Feds spend millions on computer malware mistake - KMSP-TV

Feds spend millions on computer malware mistake

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

A federal agency mistakenly destroyed $170,000 worth of computer equipment and nearly destroyed $3 million more because it thought it had a virus that turned out to be a false alarm.

Among the equipment that was destroyed, according to a recent Inspector General report, was printers, keyboards, mice, TVs, cameras, and computers.

Apparently, the only reason the other $3 million in equipment was spared was that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) ran out of money for the destruction project.

The bungled operation started when the Department of Homeland Security reported that monitoring software warned of a possible malware infection in the computer system on Dec. 6, 2011.

That started an almost comical chain of inept reactions.

A DHS response team notified the Commerce Department that it had detected the potential malware infection. The malware infection was traced to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration computer. The report says that NOAA corrected the malware problem and put the system back into operation by Jan. 12, 2012.

But the report says that the EDA continued to assume its systems were infected. It took down the department's email and web access. It also blocked regional offices from accessing its database, apparently thinking a cyber attack had resulted in an extensive malware infection.

The Inspector General report found the EDA based its response decisions on inaccurate information, ineptitude delayed the response and misdirected planning hindered the system recovery.

Weeks of errant communications circulated inside several departments about the supposed malware infection and it was believed that nearly 150 systems were infected, even though that information was never verified.

The department then spent more than $800,000 to hire a cybersecurity contractor to respond to the incident. Within two weeks, the contractor found that initial indications of extremely persistent malware were false positives and not actual malware infections. The testing continued for another 10 weeks with no other malware finds.

Despite this, EDA management spent more than $1 million to build a temporary IT infrastructure. Then it decided to destroy more than $170,000 worth of its IT components. By August, 2012, it had run out of money and halted the destruction of its remaining IT components. EDA intended to resume the destruction once more funds were available.

The EDA ended up spending $2.7 million on the issue, more than half of its yearly IT budget.  It then estimated that it would need more than $26 million over the next three years to fund further system recovery efforts.

The Economic Development Administration's mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Hope's Land of Candy

    Hope's Land of Candy

    Monday, September 1 2014 8:13 PM EDT2014-09-02 00:13:34 GMT
    Step through the doors of Hope's Land of Candy in Island Park, Long Island and you''ll be taking a trip back in time. There's no WIFI but they do have a Victrola piano. And then there's the candy.. lots and lots of it.
    Step through the doors of Hope's Land of Candy in Island Park, Long Island and you''ll be taking a trip back in time. There's no WIFI but they do have a Victrola piano. And then there's the candy.. lots and lots of it.
  • Subway bedbug infestations on the rise

    Subway bedbug infestations on the rise

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:48:09 GMT
    It appears the subway bedbug problem we've been reporting is getting worse. Commuters already have to contend with sweltering platforms, scurrying rats and packed train cars, and now there's another transit woe: fear of bedbugs.
    It appears the subway bedbug problem we've been reporting is getting worse. Commuters already have to contend with sweltering platforms, scurrying rats and packed train cars, and now there's another transit woe: fear of bedbugs.
  • West Indian Day Parade steps off amid shootings

    West Indian Day Parade steps off amid shootings

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:05 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:05:47 GMT
    The West Indian Day Parade is supposed to be a time of fun and excitement in celebration of Caribbean culture. However, several shootings near the parade has turned it into a day of tragedy for some.
    The West Indian Day Parade is supposed to be a time of fun and excitement in celebration of Caribbean culture. However, several shootings near the parade has turned it into a day of tragedy for some.
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices