Global e-mail virus hits NASA, other agencies

Cybersecurity Update – Tune in weekdays at 30 minutes past the hour for the latest cybersecurity news on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris (6-10 a.m.) and the DorobekINSIDER with Chris Dorobek (3-7 p.m.). attacked hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of computers Thursday. The virus is showing up in e-mail containing what look to be .PDF files. If you’re one of the unlucky ones who opened the PDF, you probably found your PC, or your Mac, overrun with spam, essentially shutting down e-mail delivery. Officials with the Department of Homeland Security are investigating. They say it’s affected NASA and other federal agencies. Here’s how you can avoid the virus, and what to do if your computer is already infected:

  • The e-mail might have the name of someone you know somewhere in it. On the subject line you will see the words “Here you have” or “Just for you.” It then goes on to tell you about a document that it wants you to open. That document appears to be a .PDF file.

If you did receive such an email, simply delete it. But experts say, even if you did open it you might be OK if you didn’t open the attachment. Symantec Product Manager Kevin Haley says if for any reason you clicked on the link in the e-mail, then you’re probably infected. Your next step is to run your anti-virus software scan. He says, that should eliminate it.

  • Homeland Security’s new National Cyber Security Center is so secretive that the Senate oversight panel doesn’t even know what they are working on. Senators Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Susan Collins of Maine sent a tersely worded letter begging the center for answers to the most basic questions, like what’s going on? what’s the point? and what about privacy laws? Both Senators are frustrated with the lack of communication, citing a briefing request five months ago that has yet to be answered. And now DHS is requesting a tripling of the center’s cybersecurity budget to $200 million dollars. Wired Magazine reports, the Legislators say they won’t even discuss the request until their concerns about the center’s secrecy, its reliance on contractors and the lack of dialogue with private companies that specialize in internet security. DHS cyber center is just one part of the government’s dedication to cybersecurity, a project dubbed the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. The initiative is rumored to cost around $30 billion.

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