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Predator Drone 'Virus' Could Be Military's Own Monitoring

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the anything's-possible dept.

The Military 99

jjp9999 writes "The virus that hit Predator and Reaper UAVs could be an internal monitoring system employed by the military. According to security researcher Miles Fidelman, there are vendors that sell security monitoring packages to the Defense Department which are 'essentially rootkits that do, among other things, key logging.' The virus is a keylogger that was found at pilot stations, and could be keeping tabs on keystrokes used by pilots to control the UAVs, found Wired's Danger Room blog. Fidelman adds, 'I kind of wonder if the virus that folks are fighting is something that some other part of DoD deployed intentionally.'"

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99 comments

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652314)

didnt read

Who cares? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652318)

The drones are the guilt-free killing machines that the USA needed!!

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652564)

Haven't killing machines been guilt free since the invention of the bow and arrow? Not having to look your enemy in the eye makes things a lot easier.

Re:Who cares? (5, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652588)

Haven't killing machines been guilt free since the invention of the bow and arrow? Not having to look your enemy in the eye makes things a lot easier.

The machines always have been guilt-free. It was always the humans who were guilty.

Re:Who cares? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37655126)

"Not having to look your enemy in the eye makes things a lot easier."

From Rome to Rwanda, humans have had no problem getting up close and stabby-hacky.

Japan even cultivated "atrocity" as general policy, including bayonet and edged-weapon practice on captives.

http://blogs.uco.edu/graduate/files/2010/09/Japanese_bayonet_practice_with_dead_Chinese_near_Tianjin.jpg [uco.edu]

http://www.war44.com/misc/images/1/Nanjing_Massacre_bayonet.jpg [war44.com]

http://p2.la-img.com/581/17219/5774950_1_l.jpg [la-img.com]

http://www.gendercide.org/case_nanking.html [gendercide.org]

http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/12.12.96/gifs/china2-9650.jpg [metroactive.com]
http://www.ww2pacific.com/atrocity.html [ww2pacific.com]

http://p1.la-img.com/581/17219/5774950_2_l.jpg [la-img.com]

http://english.people.com.cn/200412/13/images/n3.jpg [people.com.cn]

Re:Who cares? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652658)

The drones are the guilt-free killing machines that the USA needed!!

They are for me. I have no issues what so ever eliminating hate filled hypocritical pustules like Anwar al-Awlaki. The fewer people of his type, the better society is.

Re:Who cares? (3, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652692)

I have no issues what so ever eliminating hate filled hypocritical pustules

When do you plan to set drones loose on Washington?

Re:Who cares? (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652724)

When do you plan to set drones loose on Washington?

Well, they found my key logger, so that plan is on the back burner for the time being...

Re:Who cares? (4, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652888)

I have no issues what so ever eliminating hate filled hypocritical pustules

When do you plan to set drones loose on Washington?

That is the other one, the creditor drone.

Re:Who cares? (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653404)

Sort of like a land mine (invented by the Chinese).

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653634)

The drones are the guilt-free killing machines that the USA needed!!

So are the babies strapped with explosives which other countries use.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653738)

They're going to a better place...

Unless they're going to Heathrow.

Yeah, um, they MEANT to do that... (1)

Frogking (126462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652328)

Sounds like a lame excuse for incompetence to me.

Re:Yeah, um, they MEANT to do that... (3, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652366)

If they meant to do it, it's still incompetence, since they apparently just FORGOT TO MENTION it to the people whose job it is to detect actual outside attacks.

To anyone who's spent any time dealing with military computer security, unfortunately, this really isn't a surprise.

Re:Yeah, um, they MEANT to do that... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652422)

To anyone who's spent any time dealing with military computer security, unfortunately, this really isn't a surprise.

To anyone who's spent any time dealing with computers, unfortunately, this really isn't a surprise.

What did one government agency say to the other? (2)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652448)

"Didn't you get the memo?"

Re:Yeah, um, they MEANT to do that... (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653894)

I work for a normal every day company that is constantly going through transitions. I see behavior like this with our computer systems. Heck, I see it with even non-IT issues because of attempts to hide data from gossiping employees and the public.

I am not sure if this is full out incompetence, but underestimating the skill (overestimating the incompetence) of those whose job is to detect actual outside attacks if this hypothesis is real. They probably didn't trust those technicians not to spill it to the pilots who they were trying to catch doing something.

