Air Force Says Virus On UAV Ground Systems Did Not Infect Aircraft

The virus “is considered more of a nuisance than an operational threat”
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Malware detected in September on U.S. Air Force ground computers that support the piloting of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has not been found on the UAVs or the systems that pilot the aircraft, the Air Force says.

On Sept. 15, a computer virus was detected on Windows-based “stand-alone [computer] systems” located at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., where UAVs—including those deployed in Afghanistan—are piloted. However, the virus “has not affected remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) operations,” the Air Force says.

Since being detected, the virus has been identified as “malware” that is “a credential stealer, not a keylogger, found routinely on computer networks,” the Air Force says. The virus “is considered more of a nuisance than an operational threat” for it is not designed to transmit data or video, nor is it designed to corrupt data, files or programs on the infected computer,” the service says. The Air Force added that it has “tools and processes” to detect that type of malware as soon as it appears on a system, and prevent it from spreading.

The infected computers were part of the ground control system that supports RPA operations and the support systems are separate from the flight control system Air Force pilots use to fly the aircraft remotely, the service said. “The ability of the RPA pilots to safely fly these aircraft remained secure throughout the incident,” the Air Force said.


Still grounded

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