"the military has known about the vulnerability for more than a decade, but assumed adversaries would not be able to exploit it"
that's the golden nugget buried within an ap story about pentagon acknowledgments that our our nifty-difty high-tech weaponry in afghanistan and iraq isn't quite as far ahead of its targets than arrogance and complacency would have it.
i've always been extremely uncomfortable with the cowboy attitude that initiated and seems to pervade our escapades in iraq and afghanistan. we have the finest fighting force the world has ever seen, doing yeoman's work against some of the foulest and most evil characters this world has ever known, and, yet, in charge of the whole CF is a bunch of yahoos that don't seem to know the first thing about what they're trying to do, or why they're trying to do it.
not underestimating an enemy is sun tzu 101. taking out its means of support and supply are, too. (e.g. don't declare war in the first place if the act of declaring war gives your enemies the backing with which to fight back, as has been commented recently in the right side of lowell blog). folks have been writing and demonstrating the importance of this stuff in conflicts since recorded history, and, i'm sure they were talking about it long before that.
"pentagon spokesman bryan whitman said the military continually evaluates the technologies it uses and quickly corrects any vulnerabilities found." yet, just above, earlier in the story, "one defense official noted that upgrading the encryption in the drones is a lengthy process because there are at least 600 unmanned vehicles along with thousands of ground stations to address". gee, 10 years, and a "lengthy process"... seems somebody should have been able to put those two and two together before now, eh?
IED's are the perfect strategy--they cost those who use them very, very little, and then cost anyone who is beset by them billions upon billions to try to defend against them. methinks we ought to find some military strategists who understand that kind of math, and can figure out ahead of time that a few laptops and off-the-shelf communications software packages can possibly mitigate the effectiveness of our big-ticket explosive preferences, like predator drones and smart bombs.
edited to add: today's headline from seoul is that somebody hacked in an got ahold of joint us/south korea defense plans which were apparently left where some anonymous bad guys (quite probably north korea) could get at them. (the story has it that a south korean military officer connected his military computer to the internet without dismounting an unprotected usb drive, but who ever knows the truth about such things).
anybody who doesn't believe his enemy is at least as smart as he/she is will always learn the truth sooner or later.