Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sad Tale of Government Pwnage

"On October 26, 2006, computer security personnel from across the legislative branch were informed that the Congressional Budget Office had been hit with a computer virus. The news might not have seemed extraordinary. Hackers had been trying for years to break into government computers in Congress and the executive branch, and some had succeeded, making off with loads of sensitive information ranging from codes for military aircraft schedules to design specifications for the space shuttle.

"Employees in the House of Representatives' Information Systems Security Office, which monitors the computers of all members, staffers, and committee offices, had learned to keep their guard up. Every year of late, they have fended off more than a million hacking attempts against the House and removed any computer viruses that made it through their safeguards. House computers relay sensitive information about members and constituents, and committee office machines are especially loaded with files pertaining to foreign policy, national security, and intelligence. The security office took the information from the CBO attack and scanned the House network to determine whether any machines had been compromised in a similar fashion.

"They found one. A computer in one member's office matched the profile of the CBO incident. The virus seemed to be contacting Internet addresses outside the House, probably other infected computers or servers, to download malicious files into the House system. According to a confidential briefing on the investigation prepared by the security office and obtained by National Journal, security employees contacted the member's office and directed staffers to disconnect the computer from the network."

Full story PLUS audio slideshow at the National Journal...

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