“The U.S. government’s unmanned Predator and Reaper drones are continuing to fly remote missions overseas despite a computer virus that has infected the plane’s U.S.-based cockpits, according to one source familiar with the infection,” Andrea Shalal-Esa and Phil Stewart report for Reuters.
“Government officials are still investigating whether the virus is benign, and how it managed to infect the heavily protected computer systems at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where U.S. pilots remotely fly the planes on their missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” Shalal-Esa and Phil Stewart report. “Armed tactical unmanned planes have become an increasingly valuable tool used by the U.S. government to track and attack individuals and small groups overseas, but the virus underscores the vulnerability of such systems to attacks on the computer networks used to fly them from great distances.”
MacDailyNews Take: “Such systems.” Next time, use a real system.
Full article here.
Noah Shachtman reports for Wired, “The virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech’s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system. ‘We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,’ says a source familiar with the network infection, one of three that told Danger Room about the virus. ‘We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.'”
MacDailyNews Take: Well, that’s reassuring. (smirk)
“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 specialists don’t know exactly how far the virus has spread. But they’re sure that the infection has hit both classified and unclassified machines at Creech,” Shachtman reports. “That raises the possibility, at least, that secret data may have been captured by the keylogger, and then transmitted over the public internet to someone outside the military chain of command.”
Shachtman reports, “Despite their widespread use, the drone systems are known to have security flaws. Many Reapers and Predators don’t encrypt the video they transmit to American troops on the ground. In the summer of 2009, U.S. forces discovered ‘days and days and hours and hours’ of the drone footage on the laptops of Iraqi insurgents. A $26 piece of software allowed the militants to capture the video.”
“None of the remote cockpits are supposed to be connected to the public internet. Which means they are supposed to be largely immune to viruses and other network security threats,” Shachtman reports. “But time and time again, the so-called ‘air gaps’ between classified and public networks have been bridged, largely through the use of discs and removable drives. In late 2008, for example, the drives helped introduce the agent.btz worm to hundreds of thousands of Defense Department computers. The Pentagon is still disinfecting machines, three years later.”
MacDailyNews Take: Some “security specialists.” What’s their code name, “The Keystone Kops?”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Gee, neither Reuters nor Wired seem to have seen fit to mention which insecure mess of an OS is at fault here. You’d think people would want to know that bit of info, would’t you? Let’s look elsewhere…
NewsCore reports, “A senior Air Force source with knowledge of the drone program told FOX News Channel that the… virus “showed up on a Microsoft based Windows system.”
MacDailyNews Take: Wow, what a huge surprise.
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: When you stupidly deploy insecure junk, expect to get trashed.
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