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Missile defense staff ordered not to surf so much Internet porn at work

By David Ferguson
Thursday, August 2, 2012 10:45 EDT
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Snark missile via Flickr Commons
 
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Employees and contractors with the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency have been warned in an official memo to stop using the agency’s computers to surf for Internet porn. According to Bloomberg News, Executive Director John James, Jr. issued the one-page memo last week. Agency spokesperson Rick Lehner said that the measure had become necessary as a result of “a few people downloading material from some websites that were known to have had virus and malware issues.”

Director James wrote that in recent months, employees of the agency were discovered to be “engaging in inappropriate use of the MDA network.”

“Specifically,” he said, “there have been instances of employees and contractors accessing websites, or transmitting messages, containing pornographic or sexually explicit images.” He warned workers that “These actions are not only unprofessional, they reflect time taken away from designated duties, are in clear violation of federal and DoD and regulations, consume network resources and can compromise the security of the network though the introduction of malware or malicious code.”

Pornographic websites are often infected with viruses and worms that gain access to users’ computers as they browse. Criminals often use infected websites as a means of obtaining user data through malware and a process called steganography. Unsuspecting users download images and videos from these websites which contain code that allows its developers to spy on users and steal data. Foreign intelligence officials have been known to use these websites to access government and corporate computer networks.

The Missile Defense Agency is a nearly $8 billion per year operation tasked with maintaining a network of ground- and sea-based missile systems designed to intercept incoming enemy nuclear weapons. Earlier this year, the Pentagon’s inspector general released a report blasting the MDA’s then-director, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly. O’Reilly was charged with bullying subordinates and creating a climate of fear within the agency.

“Witnesses testified that O’Reilly’s leadership style resulted in a command climate of fear and low morale,” read the report, which you can read online here.

In the July 27 memo, John James reminded MDA employees that the agency’s “network systems are subject to monitoring at all times. Inappropriate usage will be detected and reported to supervisors for appropriate disciplinary action.”

“The seriousness of the potential breach to operations cannot be overstated,” he wrote.

Bloomberg said that James denied that the memo was an effort to intimidate agency employees interested in reading the inspector general’s report.

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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