Project Protego is the part of the latest set of secret documents released by Wikileaks. The website says Protego is actually a missile control system installed on a Pratt & Whitney aircraft (PWA). It can be used to command the on-board missile launch system and perform air-to-air and air-to-ground operations.
The data and signal transfer processes happen over encrypted and verified channels with the help of separate micro-controller units – Master Processor (MP) and Deployment Box – housed inside Protego.
There are separate microcontrollers for the missile too, including Missile Smart Switch, Tube Smart Switch, and the Collar (used to hold the missile before and at launch time).
The missile launch can only be triggered if the following three signals, set to ‘true’, are received by the Master Processor:
- ‘In Border’ (PWA is within the defined area of an operation)
- ‘Valid GPS’ (GPS signal available)
- ‘No End of Operational Period’
The system also incorporates measures to automatically destroy encryption and authentication keys in case of situations like ‘missile missing’ or ‘leaving a target area of operation’.
Wikileaks claims that the missile system, made up of PIC micro-controllers by Microchip Technology, was designed by a US-based firm called Raytheon.
Protego, a part of the Vault 7 series, follows last month’s release of the tool called Angelfire which changes the Windows boot sector to install malware. Angelfire’s release coincided with the cyber attack on Wikileaks by the hacker group OurMine.
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