U.S. military officials admitted to The Wall Street Journal that information from the drones, considered a highly effective weapon in the fight against insurgents, had been stolen through the use of a software download available on the Internet for $26. A Pentagon source later told CNN that issue "has been taken care of."
The Journal article said the software allowed video feeds from drones to be monitored. Files containing that information have been found on computers captured from militants. Sources told the newspaper, however, the software didn't take control of the drones from U.S. operators. It's been known for about a year that Shiite militants -- the Journal said the group is funded by Iran -- could access such information.
The Journal said the potential for such a hack existed since the 1990s but it was believed enemy forces didn't know how to access it and added on Friday that U.S. officials in 2004 talked of the possibility of Chinese and Russian personnel stealing drone feeds but an increased level of security of the information didn't start until this year.
Drones have been increasingly used in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly over the latter's border with Pakistan. Missiles fired from drones were involved in at least two attacks Thursday in which more than a dozen people were killed in North Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan.