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Computer Virus Hits U.S. Drone Fleet

Photo courtesy of Bryan William Jones

A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones.

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The MQ-9 Reaper taxies into Creech Air Force Base, Nevada

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.

“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” says a source familiar with the network infection, one of three that told Danger Room about the virus. “We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”

Military network security specialists aren’t sure whether the virus and its so-called “keylogger” payload were introduced intentionally or by accident; it may be a common piece of malware that just happened to make its way into these sensitive networks. The specialists don’t know exactly how far the virus has spread. But they’re sure that the infection has hit both classified and unclassified machines at Creech. That raises the possibility, at least, that secret data may have been captured by the keylogger, and then transmitted over the public internet to someone outside the military chain of command.

Drones have become America’s tool of choice in both its conventional and shadow wars, allowing U.S. forces to attack targets and spy on its foes without risking American lives. Since President Obama assumed office, a fleet of approximately 30 CIA-directed drones have hit targets in Pakistan more than 230 times; all told, these drones have killed more than 2,000 suspected militants and civilians, according to the Washington Post. More than 150 additional Predator and Reaper drones, under U.S. Air Force control, watch over the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. American military drones struck 92 times in Libya between mid-April and late August. And late last month, an American drone killed top terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki — part of an escalating unmanned air assault in the Horn of Africa and southern Arabian peninsula.

But despite their widespread use, the drone systems are known to have security flaws. Many Reapers and Predators don’t encrypt the video they transmit to American troops on the ground. In the summer of 2009, U.S. forces discovered “days and days and hours and hours” of the drone footage on the laptops of Iraqi insurgents. A $26 piece of software allowed the militants to capture the video.

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The lion’s share of U.S. drone missions are flown by Air Force pilots stationed at Creech, a tiny outpost in the barren Nevada desert, 20 miles north of a state prison and adjacent to a one-story casino. In a nondescript building, down a largely unmarked hallway, is a series of rooms, each with a rack of servers and a “ground control station,” or GCS. There, a drone pilot and a sensor operator sit in their flight suits in front of a series of screens. In the pilot’s hand is the joystick, guiding the drone as it soars above Afghanistan, Iraq, or some other battlefield.

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Drones Ground Control Station or GCS

Some of the GCSs are classified secret, and used for conventional warzone surveillance duty. The GCSs handling more exotic operations are top secret. None of the remote cockpits are supposed to be connected to the public internet. Which means they are supposed to be largely immune to viruses and other network security threats.

But time and time again, the so-called “air gaps” between classified and public networks have been bridged, largely through the use of discs and removable drives. In late 2008, for example, the drives helped introduce the agent.btz worm to hundreds of thousands of Defense Department computers. The Pentagon is still disinfecting machines, three years later.

Use of the drives is now severely restricted throughout the military. But the base at Creech was one of the exceptions, until the virus hit. Predator and Reaper crews use removable hard drives to load map updates and transport mission videos from one computer to another. The virus is believed to have spread through these removable drives. Drone units at other Air Force bases worldwide have now been ordered to stop their use.

In the meantime, technicians at Creech are trying to get the virus off the GCS machines. It has not been easy. At first, they followed removal instructions posted on the website of the Kaspersky security firm. “But the virus kept coming back,” a source familiar with the infection says. Eventually, the technicians had to use a software tool called BCWipe to completely erase the GCS’ internal hard drives. “That meant rebuilding them from scratch” — a time-consuming effort.

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The Air Force declined to comment directly on the virus. “We generally do not discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats, or responses to our computer networks, since that helps people looking to exploit or attack our systems to refine their approach,” says Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, a spokesman for Air Combat Command, which oversees the drones and all other Air Force tactical aircraft.

“We invest a lot in protecting and monitoring our systems to counter threats and ensure security, which includes a comprehensive response to viruses, worms, and other malware we discover.”

However, insiders say that senior officers at Creech are being briefed daily on the virus.

“It’s getting a lot of attention,” the source says. “But no one’s panicking. Yet.”

Source: https://i1.wp.com/www.wired.com/images/blogs/banners/hed_dangerroom.gif

Inside Scoop: Shot Down Black-Op Seals Won’t Be Talking Now

Every single SEAL Team 6 member who was involved in the ‘assassination’ of Usama bin Laden, is dead. They were killed when the Boeing Chinook helicopter in which they were flying crashed in Afghanistan & among the 31 American military personnel who were killed. The official story is that the Taliban shot down the chopper. But they were assassinated by the govt. !!

by Julius Sequerra

31 American military personnel were killed when the Boeing Chinook helicopter in which they were flying crashed in Afghanistan.

