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posted by LaminatorX on Monday September 22 2014, @07:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the not-like-triggers dept.

From AnonTechie:

This summer the insurgent group ISIL captured the Iraqi city of Mosul—and along with it, three army divisions’ worth of U.S.-supplied equipment from the Iraqi army, including Humvees, helicopters, antiaircraft cannons and M1 Abrams tanks. ISIL staged a parade with its new weapons and then deployed them to capture the strategic Mosul Dam from outgunned Kurdish defenders. The U.S. began conducting air strikes and rearming the Kurds to even the score against its own weaponry. As a result, even more weapons have been added to the conflict, and local arms bazaars have reportedly seen an influx of supply.

It is past time that we consider whether we should build in a way to remotely disable such dangerous tools in an emergency. Other technologies, including smartphones, already incorporate this kind of capability. The theft of iPhones plummeted this year after Apple introduced a remote “kill switch,” which a phone’s owner can use to make sure no one else can use his or her lost or stolen phone. If this feature is worth putting in consumer devices, why not embed it in devices that can be so devastatingly repurposed—including against their rightful owners, as at the Mosul Dam?

And from Hugh Pickens:

Jonathan Zittrain writes in Scientific American that when ISIL captured the Iraqi city of Mosul this summer, it also captured three army divisions’ worth of U.S.-supplied equipment from the Iraqi army, including Humvees, helicopters, antiaircraft cannons and M1 Abrams tanks. Zittrain says that it is past time that we consider building in a way to remotely disable such dangerous tools in an emergency. "Other technologies, including smartphones, already incorporate this kind of capability," says Zittrain. "The theft of iPhones plummeted this year after Apple introduced a remote “kill switch,” which a phone’s owner can use to make sure no one else can use his or her lost or stolen phone. If this feature is worth putting in consumer devices, why not embed it in devices that can be so devastatingly repurposed—including against their rightful owners, as at the Mosul Dam?"

At least one foreign policy analyst has suggested incorporating GPS limitations into Stinger surface-to-air missiles to assist the Free Syrian Army in its defenses against air attack while ensuring that the missiles are useless outside that theater of conflict. More simply, any device with onboard electronics, such as a Stinger or a modern tank, could have a timed expiration; the device could operate after the expiration date only if it receives a coded “renew” signal from any of a number of overhead satellites. The renewal would take effect as a matter of course—unless, say, the weapons were stolen. This fail-safe mechanism could be built using basic and well-tested digital signature-and-authentication technologies. One example is the permissive action link devices by which American nuclear weapons are secured so that they can be activated only when specific codes are shared. Another involves the protocols by which military drones are operated remotely and yet increasingly safeguarded against digital hijacking.

Today, however, we are making a conscious choice to create and share medium and heavy weaponry while not restricting its use. This choice has very real impacts. If they can save even one innocent life at the end of a deactivated U.S. barrel, including the lives of our own soldiers, kill switches are worth a serious look.

What do you think? Should there be a kill switch or an activation switch? [Related]: http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/design/the-hunt-for-the-kill-switch

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @07:18AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @07:18AM (#96641)

    the kill switch would get hacked in a matter of days.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Monday September 22 2014, @10:10AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 22 2014, @10:10AM (#96677) Homepage Journal

      That was my first thought, the first time I read of the idea. Computers are hackable, given time and opportunity. Those weapons still have explosive, propellant, projectiles, and guidance systems onboard. Beat the computer, and you have a usable weapon again. The thing is, the weapon only need be hacked ONCE. The enemy figures out how to reactivate just one missile or other weapon, and the same methods will work for all weapons of the same type and design. Depending on the sophistication (or lack thereof) put into the kill scheme, the same hack may very well work on multiple types, designs, and classes of weapons.

      They're asking for a system that deactivates the weapon unless a reauthorization is sent? Whoop-ti-do - we just set up a spoofed authorization signal!! Knowing the army, they'll probably use the same broadcast for ALL of their weapons within a theater!!

