Computer Virus Attacks U.S. Military Drones: Wired

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By Cavan Sieczkowski | October 8, 2011 6:30 AM EST

A computer virus has hit the U.S. Military fleets of America's Predator and Reaper drones.

The computer virus is capable of logging pilot's keystrokes while they remotely flying the drones in conflict areas such as Afghanistan from their position at Creech Air Force Base in Clark County, Nevada.

It was first detected two weeks ago by the Host-Based Security System, according to Wired.

The main cockpits are not supposed to be connected to the public Internet so they are insusceptible to external threats.

This virus, if legitimate, seems to have broken through those barriers.

Classified information has not been lost or delivered to any outside sources, as of yet; but it has hit both classified and unclassified information at Creech.

The virus is resisting all efforts of removal.

One of the sources Wired spoke to said, "We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back... We think it's benign. But we just don't know."

This incident has not stopped any of the pilots' missions at Creech.

Wired.com reports that military network security specialists are unsure whether the keylogging was intentionally introduced into the system or if it is, in fact, from an outside attacker.

Drones have become an extremely popular and useful militia weapon in recent times. In particular, they have been used by CIA operatives to take down top Al-Qaeda leaders. Drones are extremely precise.

Drone strikes and covert operations have greatly weakened the terror network and could aid in a faster withdrawal from the Middle East altogether.

However, Wired.com reports that drones do have a significant amount of security flaws.

The video recordings drones pick up during missions, to then transmit to American troops on the ground for surveillance and covert mission tactics, are not encrypted.

In 2009, insurgents were able to use a $26 software, similar to the program SkyGrabber which is used for digital satellite TV, to watch and record American drone video feed. This gave the enemy knowledge of when and where the Americans would strike.

The Air Force does not typically comment on internal security issues concerning private information.

October marks the Department of Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

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