Re:Yeah, um, they MEANT to do that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652368)

Security team A,

We forgot to mention we rooted your drone workstations. sorry about that...

Your Pals,

Security Team B

Re:Yeah, um, they MEANT to do that... (1)

djl4570 (801529) | more than 2 years ago | (#37654400)

More likely to be a combination of security compartmentalization and silent updates. I surmise that the monitoring software was white listed in the scanning software until they pushed out an update that whacked the white list.

macro making application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652376)

keep thinking about the "key logging" aspect of the story. Are we sure this is a virus? Macro making software, programming key sequencies, must use some kind of keylogging as a matter of course. I didn't look at either article, but I've experienced the humor and grating annoyance of low level tech guys watching task manager or staring at logs and jumping up and going nuts "dja see that?!! VIRUS!!" and spending hours upon hours investigating... the macro making software they installed earlier.

Re:macro making application (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652406)

Why install a rootkit to log keystrokes when you have full control over the application whose keystrokes you want to log?

Re:macro making application (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652574)

Why install a rootkit to log keystrokes when you have full control over the application whose keystrokes you want to log?

Maybe the code of the main application is such a mess that you don't want to touch it if you don't need to.

Re:macro making application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653232)

First they had embedded journalists logging troop activities for the public to see. Now they have embedded rootkits as doing the same thing for the control stations. Rootkits, the government best practice for implementing logging on a digital warfare system. Actually, the CIA just wants to know how much their control stations are used to watch porn with the VLC player (shown on a "CIA computer screen" in a documentary about the America's "covert war") while shooting missiles in randomly chosen countries.

Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1, Insightful)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652418)

Or perhaps all this talk of viruses in drone systems is laying the ground work to create plausible deniability for hitting the "wrong" target, which in reality, may really be the intended target - think assassinations ... government could claim it wasn't us who killed "X", we would never do that, it must have been those pesky hackers; the virus did it.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652454)

Or they could just do what they've been doing all along and label anyone on the wrong end of their detached and indiscriminate bombings as "enemy combatants." It works well enough at home and I sincerely doubt that the people living in fear of drone strikes respect appreciate their presence to begin with. "It wasn't me that upset the bear I put in your house, it was those guys over there!"

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652544)

i think you have your tinfoil hat on too tight.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (3, Funny)

LibRT (1966204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653128)

I would think that if you have people whose job it is to push keys, the results of those key pushes being missiles firing and possibly killing other humans, one would insist on logging those key strokes:

Officer: "The drone you're operating just launched a missile into a school yard and killed 30 children! What did you do?"

Drone operator: "I dunno. I was pushing some keys and, well, it just kinda happened."

Officer: "Which keys did you push?"

Drone operator: "I'm not sure. I was kinda distracted eating a donut. You know how it is when you're eating a donut: you really want to focus in on it."

Officer: "Hmmm. OK. Back to work. Got any more of those donuts?"

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653790)

Except everybody would consider that excuse even more contemptible and irresponsible than intentional remote killings in the first place. Nothing would hurt the drone program more than "proof" that they're not trustworthy.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 2 years ago | (#37654298)

Doubtful. Besides the fact that the military hasn't given much of a shit about collateral damage and mistaken targets so far, to confess that their war machines aren't actually under their control would do far more damage than to simply say "yup, we hit a schoolbus full of children."

Remember, during the Yugoslavian action, they "accidentally" bombed the Chinese embassy. They don't seem to have a problem with making mistakes and then saying "what are you going to do about it?"

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37658806)

The Chinese accidental incident was partly because at the time the Chinese embassy was generating more EM traffic than NASA puts out during the launch and operations of the Space Shuttle. In this era GPS or laser guided targeting didn't exist. This same type of incident also played a part in the Israeli targeting the US Liberty reconnaissance ship. The US did not explain why they were there in the first place. Israel did provide compensation for this incident but the US government at the time did not to make a big deal of it because they would would have had to revel why they there.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

HopefulIntern (1759406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37660598)

You are saying in 1999 GPS and laser guided targeting did not exist? Wtf?

