updated 06:10 am EDT, Mon October 10, 2011
Key logger virus infecting US drones
The US military is trying to deal with a keystroke logger virus that has infected the virtual cockpits of its Predator and Reaper drones. The virus is logging the pilots’ keystrokes on missions being flown over Afghanistan and other tactical areas. The virus, which was first detected around two weeks ago by the military’s Host-based Security System in Creech Nevada, has not affected missions but has resisted attempts at removal.
“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” a source familiar with the network infection says. “We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”
At this point, no one is certain how the virus infected the drone networks. Accidental installation remains a possibility, although no evidence has emerged to suggest that it was a deliberate attack at this time. Specialists have tracked it in in both classified and unclassified machines on the network, although the extent to which it has spread has yet to be ascertained.
Drones are in widespread use, although they are also known to be vulnerable to security flaws. Not all Predators and Reapers encrypt the video they transmit for example. In one instance in 2009, US forces recovered extensive footage intercepted from drones that were captured with a $26 piece of hardware.
The US military has not officially commented on the matter, except to say that it invests extensively in security measures to protect its systems. [via Ars Technica]