Worm hits State Dept.

The Welchia worm hit the State Department's worldwide intranet yesterday, forcing a computer shutdown that lasted nine hours and prevented embassies and consuls from conducting background checks for visa applicants.

After computer experts discovered the virus had gotten into the State Department's unclassified system, they shut the computers down while determining what damage was done, according to Stuart Patt, spokesman for the State Department's Consular Affairs Bureau.

"They wanted to protect our worldwide system and closed off the connection between [Washington, D.C.] and our embassies and consulates," Patt said. "This affected not only our name check system, but all unclassified connections with posts abroad."

The system was shut down at noon and was gradually brought back by 9 p.m., according to Patt.

"There is no reason to believe that any visa issuance was compromised or the system damaged by the worm," Patt said.

While the shutdown prevented embassies and consuls from running visa names through a background check, visas could be issued if the name check had been completed, he said. Welchia, which began hitting computers last month, exploits a flaw in recent versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software. It has infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, including the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

Featured

  • FCW PERSPECTIVES
    sensor network (agsandrew/Shutterstock.com)

    Are agencies really ready for EIS?

    The telecom contract has the potential to reinvent IT infrastructure, but finding the bandwidth to take full advantage could prove difficult.

  • People
    Dave Powner, GAO

    Dave Powner audits the state of federal IT

    The GAO director of information technology issues is leaving government after 16 years. On his way out the door, Dave Powner details how far govtech has come in the past two decades and flags the most critical issues he sees facing federal IT leaders.

  • FCW Illustration.  Original Images: Shutterstock, Airbnb

    Should federal contracting be more like Airbnb?

    Steve Kelman believes a lighter touch and a bit more trust could transform today's compliance culture.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.