U.S. unmanned fighter jets now fly under Linux

The control system of unmanned aircraft the U.S. Air Force, formerly based on Windows XP, was moved to Linux. The reason for this was a viral infection that occurred a few months ago.

September 15, 2011 in Computer Systems Center flight control of unmanned fighters MQ-9 Reaper at the air base, “Creech” (Creech AFB) in Nevada entered a virus. The first infection found 24 Air Army, U.S. Air Force, responsible for cyber operations, and shall promptly notify the command base. The virus was localized and isolated using standard monitoring and protection that are used in computer systems and networks, the Air Force. Then launched a full examination to determine the source of contamination and to clean the system from the virus.

The malware has penetrated into the ground control infrastructure, which is not directly responsible for flying a fighter, but controls the on-board aircraft guns and camouflage function. The virus got into the system from a portable hard drive that is used on the air base to load the card and transfer the video from the cameras aircraft. The operating system is the infrastructure used by Windows XP.

Commenting on the incident, the Air Force called the invasion of electronic spy “pinprick.” According to an official statement of the base command, virus infection did not cause disruption to flights. “The ground infrastructure is isolated from direct remote control systems flight, the pilots who use the Air Force, during the whole incident, they retained the ability to safely pilot the aircraft,” - said the military.

According to the BBC, it was common malware spyware, Trojan, and not aimed at attacking computer systems of the base. Analysis of the virus showed that it was not designed to transmit malicious data or video, and do not damage files and applications installed on infected computers. Antivirus software is used in the Air Force, reveals this type of virus as soon as the penetration of the system and prevents their further spread.

Despite the fact that the incident had no consequences, the fact that the virus enters the system, in which malicious software must not penetrate at all, put the command of the base, “Creech” in a rather awkward position. A series of preventive measures, in particular, has been declared a ban on the use of hard drives for data transfer between PCs. Another change, however, remained behind the scenes: part of the control terminals was moved from Microsoft Windows to Linux.

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