Officials at Chreech Air Force Base in Nevada knew for weeks about the virus infecting drone “Cockpits”. They however never bothered to inform the rest of the Air Force, including the Air Force’s cybersecurity specialists. The specialists at the 24th Air Force learned of the virus from 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.
The virus has sparked a bit of a firestorm in military circles. Not only were officials in charge kept out of the loop about an infection in America’s weapon and surveillance system of choice, but the surprise surrounding that infection highlights a flaw in the way the US military secures its information infrastructure.
The four branches of the US armed forces each has a dedicated unit that, in theory, is supposed to handle cyber defense for the entire service. The 24th Air Force, for example, “is the operational warfighting organization that establishes, operates, maintains and defends Air Force networks,” according to a military fact sheet. These units are then supposed to provide personnel and information to US Cyber Command, which is supposed to oversee the military’s overall network defense.
Each base has its own IT teams and no one can see what is traveling through a bases pipes from one location, let alone all bases from one location. There are plans to integrate the Air Forces networks to one network, but until then nothing. It’s a little scary that this base just let this virus continue, what else could they not be seeing on there networks?