      --
      Let's go Brandon!
      • (Score: 2) by iwoloschin on Monday September 22 2014, @11:03AM

        by iwoloschin (3863) on Monday September 22 2014, @11:03AM (#96686)

        What if you just use high level disk encryption? If the tank turns off, you need the password to turn it back on. If you don't know the password, the computer would be useless to you. Kind of like I can do with my Android phone, just on a bigger scale.

        Sure, you'll still have a bunch of shells that you could...roll at someone? Or maybe stuff an oil soaked rag down the fuel tank and light that up? Or just start ripping the tank apart for scrap, it'd probably be more useful for you there.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Monday September 22 2014, @12:59PM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 22 2014, @12:59PM (#96720) Homepage Journal

          Steal an unencrypted disk image from somewhere. Or, just buy one from the Chinese. Reimage the disk, and you've got a working weapons system again. No problem!!

          Yeah, I realize the military is going to protect those disk images with maximum effort. Just like they protected a lot of other data that was leaked by Manning and Snowden.

          --
          Let's go Brandon!
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27 2014, @09:50AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27 2014, @09:50AM (#98855)

            America builds its own weapons. The Chinese may have been able to steal copies of the disk images for the weapons, but if they had would they sell them to some random terrorist group?

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Monday September 22 2014, @01:12PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 22 2014, @01:12PM (#96732)

          Imagine the surprise attack you can field.... "we shut down their gun aiming computers, so no worries of tanks". "Whoops they vaporized our division by hiding and not opening fire until boresight range at 200 meters or whatever". "We shut down the anti-tank missiles so no worries boys" "Whoops they killed a whole division by using then as IEDs instead of missiles"

          With a kill switch being an inherently well supplied / offensive weapon rather than improvised / defensive weapon, I'd expect it to mostly be used against paramilitary cops (which seems to be all of them) and invasion pacification forces, in other words it'll kill a lot more of "our guys" than their guys.

          Another rather obvious problem is key management. If you think this will be handled intelligently and efficiently, you've never worked with or for a bureaucracy. I can personally assure you from experience that the .mil can barely handle armory security and commo security and that's just human hands manipulating small numbers into locks. So this plan is doomed when its actually implemented.

          Just because it'll kill americans is no reason for military procurement crooks to avoid it. Sometimes they like that kind of thing, as long as they make a bigger profit. The TLDR of the whole article is some members of known criminal corrupt organizations supporting this idea, does not necessarily prove its a good idea. Unless you're on the side of the guys who are not selling this kind of stuff (astroturfers from .ru?)

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by jcross on Monday September 22 2014, @01:42PM

        by jcross (4009) on Monday September 22 2014, @01:42PM (#96750)

        I was kind of thinking it might get hacked to disable it. It could be as simple as jamming the channel it listens for the satellite authorization on until it gives up and shuts down. And imagine how many resources would be directed at screwing with the kill switches in a war with, say, the Chinese. I very much doubt the military's going to get behind a technology that could brick all of their weapons in the middle of a battle.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Arik on Monday September 22 2014, @02:27PM

        by Arik (4543) on Monday September 22 2014, @02:27PM (#96775) Journal
        It'll cut both ways. Someone will hack it so that it can be captured and used still, and probably the very same someone will also figure out how to disable it momentarily right before they attack as well.
        --
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @07:21AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @07:21AM (#96642)

    So what you're saying is that: This summer the insurgent group ISIL captured the Iraqi city of Mosul—and along with it, three army divisions’ worth of U.S.-supplied equipment from the Iraqi army, including Humvees, helicopters, antiaircraft cannons and M1 Abrams tanks. Right?

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday September 22 2014, @08:24AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Monday September 22 2014, @08:24AM (#96652) Homepage Journal

    Just before you surrender to the enemy you detonate all your cannon powder so it doesn't fall into their hands.

    My friend served in the US Army towards the end of the Cold War. He carried a "backpack nuke" in a jeep. His responsibility, were war to break out, was to drive out into the middle of a bridge, set the bomb there, drive back then blow the entire bridge up, so the Soviets could not advance across it.

    Yes: you read that right, he was planning to blow up a bridge with a nuclear weapon.

    There was always a forward observer with a sniper rifle. If the bomb failed to detonate, the forward observer would shoot at one of several day-glo orange targets on the bomb, so as to detonate the conventional explosive so the bomb would not fall into enemy hands.

