Home > Uncategorized > Computer Virus Tracking US Drones–this is disturbing!

Computer Virus Tracking US Drones–this is disturbing!


An armed MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft sits in a shelter Oct. 15 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, before a mission. Larger and more powerful than the MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper can carry up to 3,750 pounds of laser-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson)

October 08, 2011


Military.com|by Bryant Jordan


Who’s watching the watchers?


That’s the question the defense officials are asking with the discovery that a computer virus has infected the U.S.-based control stations of Predator and Reaper drones, tracking every keystroke made by the pilots as they guide the vehicles on their missions.


The drones, which conduct reconnaissance and combat missions, continue to fly, according to an official interviewed by Reuters, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


“Something is going on, but it has not had any impact on the missions overseas,” the official said.

The military’s fleet of Predators and Reapers has evolved in capabilities, size and importance over the past decade, quickly moving from largely reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering aircraft to hunter-killers. Their use in targeting and killing suspected terrorists has been widely hailed by U.S. officials, though they’ve also spark controversy when strikes have led to the deaths of innocents.


Wired magazine, which first reported the story on Friday, said military network security specialists detected the virus in late September at the unmanned aerial vehicles’ computer system at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.


Security technicians have been trying to eliminate the bug, but without success.

“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” a source familiar with the network infection told Wired. “We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”


The security specialists aren’t sure whether the virus and its so-called “keylogger” payload were introduced intentionally or by accident, according to Wired. The magazine’s source said it could be a common piece of malware that just happened to make its way into UAVs’ networks.

They also don’t know how far it has spread, but they believe it has reached both into classified systems at the base, meaning that some secret data may have been captured by the keylogger and relayed to someone outside the authorized chain of command, the magazine was told.

Military officials are saying nothing in response to queries.


“We generally do not discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats, or responses to our computer networks, since that helps people looking to exploit or attack our systems to refine their approach,” Air Combat Command spokesman Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis told Wired. “We invest a lot in protecting and monitoring our systems to counter threats and ensure security, which includes a comprehensive response to viruses, worms, and other malware we discover.”

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