In Depth

Porn-watching US official infects government network with malware

Report claims the employee visited 9,000 adult web pages and downloaded images

US investigators have traced the cause of a malware infection on a government network system to a porn-watching official.

A US government report claims the unnamed employee, who worked for the US Geological Survey (USGS), had “an extensive history of visiting adult pornography websites” that were accessed using a work laptop.

The report says the USGS official visited 9,000 pages, many of which “originated in Russia and contained malware”. 

Investigators also found that the employee had saved “many of the pornographic images” on to an “unauthorised” Android phone and USB stick, both of which were also infected with malware.

While the employee’s fate was not mentioned in the report, a source told NextGov, a website focusing on technology used in governments, that they no longer work with USGS.

A spokesperson for US Department of the Interior, which compiled the report, told TechCrunch that the network at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in South Dakota, where the employee was stationed, did not contain any classified data. The attack therefore posed “no significant harm to national security”.

However, the spokesperson added that malware uploaded to the system was “associated with ransomware attacks”, where a rogue piece of software locks users out of their computers until they pay a ransom.

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