    If he could not detonate it, someone else would drive out to the bomb, stand right next to it then shoot down into it with a pistol.

    Oh, the Risks Forum recently disclosed that the military was concerned there would be a problem with the cryptography in the Permissive Action Links, so that a bomb might fail to detonate in the event of Presidential Authorization. So they set all the codes to "000000".

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Bot on Monday September 22 2014, @09:20AM

      by Bot (3902) on Monday September 22 2014, @09:20AM (#96668) Journal

      I can confirm that is standard operating procedure, countless times soldiers destroyed their own equipment. It's pointless to simply switch them off because the enemy will either work around it, repurpose it, or destroy the equipment to avoid it being reconquered.

      Kill switches can be useful but not for this scenario.

      This was an interesting news bit about ISIS, anyway.
      When Osama was around the mantra was: if you don't want terrorists stop fucking training them. Now the mantra is: if you don't want the caliphate stop fucking flooding them in arms and money.

      --
      Account abandoned.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by darkfeline on Monday September 22 2014, @06:08PM

        by darkfeline (1030) on Monday September 22 2014, @06:08PM (#96870) Homepage

        But think of the oil and the military-industrial complex!

        They/we don't actually care about the terrorists or the caliphate. Do they make the world go round? Nope. But money does.

        --
        Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Non Sequor on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:12AM

      by Non Sequor (1005) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:12AM (#97017) Journal

      Somewhere out in the world there's got to be a post-it note with nuclear launch codes on it.

      --
      Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by geb on Monday September 22 2014, @08:31AM

    by geb (529) on Monday September 22 2014, @08:31AM (#96653)

    Even among close US allies, even for customers like the UK who buy an insane amount of US weaponry, we still don't trust you guys as a supplier. We've shiny new military toys delivered and then fail to work, because we weren't given the proper control software. Newly bought equipment gets a deep inspection of every component to see if there are any nasty hidden surprises.

    A kill switch would be bad for the export market in weapons, so it won't happen.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by q.kontinuum on Monday September 22 2014, @08:38AM

    by q.kontinuum (532) on Monday September 22 2014, @08:38AM (#96654) Journal

    I'm curious how this would work out in the long run. How would any country still purchase weapons from US if they have to expect US to disable them as soon as the allegiences change and an inconvenient neighbour it more friendly with US?

    How will security be implemented? I accept that in theory a safe cryptographic implementation would be feasible, but given that there were already rumours of US drones being abducted/hacked by foreign forces, how safe would you feel knowing that your whole defensive system could be disabled by an opponent holding the right codes?

    And what are the implications for other technologies used in critical infrastructure? Do we expect e.g. Korean or Chinese switches and routers to have kill-switches already? Could they disable large parts of our infrastructure without firing a single shot? Or for me as a non-American probably more interesting: Given past NSA activities, do Cisco-devices etc. have such booby-traps already?

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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Monday September 22 2014, @05:51PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 22 2014, @05:51PM (#96858) Journal

      I'm curious how this would work out in the long run. How would any country still purchase weapons from US if they have to expect US to disable them as soon as the allegiences change and an inconvenient neighbour it more friendly with US?

      Purchase?
      The Iraqi army was GIVEN these weapons.
      For most of them, the cost of transporting them home exceeded their value.

      Its pretty hard to have a kill switch in a Humvee, because they are designed to be simple.

      Tanks on the other hand, are not so simple. Its doubtful even the Iraqi army was proficient with these tanks, and it seems unlikely some random jihadist would figure out the complexities of the fire control and tracking systems. But they can fire the machine guns and drive them around and look scary to unarmed villagers.

      The kill switch for these weapon systems located in the cockpit of FA-18s.

      --
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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @08:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @08:29PM (#96916)

      "do Cisco-devices etc. have such booby-traps already?"