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37662132)

Not to the extent it was used in later conflicts. Operational laser targeting at the time required someone on the ground to tag the target for the attacking aircraft and this is still used today depending the type of aircraft involved in the attack. There is no way the US would intentionally and openly attack a Chinese embassy. There is nothing to gain by attacking a foreign embassy and the US refrains from this course of action because their embassies would then become fair game rendering the laws regarding neutrality of embassies meaningless. The Egyptian government refused to even take calls from Israel regarding the ongoing embassy attack until Obama got involved and made the call. The Syrians provided no security for the US embassy when it came under attack by the howling mobs and when confronted with the lack of security they had the temerity to say it was the US ambassadors fault that it happened. They eventually got around to providing security knowing that if they didn't the US would most likely have taken matters into their own hands. If the Iranian embassy attack and hostage situation in 1979 had happened today I assure you the situation would have been resolved in 24 hours even if it put the hostages at risk. The feckless Iranians today know the US would kill 100+ Iranians for every hostage killed and would also use the incident to undertake more extensive attacks. Just like Saddam Hussein they actually believe their military has the capability to engage the US in any meaningful way. The leaders in that region of the world are experts at spouting outright lies, ridiculous threats, and relentless bullshit even when they know the US could destroy them any time they wanted and I seriously doubt there would be any JAG officers issuing advice on the legality of the actions.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#37663764)

Laser targeting has been in common use since the 1980s, it was a really big deal during the Gulf Slaughter. Nice try, but many of us are old enough to remember when that stuff was new.

The Liberty??? Radio intercepts made it abundantly clear that the pilots knew what they were attacking, and even queried their supervisor to make sure this was the actual target. If you want a career as a Pentagon apologist you need a lot more practice, and probably should pick an easier and less-informed audience.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37666740)

Laser targeting tech has been available for a while but it's use was limited because the aircraft and missile guidance tech capable of taking advantage of this was limited. Even in the first Iraq War the US guided munitions only represented about 10% of total expended air deployed munitions because the missiles and bombs were in relatively short supply. Guided missiles made for good TV but they were not the dominating factor. As far as being old enough to render an opinion I was alive when the Liberty attack occurred. Granted I was only 2 years old but I have seen a lot of what has occurred over my lifetime. The US Liberty was collecting intelligence in an active war zone and that comes with risk. They should have made more of an effort to inform the Israelis that they were there. Also it was not uncommon for militarises to identify themselves falsely and that was also a factor in the attack. If you were alive or have studied the Liberty incident you must know that at the time the US and Israel did not have the level of military and govermental cooperation that exist today. You cannot judge the actions during that time period using the viewpoints based on today's situational environment. The dynamics of international relationships were very different from what we see today. Today all of the advanced militarises of the world kill people during combat and accept friendly fire incidents as a wartime risk and that description can also apply to the Liberty attack. Israel dropped the ball in the intelligence department and were caught by surprise in 73, They were fighting for their survival. They had no room to retreat, no allies, and disengagement at any level was impossible. Defeat would have seen the mass murder of the entire Israeli population and a lot of people in the world wouldn't have given a damn just like today. It was not an environment where Israel had time to analyze and fret over every decision before pulling the trigger. Had Egypt or Syria captured 30,000 Israeli soldiers in the Sinai I doubt anyone would have walked out of that desert alive. In comparison Israel supplied the captured soldiers with food and water until their government negotiated their release. Israel absorbed a large amount of casualties in the Golan and Egyptian attacks to buy time to mobilize and deploy their forces. They were taken by surprise by the SAM systems the USSR had supplied to Egypt and lost a lot of aircraft. They were also surprised by the Sanger guided wire anti-tank missile system and the night vision tech installed in both the tanks and distributed amongst the Arab infantry. At the time the Israelies only had might vision binoculars and they were not integrated in any of their weapon systems. By all rights Israel should have been defeated but the Arab military leaders couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. Their level of incompetence was staggering and even today they have shown that they continue to carry on the same tradition when it comes to large force military engagements. The Syrians halted their Golan advance prematurely when they had over a 50 to 1 advantage in tank forces which allowed Israel reinforcements to arrive. The Egyptians didn't re-position their SAM batteries to cover their advancing infantry and suffered the consequences when their forces left the coverage area. US support arrived after the war had already been raging for almost 2 weeks and all they did is re-supply Israel with aircraft and ammunition but the US did not volunteer for this re-supply effort until Israel asked. There was no assumption that the US would automatically re-supply Israel in war and one of the main reasons the US did offer the re-supply was to counter the USSR involvement on the Arab side. However, not one American soldier or military asset engaged in the battle to protect the Israelis. Today's animosity between Israel and the Arab world is not about land or Palestinians, it is about Arab pride and their non-ending attempt to rectify the situation. The Arabs were humiliated in 48,67, and 73 and it has left a gigantic hole in their male psychi . Maybe that's why they treat their women like property and inflict hardship and violence against them so they can reclaim their "man hood". And please feel free to dispute anything I have mentioned with facts of your own and let's really see who is living in a dream world. And facts from the IHateIsrael.com or JewsAreMurders.com or similiar websites don't qualify. As a side note I am not Jewish, Israeli, Republican, or neocon. I'm just a software architect with a CS BS and CS MS as well as a History MS.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37681792)

