Last week, Wired.com's Danger Room website reported an exclusive account of a computer virus affecting the Air Force's drone fleet. This account, reported by The Blaze, was news not just for us but for the Air Force's own cybersecurity specialists.
Wired has more on how officials at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada kept the virus a secret for two weeks:
The network defenders at the 24th Air Force learned of the virus by reading about it in Danger Room.
The virus, which records the keystrokes of remote pilots as their drones fly over places like Afghanistan, is now receiving attention at the highest levels; the four-star general who oversees the Air Force’s networks was briefed on the infection this morning. But for weeks, it stayed (you will pardon the expression) below the radar: a local problem that local network administrators were determined to fix on their own.
“It was not highlighted to us,” says a source involved with Air Force network operations. “When your article came out, it was like, ‘What is this?’”
As of right now, Wired reports, the 24th doesn't have a centralized system that would allow them to see all network traffic, although there is a plan to one day integrate it into a single network. For now, each base and unit deals with issues itself and brings help it's a large problem or they are "stumped":
That didn’t happen when a so-called “keylogger” virus hit Creech more than two weeks ago.
“Nothing was ever reported anywhere. They just didn’t think it was important enough,” says a second source involved with operating the Air Force’s networks. “The incentive to share weaknesses is just not there.”
As of right now, there is no reported damage to drone systems or signs of unauthorized transmit of information. The drones are still operating over warzones, and, according to Wired, a high-level investigation into the virus is underway.