      Don't know if "booby-trap" is the correct term, but they do add their secret ingredient(s).
      http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/the-nsa-uses-powerful-toolbox-in-effort-to-spy-on-global-networks-a-940969-3.html [spiegel.de]

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @08:50AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @08:50AM (#96660)
    It's military stuff. There are plenty of ways of using military stuff to blow military stuff up fast, and soldiers are supposed to know how to do that. What failed was the people. The soldiers didn't do it. So what makes you think that in event of similar people failures the kill-switch systems will work as desired? They run away, the rebels take the stuff and a disable the kill switches before they are triggered. If it's so hard to disable, good luck maintaining the vehicles/equipment in a war.

    Think about how you are going to "kill switch" a tank remotely so that it really stops working and make the kill switch hard to disable.

    You're just creating at least one more way for your stuff to fail. Go ask the soldiers what they think about this. Tanks/planes/trucks/guns/etc that might not work or might stop working at the wrong time. If you're going to allow remote disabling the enemy is going to have a fun time disabling your weapons remotely.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by khallow on Monday September 22 2014, @10:49AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 22 2014, @10:49AM (#96682) Journal

      You're just creating at least one more way for your stuff to fail.

      In particular, you're creating a way for the enemy to fail your stuff at a time that's particularly convenient for them. This is the ultimate reason you won't see kill-switches on most military stuff except freebies to people who aren't trusted at all.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by Hairyfeet on Monday September 22 2014, @01:36PM

        by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday September 22 2014, @01:36PM (#96746) Journal

        There is frankly an easier and cheaper idea that don't need a bunch of high tech mumbo jumbo that can bite you in the ass..."monkey models". For those that don't know The Soviets used to build TWO versions of their weapons, the ones that they themselves were gonna use and sometimes share with those they REALLY trusted, and the export models which were labeled the "m" models...the monkey models. the monkey models were made cheap, had electronics a couple generations behind, in other words the Soviets knew if this tech ever came back on them it would be trivial to curbstomp because it was inferior to the real deal.

        Ironically once upon a time we had a plane specifically designed for this purpose, the F-5 Freedom Fighter which if the rumors are true is the basis on the Iranians "new top line" fighter, they just copied the guts and engine of the F-5s they had, doubled the engines and then stuck it in an F-18 ripoff. Of course since the electronics were behind the curve (like the monkey models) this plane won't be a threat to us, its too far behind the curve. this is what makes monkey models attractive, you save money on each unit and you don't have to worry about them coming back to bite you in the ass.

        But if somebody wants to see the difference between a monkey model and the real deal watch failed tanks: Asad Babil [youtube.com] which is what happens when a dictator tries to make a monkey model OF a monkey model OF a monkey model! You see Saddam imported the parts to build some T 72m but found he was gonna be short a few parts so he had his "industry" make replacements (out of soft steel no less) and he called those the "Saddam" but after building those he found he had a pile left that were missing crucial pieces of the hull so he had those likewise finished with shitty domestic engineering...the Asad babil, a monkey model of a monkey model of a monkey model! But if you want to see how big a difference it makes watch the video, they have footage from Desert Storm showing what each looked like after going against US armor...it ain't pretty.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @08:50AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @08:50AM (#96661)

    i wouldn't be surprised if china has built in kill switches in all the US military hardware and software it's involved in the manufacture of

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by anubi on Monday September 22 2014, @09:33AM

      by anubi (2828) on Monday September 22 2014, @09:33AM (#96671) Journal

      I would not be surprised if there aren't remote kill switches in darned nearly every internet-enabled thingie out there, whether it be music players, appliances, access points, whatever.

      Of course, they will say its for enforcement of monthly payments.

      But that's not the only reason they ( as well as the foreign contractor who designed it for them ) may shut it down.

      Why do you think Congress was lobbied so hard to pass the digital millenium copyright act?

      Based on what I have seen so far, designed-in infrastructure remote control is just another chink in the armor, designed to purposefully fail whenever someone else wants it to.

      The perps just wait at their switchboards until time to awake their little sleeper cells. Just like a submarine patentholder waits for someone to spend the money to develop some device he has already patented but hasn't the resources to construct himself.

      Ignorance of how our stuff works, which results in cascade failures of our infrastructure at the whim of some third party, is just another unintended consequence of law voted in by a Congress who themselves are ignorant of the problems which result from the deployment of technologies whose intent can not verified by knowledgeable customers.

