It’s easy to forget that computer viruses aren’t limited to the old, slow-running computers you use at home. Just two weeks ago, a virus was discovered in the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, reminding us that viruses are infecting the systems of much more complicated, and important, computers too.
The virus is logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over war zones such as Afghanistan. Although there have been no reported cases of confidential information being leaked nor has it prevented any missions from going forward, it has resisted several attempts to wipe it out. It may be completely harmless but those at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where the drones are controlled, aren’t yet sure.
Drones are becoming an increasingly popular choice by the American Air Force but they do have a history of security flaws. For example, in 2009, US forces found hours of drone footage that had been acquired by insurgents in Iraq, none of which had been encryped during its transmission to American troops on the ground.
Those at Creech aren’t panicking yet. According to a story on Ars Technica, the Air Force wouldn’t give any specifics but insiders say that officers are being briefed about the virus daily and everyone is keeping a close eye on it. Even if it turns out to be nothing, and hopefully it does, it is a reminder that as the usage of technology increases in every part of our lives, viruses will increase right along with it.