Unmanned military aircraft get computer virus
10 October 2011
US Reaper drones are reportedly infected with what appears to be a benign computer virus which is able to reappear within control systems shortly after being removed.
The virus has had no negative effect on the US drone fleet's operation so far, according to US website Wired.com, and no loss of classified information has been detected, but the infection has reportedly managed to survive several attempts to wipe it from the drones' ground control systems (GCS).
"We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back. We think it's benign. But we just don't know," a source told the website.
The "keylogger" software included in the virus is said to have infected drone stations at all security levels, and is so far said to have survived regular virus removal methods and complete wiping of the GCS' internal hard drives.
The US Air Force has reportedly banned the use of the portable hard drives used to provide the stations with map updates and space to record video feeds .
Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, a spokesman for US Air Combat Command, told Wired.com: "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."
The virus is not the drone fleet's first security scare. In December 2008 recorded video feeds from a US Predator UAV were found on the laptop of a Shia militant in Iraq.
Several months later, hours of pirated feeds were found on laptops seized in Afghanistan after having been transmitted unencrypted by the Central Intelligence Agency.Article first appeared on our sister site Defencemanagement.com