      By law, Congress has legalized placing booby-traps in all our technology infrastructure, and made it illegal to uncover them. The perps can now rest easy, knowing that people are not allowed by law to inspect the goods innards, until they are ready to release their little trojan surprise.
       
      This paradigm requires two things - it requires someone who wants to keep anyone from seeing what they are doing, and it requires a Congress gullible enough to pass the law they want.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday September 22 2014, @09:10AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Monday September 22 2014, @09:10AM (#96665) Journal

    Yes, but without the ability of the, um, terrorists (I mean, customers) to repurpose high-tech weaponry, there would be no market, and Tony Stark would never have been mortally wounded by one of his own weapon systems and forced to miniturize the flux capacitor (wait, was that Doc in Back to Future? Well, roll with me!) and thus create the first Ironman suit, which lead to the, well, it lead to a whole bunch of Ironman suits, and, well. . . .

    Can we civilians just have a kill switch on the entire Military-industrial complex? Seriously. One innocent life? How about them all?

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by tonyPick on Monday September 22 2014, @11:19AM

    by tonyPick (1237) on Monday September 22 2014, @11:19AM (#96688) Homepage Journal

    At a different scale, but there are persistent rumours that the French government gave the UK information required to disable Argentina's (French supplied) Exocet missiles following the first missile strike on HMS Sheffield.

    she's threatening to unleash an atomic weapon against Argentina if I don't provide her with the secret codes that will make the missiles we sold the Argentinians deaf and blind."

    ...

    "She's livid. She blames me personally for this new Trafalgar ... I was obliged to give in. She's got them now, the codes."

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/nov/22/books.france [theguardian.com]

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by fnj on Monday September 22 2014, @11:57AM

    by fnj (1654) on Monday September 22 2014, @11:57AM (#96700)

    Those seventh century knuckle draggers don't have the knowledge, aptitude and patience required to maintain those advanced weapons. They will all be junk before long. And the equipment is not magic anyway. An M1 tank is nothing more than a sitting duck target for a plane or helicopter with hellfire missiles. A single soldier with a hand-carried fire-and-forget Javelin can take care of an M1.

    Antiaircraft cannons; are you serious? What is this, WW2? To deal with aircraft nowadays takes guided missiles, ground stations and the know-how to use them. And early warning. And the enemy's tactics have to be accommodating. A clued-in enemy will take out the AA the minute it turns on its radars, using HARM missiles and the like.

    Helicopters: do they have even a single pilot worth spit?

    Humvees? Freakin' death traps.

    Also, they don't have the slightest idea how to use them effectively. Training and insight is what separates the men from the boys. The best Soviet/Russian stuff has always been very formidable on the ground and in the air. But American or Israeli forces cut through it like butter. Why? A hundred times the training and experience and tactics is why. The few times it has turned out otherwise (the air war in Vietnam, initial stages of the 1973 October War in the Middle East), it has been because the experts were overconfident and short on tactics.

    • (Score: 2) by scruffybeard on Monday September 22 2014, @01:01PM

      by scruffybeard (533) on Monday September 22 2014, @01:01PM (#96727)

      Knuckle dragging comments aside, I agree with much of what you said. I don't know that this group has the knowledge and training to make effective use of many of these weapons. This often happens in war, I think kill switches would be a terrible idea though. If you can activate a kill switch against your enemy, then he will eventually be able to do the same. You are better off training the people guarding the munitions to destroy them as you retreat.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by VLM on Monday September 22 2014, @01:20PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 22 2014, @01:20PM (#96735)

      "Humvees? Freakin' death traps."

      From personal experience with the GD things you need trained experienced mechanics and a strong logistics train, or you rapidly end up with something useless other than being towed on a flatbed truck at parades or something.

      I can't tell you how many times in the 90s I did monthly PMCS on the section humvee and a puddle of something formed underneath. Or it wouldn't start for no apparent reason. I'd say about twice a year I had "something" redlined. I do not think it unreasonable that you'd get an exponential curve where you lose a sixth of the machines per month, and compounded and with no maint at all and no log support in a combat theater its going to be worse. We'll be very charitable and say 1/4 losses per month compounded.