Gosh, you mean the us president LBJ did not say "I want that god damn ship to go down. Call off the jets." when the US carrier in the Mediterranean Sea sent the planes to help the Liberty? And that the president aides and the military men in the same room did not hear this?

And years after that ...

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mike Mullin was the first US Official to even mention the USS Liberty.
AND in what context did he mention it ?
When warning Israel about attempting to draw the US into a war with Iran.

He had said, "If you think about perpetrating a little provocation, say in the Persian Gulf, don't even think about it, For We Know what happened on June 8 1967 and it AINT gonna happen AGAIN. You hear me ?!"

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37682148)

The US was as much to blame for the fate of the Liberty as Israel was and Israel was in a fucking shooting war at the time. US military incompetence was on display during that time period for all to see. If they had assets in the area they should have made a better attempt at protecting them. Outside of the US nuclear forces the rest of the US military were worthless. I'm not talking about the soldiers and sailors who actually did the fighting and dying but the entire Military and Pentagon leadership should have been court marshaled for their incompetence in the late 60's and 70's from Vietnam to the cluster fuck Iranian rescue debacle.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (3, Interesting)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37654372)

it must have been those pesky hackers; the virus did it.

No, I'm not buyin it.

The military is the military, they do not "do" plausible deniability: they receive orders, and execute them.

My guess is that these are nested "rootkits", if you will, reflecting the various levels of clearance that exist in a military foodchain. One can then log in and spy on all the others that his clearance allows him to.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 2 years ago | (#37654478)

You're likely spot on.

My post was more playing devil's advocate to put that thought out there for discussion - many of the replies a good point that the military would have no need to do that...

Good points about much of the so-called virus software likely being monitoring - often the best security will consist of a group who do not fully trust each other; keeping an eye on each others actions.

Re:Plausible Deniability to Assassinate People (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37654512)

My guess is that these are nested "rootkits", if you will, reflecting the various levels of clearance that exist in a military foodchain. One can then log in and spy on all the others that his clearance allows him to.

Yo dawg! I hear you like rootkits so we can put a rootkit in your rootkit.

Friendly fire (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652442)

Digital warfare style.

Re:Friendly fire (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37659908)

Digital warfare style.

Field SGT: WTF command, that drone just killed half my unit.
Drone Operator: Uh, hit the windows key by mistake.
Field SGT: GTFO N00b.
Drone Operator: STFU, my score is still higher then yours.
Field SGT: Commander, Request ban 4 Drone Operator 4 TKing.
Drone Operator ===> Field SGT.

Re:Friendly fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37672854)

Spat my juice on the keyboard around GTFO N00b.

Thank you.

sony (3, Funny)

cheeks5965 (1682996) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652458)

must be a sony drone. oooh burrrn on sony!

who watches the watchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652460)

looks like some watchers are watching some the other watchers

Left Hand meet Right Hand (2)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652468)

Sorry, can't do that. It is classified.

Security over security over security.... (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652476)

That is soo lame :) I just recalled a movie Spies Like Us (1985).

Well I fucking hope so (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652490)

Someone needs to be fired. And someone needs fix this shit PRONTO.

Re:Well I fucking hope so (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652602)

exactly
Thats the whole point, show your superiors your struggling then get a budget increase to solve your problems.
PROFIT

Re:Well I fucking hope so (2)

AlienSexist (686923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652608)

Reminds me of one of the de-motivational posters from Despair, Inc entitled CONSULTING "If you aren't part of the solution there is great money to be made in prolonging the problem"

Whitewash (2)

AlienSexist (686923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652504)

No no it's not a virus. Its... unannounced monitoring services. Double plus good.

