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Virus Hits Drone Computers


Rotor Riot!
Wired is reporting that the computer systems used to control military drones have been infected by a key logging virus that has so far defied attempts to eliminate it. The virus was first detected about two weeks ago in the computers at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and the military has continued to operate drones in Afghanistan and other trouble spots even though it would appear that every keyboard operation involved in the missions is being logged. According to the Wired story, the people it talked to couldn't say whether the virus was deliberately targeted at their hardware or whether it is just part of the normal stream of malware that computers try to fend off every day. What is known, however, is this bug is persistent. "We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back," one of Wired's sources said. "We think it's benign. But we just don't know."

Of course, the big question is whether all those keystrokes are being transmitted outside the military system and what data they might reveal. Wired's sources say the virus is in computers that hold sensitive secret military information. For all their high-tech abilities, U.S. drone systems have notoriously porous security. Early in their operational history it was discovered that real-time video from drones was being transmitted via publicly available satellite transponders and in 2009 U.S. forces discovered reams of drone downloads on the laptops of Iraqi insurgents, allegedly obtained with readily available hacking software. Wired says it's believed that the virus was introduced from a removable drive that drone system techs use to update maps and databases. The systems are supposed to be isolated entirely from the public Internet.

So much for your drones...