US Air Force Downplays Virus-Infected Drone

Dennis Faas's picture

A new virus found to have infected the United States Air Force's military drone control system is nothing more than a "nuisance," the Air Force reported last week. The Air Force suggested that the problem was easily overcome.

Last week the U.S. Air Force confirmed that it had detected malware on portable hard drives used at the Creech Air Force Base for relaying data between its various systems. Some analysts were alarmed by that news, since Creech is the main base for the Air Force's Predator drone.

Although the device can target enemies all over the world, it is piloted from Creech in Clark County, Nevada. (Source:

Malware Detected Mid-September

The malware was first detected and reported in mid-September. Early reports suggested that the malware in question was a keylogger, meaning it remotely tracked information plugged into a computer. By tracking such data, a hacker could (in theory) steal log-in information and other details, all of which could prove a threat to national security.

The Air Force has now come out to officially state that the malware was not a keylogger but instead a credential stealer, a more routine and less dangerous threat. The Air Force says it detected the problem on an independent Windows-based support network, meaning it had little chance to spread through Creech's system.

Problem Easily Isolated, Air Force Says

As a result, the Air Force has been able to downplay the impact of the malware by stating that the virus was not "designed to corrupt data, files, or programs on the infected computer." The Air Force says it was able to quickly isolate the problem with routine security tools and remove it from the system.

"Control of our remotely piloted aircraft was never in question," said Air Force Space Command spokesperson, colonel Kathleen Cook. (Source:

The Air Force says it is currently investigating the problem in an effort to prevent future infections.

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