Virus hits nearly 75% of systems on Afghanistan military base

Virus hits nearly 75% of systems on Afghanistan military base

Summary: Earlier this month we saw the military ban the use of USB drives and other removable media. Apparently the virus outbreak that lead to this measure affected 75\% of all systems at the largest U.

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TOPICS: Security
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Earlier this month we saw the military ban the use of USB drives and other removable media. Apparently the virus outbreak that lead to this measure affected 75\% of all systems at the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. Details are still sparse, but both the LA Times and the U.S. News and World Report are reporting that the intrusion was severe enough to raise the INFOCON status, the information security equivalent of the DEFCON alert, and also necessitate the briefing of the president. We also don't know the source of the attack, but signs point to state rather than non-state actors, with the most popular contenders being either Russia or China.

Our military is dependent upon commodity desktops whose software shares an enormous amount of DNA with systems that sit on every workplace in the planet. These systems form the backbone of what is called network centric warfare. Hopefully the security that the military is planning for these systems is something less than... commodity.

Topic: Security

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67 comments
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  • This isn't news.

    It's par for the course.
    kozmcrae
    • Yes, it is news. This is a huge disruption for the military. They should

      NOT be using Windows in a war zone, even if it is just for email.

      For email, Linux would be a lot easier to administer, and about 100x safer.
      DonnieBoy
      • So, Windows Admins Suck in Afghanistan, Too

        Not for nothing, what's the domain security policy scenario for Linux?
        PMC-CON
        • While I agree with you on getting linux for the military...

          While I agree with you on switching our systems to linux based distro's... You can go choke on a dick... That virus cost me an extra 3 months in Iraq after a 15 month tour already. You wanna get the government to change its systems over to linux/unix based? Build me a distro designed with exactly what I need to accomplish the mission, train all of our tech personel how to use it, and then give me unrelenting 24/7/366 support when it does fuck up and we can't fix it... oh yeah... has to have a stable GUI to it as well.. both server and user cause %97 of your military are too damn strained to remember commands. I'm damn proud to be one of them.

          SPC Seth Alton
          GeekSquadSF
  • RE: Virus hits nearly 75% of systems

    Have these people not heard of Linux or Mac OS X?
    davebarnes
    • You can bet that they will be considering the alternatives very carefully

      after this.
      DonnieBoy
      • So you feel that military officals are idiots?

        Ad you can bet that they looked at the alternatives very carefully, and still choose Windows over Linux or Mac OS X.

        If you do not think that is true, then you must feel that the military is full of a bunch of idiots as to have not looked at everything out there in terms of operating systems, correct?

        I mean, if you know about Linux do you not think that the military does, also, or are you implying that you are smarter then the military?
        GuidingLight
        • It's true!

          I agree 100% with the above comment. Perhaps they have learned a lesson from this event, but I'm pretty positive that they know about other operating systems.

          Heck, they may have even created their own operating system that can be used instead. That would be an interesting though wise move, I believe.
          timothy.stiffler
          • They have not learned anything....

            Ask the Navy about their battleship that was disabled because of Window's NT.
            mrlinux
          • Just because...

            someone know the right thing to do, does NOT
            mean they'll do it. May people know that Linux or
            OSX is safer, but still insist on being a lemming and
            continue to use Windows. Windows is ONLY safe
            when there is at least 1000 feet between a computer
            running it and the nearest Internet connection.
            Removing the network card reduces this distance to
            10 feet.
            arminw
          • partnership

            hahaha :-D.

            Indeed i've asked myself the same qyuestion. I believe that microsoft and the military have some goo going. In otherwords: "mr bill gates, you make these features and we stick to your product." Either that or the military are idiots, i mean why not? The president was also an idiot, elected by idiots(i'm generalising) so why the fuck not, they're idiots!!
            itchy8me
          • Don't laught, LOSE-droids---arminw is on the mark.

