Fear the reaper

A computer virus is running rampant through the Reaper and Predator drones of the US military. The virus has been running through the drones for the past couple of weeks, and military tech specialists have struggled to remove it.

Photo from Creative Commons.

The virus that is running through the cyber network of drones is a keylogger. A keylogger is a program that copies down and memorizes keystrokes of a user. This type of malware is typically used to steal passwords for online games and social media accounts.

The virus has been particularly difficult for the 24th Air Force to remove, the unit responsible for cyber defense of the military’s drones. Inside sources have reported to Wired that the virus has continued to reinstall itself onto the system as quickly as it has been removed. The program appears to be under control now after several hard drives have been completely wiped of all data.

Some news sources have claimed that perhaps the keyloggers had been installed by a section of the Department of Defense. This program would allow the department to keep track of the control commands of the drone pilots. According to a source close to techzwn, while the virus has been on the system for a few weeks it has not taken anything confidential. Tech services for the Air Force have been deleting it as quickly as they have been detecting it.

An official statement from the Air Force claims that they first discovered the virus on a stand alone support network system that was running Windows. The Air Force then followed protocol and began to backtrace the program attempting to locate the source of the viral infection.

The Air Force is treating the keylogger as nothing more than a minor annoyance. The virus doesn’t appear to pose any threat by leaking confidential information and it doesn’t appear to be intended to duplicate the programming used to operate the drone systems. This brings a larger question to the forefront — if it’s such a benign viral infection, then why are the Air Force’s tech experts having such an issue removing the virus from their system?

While the Air Force claims to have the infection under control, it’s surprising that such a virus would get loaded into their network with no one noticing it. This doesn’t say much for the network security of the Air Force, and brings an even bigger question as to why the drone system would be at all connected to the open Internet if that’s how the infection entered their network. If it’s not, then clearly the Air Force is dealing with sabotage. It is unclear since it appears to be doing nothing more than recording flight operations of the drones and not hindering any of the operations.