U.S. military drones and other computer systems at a military base in Nevada have reportedly been infected with a key-logging virus that officials reportedly can't seem to remove -- and plug-in drives, notorious for introducing malware on corporate systems, are the likely culprit, according to Wired. Officials have gone so far as to order Air Force bases worldwide to stop using removable drives entirely.
The purported virus -- Wired attributed unnamed sources -- first started infecting systems at Creech Air Force Base two weeks ago. The base serves as the control room for carrying out military missions overseas in regions like Afghanistan.
There's a great deal of mystery (or secrecy) behind the infection. According to the report, military network specialists don't know whether the malware is benign, whether it was introduced intentionally or by accident, or how many systems have been infected in all. Also baffling: Each time they purge the virus from the network, it comes back. Not surprisingly, the Air Force is officially remaining mum on the subject.
What does seem clear is how the virus may have been introduced in the first place: through removable drives, which crews use to load map updates and send mission videos between computers. For the most part, the use of such drives is highly restricted on military systems, Wired noted. The Creech base is a striking exception and is the only base to reportedly be dealing with the virus. As a precaution, Air Force bases worldwide running military drones have been ordered to stop using removable drives, Wired reported.
The virus was more likely introduced via plug-in drives than, say, the Internet: "None of the remote cockpits are supposed to be connected to the public internet," according to the Wired report, "which means they are supposed to be largely immune to viruses and other network security threats."