Military drone recordings were accidentally streamed on the internet.
The US government appears to have accidentally streamed footage of a military-style drone.
The video appears to be recording thousands of feet above northwest Florida, over the coast, with the camera aimed at random civilian boaters.
Experts have deduced that the footage came from Predator drones, which are primarily used by the Air Force and CIA to record an area right before a missile is dropped.
The servers were discovered on Wednesday by The Daily Beast journalist Kenneth Lipp, who found them while randomly searching Shodan, a search engine for Internet-connected devices.
Both servers were accessible just by typing their IP addresses inside the browser.
The webpage then loaded with a ‘Welcome to FMV!’ title.
It also included logos for three US government agencies: the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the Aerospace Data Facility-East, and the Washington Innovation Center of the Combat Information Center.
The footage that appeared showed civilian boats and people on other water vehicles.
‘I…ended up watching jet-skiers via US government aerial video feed,’ Lipp wrote on his blog.
‘Apparently the Air Force is using fishing boats and vacationers as simulated enemy, dummy targets.’
‘FMV’ is military language for full-motion video, which unmanned aerial vehicles such as Predator and Reaper drones shoot in war zones including Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
This often right before a missile is fired or a bomb is dropped on some suspected terrorist.
The footage is still up on the obscure website.
NRO spokeswoman Loretta DeSio told Motherboard she wasn’t immediately familiar with the video.
The servers were discovered by The Daily Beast journalist Kenneth Lipp, who found them while randomly searching a search engine for Internet-connected devices. Recorded were civilian boats and jet-skiers enjoying the water (pictured above)
Experts have deduced that the footage, recorded in February, came from Predator drones, which are primarily used to record an area right before a missile is dropped. The civilians in the video were being used as ‘dummy targets’
Scott Swanson, a former Air Force Predator operator who helped lead the team that added missiles to the drone starting in 2000, confirmed that the video feed seems legitimate.
The graphics overlay looks like an updated Predator-type feed but could be any of the modern [electro-optical or infrared] systems,’ Swanson told Motherboard.
‘As for the feed being put on the internet, even by accident, that makes me go hmmmm,’ Swanson said
Lipp said he could tell that the video was not live, particularly because the stream showed clear skies while the weather at the time over the panhandle was cloudy.
Additionally, the video showed bright blue skies even when it was night in Florida.
Journalist Sean Gallagher, from Ars Techna, discovered that the footage was shot in February, and that a Pentagon supplier uploaded it to the website as a part of a product demonstration.
Gallagher believes the contractor that built the site hoped no one outside of the NRO would notice it.
‘Security through obscurity,’ he tweeted.