The FBI and the US Marshals Service (USMS) were both forced to shut down parts of their computer networks on May 21st as a mystery virus struck. Reports today indicate the virus is believed to be Neeris, a new malware variant exploiting the same vulnerability as the Conficker worm.
Nikki Credit, a spokeswoman for the Marshals, says that multiple computers may have been infected. The infection occurred because the Marshals computer network was not running the latest version of their OS and they were missing needed anti-virus software.
"Neeris and Conficker look for missing patches. If the PCs and servers are patched, the malware doesn't work," John Pescatore, research director and vice president at Gartner, told SCMagazineUS.com in an email on Friday. "The patch for this has been out since October 2008."
When the virus was detected, the IT staff at the Marshals disconnected the computers from the Justice Department's network to prevent further spread. Anti-virus software was updated and updates were pushed to all agency computer. No data was compromised at the USMS, though they were lucky that was the case. The FBI have not provided details about their "network issue."
The biggest step you can make in protecting your company is to always keep your software up to date. This minimizes the risk of data being unnecessarily exposed to known threats. If you have Computrace by Absolute Software, you can use it to identify which of your devices is missing the latest patch.