News & Opinion | July 15, 2018 5:00 am

Stolen U.S. Military Drone Documents Found For Sale on Dark Web

An unidentified hacker was trying to documents containing information about combat drones.

Military Drone (Flickr)

A cybersecurity firm says that an unidentified hacker was trying to sell purported U.S. military documents that contained information about combat drones last month. The documents were allegedly stolen from an Air Force officer’s computer. The maintenance documents were about the MQ-9 Reaper drone, a remotely controlled aerial vehicle that the Pentagon and other parts of the government use to conduct offensive strikes or reconnaissance and surveillance operations, reports The Wall Street Journal. 

There has been heightened concern about how U.S. military secrets may not be well-protected from hackers, and the discovery of this attempted sale underlines those concerns. There is no evidence that the hacker who obtained the Reaper drone documents was affiliated with a foreign country or that he was trying to get military documents. It seems like the hacker scanned large parts of the internet for misconfigured Netgear routers and exploited a two-year-old vulnerability in order to steal files, reports The Wall Street Journal. 

According to Andrei Barysevich, a senior threat researcher at Recorded Future, the U.S.-based cybersecurity firm that spotted the attempted sale, the hacker probably did not know the value of the documents he was trying to sell, because he had them listed for as little as $150. Barysevich also said that the hacker communicated in flawed English, and would sometimes start speaking in Spanish. This led some of the researchers to believe he may be based in South America.