The U.S. line of Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was hit by a computer virus that is logging the keystrokes of pilots as they steer the UAVs remotely through Afghanistan and other warzones, found Wired’s Danger Room blog.
According to security researcher Miles Fidelman, however, the virus may be an internal Department of Defense (DoD) security monitoring package. He noted there are “a couple of vendors” who sell such technology to the DoD, which are “essentially rootkits that do, among other things, key logging.” The comments were sent to the Dailydave security mailing list, which was posted through SecLists.org.
“I kind of wonder if the virus that folks are fighting is something that some other part of DoD deployed intentionally,” Fidelman adds.
The virus hit the “cockpits” of the pilots—computer stations at Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base. It was first detected by the military’s Host-Based Security System close to two weeks ago, according to Wired.
The military tried removing it several times, but it keeps coming back. Still, it doesn’t seem to have stopped them from continuing their missions, and no classified data has been taken. A source familiar with the network infection told Danger Room, “We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back. We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”
* Image courtesy of Spc. Roland Hale, eCAB, 1st Inf. Div. PAO. The image is of a MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV.