In an effort to protect themselves against the threat of malware and viruses, a US government agency has thrown away thousands of dollars of computer hardware.
Unlike real world viruses that harm our health, computers viruses do not live in the real, physical world. These sorts of viruses, that infect our computers, only live within the physically harmless realms of bits and bytes and virtual code. So how do we defend ourselves against the dangers of malware, and stop it from terrorising our computer files? The smart thing would be to install a virus protection program, or, if your computer’s safety has already been compromised, delete everything off of it and hope for the best. But misinformed on the technological way of the world, one official US government agency, thought that the best way to stop the rot was to trash all of their hardware.
Called the Economic Development Administration, or the EDA for short, the agency is an extension of the Department of Commerce, that encourages a boost in the economies of regions of the US that are struggling the most with money. Needless to say, a compromised system could spell disaster for such a department part of American government. So when the Department of Homeland Security informed both the EDA and fellow government agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), that there could be a malware infection in their systems, both went to do something about it. The NOAA looked at the situation and fixed it in weeks, the EDA, on the other hand? They shut down their systems, including its email service, and left offices not in their HQ without any way to access the central database.
They then followed this up by bringing in an independent security contractor to search their desktops for malware. After looking into it, the contractor found just 6 cases of malware across the whole agency and fixed it right up, meaning that the EDA were free to go about their work, virus free. But the EDA didn’t stop there. So terrified that some PC-destroying software still remained, the agency destroyed computer screens, keyboards, cameras, printers and computer mice, in an effort to save themselves. In all, the EDA had successfully destroyed over $170,000 worth of hardware and the real kicker? None of the computers they destroyed were even affected.
What’s worse is that it cost the taxpayer heavily. The full breakdown of the $2.7 million worth of costs is as follows: $823,000 to the security contractor, $1,061,000 was spent on temporary infrastructure, $4,300 was spent to actually destroy the $170,500 of IT equipment, and finally, $688,000 was paid to contractors to rebuild the damage, which took them over a year to fix.
The damage would have totalled a whopping $3 million of taxpayer money, but only stopped before it hit that figure as the EDA ran out of money to pay for more mindless hardware destruction. So, as the situation is now under control, we can only hope that nothing like this ever happens again.
Source : arstechnica