The control of US military spy drones appears to have shifted from Windows to Linux following an embarrassing malware infection. Ground control systems at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, which commands the killer unmanned aircraft, became infected with a virus last September. In a statement at the time the Air Force dismissed …
re: Never seen it with unix/linux people...
I work as a research engineer for a software company, when I joined the company I found a serious flaw in our handling of Windows filesystems, which would have resulted in data loss for our customers.
At my previous company I was tech-lead of a large data storage design team, I found several significant problems with the SAN hosted disk systems of Windows machines and identified new errors being made on an ongoing basis.
Both of these situations occurred because people who are historically from a UNIX/Linux background didn't understand some of the fundamentals of how Windows works.
You have to put in a hell of a lot of work to properly understand an operating system and the understanding of one OS doesn't somehow give you understanding of another. I came from a Windows background, with a little background in Solaris from uni. In order for me to learn linux from the level I knew UNIX at took a lot of work. This is despite the fact that I could transfer a fair amount of knowledge from Windows into how Gnome worked and some command line basics.
It could have been worse...
During the prototyping phase, operators had to deal with an annoying paperclip who kept asking "It looks like you're trying to bomb a terrororst, how can I help"?
So this year...
... is the "year of Linux on drones" finally...?
Ever so secure, isn't it?
I'll be wrong here but StuxNet was based on process control systems as implemented under Visual Basic as epitomised by.... Just a mo... the memory cells are failing... errrr... uhm..
Nope... Hang on. I'll get there eventually..
National Instruments.. LabView
"found routinely on computer networks"
Well on your network maybe , not on mine!
so you aren't bothering to check then?
I've been waiting for somebody to provide incentives for Linux virus writers. Time to tighten things down a bit, or maybe move to BSD.
What A Random click can do
Downvote an innocent post.
Sorry: upvoted it to make amends!
So how do they get updates now?
Pretty sure that they have previously said there is no internet access.
Now no sneakernet access.
So how do they let the system know about new buildings to blow up and other mapping changes, let alone updates to the system software.
Like installing it in the first place!
I agree. There are lots of people complaining that they shouldn't have allowed USB access to the machines, but how else are they to update the software & data on these machines ?
@A non e-mouse
Err... Some sort of private network? Here's how it works:
Secure workstations are connected to a private network with domain controller etc.
The private network has update servers.
The update servers are multi-homed (or router/firewall ACL controlled) onto a DMZ which acts as a bridge between Production and private network.
The DMZ has servers (also multihomed/router/firewall ACL controlled) which act as a stage for updates from the Production network.
Updates are delivered from Production, to the stage, where they are checked.
Updates are then delivered to the private network's update servers which upload the updates to the secure workstations.
One option would be to use something less ubiquitous than a USB stick. PCMCIA memory cards work quite nicely and have the advantage that the average Soldier/Sailor/Airman doesn't have their own chock full of viruses and porn that they might be tempted to use to save time/play videos on the workstation/change the desktop picure with.
Although for some reason the maintainers get all upset when you pry it out of the reader with a knife after inserting it the wrong way for the nth time...
> Err... Some sort of private network?
The flaw in your logic is that US-based military networks seem to be a bit thin on basic security.
Bradley Manning apparently helped himself to large amounts of secret data by taking a CD-RW into a "secure" area, erasing the audio he'd put on it, then re-writing it with the data he wanted.
There are at least three heinous security problems described in that last sentence. Someone high-up should be facing charges for allowing that situation to develop.
Whilst that sort of laxity can still happen, it really doesn't matter how well you tie down your network access...
 But they won't. They'll blame the guy who got caught, ignoring the fact that his actions should have been impossible.
What distro are they using?
Killbuntu? Fedrona? openSlaySlay?
OK, I'm leaving now... :-)
All you need to do is kill -9 brownpeople
not a pid
>>All you need to do is kill -9 brownpeople
"killall" instead of "kill"...
I used to keeeeell you with my BSOD
Now i keeell you with my gnome drone
XP or Linux?
Shouldn't that be ...
XP or RedHat 7.2 (or whatever linux distro was released in 2001)?
Why are people still talking about an 11-year old OS today? Isn't it high time for organizations - especially ones that are very concerned about security - to switch to something more modern?
Re: isn't it time...
Have we learned something fundamental about security in the last 11 years? I don't think so. Why spend 11 years gaining experience with and developing admin procedures for one OS only to swap it out for a completely unknown set of new bugs just because it is shiny?
Can I just say...
Tee Bloody Hee!
this is very disturbing. there ought to be something in the linux kernel license that prevents the software from being used for killing people.
> there ought to be something in the linux kernel license that prevents
No. Absolutely not.
The whole point of Freedom is that you don't get to dictate to anyone else what Freedom means.
So although I would rather nobody ever kill anyone else, it is totally wrong to say that Linux cannot be used for military applications.
If you don't want your software to be used for certain things, free and open source isn't the way forward.
"The whole point of Freedom is that you don't get to dictate to anyone else what Freedom means."
While this is indeed true it does not follow that the GPL is all about "freedom".
The GPL is already quite restrictive compared to say the BSD licence and it is not outside the realms of possibility that future versions could include such "morality" clauses.*
* Not that I would favour such a thing, I'm just pointing out that it is not altogether impossible.