      There's a reason a little mechanized REMF supply company had an entire section of mechanics. Not to eat donuts all day stateside. They worked their butts off 24x7 when deployed. And that's with training and experience and world leading logistic support.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Monday September 22 2014, @01:20PM

      by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Monday September 22 2014, @01:20PM (#96736) Journal

      > those advanced weapons... will all be junk before long

      Probably right, but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss them. Even uneducated people can be ingenious, and I imagine a force with ISIL's resources will almost certainly find some way of turning these acquisitions into assets. If they are smart they will sell the gear they can't use effectively[1] and use the cash to buy the things that they can - small arms, explosives, supplies, political influence...

      > Humvees? Freakin' death traps.

      I won't disagree. I wonder if they could ever be smart / lucky enough to use a captured military vehicle like a Humvee to approach a western military base more closely than they might otherwise get away with..? Close enough for a kamikaze run maybe? I'm sure there are approach procedures to reduce the chance of falling prey to this kind of attack but you know, people can get lazy and complacent, even in the military.

      [1] I'm sure they could find someone with the money to pay for it - remember the buyer doesn't have to have any more use for this gear than ISIL, they just have to be slightly less clever. The North Koreans would probably like to get their hands on some modern US hardware, although making contact and then transferring the goods might be challenging. Not to mention the ideological differences that would have to be overcome. Or there's always ebay...

    • (Score: 2) by opinionated_science on Monday September 22 2014, @01:36PM

      by opinionated_science (4031) on Monday September 22 2014, @01:36PM (#96745)

      I suspect that is why we are subject to the grisly images on the media. This group of psychopaths is trying to get as much attention as they can, until their cache of found arms stops being usable.

      This reminds me of an article I read about the new fighter jets being unflyable without the computer - modern systems require modern maintenance. Just ask the Romans...

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by tibman on Monday September 22 2014, @01:41PM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 22 2014, @01:41PM (#96749)

      I've only seen one picture of a captured M1. It was rolled over onto it's side and pinned between two bridges (super bad driving). The tank was likely being used for escape by the Iraqi Army when someone rolled and pinned it. Anyways, the HMMWVs look really rough but the platform is excellent for insurgents. Not only is it a symbol of power (US HMMWVs brought a lot of death) but it is a lot of armor. No bullet will kill someone in the truck. Pretty short lived though because after the trucks are all shot up i doubt they could be repaired. Effective for taking other Iraqi towns anyways. Doesn't take much training to drive an automatic truck with 33 inch wheels down the road. It's a Private's job in the US Army. A Private has had probably 4 months of training and 2 of those months was mostly toughening up and strength building.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @12:04AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @12:04AM (#96968)

      Those seventh century knuckle draggers don't have the knowledge, aptitude and patience required to maintain those advanced weapons. They will all be junk before long. And the equipment is not magic anyway. An M1 tank is nothing more than a sitting duck target for a plane or helicopter with hellfire missiles. A single soldier with a hand-carried fire-and-forget Javelin can take care of an M1.

      Am I right in assuming that any US military hardware spotted on the move right now in Iraq is not one of ours and, thus, under the control of ISIS? So why not just blow this military hardware to hell on sight? Do our own pilots not have the ability to spot an M1 tank or a humvee rolling down the open road in northern Iraq or Syria? Does anyone know the answer to this?

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @01:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @01:01PM (#96725)

    Already in use. It's called A-10.

    • (Score: 2) by gman003 on Monday September 22 2014, @03:21PM

      by gman003 (4155) on Monday September 22 2014, @03:21PM (#96791)

      They just decommissioned those, I thought. Oh well, it's not like we don't have a million other ways to take out a bunch of tanks, even though few are as cool as the Warthog.

      • (Score: 2) by el_oscuro on Tuesday September 23 2014, @01:02AM

        by el_oscuro (1711) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @01:02AM (#96984)

        Actually, they didn't. They are still flying. They tried, but all of the soldiers complained. Since you don't really want to piss off the people who have the guns, we still have our beloved Warthogs. I bet every pilot is just itching to have those convoys in their 30mm sites!

