Computer Network Controlling UAVs Infected by Computer Virus
October 10, 2011 12:03 AM
A US military base found a keylogger on their network specifically targeting UAVs
The U.S. military expects unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to
have a greater role
in future military operations, but there are still obvious issues that need to be addressed. One such issue is the security of UAVs that rely on computer-controlled operations that may be compromised by skilled criminals and foreign governments.
A virus was found by the Host-Based Security System on computers used in Nevada at the Creech Air Force Base. In particular, the virus remotely logged keystrokes of computers used by pilots controlling Predator and Reaper UAVs conducting missions in Afghanistan.
"We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back," an anonymous source noted. "We think it's benign. But we just don't know."
Creech senior officers are now receiving daily briefings regarding the computer virus, but operations appear to be business as usual.
Both Predator and Reaper drones are actively flying in the Middle East, and there are no immediate plans to ground the unmanned fleet until the issue is resolved.
It's unknown if this reported keylogger was intentionally placed on the computer network, but it's an extremely serious matter. There is hopeful optimism that the relatively common keylogger was simply accidentally placed on the network -- but that also is an issue that must be appropriately addressed.
Meanwhile, the British Royal Air Force and other nations with growing UAV fleets also are monitoring cyber issues that the U.S. military must deal with.
Benign or not, the keylogger remains grave concern for security experts worried that military experts and private contractors need to make improvements.
Previous U.S. military documents warn of non-military, commercial computer parts purchased in Asia that
shouldn't be used on military bases
. The ease in which
USB flash drives
and other external devices can be used on base -- while accessing the base's network -- has remained a problem.
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