Re:Whitewash (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652720)

I agree comrade. If we were running drills like this before 9/11, then perhaps 9/11 wouldn't have ever happen.... wait, they were running drills, and then got confused by what happened, since they thought they were just drills. Anyway, we must have faith that more drills will save us comrade, please donate to the DoD to prevent the layoffs of the idle few.

New type of service: proposing coverups. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652514)

The "researcher" gives the military an easy way to "explain" the discovered breach that doesn't make military look incompetent.

Are these the military ones or the spook ones? (1, Troll)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652634)

I'm not sure if these are military or if they are run by an agency with a long list of failures that alternates between playing at James Bond and playing at Soldiers.

Q: How do we know the CIA didn't shoot Kennedy?
A: Because he's dead.

Stuxnet was really Iranian (3, Insightful)

AntiBasic (83586) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652524)

The centrifuges were designed to act that way.

Re:Stuxnet was really Iranian (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652642)

Actually an intentionally infected centrifuge would be an excellent way to get the virus in.

well this makes more sense (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652536)

'I kind of wonder if the virus that folks are fighting is something that some other part of DoD deployed unintentionally.'

No, we didn't start that war, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652578)

we intended to start another one.

It's not really funny, that regarding this virus it seriously could be both.

A Gilda Radner moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652582)

"Oh, Never Mind"

Along similar lines (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652584)

The engineering platform I am currently (and reluctantly) using uses systems supplied by corporate IT. As a result we get hit with software updates and tools of dubious benefit with interfere with our application when we run it. Engineering nodes (and particularly operational nodes) should always be managed differently from the administrators laptops, etc.

Re:Along similar lines (1, Troll)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653172)

Agreed - and I work in a corporate IT group. This sort of thing happens when you put MBAs in charge of everything - it becomes more about saving money than good operations. People blame IT usually for this sort of thing, but really this is the result of a directive to the IT manager to put cost savings above all else. The guys destroying your control systems are just following orders as a result.

If I were managing PCs across the enterprise I'd probably put them into a couple of classes:
1. Generic desktops/laptops/etc.
2. Servers
3. Systems that are primarily maintained by a vendor or some other 3rd party.
4. Systems that perform realtime operations with a safety impact, a cost impact of error/downtime > $x, etc.

Your engineering systems would probably fall into #4, unless they are fairly trivial in what they do, in which case I'd probably ask you to give serious thought to whether the costs of giving them special treatment really outweighs the reduced risk of problems. The control system for the break room coffee pot probably doesn't need mission-critical treatment.

That said, there are real benefits to EVERYBODY from standardization/etc. The problem comes when after those benefits are realized the order comes down to shave an extra 20% off each year. To me this is like every day going into your basement, finding a beam, and drilling a half-inch hole in it. Chances are you can do this for a year or more without any impact. However, eventually the house will collapse, and when it does it will be quite the thing to see as the structural failures cascade through the whole support network. In the same way when companies sabotage themselves with subtle cost-cutting across the board find that once a disaster does strike, they have no way to deal with it as EVERYBODY is short.

system maintained by a vendor or some other 3rd pa (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653616)

some times lack updates and or get messed up by software pushed by standardization of all systems.

This Monitoring may just be part of some IT tool that some how get's in the way of the Drone software.

Re:system maintained by a vendor or some other 3rd (1)

Jurph (16396) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653668)

Since HBSS was identified as the security software that caught the 'virus' I was immediately skeptical. Why? Because HBSS has found and deleted mission-critical software on classified networks before. HBSS was deployed in a hurry because security personnel wanted to lock the network down, and one of the steps that got skipped in a lot of places was coordinating what software is and isn't permitted on the network. Down at the operational level, this translates to an overworked captain or lieutenant passing the memo to whoever in the comms shop has time to do an install (ask yourself: why isn't this person busy?). HBSS gets installed and starts throwing up pop-up windows, and the sergeant, with no training or policy to guide him, helpfully starts making the same kinds of judgments your parents make: "What's SYSTEM32? Sounds dangerous. Deleted!"