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @01:02PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22 2014, @01:02PM (#96728)

    Good luck selling anything for top dollar with a kill switch in it. I'm sure the Russians or Chinese will be more than happy if you do this though. More sales for them.

  • (Score: 2) by morgauxo on Monday September 22 2014, @01:53PM

    by morgauxo (2082) on Monday September 22 2014, @01:53PM (#96757)

    Why just disable the weapon? Do that and they will try to find a way to re-enable it. Will every single item have a kill switch? Will every single bullet? I don't think so. Even if the kill switches were totally hack proof the enemy would be getting a bunch of ammo. Even if that wasn't true, even if you can make every single item completely useless the enemy gets to occupy the new space, regroup to attack you again elsewhere.

    I think the abandoned weapons should become mines. When the enemy arrives and starts to collect weapons they should blow up. 'Flip' the kill switch, a few minutes later the weapon is armed. The next person to pick it up will never be a threat to anyone else again. But.. what if the kill switch doesn't work? What if the enemy finds a way around it? No problem, don't use a kill switch. Every third (or something like that) gun is actually a bomb. Your own people don't pick them up because they know better. Time to retreat? Abandon those weapons with a smile!

    Then again if this is successful why bother with abandoning a munitions depot. Let's just start shipping boobytrapped weapons to ISIS directly. Find a shady intermediary that ISIS trusts. 'Kill' switch auto-enables after 1 month or however long intelligence experts think it will take the weapons to get into ISIS hands.

    • (Score: 1) by Username on Monday September 22 2014, @05:46PM

      by Username (4557) on Monday September 22 2014, @05:46PM (#96855)

      They get the explosives for their suicide vests from land mines. I would guess getting explosives off trap weapons would be about as difficult.

      Also knowing your weapon may explode anytime will effect our troops. Jihadist aren't fazed by this, they expect to die.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by PinkyGigglebrain on Monday September 22 2014, @06:03PM

      by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Monday September 22 2014, @06:03PM (#96867)

      And what if the next person to pick it up is a civilian?

      Kill switches will never be added to general use military weapons. The exceptions might be the Uber advanced stuff like Patriot missiles. Adding kill switches would hurt the sales of arms dealers (the USA is the largest supplier in the world) so money trumps all.

      --
      "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
  • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Monday September 22 2014, @02:13PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Monday September 22 2014, @02:13PM (#96773)

    On weapons, this concept should be called a "can't-kill switch" rather than a "kill switch": The "kill switch" on a weapon is whatever the person holding the weapon manipulates to make the weapon do its job.

    And as many have pointed out, there's no sign that this will work. If you have some sort of computerized cutoff switch in a tank, I can guarantee you that an unauthorized group who controls the tank will be able to find a team of engineers somewhere that can render that switch ineffective - what, you thought there weren't any electrical engineers or computer software developers in the Middle East?

    --
    The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Spook brat on Monday September 22 2014, @03:32PM

    by Spook brat (775) on Monday September 22 2014, @03:32PM (#96794)

    One example is the permissive action link devices by which American nuclear weapons are secured so that they can be activated only when specific codes are shared.

    If they can save even one innocent life at the end of a deactivated U.S. barrel, including the lives of our own soldiers, kill switches are worth a serious look.

    I'm glad that they included that bit about our own soldiers; it turns my stomach when someone makes a suggestion like this and doesn't even pay lip service to the safety of the people whose lives it would most affect/endanger. Long rant averted, but only just barely.

     
    The analysts making this suggestion don't know what they're talking about, and don't realize that critical systems already have measures like this in place where appropriate. Citing their own example, nuclear weapons best mode for failed authentication is to do nothing and stay in the silo. At the other end of the spectrum, small arms (pistols/rifles) will never get a James Bond style fingerprint scanner. The Airmen manning the missile silos are in no danger personally if the missile doesn't fire; if a small arm fails to fire in the hands of its intended operator it is a death sentence for that operator. Further, equipment size/weight is not a consideration when you're setting up a missile (beyond digging a slightly bigger hole in the ground); every ounce of extra weight in a firearm must justify its usefulness because some poor grunt is going to carry that thing with them with just the strength of their poor straight infantry legs. Adding weight that might get them killed is a non-starter as far as arguments go.

