Thursday 12 February 2009

Computer viruses hit the military

Last week I read in The Telegraph that:
"French fighter planes were unable to take off after military computers were infected by a computer virus, an intelligence magazine claims.

The aircraft were unable to download their flight plans after databases were infected by a Microsoft virus they had already been warned about several months beforehand.

At one point French naval staff were also instructed not to even open their computers.

Microsoft had warned that the "Conficker" virus, transmitted through Windows, was attacking computer systems in October last year, but according to reports the French military ignored the warning and failed to install the necessary security measures.

The French newspaper Ouest France said the virus had hit the internal computer network at the French Navy. "

Oh well that's the French for you I thought and decided not to blog the story.

Today I read at Spectrum that (my emphasis):
"The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed inquiries made by the website The Register that since the 6th of January 2009, "the performance of the MOD IT systems in a number of areas was affected by a virus... This meant that some people were without regular IT access (i.e. email, internet). There have been no infections detected on any networks with sensitive information."

The Register's story says that the virus is affecting Royal Navy warships like the carrier HMS Ark Royal.

"The Navy computers infected are the NavyStar (N*) system, based on a server cabinet and cable-networked PCs on each warship and used for purposes such as storekeeping, email and similar support functions. N* ship nets connect to wider networks by shore connection when vessels are in harbour and using satcomms when at sea," says the story.

The N* system, which is built by Fujitsu, is to come under the Defence Information Infrastructure which is currently late and over-budget.

The Register story notes that, "The MoD refused to discuss details of the virus, transmission methods, countermeasures or other specifics of the incident 'for security reasons'."


The Sunday Times has a story today that claims the virus has infected Royal Air Force systems, and that "all e-mail traffic from a number of RAF stations has been sent to a Russian internet server."

"The RAF stations affected included those from which fighter aircraft have been scrambled to counter Russian bombers testing British air defences," the story adds.

In addition, the Times quotes RAF sources that say that the virus “ 'originated from the former eastern bloc' ” and said forces security experts were surprised at its sophistication.'"

This is not a stupid little IT story, this is major. If "all e-mail traffic from a number of RAF stations has been sent to a Russian internet server" then how can the MOD say that no "sensitive information" has been compromised.

The sooner the Labour government realise that the Russian government is no friend of ours the better. This action could be classified as spying or it could be seen as worse, either way maybe better security precautions could be instigated within all defence establishments, that's if there is any money left over after paying senior Labour MPs to keep several homes...

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