US drones hit by malware


Cockpits piloting unmanned US drones have been infected with malware capable of logging pilots' keystrokes, a report has claimed.

Drones are being used by the US to carry out attacks without having to place pilots at risk. Just recently, a chief member of Al Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed by such a drone.

Military personnel at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada are now worried about a virus which could affect operation of the drones, Wired Danger Room reported.

We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back.

The RAF runs a fleet of Predator and Reaper drones, used to carry out attacks in Afghanistan, at the Creech facility.

It is proving remarkably difficult to get rid of the infection, even though no data has gone missing and pilots have continued with their missions.

"We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back," a source familiar with the network infection said.

"We think it's benign. But we just don't know."

There seems to be little the US base knows about the incident, as it remains unsure whether the virus was placed on systems intentionally or not, or how widespread the infection is.

It is believed both classified and unclassified machines were infected.

Senior officers at the air base are being briefed on the virus daily.

"It's getting a lot of attention," the source said. "But no one's panicking. Yet."

Investigations into how the systems became infected will be ongoing. Last year, it emerged the biggest ever US military security breach was the result of an infected USB drive.

In August, hacktivist group Anonymous claimed to have hacked into US drone manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries and stolen 1GB of data.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.