Now, US drones hit by virus: Study

The virus has infected Creech Air Force base in Nevada from where the robotic machines fly globally.

Los Angeles: America`s remote controlled kill
machines, the Predator and Reaper drones which fly hunt
missions over Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, have been hit
by a computer virus and network specialist can`t seem to get
rid of it.

The virus has infected Creech Air Force base in Nevada
from where the robotic machines fly globally, Los Angeles
Times reported.

But, media report said so far the virus hasn`t hindered
global missions of the drones and there`s been no leak of
classified information.

The infection, first reported by wired magazine two weeks
back is allegedly logging pilots` every keystroke as they
carry out the missions.

The virus has remained on the drones` computer system
despite multiple efforts to remove it. "We keep wiping it off,
and it keeps coming back... We think it`s benign," Wired
magazine reported.

"Military network security specialists aren`t sure whether
the virus and its so-called `keylogger` payload were
introduced intentionally or by accident; it may be a common
piece of malware that just happened to make its way into these
sensitive networks," the magazine said.

The specialists don`t know exactly how far the virus has
spread. Something is going on, but it has not had any impact
on the missions overseas.

The Creech Air Force Base public affairs office responded
to inquiries about the reports with a statement:
"We generally do not discuss specific vulnerabilities,
threats, or responses to our computer networks, since that
helps people looking to exploit or attack our systems to
refine their approach.

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 magazine said the drones don`t exactly have the most
rigorous security protocols and cites the example in 2009 when
insurgents in Iraq were able to capture unencrypted video
footage from the drones using a piece of cheap software.

Drones are widely used in US military operations,
especially as ground troops are withdrawn. Last week, a drone
strike killed American-born jihadi Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen,
along with two other militants.

PTI

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