Re:system maintained by a vendor or some other 3rd (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37655974)

Well, security updates are important, unless you plan to firewall individual systems (which is an option if you REALLY need to be running unpatched systems, but should be frowned upon and such systems should probably be limited to point-to-point VPNs across the corporate network to specific other systems). Besides, most vendors will support basic OS security patches, or at least can be talked into it.

However, all the desktop junk is a different story. You don't need to push out the latest MS Office upgrade to the server that runs your CNC mill or whatever. It probably doesn't need full-disk encryption either. Oh, and you should probably schedule those patches and not just push them out at some random time when some server is managing a pressure vessel full of explosive gases - do the updates during downtime and re-qualify the system before using it for safety-impacting operations.

At work we do provide close-to-vendor-OS images for things like this, though I'll admit in practice they aren't handled perfectly (again, the push to cut costs).

There is no reason that corporate IT can't be done well - the problem is the bottom-line mentality that aims to put the screws on any budget line item that is large, and which puts the decision-making outside of the group impacted by the decisions.

Re:Along similar lines (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653468)

Engineering nodes (and particularly operational nodes) should always be managed differently from the administrators laptops, etc.

As long as IT still manages them im ok wit that as I have found most engineers are some of the worst users out there, They *think* they know better because the are an 'engineer'. Sure they know THEIR field but they don't know how to manage their desktops. ( again this is not ALL of them as some do cross fields like i did, just a large percentage ). Also a good IT shop would have different polices for different classes of equipment and departments anyway.

If IT doesn't manage them, then they should be cut off from the network.

Thank you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652628)

Thank you. And great quality. I will return to your content again.

Re:Thank you. (0)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652654)

Your thoughts intrigue and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Simple Test (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652644)

'I kind of wonder if the virus that folks are fighting is something that some other part of DoD deployed intentionally.'

Luckily, there's a simple test for that. Does the virus bring up the following dialog box?

[Virus Message]
This is not a drill.
[OK] [Cancel]

If so, then it's definitely a DoD virus.

Security Researcher? What a joke! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652662)

He's a security researcher and so are the Beagle boys. The guy is a well known crank with a rich fantasy life. Slashdot just keeps getting worse.

reply (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37652690)

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Complete speculation (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652986)

The whole story can be summarized with the following quote:

Miles Fidelman: "I kind of wonder if..."

That's about it. Let's have some more fun.

Predator Drone 'Virus' Could Have Been Planted By Dick Cheney.

Predator Drone 'Virus' Could Be Product of Iran Intelligence Agency.

Predator Drone 'Virus' Could Be Designed to Target Nude Beaches.

etc.

Re:Complete speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37654858)

exactly.

More than that, who the heck is Miles Fidelman?

Why not Sarah Palin or Muammar Gaddafi or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? There is no reason at all to infer they are less knowledgeable than Miles whoever he is.

Total BS.

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653130)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memoirs_Found_in_a_Bathtub

Quote: "Set in the distant future, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is the horrifying first-hand account of a bureaucratic agent trapped deep within the subterranean bowels of a vast underground military complex. In a Kafkaesque maelstrom of terrifying confusion and utter insanity, this man must attempt to follow his mission directives of conducting an "on-the-spot investigation. Verify. Search. Destroy. Incite. Inform. Over and out. On the nth day nth hour sector n subsector n rendezvous with N."

Well

CC.

Wow... why are they using ...oh yeah, cost... (2, Informative)

ka9dgx (72702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653186)

Argh... we're building weapons systems based on windows or mac or linux? What are these people, nuts?

If there was ever a place where capability based security should be used, this is it. An application that has the ability to literally kill people should not be run in an environment which defaults to permissive... this means that ANY application on that system could potentially kill someone.

With the exception of a few wise souls here and there, nobody else seems to get the idea that this kind of thing can be stopped, dead, in its tracks. (Pun intended)

Capability based security offers a path forward to computers that trust nothing by default... the exact opposite of what we have now. They don't have to be unusable, nor layered with ineffective anti-spyware, anti-malware, etc...

Just stop trusting applications, and specify what they can do, as a maximum extent, before you execute them. This limits the damage a rogue (or just confused) application can incur before it's even run.

Now... I've obviously made some typos and a few things could be made clearer in the above... unfortunately /. doesn't allow editing or clarification of a post after it's written... nor does it offer any voting other than a popularity contest... so let the inefficient commenting begin.