I think that in most countries the military is exempt from licence conditions. So what's the point?
So much for freedom :)
> it is not outside the realms of possibility that future versions could
> include such "morality" clauses.*
It is certainly outside those realms when we're talking about the kernel.
The kernel is GPLv2, not GPLv2 or later. It would require significant re-write to change that. It's not going to happen anytime soon.
"I know which one blah drool"
Yep: Neither. Toss out all the toy computers and go back to Sperry for a properly secure OS like they had before the young and the restless tricked them into doing something silly.
Someone who actually knows what the fuck they're talking about.
You're probably actually closest, its most likely something proprietary made by TRW or Unisys (which is what Sperry turned into when they merged with Burroughs). The Government still loves their old IT vendors. Look at how many Cray supers NSA owns. And how many IBM mainframes are still in use from the Census Bureau to the Department of Interior.
Just because it runs Xserver and has Gnome, KDE, XFCE, or what have you as a desktop environment, doesn't mean its Linux or even Unix.
At Least it isn't Lindows/Linspire
Go look again ...
The linked image is a slide from the US Army presentation explicitly stating that they are using linux. No-one has guessed that it's linux from what they can see photos, it's stated there in black and white.
I'm just trying...
To imagine the Tux logo for this one
$ killall taliban
Operation not permitted
no taliban killed
$ sudo killall taliban
I dont know
The US Air Force is very good at obfuscation. It wouldnt surprise me in the least if they were using something Unix-like, including possibly Linux, but conclusively saying the drones are running Linux off of an unclassified picture isnt a smart idea at all, the Military likes to reveal vulnerabilities (or strengths) that don't really exist to confuse anyone who may potentially want to attack them. Its part of the Open Source Intelligence process. We know Iran, China, and even our allies watch us and try to figure out what's going on, so we confuse them. Its an Art in the Intelligence Community.
The only thing leading me to believe it may be for real is the fact the Air Force redacted the image, but given that they're still using it in Powerpoint presentations, its probably just an FOUO (For Official Use Only) concern.
Unless you hold a security clearance and are in the compartment pertaining directly to the IT infrastructure at Creech AFB, don't think for a second they're telling you the truth.
Does that mean Linux has the highest market share of 'killer drones' ?
Beat that Microsoft!
Could be handy in the forthcoming patent wars.....
Its exclusive to windoze boxes... honest!
Whatever clever numpty thought of this, next we'll see them being controlled by android devices or the like!
*Puts head in hands, but has to give a clap for the clever person who thought this one up*
The title will be shot down by our drones...
Being a Killbot myself I welcome my newer, faster OS.
Seriously, if they have malware regularly ending up on their systems someone on high needs court martialling (or whatever the American version is) for not increasing security to prevent this happening.
This is just one mention of a serious IT problem at one AFB. How many AFBs do the Americans have? How much equipment that could be affected in this way? Skynet could be one click away...
No problem at all.
Russia/China/Iran will still shoot down those drones, reverse engineer them and unleash them on America.
Drones are the perfect symbol of the military-industrial complex and American imperialism.
It's about time for America to get a taste of its own medicine.
Where does Windows come in?
The space probes all run QNX, and all the military fighters run VXWorks. Some hardened hardware runs BSD variants. None of these things would ever run a domestic or desktop OS.
Linux is a full blown UNIX, thats why its going through the final phases of taking over the world now.
Did they just do this as an experiment so they could finally sack the idiots who keep accepting m$'s coke and hookers??
"Linux is a full blown UNIX, thats why its going through the final phases of taking over the world now."
That would depend on which world you were taking over. In the consumer world, Linux has a market share of about 1% and is losing it to closed unices from Apple and Google. Over on cloud-cuckoo planet, however, I'm sure 2012 is the year Linux arrives on the ultra-net-phone-desk-book-top.
And as for "Where does Windows come in?". Well, if you take a huge step backwards and widen your field of vision, that absolutely massive sun-obscuring mountain that you thought was just part of the landscape is in fact Windows market share.
Sad, but true. (Could we have an unhappy Penguin icon?)
In the consumer devices world, Linux won a long time ago.
Your TV, PVR and STB are almost certainly all running Linux.
As is your NAS, and in fact pretty much all "network appliances" including many ADSL and cable routers.
The code running on top of the kernel is usually a closed source blob of course.
I suspect that most Western households have more TV+STB+PVR devices than mobile phones and x86 PCs put together.
Just because it hasn't got an obvious desktop, doesn't mean it is not a computer. Running Linux.
> Linux has a market share of about 1%
Even Ballmer thinks it's bigger than that.
 See, for example, http://www.osnews.com/story/21035/Ballmer_Linux_Bigger_Competitor_than_Apple
This is one of the few instances where I'd really like to see Windows -
and why not Windows XP or even Windows ME - being used as the OS, rather than an updated Linux distro....
No surprise here
Even the U.S. Department of Defense has suggested the widespread use of GNU/Linux and ditching Windows. This should be a wakeup call to everybody still using Windows. It's not secure, it's flawed, expensive, bloated, and no longer a wise decision in many business and individual cases. I migrated to GNU/Linux years ago, and I'll never look back at Windows again. Many Microsoft apologists will be quick to claim that Windows does this and that, but they obviously have never used GNU/Linux to know that it can do the same thing, too.