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Malware Shutdown Network at US Marshals Service

The US Marshals Services, an agency that tracks down federal fugitives as well as runs the witness protection scheme, was struck with malware on its Windows computers on May 19, 2009, that led to the breakdown of its network.

According to the Marshals Services' press office, it had been suffering from network problems and its e-mail system collapsed on the morning when the attack occurred; however, it wasn't clear whether the outbreak had affected the overall network or not.

It wasn't clear whether the malicious software was the reason behind the network problem or the systems at the agency were taken down to block the dissemination of the Neeris virus. This virus, which imitates Conficker, recently witnessed the appearance of its new variant in April 2009.

Although the agency had anti-malware software running on its desktops, the software had not been updated for over three years despite the agency had paid for the software's latest upgrades to defend against Neeris. Besides, Microsoft had released two separate security patches in 2006 and 2008 respectively to fix vulnerabilities in its Windows application that Neeris exploited.

Neeris, along with its other versions, are designed to propagate through multiple channels such as removable drives and network shares, via program flaws within servers, and via Microsoft's IM to propagate all over networks.

While spokesperson Nikki Credic for the US Marshals Service didn't provide enough information about the sort of the outage that occurred, she assured that all data was free from being compromised, as reported by onenewspage on May 22, 2009.

Despite the attack had not affected any data, the agency turned off its Net connection and also withdrew its e-mail facility partially, while the technicians unearthed the origin of the hazard.

Meanwhile, it was believed that the FBI had been infected and the agencies of the Department of Justice were taking precautions.

Earlier during November 2008, the Department of Defense suffered from an immense trouble due to an infection, understandably caused by a contaminated thumb drive. The chaos that followed had eventually prompted DOD to prohibit everyone from using removable media on its computers.

Related article: Malware Authors Turn More Insidious

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