Re:Wow... why are they using ...oh yeah, cost... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653314)

It's not a question of cost. It's a question of time. The DoD wants UAVs for the current war. You just don't get that agility with all-custom systems. Seriously, how many people have been accidentally killed because the UAVs are running a COTS OS? How many US soldier's lives have been saved because a UAV could do a mission? I'm guessing that we're way ahead.

dom

Re:Wow... why are they using ...oh yeah, cost... (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 2 years ago | (#37654324)

No kidding. "Okay, phase one in the project involves training a bunch of Ada programmers..."

Re:Wow... why are they using ...oh yeah, cost... (4, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37654812)

Argh... we're building weapons systems based on windows or mac or linux?

I'd be willing to bet that since the drones started out as non combat systems, doing was acceptable in the beginning - and they've never gone back and redone the system as the drones have gradually morphed into combat systems and then into weapons systems. Or, they've justified not doing so on the basis that to do so would cost $X megabucks cause Y years delay in deployment.
 
As to the whole "this may be caused by our own monitoring"... (Left hand/right hand.) It wouldn't be the first time I've seen something like this. Back in the 80's, one of the Navy's technical branches came up with a spiffy new system that needed the submarine's heading as one of it's inputs. So when they installed the prototype on my boat, they spliced into an existing analog signal - one that also also fed ships heading to the [Trident backfit] missile fire control system. When the spiffy was operating, it would read the signal every minute - loading down the line and taking it out of spec for fire control, causing fire control to go into alarm.
 
Making things even more frustrating for the navigation guys and for us down in fire control, the spiffy (which was operated by a third, different, division) was only operated a couple of hours a day - making it look like an intermittent fault. An intermittent fault that didn't match up to anything either navigation or fire control was doing., and as any tech knows, that's hardest kind to troubleshoot. (Not to mention, what the hell kind of intermittent occurs precisely every sixty seconds for an hour - and then quits?) Finally, after a month of great frustration trying to track the fault, we made a Hail Mary pass and started physically tracing the signal from the nav center down to fire control - and discovered the splice.
 
It turned out that the branch that 'owned'[1] the spiffy also 'owned' the junction box the splice was made in, even though they didn't 'own' the signal that passed through it. Since a) the spiffy was highly classified [2], b) they 'owned' the junction box, and c) it was cheaper to make that splice than to run a cable to a less accurate heading source that they 'owned', they didn't feel any need to ask permission or inform anyone that they had done so.
 
Our CO solved the problem by ordering the spiffy shut down and tagged out... This then turned into an enormous turf war between the branches. It took Even Higher Authority explained the to spiffy's 'owners' that interfering with the ships strategic mission was Not Acceptable even if it made their spiffy more expensive. In the end, the spiffy was never deployed operationally anyhow because of other problems, and when the Cold War ended Congress declined further funding for it.
 
[1] Everything on the boat belongs to someone, on and off hull, and that someone is responsible for maintenance, training, funding, etc...
 
[2] Outside of the guys onboard that operated it and a few officers, all we knew was that "something" had been installed aboard for testing.
 

Now... I've obviously made some typos and a few things could be made clearer in the above... unfortunately /. doesn't allow editing or clarification of a post after it's written...

That's what the "preview" button is for, so you can see what it looks like and can edit it down int the edit box before submitting.

Re:Wow... why are they using ...oh yeah, cost... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37657750)

Argh... we're building weapons systems based on windows or mac or linux? What are these people, nuts?

If there was ever a place where capability based security should be used, this is it. An application that has the ability to literally kill people should not be run in an environment which defaults to permissive...

You DO realize Linux has all those features already, don't you? It's called SELinux, it was created by the NSA, and it is enabled by default in RHEL. In fact "permissive" is one of the modes of operation you can choose if you're not fully willing to comit.

In fact MacOS X COULD have those features as well. TrustedBSD has been around before SELinux, but since OSX just uses the FreeBSD userland, I doubt they ported those over to the MACH kernel, but they certainly could have.

Re:Wow... why are they using ...oh yeah, cost... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37662122)

Agreed. Running critical missions on Windows platforms is like asking the village idiot to remove your brain tumor.

Re:Wow... why are they using ...oh yeah, cost... (1)

Ibiwan (763664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37664626)

Nope. The planes and the ground stations that control them both use environments other than OS X or Windows. There are, however, also some data analysis workstations that sit in the same trailers as the Pilot bay, that happen to run Windows.

