March 10, 2010
Democrats in the Senate are attempting to scare people away from alternative news websites by falsely claiming the sites contain dangerous software viruses.
Earlier in the week the Senate Sergeant at Arms made a claim that Drudge and whitepages.com were responsible for viruses appearing on Senate computers. “Please try to avoid drudgereport.com and whitepage.com websites for now,” said an email received by staffers on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The Drudge Report was not mentioned in a subsequent email issued on Tuesday. “Our Information Security Operations Center has observed a significant increase in the number of Senate computers infected by fake security software that is malicious and does nothing to secure online information,” the email stated, according to CNSNews.
According to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.), there is no evidence of viruses and malware originating at the Drudge Report. Inhofe, the ranking Republican member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told CNSNews it did not surprise him that someone on the left was trying to stop Senate staff from reading Drudge “because Drudge comes out with really good stuff and we want them to access the Drudge Report. We’re on the Drudge Report about half the time.”
“I suspect somebody was trying to make it look as if there’s a virus there to discourage people from using Drudge. Then, somehow, I guess someone in the Capitol got a hold of it and said, yes, we are advising you not to use it,” Inhofe added.
On Tuesday, CNet ran a story claiming visitors to the site were infected with malware. “For the second time in less than six months, visitors to the Drudge Report say they got malware in addition to the Web site’s usual sensational headlines,” writes Elinor Mills for the technology site. “Matt Drudge denied that his site was infecting visitors, however it’s likely that the malware is coming from ads delivered by a third-party ad network and not the site itself.”
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Rogue ads delivering viruses are common. In September 2009, The New York Times fell to an “unauthorized advertisement” warning readers that their computer may have been infected with a virus and redirected them to a site offering antivirus software. The New York Times said the offending ad was provided by someone posing as a national advertiser with a legitimate-looking advertising product.
The Senate accusation coincides with the Obama administration’s release of Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, a government plan to “secure” (or control) the nation’s public and private sector computer networks. White House Internet security adviser Howard A. Schmidt said in a statement the cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and security challenges faced by the nation, according to InformationWeek. In addition to securing government networks, the CNCI calls for “extending cybersecurity into critical infrastructure domains” in the private sector.
On March 4, Schmidt told Wired the United States is not engaged in a cyberwar. “I think that is a terrible metaphor and I think that is a terrible concept,” Schmidt said. “There are no winners in that environment.” Schmidt acted as cybersecurity adviser during the Bush era.
Rod Beckstrom, the former director of the National Cybersecurity Center, resigned in March of 2009. Beckstrom complained about the encroaching influence of the NSA on cybersecurity.
In late February, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, criticized the Obama administration for making the cybersecurity coordinator unable to testify before congress.“He’s a member of the National Security Council and cannot testify,” said Snowe, who complained that it is unacceptable to have a senior administration official who is not accountable to Congress and meets behind closed doors.
Snowe and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have introduced legislation that would allow Obama to take “emergency” control of the internet during a crisis.
On Tuesday, Alex Jones’ flagship websites, Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com, came under sustained attack. “Alex Jones’ websites were assaulted by a massive, organized and sustained attack today which is still ongoing as zombie computers around the world were used to launch a denial of service attack which is undoubtedly related to our ongoing efforts to expose the government’s Cybersecurity agenda as the gargantuan threat to Internet freedom it represents,” writes Paul Joseph Watson. The attack appeared to be a DoS, or Denial of Service attack.