Malware Infects U.S. Drone Computer Systems

Apparently, another one of the somewhat all-too-common malware-related problems in the U.S. military has resulted in the systems used by pilots who control U.S. Air Force drones being infected by a "keylogger." Although detected by the military's security systems, they've been unable to wipe it off their systems, at least permanently.

A source familiar with the infection said, "We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back. We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know."

It's hard to see how a keylogger could be benign. Keyloggers infesting computers are often attempting to gain access to passcodes and pins, hardly a benign operation.

Military security specialists still haven't determined if the malware was introduced intentionally or by accident. They are also unsure exactly how far the malware has spread, although they are sure that it has infected both classified and unclassified machines at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, which is where most U.S. drone flights are "flown."

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Although the Air Force wouldn't comment directly on the virus, sources said that in trying to rid the Creech systems of the virus, they used removal instructions posted on the website of the security firm Kaspersky. That implies it's an identified piece of malware, which should mean it should be removable. Despite this "... the virus kept coming back."

The United States' Reaper and Predator drones aren't the most secure beasts in the world; we've already covered how many don’t encrypt the video they transmit to American troops on the ground, and how, in the summer of 2009, U.S. forces discovered that a $26 piece of software called SkyGrabber allowed insurgents to capture drone video.

A source said that the malware is “... getting a lot of attention,” but that "... no one’s panicking. Yet." However, senior officers at Creech receive daily briefings on the virus, meaning there is a decent level of concern.