Government Agency Smashes Computers to Get Rid of Viruses

A couple of years ago, the Department of Homeland Security notified NOAA (the weather agency) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) that they had a potential malware problem in their computer systems. The two agencies reacted in very different ways.

The NOAA isolated and cleaned up the problem within a few weeks.

The EDA, however, responded by cutting its systems off from the rest of the world—disabling its enterprise e-mail system and leaving its regional offices no way of accessing centrally-held databases.

It then recruited in an outside security contractor to look for malware and provide assurances that not only were EDA's systems clean, but also that they were impregnable against malware. The contractor, after some initial false positives, declared the systems largely clean but was unable to provide this guarantee. Malware was found on six systems, but it was easily repaired by reimaging the affected machines.

EDA's CIO, fearing that the agency was under attack from a nation-state, insisted instead on a policy of physical destruction. The EDA destroyed not only (uninfected) desktop computers but also printers, cameras, keyboards, and even mice. The destruction only stopped—sparing $3 million of equipment—because the agency had run out of money to pay for destroying the hardware.

Read more at Ars Technica. Link  -Thanks, Ray Perkins!

(Image credit: Flickr user youngthousands)


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