A recent story in Wired claims that the operators of the Reaper
and Predator drone
fleets are struggling against an enemy we can all relate to: Malware
. According to the story's sources, which are unnamed, the computers used to remotely control drones around the world have been infected with a nasty keylogger
that is resisting efforts to destroy it.
If the article's sources can be believed, the problem is centered around a drone control facility at Nevada's Creech Air Force Base
. Pilots on the base use computers to fly drones on missions in Pakistan, Afganistan, and around the world. With more and more missions being flown by these armed robotic aircraft, facilities like Creech have become hubs of activity for reconnaissance and more lethal operations. For security purposes, the computers on the base are not connected to the Internet in order to avoid any chance they could become infected. However, the Creech facility was one of the few places the Department of Defense (DoD) allowed USB flash drives to be used in order to transfer mission data between computers. It's believed that this special allowance was the point of entry for the keylogger virus, though its not clear if it was intentionally placed on the infected computers.
This is, obviously, bad news for the Air Force, but it might not be as horrific as it seems.