Of the thirty-one killed, twenty were members of SEAL Team 6.

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More importantly, I’ve been reliably informed (by a retired Colonel, US Army intel) that these very same operatives were the men who allegedly killed Usama bin Laden recently in Abbottabad.  [NB: Seal Team 6 is an ultra-elite group of “black” operatives who exist outside military protocol, engage in operations that are at the highest level of classification, and often outside the bounds of international law.]

The official story is that the Taliban shot down the chopper. I have my doubts (as do many others far more savvy than yours truly).

[Remember Pat Tillman, the Pro Football star who forsook a megabuck contract and volunteered to go fight in Afghanistan in the heat of the post-9/11 patriotic frenzy? The official story is that Tillman was killed in a friendly-fire incident. According to reports from several US military personnel (a few of whom I know), Pat Tillman was assassinated by his own government. Reportedly, Tillman, the quintessential poster-boy for military recruitment, was waking up to the 9/11 lie, and was beginning to get a little too loose-lipped for his own good. Word traveled up the chain fast. Three bullets to the head fired at close range killed him. Friendly-fire indeed.]

“We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.” – Goethe

Usama’s “recent death” brings to mind photos that made international headlines during the Iraq invasion.

Remember that iconic image of cheering Iraqis helping bring down the statue of Saddam? A Marine I know told me he had a friend who was actually there, on the ground, in that town square. Evidently, there were no more than 50 Iraqis in that “cheering crowd” — and virtually all of them were paid to participate in the photo shoot. [Did you happen to notice there was only one tightly cropped shot from just one camera angle? The rest of the square was virtually empty, save for US military personnel and equipment.]

Then there was that other classic shot, of a bearded and bedraggled Saddam crawling out of a hole with his hands pathetically held up in the air in a gesture of utter defeat. Remember that one?

Again, rigged. I’m personally acquainted with a former Marine who knows one of the guys who actually helped stage that sordid affair.

Truth is, Saddam was finally cornered in the home of one of his friends, and he fought valiantly to the last bullet. He was eventually nabbed, mussed up further (he apparently didn’t look great to begin), physically forced into the hole, and dirt thrown on him for good measure to ensure a Hollywood-grade image. That photo’s singular intent was to demoralize the Iraqi populace by showing their leader cowering in abject defeat.

Usama bin Laden’s REAL Death

It is generally known by military insiders (and others who look to alternative sources for their news) that Usama bin Laden died of natural causes in 2001. He had just returned to Pakistan from Dubai following medical treatment at the American Hospital.

As early as March, 2000, Asia Week expressed concern for bin Laden’s health, describing a serious medical problem that could put his life in danger because of “a kidney infection that is propagating itself to the liver and requires specialized treatment.”

Having taken off from Quetta in Pakistan, bin Laden arrived in Dubai and was transferred to the American Hospital. He was accompanied by his personal physician and a ‘faithful lieutenant’ (possibly al-Zawahiri). Usama was admitted to the well-respected urology department run by Dr. Terry Callaway, an American gallstone and infertility specialist.

Bin Laden was checked into one of the hospital’s VIP suites. While there, he received visits from many members of his family as well as prominent Saudis and Emiratis. During the hospital stay, the local CIA agent, known to many in Dubai, was seen taking the main elevator of the hospital to bin Laden’s floor.

A few days later, the CIA man bragged to a few friends about having visited bin Laden. Reliable sources report that on July 15th, the day after bin Laden returned to Quetta, the CIA agent was recalled to headquarters.  [NB: Contacts between the CIA and bin Laden began in 1979 when, as a representative of his family’s business, he began recruiting volunteers for the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Red Army.]

The LAST ‘Death’ of bin Laden

What the world has been told about the recent “Death of Usama bin Laden” is pitiful and laughably absurd (especially the parts about no forensic tests having been performed, and the body quickly dumped into the sea. That last doctored photo was the clincher).

Truth is, bin Laden’s bin dead a long time.

The charade in Abbottabad was one massive a psyop to provide soothing peace of mind for the American public subject to full-throttle media propaganda, while continuing, unabatedly, one of the greatest, deadliest, and most expensive hoaxes of all time: 9/11 and “The War on Terror.”

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Now they are legend

And now, every single SEAL Team 6 member who was involved in the ‘assassination’ psyop is dead.

Incidentally, I had to smile when I saw one particularly amusing headline re Usama’s latest death, in the US publication Business Insider: “Meet The ‘Seal Team 6’, The Bad-Asses Who Killed Osama Bin Laden”

Well, all those hapless ‘bad asses’ are now dead.

And dead men don’t talk.

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