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posted by LaminatorX on Monday September 22 2014, @07:11AM   Printer-friendly
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 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?