- Predator and Reaper drones 'hit by mysterious keylogger virus'
- Infection thought have spread via crews' removable hard drives
- Fears tracking logs may be on public internet and available to terrorists
- Drone use has been suspended while security specialists investigate
- Experts at Nevada base believe virus is most likely accidental malware
- Drones have killed more than 2,000 people since Obama was elected
The U.S. drones used to kill Anwar al-Awlaki and other Al Qaeda chiefs have been infected by a computer virus that logs their every move, it has been claimed. The unmanned Predator, which killed the American attack planner, and the Reaper crafts are still able to complete missions over Yemen, Afghanistan and other warzones. But each keystroke made by pilots, who operate the drones remotely from a base in Nevada, is said to be recorded by the virus and experts are struggling to remove it.
Predator: The craft, which killed Al Qaeda boss Anwar al-Awlak, is said to be one of two drones infected by the virus
Massive: The Reaper, another drone allegedly infected has a wingspan of 84ft and costs $30million
Last month, a Predator drone scored its most high-profile victim yet, killing Awlaki and other Al Qaeda operatives in a convoy in Yemen with Hellfire missiles.
Given the controversial nature of missions in sovereign countries such as the Gulf state and Pakistan, which have not approved U.S. operations, drones are seen as the best way of carrying out such missions.
Wiped out: Anwar al -Awlaki is the most high-profile target killed by a drone
Since President Barack Obama assumed office, a fleet of approximately 30 CIA-directed drones have hit targets in Pakistan more than 230 times.
They are understood to have killed more than 2,000 suspected terrorists and civilians.
More than 150 additional craft, under U.S. Air Force control, watch over the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
American military drones struck 92 in Libya between mid-April and late August, when dictator Moammar Gaddafi was ousted from power after 42 years.
But despite their widespread use, the drone systems are known to have security flaws.
Notably, hours of footage was captured by Iraqi insurgents in 2009 using a $26 piece of software.
The Air Force declined to comment directly on the virus, when .
‘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,’ Lieutenant Coloenel Tadd Sholtis, a spokesman for Air Combat Command, told Wired.
‘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.’