Exclusive: Websites like Drudge can spread viruses, ‘non-partisan’ techie warned Senate
The Senate’s environment committee has warned Capitol Hill staffers to avoid the Drudge Report and some other sites over suspicions of viruses, a spokesperson for the committee confirmed to Raw Story Tuesday.
The Drudge Report denied the allegations and mocked the committee in a prominently-featured story, but a CNET report on Tuesday notes that readers have complained about suspicious malware on the site today.
According to Drudge, “The Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works issued an urgent email late Monday claiming the DRUDGE REPORT is ‘responsible for the many viruses popping up throughout the Senate.'” The article said, “The committee ordered hill staff: ‘Try to avoid’ the DRUDGE REPORT ‘for now’.”
The EPW spokesperson, who wished to remain anonymous, told Raw Story that Drudge was one of several Web sites flagged by the committee’s non-partisan tech experts as containing “virus infections” and “pop-up ads.”
“The Senate Help Desk, in discussing a recent increase in the number of virus infections in Senate computers, mentioned that it might be associated with pop-up ads appearing through certain websites, and they cited DrudgeReport.com and WhitePages.com as possible examples,” said the spokesperson.
“Our non-partisan systems administrator notified both Majority and Minority staff that this issue had been brought to her attention. It is still not exactly clear where the increase in viruses is coming from, and staff have been advised to be cautious with outside websites at all times.”
CNET on Tuesday substantiated the committee’s concerns, noting they had received complaints from the Drudge readers about unseemly activities and viruses on the site. Elinor Mills reports:
For the second time in less than six months, visitors to the Drudge Report say they got malware in addition to the Web site’s usual sensational headlines.
“I can personally vouch for disinfecting my mom’s desktop yesterday after visiting this Web page, even taking a screenshot after beginning remedial steps to address the attempted infection,” a CNET reader wrote in an e-mail early on Tuesday. “I’m an IT professional in South Carolina so I know and understand the technology involved.”
The screenshot the reader provided to CNET shows a pop-up warning the viewer that the system is infected with malware and looks like a typical fake antivirus warning that criminals use to scare people into paying for software they don’t need.
Last May, Maggie M. Thorton of RightPundits.com reported on a similar incident where government officials were told not to visit the Drudge Report.
The Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office is warning of malicious code in a web ad found on the Drudge Report. The warning instructed government-issued computer users to avoid the Drudge Report due to ‘potential’ viruses.
Tracy Schmaler, a Department of Justice spokesperson said the warning is not directed at the Drudge Report out of partisan politics but because the website was “flagged by internet security officials,” who found a malicious code.
The conservative-leaning aggregator’s founder Matt Drudge refuted the claim, suggesting the motives of the Democratic-led committee may be political. He pointed out that the warning came “[j]ust as the healthcare drama in the capitol reaches a grand finale.” He denied the claims that his site contains viruses:
On Monday DRUDGE served over 29 million pages with NOT ONE email complaint received about ‘pop ups’, or the site serving ‘viruses’.
The site was seen 149,967 times since March 1st from users at senate.gov and 244,347 times at house.gov.
Drudge also took a swipe at the committee led by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), saying, “The Systems Administrator may want to continue taking her antibiotic until the prescription runs out.”