     
    In the middle you have things like Stinger missiles, Abrams tanks, and Apache helicopters. It is my understanding that there is already a "bugout button" on the sensitive electronics for those, which is just about the limit of what the pilots will accept in terms of built-in failure mode. A prime example is the SINCGARS radio: voice encryption and frequency hopping data are loaded periodically, expire on a set schedule, and have a setting on the radio for clearing out the data in an emergency.

     
    So here's a counter-offer for the analysts who want a remote kill switch: instead of building in a way for the enemy to shut down our tanks and helicopters with a radio signal, how about we update the targeting/navigation computers with a timeout function? Make it a routine maintenance thing to have the computer's self-destruct timer reset at the end of each mission, or perhaps once a month. Since we're talking about how to stop captured materiel from being useful to those overrunning our bases, as long as the dongle for performing the reset is easily carried or destroyed when the base is overrun (like the encryption key storage devices for the radios; we've already got procedures and experience in place) then the timeout determines how long the captured platforms can operate.

    --
    Travel the galaxy! Meet fascinating life forms... And kill them [schlockmercenary.com]
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by tangomargarine on Monday September 22 2014, @04:14PM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Monday September 22 2014, @04:14PM (#96816)

      So here's a counter-offer for the analysts who want a remote kill switch: instead of building in a way for the enemy to shut down our tanks and helicopters with a radio signal, how about we update the targeting/navigation computers with a timeout function? Make it a routine maintenance thing to have the computer's self-destruct timer reset at the end of each mission, or perhaps once a month. Since we're talking about how to stop captured materiel from being useful to those overrunning our bases, as long as the dongle for performing the reset is easily carried or destroyed when the base is overrun (like the encryption key storage devices for the radios; we've already got procedures and experience in place) then the timeout determines how long the captured platforms can operate.

      Yeah, because there's nothing better than e.g. your helicopter getting hit by ground fire and instead of trying to patch it and fly home, you have to leave on foot before the chopper self-destructs because you're going to go over the mission time and can't reset it yourself.

      Or you set the autodestruct timeout longer, and they capture it and can only use it in one attack on you...which, as people say above, is probably all the use they were going to get out of it anyway.

      I don't see this problem as being solvable to cover all cases. All you can get is closest approximation. You can't get 100% prevention from enemy usefulness AND 100% safety of those you want to keep safe. Either it fails safe, and the enemy uses it, or it fails deadly, and you always run the risk of the "good guys" getting hurt by it (I guarantee you sooner or later there'll be a bug in the system and it'll go off when you don't want it to), or you're in the middle somewhere.

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2) by Spook brat on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:03AM

        by Spook brat (775) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:03AM (#97001)

        I don't see this problem as being solvable to cover all cases. All you can get is closest approximation. You can't get 100% prevention from enemy usefulness AND 100% safety of those you want to keep safe. Either it fails safe, and the enemy uses it, or it fails deadly, and you always run the risk of the "good guys" getting hurt by it

        Yep, that's the best reason not to do this. I expect that cooler heads will prevail and this "kill switch" idea will go in the round file where it belongs.

        --
        Travel the galaxy! Meet fascinating life forms... And kill them [schlockmercenary.com]
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by tangomargarine on Monday September 22 2014, @04:04PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Monday September 22 2014, @04:04PM (#96810)

    I'm surprised to see that nobody has mentioned the idea that if we don't want them to use our equipment against us maybe we should STOP SENDING OUR FUCKING EQUIPMENT OVER THERE.

    Because the last half-dozen times we armed one side have worked so well, right?

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Username on Monday September 22 2014, @05:33PM

    by Username (4557) on Monday September 22 2014, @05:33PM (#96847)

    Good luck with limiting mechanical devices with an electrical device.

  • (Score: 2) by Nobuddy on Tuesday September 23 2014, @09:24PM

    by Nobuddy (1626) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @09:24PM (#97343)

    Kill switches go both ways. If we put it in there, we stand the very real risk of the enemy finding a way to trigger them.
    All it would do is start another cascade of measure and countermeasure.