            While Windows did get the Orange Book C-1 security endorsement rating, but it specifically prohibits the system having a network interface or any removable media devices (floppy disks, USB ports, etc).

            Windows -- NSA endorsed only when nothing can come in, or out.
            akulkis
        • RE: So ... ... military officals are idiots?

          <a href="http://www.suseblog.com/?p=312" target="_blank">"Linux Used by All Branches of U.S. Military"</a><br>
          <br>
          ^o^<br>
          <br>
          n0neXn0ne
          • wow!

            perhaps not that dumb after all.
            itchy8me
          • ..but only for office work.

            Mission critical systems (Patriot missiles, blue force tracker, etc.) are all Unix or Linux.

            Windows is relegated for office work -- so nobody gets killed when (NOT if...when!) it hoses itself.

            I know -- I used to be air defence, and I served a year in Baghdad with an infantry company and had the unenviable resposibility of taking care of all the data processing systems. The Solaris and Linux systems worked flawlessly... even though they were in extremely harsh conditions with untrained users.

            Meanwhile, the Windows systems... even though COMPLETELY isolated from the general internet, STILL got viruses.

            Windows -- unsafe at any speed.
            akulkis
        • And, you are trying to say that the military has never made a bonehead

          decision? Everything decision they make is well thought out?
          DonnieBoy
          • RE: And, ... you say that the military !bonehead

            <font color=grey>"<strong>Army?s IT Infrastructure Policy which will include a change of the Operating Systems to Windows XP, thereby banning Linux from the Workstations</strong>.<br>
            ...<br>
            Occasionally, Lockheed Martin, one of the army?s largest technology suppliers, stated they did not make any restriction on the operating systems their customers may use, so this time it is probably not the arms lobby, it?s Microsoft! ;-)<br>
            <br>

            So:<br>
            <br>
            <a href="http://mybeni.rootzilla.de/mybeNi/2007/is_the_us_army_really_about_to_ban_linux/" target="_blank">Is the US Army really about to ban Linux from their Computers and force their employees to use Windows XP? What would be the consequences?</a>"<br>
            <br>
            "In my opinion, this will hurt the army very badly, but anyways I?m eager to hear your opinion!" :)</font> <br>
            <br>
            ^o^<br>
            <br>
            n0neXn0ne
        • cool down smartboy

          Dont you realize you use more and more the idiot word? nothing to assess your credibility, if you want to know.
          beside that, why are you so angry that so many windows systems are infested? Is because it destroy all your first line of defense - cannot be true, those trolls afe fudding, incompetent system administrators [I never got infected]?

          TD
          theo_durcan
        • No individual person makes bad decisions like this

          Windows has been known to be insecure for many years.
          There is little excuse to be running it where security is
          important. Do they have legacy apps that need migrating?
          I'm sure they do.

          The problem is political and organizational. Someone or
          someone(s) didn't want to move off Windows. Maybe they
          felt the risk was not significant enough to warrant the
          expense. Whatever, we'll never know. I don't know what
          makes you think that just because they're the military they
          will make the right decision.

          I'm a Mac user and I wouldn't recommend Macs either. SE
          Linux is the best way to go. You get commodity hardware,
          the ability to actually mod the kernel if necessary, and not
          a single successful virus out there.
          asad.quraishi@...
        • Idiots? Maybe

          The government and the military in particular have until recent times operated on the lowest bid contract that meets their criteria.

          Here are several scenarios:
          1) I am sure Microsoft was more than willing to negotiate a contract to be the largest supplier to the military.

          2) Due to procurement slowness, someone decided to expedite the process by purchasing civilian PCs.

          Either one can be a security risk. Like most systems it's how the system and processes are implemented.

          Do I think the military officials are idiots? Depends on which one(s) you are referring to. Many are just trying to do the job with the materials provided, others don't care as long as their issues are gone, but the guy further down the chain has a headache.
          Ronin69