UAV computer virus might be from gaming malware

Ground control systems for Air Force UAVs likely infected by malware used to steal log-ins and passwords

The computer virus that worked its way into the systems used to remotely pilot the Air Force’s armed unmanned aerial vehicles in September was not an intentional attack on the systems but likely a result of malware used to steal log-ins and passwords used in online gaming, the Associated Press reports.

Air Force Space Command officials responsible for the service's cybersecurity efforts said Oct. 12 the virus did not invade the flight controls for the drones, but instead infiltrated the ground control systems for the drones flown remotely from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., according to the news network.

The virus came from malware that routinely tries to steal information from people who gamble or play games like Mafia Wars online, a defense official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The infection was discovered on a portable hard drive used to transfer information among systems at Creech, said AFSC spokeswoman Col. Kathleen Cook.

The defense official might have been speaking generally or referring to something targeting Facebook logins if Mafia Wars is indeed involved, because computer users play the game via their Facebook account, gaming security expert Chris Boyd of GFI Software told The Register.

If that’s the case, the malware might have been a phishing toolbar, according to The Register.

Still, it’s difficult to pin down all of the details of what occurred unless more information is released, the Register noted.

Mafia Wars maker Zynga quickly weighed in on the matter, dismissing that its product was connected with the malware that infected the Air Force's UAV systems, reports The Atlantic Wire.

“We actively take steps to maintain and protect the trust of our customers, including educating players about the risks associated with visiting untrusted sites and downloading untrusted applications,” Zynga said in a statement.

Defense Systems Update

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