May 21, 20099
Network World and the Associated Press are reporting that malware has crippled computers at the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI. The U.S. Marshals Service, a division of the Department of Justice, is the oldest federal law enforcement agency and has served the country since 1789.
“It was not clear if the malware was the cause of the network outage or if the agency took down systems to stem the spread of what was believed to be the Neeris worm, which saw a new version appear last month that copies Conficker’s evil ways,” report John Fontana and Carolyn Duffy Marsan for Network World.
“The U.S. Marshals confirmed it disconnected from the Justice Department’s computers as a protective measure after being hit by the virus,” the Associated Press reports, “an FBI official said only that that agency was experiencing similar issues and was working on the problem.”
[efoods]Both agencies shut down internet access and some email while IT worked on the problem.
The network problems occurred as the Senate considers a so-called “cybersecurity bill” sponsored by Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va, and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. For now, the focus of the bill dwells on federal government systems and critical infrastructure systems, including the national power grid, telecommunication networks and financial systems.
As Infowars has noted, the bill would give unprecedented power to the executive. Provisions in section 18 of the bill would give Obama the authority to shut down a critical infrastructure network during a cybersecurity emergency that threatens national security, while section 14 would establish the Dept. of Commerce as a clearinghouse of threat and vulnerability information for federally and privately-owned critical infrastructure systems and networks. Section 14 also says the Secretary of Commerce would “have access to all relevant data concerning such networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.” The secretary would also manage how information is shared between the government and public and private infrastructure operators, according to Michael S. Mimoso of SearchSecurity.
“Another provision in the bill calls for an identity management and authentication program for government and critical infrastructure information systems and networks. Is this a precursor to a national ID program, or a jab at online privacy?” writes Mimoso.
Again, it is interesting to note that government networks are now coming under attack as legislation works its way through the bureaucratic labyrinth.
Is it possible the attack was a black op designed to nudge the bill into law?