Preston Gralla

Looking for porn? Try a .gov site

September 05, 2007 11:27 AM EDT
Here's one more example of your tax dollars at work. Multiple government web sites-- including one responsible for the safety of the U.S. nuclear arsenal -- have been turned into spyware-ridden porn-purveyors by hackers. Visiting them is dangerous to your PC, not to mention your moral fiber.

Brian Krebs, in his Security Fix blog at the Washington Post, reports that dozens of Web pages hosted by Lawrence Livermore National Labs were riddled with ads and blogs that "link to illegal prescription drug sites hawking everything from generic painkillers to erectile dysfunction medication."

In addition, he says, several pages from the site redirected visitors to "other sites that tried to take advantage of Web browser security flaws to install malicious software."

Lawrence Livermore National Labs oversees the safety of our national nuclear arsenal, yet its Web site has been cracked by spammers. Doesn't make you feel particularly safe, does it?

In a follow-up blog, Krebs found that a variety of government Web sites, including those for the State of Louisiana and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, show up in Google searches for porn. In addition, he says, some of those pages ask visitors to download a codec required to view the porn --- and that codec installs spyware.

Krebs writes that it's not just government agencies with this problem -- so do school sites, some of which include porn that features what appear to be very young girls.

It's not particularly surprising that some school sites would be infected this way. Public school systems are strapped for cash and resources, and typically don't have large IT staffs that can protect against this kind of thing. But Lawrence Livermore National Labs? That's absolutely inexcusable.