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Insurgents Used Cell Phone Geotags to Destroy AH-64s in Iraq

by John Reed on March 15, 2012

Here’s a battlefield safety issue that some people have been warning about –and others have been ignoring —  for a while now; an enemy using social media and cellphone geotagging to identify the precise location of troops on a battlefield.

When you take a photo with your cellphone, the gps coordinates of the location you took the picture is embedded into the image. When you upload said photo onto the internet for all to see, people can pull the location data from that picture. If you think this is just people being paranoid and that the Taliban would never do this in Afghanistan, think again. Insurgents figured out how to use this to their advantage in Iraq years ago. In 2007, a group of Iraqi insurgents used geotags to destroy several American AH-64 Apache choppers sitting on a flightline in Iraq.

From an Army press release warning of the dangers of geotags:

When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches.

During Israel’s 2006 war in southern Lebanon with Iranian-backed militia (more like a full on army) Hezbollah, Iranian SIGINT professionals tracked signals coming from personal cell phones of Israeli soldiers to identify “assembly points of Israeli troops that may have telegraphed the points of offensive thrusts into Lebanon.

This is just one more example of low-end cyber warfare that can be as deadly as expensive software worms designed to infiltrate an enemy’s most heavily defended networks.

 

 

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