Some people call it a "keylogging" program (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653234)

Other people call it SkyNet.

My bet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653322)

Is that stifflers momhttp://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/10/09/057243/Predator-Drone-Virus-Could-Be-Militarys-Own-Monitoring?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot+%28Slashdot%29# is somewhat involved...

Spin? (3, Insightful)

astrashe (7452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653382)

A big story goes out about how the drone control system are really seriously compromised. Not only have they detected malware, but they're unable to get rid of it. A few days later, a new story comes out. "Yeah, we totally meant to do that." Only it doesn't even say that. Instead, it says, "Wouldn't it be interesting if they totally meant to do that?"

Even if the malware was installed by some shadowy arm of our government, it's a giant screw up if the guys who are in charge of running the systems didn't keep it out and can't remove it once it's detected. If the guys running the system were competent, the shadowy arm of our own government shouldn't be able to install this crap and more easily than anyone else.

Re:Spin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37657430)

I think that it was the Chinese, or maybe some variant of the triads loosely controlled by them

Re:Spin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37658800)

roswell reaction, just a weather balloon.

how stupid to even voice the concern rather
than deal with it directly, were they expecting
a defcon solution or an MS patch ?

meh.

Ummmm...no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653458)

Nice try, though. There is no standard monitoring/keylogging software at that level. Anything below the level of the components in HBSS is selected by each individual Agency/branch/whatever. Many don't employee systems at that low a level at all.

It's not a bug, it's a feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653566)

Righttt...

Hoistingfest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653618)

To the nth power? Did they check the keylogger for trojans that keylog keyloggers. And trojan riders? And pizza-chainloggers? And KilroyWasHere loggers? And the ever unreported JohnDickandHarryLoggers? More spooks than you can shake a dreamcatcher at.

You would think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37653652)

that this is MORE than enough proof to the military that running windows on weapons systems, esp. flying ones, is a really bad idea. China and Russia spend a LOT of money and effort compromising windows. They themselves are moving their miltiaries to Linux. So now, these other nations will be able to control our bombs, or at least get enough intel to know where we are spying and then take actions. Sadly, USAF is ran increasingly by neo-cons, rather than by military men. Not a brain amongst them.

baloney (1)

constantnormal (512494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37653754)

This sure sounds like baloney to me. Think about it ... do they not have all kinds of data logging software on these things? Why would the DoD need to be monitoring keystrokes, when they surely have better information available via data logs?

This is simply an attempt to raise uncertainty about the incompetence of our digital security.

COnspircies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37654312)

This foolish. I can see why they could put keyloggin system for sake of recording actions of their pilots. Was it reporting outside of the UAV's control consoles and command systems? Alot of the UAV Ops are "Black Ops", you'd think CIA/FBI would be aware that the military was trying keep things accountable so they knew point out what happen when a Remote-Control Drone is actual combat.

I can't imagine that these drones have some sort of outside links other than possibly military intranet. US Military is usually paranoid about these high end top secret operations. Combat Drones are cutting edge stuff. I was worried when these Drone started to pop up as combat vehicles, that they could be open to be hacked. I kept remembering the old Chevy Chase movie "Deal of the Century" which painted something similar to that except the hacking / hijacking part.

The keyloggin must been just something forgot to mentioned, UCAVs have to be in a closed system. If their really being hacked, someone just let out high-end secret.

it's obvious (1)

fogdrop (660663) | more than 2 years ago | (#37654742)

Skynet

Disinformation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37655128)

Who reported this story? Where is the source from? This headline and then the response makes no sense unless they were trying to flush out a mole or another stupid sympathizer.

comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37655460)

The secret plot of the government is to publish all these responses, so the terrorists will read them and be lulled into thinking everyone in America is an idiot.

Maybe don't run Windows on weapon systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37655902)

Just saying.

wouldn't surprise me (1)

shop S Mart (755311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37657566)

Left hand meet right hand.

Insert obligatory Pogo quote... (1)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37658368)

"We have met the enemy and he is us."

/debug=on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37659016)

go away folks, there's nothing there that wasn't built in.... /debug=on

PR SPIN (1)

Kuruk (631552) | more than 2 years ago | (#37659460)

Is it working ?

Internal war? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37659784)

How long before US military starts a war on another part of US military?

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