Oct. 7, 2011 at 2:10 PM ET
The computer systems that control the U.S. military's Predator and Reaper drones have been beset by a persistent computer virus, according to reports surfacing Friday.
The virus is apparently logging the keystrokes of pilots at the Nevada air base as they operate the remote controls for the robo-planes that fly over Afghanistan and other areas, Wired's Danger Room reported:
"The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech’s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system."
Wired's Noah Shachtman cites three sources regarding the virus, with one of them saying, "We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back ... We think it's benign. But we just don't know."
Reuters quoted its sources as saying government officials are still investigating exactly what effect the virus is having, and how it managed to infect the air base's computer systems. "Something is going on, but it has not had any impact on the missions overseas," one unnamed source told the news service.
Msnbc.com has sought comment from the Air Force and the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Pentagon office responsible for the Host-Based Security System, but there has been no official response to telephone and email inquiries.
The Air Force declined to discuss the issue openly with Wired, but Shachtman quoted insiders as saying that senior officers at Creech are getting daily briefings about the virus. "It's getting a lot of attention," one source is quoted as saying. "But no one's panicking. Yet."