Reports are coming in that Patriot missile systems located in Turkey and operated by the German Bundeswehr have been the target of computer hackers.
Though details are scarce, the German media outlet Behörden Spiegel is indicating that "unexplained" commands were remotely issued to the US-produced weapons systems by an unknown individual or group of hackers. Though as yet unconfirmed, there remains some cause for concern that the Patriot (MIM-104) missile systems deployed in the field, which consist of six launchers, each with four missiles designed for either anti-air or long-range tactical ballistic missile interception, and several radar systems, could fall into enemy hands without a battle ever taking place.1 Unlike the US HUMVEEs now in the hands of ISIS, this attack demonstrates the possibility that no physical interaction would have to take place for NATO technology to turn on its creators2 and deployers.3
While spokesman for the German Federal Ministry of Defense has claimed that there was "no base data" for the attack, the fact of the matter is that purchasers of US computer technology, be it civilian software or military hardware or something in between, are never truly the owners of the purchased product.
When the NSA bakes back doors into these exported systems, as the Snowden revelations have made all too apparent that they do, these holes can be exploited by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Not just by the "good" guys.
The Patriot missile system is also highly mobile as it's carried on M860 semi-trailers, which are then towed by large M983 HEMTT trucks. ↩
The Patriot missile systems are produced by Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Fire Control on US soil. ↩
Current operators of this system include Bahrain, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Japan, Israel, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and of course the United States of America. ↩