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Porn Addict Spreads Malware To Government Network

Posted on 6th November 2018

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No wonder government agencies do such a poor job protecting our data. This story on the BBC describes how a porn-addicted worker at the US Geological Survey (USGS) infected computers on a government network by visiting malware-infected porn websites.

The US Office of the Inspector General has recommended that the USGS blacklist "rogue" websites. You think? Duh!

I find so many things incredible about this story:

  • That the USGS hadn't blacklisted dangerous sites. It is not hard; there are lists that you can subscribe to for free blacklists.
  • That USGS employees are advised not to connect USB devices or mobile phones to government computers, but USB connections are not disabled.
  • That an employee was dumb enough to access porn sites from his office computer (presumably during working hours, although I don't know that for sure).

It is not as if the threat posed by porn sites is a surprise. It is a well know problem.

If you want to look at porn sites (and many people do - porn is one of the heaviest sources of Internet traffic), then do it from home, or somewhere else private, and use a virtual machine (which you can then easily periodically restore from a clean backup - i.e. from before you used it to access porn). Then any infection will only affect the VM (virtual machine), and can be easily dealt with by the restore. You can use VMs on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. If you are concerned about people knowing that you look at porn, access it via a VPN (there are widely available options for free or low-cost VPNs). Also, choose your porn sites wisely (read a review to help decide which are safe).

Of course, porn sites are not the only way to get infected with malware. The worst infection that I had was from a Microsoft site, when downloading a document template. Phishing emails are very common; you should never open email attachments from unknown sources. I use a quarantine VM to open email attachments that I am unsure about.

You can read more about virtualisation and how to virtualise, although these are mostly focused on virtual machines running on Linux hosts.