recommended reading

Malicious Thumb Drives in Justice


By Allan Holmes August 20, 2008

recent posts

A group e-mail sent by the security department at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys in Washington, and recently obtained by Nextgov, illustrates just how much access hackers may have to supposedly high-secure government office buildings.

According to the July 9 e-mail, which was sent to office staff and contractors with the subject head "Malicious Thumb Drives," security officials said that they had found two stray thumb drives on the ninth floor of the Bicentennial Building on E Street in Downtown Washington, where the U.S. Attorneys Executive Office operates. The drives, one found in the men's restroom and another on a facsimile machine, would, once attached to a computer, secretly steal "certain system information" off the computer and transmit it out of the Justice Department. The e-mail read:

Please be advised that two USB thumb drives were discovered on the 9th Floor of the Bicentennial Building. One was discovered in the Men's restroom yesterday afternoon. Another was found this morning on a facsimile machine. The drives contain malicious code that automatically and silently executes when the drive is plugged into a system. The code captures certain system information and transmits it out of DOJ.

Such a threat underscores what most security experts consistently point out: The greatest threat comes from insiders -- employees and contractors who work within an agency or corporate office. No metal detector, x-ray machine, security guard, identity management application or penetration detection system would stop such an attack.

No word yet on if anyone at Justice inserted a stray thumb drive into their computer.


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.