We have all heard about how social networks such as Facebook are having a negative impact on employee productivity and the media has been awash with accounts of how companies are attempting to deal with the growing problem.
In addition, we are also constantly hearing about DOS (Denial of Service) Attacks and Security breaches. However, some recent news is set to shock everyone who had previously thought they knew it all about these topics.
It has come to light recently that around 3 months ago, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) was the target of a complex security attack. The EDA is a comparatively small section of the Department of Commerce and employees 215 people.
The department is tasked with issuing financial grants to communities across the country who are in distressed. The work out of 6 regional offices across the United States. The hackers were able to infect the EDA with a sophisticated virus causing the Department of Commerce to cut off the EDA from all systems, a move followed by the rest of the government, All EDA systems had to be shut down to stop the spreading of the powerful virus.
When we consider that the last year has seen attacks on the likes of NASA, the State Department and the Department of Defence, then this attack on a tiny government department seems insignificant. However, what really brings this particular attack to the forefront is that officials are reporting how well the EDA is functioning without the technology most of us have come to depend upon.
It has been suggested that employees are actually performing better without cyber communications. With bureaucrats and those seeking aid being forced into proper human communications, more is actually being achieved. The EDA still has no access to e-mail, instant messaging, internet games, search engines and of course Facebook and it has become increasingly apparent that without access to inappropriate diversions, staff are performing much more efficiently.
Many people may actually recall that several employees of the Securities Exchange Commission had allegedly been surfing pornographic websites at work during the financial meltdown that occurred between 2008 and 2009. Consumers cannot help but wonder if our money and our personal information would be more secure if government employees were more focused on their jobs and not accessing the internet.
The question remains, why was the EDA even targeted, especially since so few people realise that it even exists. It seems much more obvious to go after one of the many government departments which deal with areas such as science, technology, finance and so on.
The majority of government data breaches seem to be blamed on so called Hacktivists such as the group known as Anonymous, but it seems altogether unlikely that Hacktivist who look on themselves as the champion of the people would ever wish to disrupted a department giving aid to disadvantaged communities. There is not yet any claims of responsibility for the attack. One one hand the attack did succeed in shutting down an entire government agency, albeit a tiny one, but on the up side, the attack seems to have prompted greater levels of efficiency among the department’s employees.
This poses a few large questions to other government departments, banks, credit card issuers and all of the others who have been the target of such attacks in the past. How much do your staff rely on the internet and do they really need it? Could the compromise of millions of credit card accounts be avoided if the computers were not hooked up to the internet?
Are some data breaches caused by careless employees who are too focused on updating their Facebook status or checking out internet dating sites to realise that they are allowing access to a virus? Further research is needed, but it seems as though these popular diversions are not only affecting employee efficiency, but also the security of the data being handled.
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