Thursday, July 11, 2013

Your Tax Dollars At Work: How Commerce Dept. Spent $2.7 Million Cleaning Out Two Malware-Infected Computers

The cyber-Pearl Harbor is upon us and the only way to defeat it is to sink our own ships at the first sign of invasion. This is the sort of thing that happens when the legislators and advisors with the loudest voices value paranoia over rational strategy. The Department of Commerce, aided by a tragicomic string of errors, managed to almost stamp out its malware problem.

The Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration spent almost half of its IT budget last year to remediate a cyber attack that barely happened. 

EDA's drastic steps to limit the damage by shutting down much of the access to the main Herbert Hoover Building network ended up costing the agency more than $2.7 million to clean up and reconfigure its network and computers. The IG said the bureau destroyed more than $170,000 in IT equipment, including desktop computers, printers, keyboards and mice.

Also included in the mass destruction were cameras and TVs. It wasn't just cyber-paranoia that led to this hardware cull. There was plenty of miscommunication too, along with the usual doses of bureaucratic clumsiness. The Inspector General's report breaks down the chain of missteps, which all began with a response team member grabbing the wrong network info.

In an effort to identify infected components, DOC CIRT's (Dept. of Commerce Computer Incident Response Team) incident handler requested network logging information. However, the incident handler unknowingly requested the wrong network logging information... Instead of providing EDA a list of potentially infected components, the incident handler mistakenly provided EDA a list of 146 components within its network boundary. Accordingly, EDA believed it faced a substantial malware infection.

Read more: TechDirt
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