/356ac296ac60b2c3 #
Thanks. Actually go ahead and divulge my name. I appreciate your interest in this idea. What if something comes out of it. I am going to hop over and look.
i
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Ignoramus27261 wrote:

All that stuff if easy, just ask the SETI folks. There is a ebook site (Gutenburg?) that asked for folks to proofread scans of books and return them to their main server.
You got a good idea, Ig.
Anyone know how to get this started?
technomaNge
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I can't imagine any way to do this without completely compromising operational security - we don't know what's on those planes, or what the exact capabilities are, and neither do our enemies - implementing this idea would reveal all of that, and more. that would be a very bad thing, no?
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Their capabilities are already compromised. So at this point, the gain is much bigger than an imaginary security compromise.
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories
WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.
Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. The State of U.S. Intelligence
* Drone Kills a Leader of Al Qaeda, Dec. 12, 2009 * Terrorists Are Likely Testing Cyber Attacks, Nov. 19, 2009 * U.S. Spy Efforts Have Improved, Sept. 17, 2009 * White House Cybersecurity Czar Steps Down, Aug. 4, 2009 * Cyber Blitz Hits U.S., Korea, July 9, 2009 * Troubles Plague Cyberspy Defense, July 3, 2009 * U.S. Cyber Infrastructure Vulnerable to Attacks, May 6, 2009
U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.
The drone intercepts mark the emergence of a shadow cyber war within the U.S.-led conflicts overseas. They also point to a potentially serious vulnerability in Washington's growing network of unmanned drones, which have become the American weapon of choice in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on the unmanned drones because they allow the U.S. to safely monitor and stalk insurgent targets in areas where sending American troops would be either politically untenable or too risky.
The stolen video feeds also indicate that U.S. adversaries continue to find simple ways of counteracting sophisticated American military technologies.
U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds. In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.
Intelligence reporter Siobhan Gorman discusses how hackers were able to gain access to U.S. military drones, and what type of information insurgents accessed. Related Intelligence Videos
* U.S. Intelligence Detects Cyber Spies * Obama's Cyber Czar Resigns * New Military Command to Combat Cyber Spies
Journal Community
* Vote: How will the discovery that Iraqi militants intercepted U.S. Predator drone transmissions affect U.S. strategy and security?
In the summer 2009 incident, the military found "days and days and hours and hours of proof" that the feeds were being intercepted and shared with multiple extremist groups, the person said. "It is part of their kit now."
A senior defense official said that James Clapper, the Pentagon's intelligence chief, assessed the Iraq intercepts at the direction of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and concluded they represented a shortcoming to the security of the drone network.
"There did appear to be a vulnerability," the defense official said. "There's been no harm done to troops or missions compromised as a result of it, but there's an issue that we can take care of and we're doing so."
Senior military and intelligence officials said the U.S. was working to encrypt all of its drone video feeds from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but said it wasn't yet clear if the problem had been completely resolved.
Some of the most detailed evidence of intercepted feeds has been discovered in Iraq, but adversaries have also intercepted drone video feeds in Afghanistan, according to people briefed on the matter. These intercept techniques could be employed in other locations where the U.S. is using pilotless planes, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, they said.
The Pentagon is deploying record numbers of drones to Afghanistan as part of the Obama administration's troop surge there. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force's unmanned aviation program, said some of the drones would employ a sophisticated new camera system called "Gorgon Stare," which allows a single aerial vehicle to transmit back at least 10 separate video feeds simultaneously.
View Full Image U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds from Predator unmanned aircraft. U.S. Air Force
U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds from Predator unmanned aircraft. U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds from Predator unmanned aircraft. U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used off-the-shelf programs to intercept video feeds from Predator unmanned aircraft.
Gen. Deptula, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said there were inherent risks to using drones since they are remotely controlled and need to send and receive video and other data over great distances. "Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation," he said, adding the military was trying to solve the problems by better encrypting the drones' feeds.
The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The U.S. government has known about the flaw since the U.S. campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said.
Last December, U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered copies of Predator drone feeds on a laptop belonging to a Shiite militant, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter. "There was evidence this was not a one-time deal," this person said. The U.S. accuses Iran of providing weapons, money and training to Shiite fighters in Iraq, a charge that Tehran has long denied.
The militants use programs such as SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware. Andrew Solonikov, one of the software's developers, said he was unaware that his software could be used to intercept drone feeds. "It was developed to intercept music, photos, video, programs and other content that other users download from the Internet -- no military data or other commercial data, only free legal content," he said by email from Russia. Journal Community
* discuss
“ Who were the lame engineers who came up with a system that runs without encryption? Even the graduates of the local high school programming courses know better than to leave to chance an important security hole. ”
— John Cierra
Officials stepped up efforts to prevent insurgents from intercepting video feeds after the July incident. The difficulty, officials said, is that adding encryption to a network that is more than a decade old involves more than placing a new piece of equipment on individual drones. Instead, many components of the network linking the drones to their operators in the U.S., Afghanistan or Pakistan have to be upgraded to handle the changes. Additional concerns remain about the vulnerability of the communications signals to electronic jamming, though there's no evidence that has occurred, said people familiar with reports on the matter.
Predator drones are built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of San Diego. Some of its communications technology is proprietary, so widely used encryption systems aren't readily compatible, said people familiar with the matter.
In an email, a spokeswoman said that for security reasons, the company couldn't comment on "specific data link capabilities and limitations."
Fixing the security gap would have caused delays, according to current and former military officials. It would have added to the Predator's price. Some officials worried that adding encryption would make it harder to quickly share time-sensitive data within the U.S. military, and with allies.
"There's a balance between pragmatics and sophistication," said Mike Wynne, Air Force Secretary from 2005 to 2008.
The Air Force has staked its future on unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones account for 36% of the planes in the service's proposed 2010 budget.
Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million each and is faster and better armed than the Predator. General Atomics expects the Air Force to buy as many as 375 Reapers.
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<snip>
Can't I have control of a loaded Predator? I'll be careful!
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Ignoramus27261 wrote:

Sounds like the SETI project. Does anyone know how that is (if still) going?? ...lew...
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Lewis Hartswick wrote:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/11drone.html?hp=&pagewanted=all
It's going fine, and for the guy that mentioned the Sloan Project, I'm the guy that finally made the plug plates that worked to replace the BS ones that didn't. In my damned garage! Well, sort of.
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Lewis Hartswick wrote:

SETI at home used idle processing time to look for signal in the noise pulled from outer space radio. Computers do this well. Computers are not yet particularly good at looking at a cluttered photo and deciding whether something is a rock or a dirty truck. People do that well, and for some kinds of analysis not much training is needed, just helping to select what MIGHT be worth looking at with skilled eyes might save thousands of man hours.
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You said it very well.
All that these amateur analysts need to do, is pinpoint areas of interest.
i
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