UK Parliament Network Latest Conficker Victim

Dennis Faas's picture

The Conficker/Downadup worm has reportedly found its way onto the British government's IT system, joining millions of others who have fallen victim to it. An email sent to MPs, lords and their staff revealed that parliament's IT network appears to be completely unsecured.

The Conficker/Downadup worm has been in circulation since November 2008 and a patch is available from Microsoft that fixes it. The fact that parliament's systems have become infected indicates that their anti-virus software, if there is any, hasn't been updated since last year and could be vulnerable to other attacks.

Unsecure Computers Connecting To Parliamentary Network

Parliament's spokesman refused to tell Channel4 News when their anti-virus programs were last updated.

According to Channel4 News, an email was sent to parliamentary staff warning them about the virus, asking members running an unauthorized computer on the network to take them off immediately, implying that other unsecured computers have been able to connect to the parliamentary network without prior authorization, which is highly unusual. USB Memory sticks were also banned. (Source:

When Parliament was repeatedly asked by Channel4 News why that was the case, a spokesman was unable to answer.

It's a major embarrassment to Parliament in more ways than one. Unauthorized machines should not be able to connect to an official network that provides a doorway to what could be seriously sensitive material. It's even more embarrassing that a worm that has been preventable since last November has taken over an official governmental network.

Parliamentary Example Of Problematic Outsourcing

The Conficker/Downadup worm is reportedly set to perform as yet unknown functions on April 1, 2009.

According to, the Brits have been hit pretty hard -- their National Health Service hospital systems and their Royal Navy Fleet appear to be infected as a result of the Official House of Commons UK. (Source:

According to the Guardian UK, Messagelabs, who apparently runs the Parliamentary Information Communications and Technology helpdesk, had not responded to requests for comment when they published their story. (Source:

While it is true that Parliament is not responsible for maintaining their online presence, this is the exact reason why having the Government harvesting everyone's electronic data and outsourcing it will inevitably end up being a major disaster. All of this could have been prevented had the proper precautions been taken.

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