Due to the carelessness of an employee, who apparently was a porn fan, the network of the satellite imaging facility, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at the EROS Center, South Dakota got infected with malware.
An audit carried out by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s inspector general reportedly identified the extensive history of porn content on the employee’s office computer. The unnamed employee was found to have visited thousands of porn websites that were already infected with malware.
According to the report, when the pages were downloaded to his work laptop, the malware spread to the USGS’ network. The employee’s mobile phone and other employees’ government-issued computer were also infected as a result of the malware infection.
It was also identified by the investigators that the porn images were saved to an “unauthorized USB device and personal Android cellphone.” These devices were connected to the government-issued computer of the employee. The employee had visited around 9,000 adult porn pages. The department has suggested that the USGS should blacklist such websites.
“Our analysis confirmed that many of the pornographic images were subsequently saved to an unauthorized USB device and personal Android cell phone,” explained the investigative report.
It is worth noting that the EROS (Earth Resources Observation and Science Center) didn’t utilize classified networks, which is quite surprising considering that the malware that affected the network was designed to obtain data from targeted computers. The same malware has been identified in several ransomware attacks.
The US Department of the Interior’s Inspector General has recommended that USGS employees stop using USB devices and should not connect their mobile phones to government computers as well. It is also suggested that the department must reconsider its IT policy to ban the use of USB devices.
A report [PDF] was also released by the Inspector General describing the details of the findings. The report revealed that two vulnerabilities were identified in the USGS’ IT security portal “website access and open USB ports.”