Alleged hacking of Patriot missiles (2014-2015)

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Date Late 2014 or early 2015
Suspected actor Unknown
Target The German military
Target systems German-owned Patriot Missiles
Method A German outlet reported that German-owned Patriot systems stationed on Turkey’s border with Syria were observed to execute “mysterious commands” in either late 2014 or early 2015. According to the publication and subsequent reports, the vulnerability was residing in either the system’s Sensor Shooter Interoperability (SSI) or in the computer chip responsible for guiding missiles to the target.[1] The SSI is tasked with the real-time exchange of data between the command and weapon systems.[2]
Purpose Unknown
Aftermath The reports on the hacking of the Patriot systems were characterised by the German Defence Ministry as “baseless”. The Ministry asserted that there is no evidence to suggest such hacking of its systems. According to the editor-in-chief of Behörden Spiegel, the outlet that initially reported the alleged hacking, similar vulnerabilities had been observed in US weapons systems. He further claimed that the source for the German systems’ incidents came from within the German armed forces sector.[3]
Analysed in Scenario 27: Contesting and redirecting ongoing attacks

Collected by: Tsvetelina van Benthem, Henning Lahmann

  1. Darlene Storm, “Did hackers remotely execute 'unexplained' commands on German Patriot missile battery?” (ComputerWorld, 8 July 2015)
  2. Beyza Unal and Patricia Lewis, “Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons Systems: Threats, Vulnerabilities and Consequences”, Chatham House Research Paper, January 2018, p. 6.
  3. Zulfikar Abbany, “Has Germany's Patriot missile system been hacked?” (DW, 8 July 2015)