Air Force downplays drone virus

Posted by Trent Nouveau

The U.S. Air Force is downplaying reports of a rampaging drone virus, claiming the infection was properly and easily contained from the start.

In an official statement, the USAF insisted the malware was "more of a nuisance than an operation threat," as the ability of drone pilots to remotely fly the aircraft from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada "remained secure throughout the incident."

Air Force downplays drone virus

According to Air Force Space Command spokeswoman Col. Kathleen Cook, the infection was located on a small, portable hard drive used to transfer information between systems at Creech.

Contrary to earlier reports, Cook claimed the virus did not actually log computer keystrokes, but was instead designed to steal credentials from users playing online games like Mafia Wars. 

"It's standard policy not to discuss the operational status of our forces. However, we felt it important to declassify portions of the information associated with this event to ensure the public understands that the detected and quarantined virus posed no threat to our operational mission and that control of our remotely piloted aircraft was never in question," said Cook.

"We continue to strengthen our cyber defenses using the latest anti-virus software and other methods to protect Air Force resources and assure our ability to execute Air Force missions."

However, as  Noah Shachtman of Wired Danger Room points out, the military neglected to explain why members of the Air Force may have been playing Mafia Wars or similar games during their overseas missions.

In addition, Col. Kathleen Cook failed to confirm whether or not the clean-up process had been completed, as insiders report the infection is particularly difficult to remove - requiring hard drives to be erased and rebuilt.