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An unnamed computer virus is compromising the security of U.S. Reaper and Predator drones as they fly missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Pakistan.Wired reports the virus was found about two weeks ago and hasn’t kept the drone pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from conducting missions.
There haven’t been any reports of classified data breaches, but the virus has resisted the military’s best efforts to remove it.
And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system.
“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” says a source familiar with the network infection, one of three that told Danger Room about the virus. “We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”
Network experts aren’t sure if the “keylogger” virus was planted in the weapons system or naturally migrated there from unsecure points. Even more alarmingly, they do not know how far it has spread.
They are certain, however, that the malware has accessed classified data and are allowing that sensitive information could be hijacked and transmitted over the open Internet.
Airforce spokesman Lt. Col. Tadd Sholitis declined to comment on the virus, but told Wired: “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. 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.”
Wired’s source says, “[The virus] is getting a lot of attention, but no one is panicking. Yet.”
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