Federal Agency Lives in Dark Ages After Hacker Hit

Economic Development Administration employees using ... fax?
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2012 10:36 AM CDT
Government employees recently found themselves forced to use a fax machine after a cyberattack.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – At the Economic Development Administration, employees are actually picking up the phone to talk to congressional staffers, meeting with clients face to face, and using—gasp—fax machines. The small Commerce Department bureau was forced to return to the pre-Internet days after a virus struck, via email, nearly three months ago, the Washington Post reports. Because the cyber attack threatened the entire Commerce Department's computer network, the EDA was unplugged, meaning staffers no longer had access to email, Google searches, or any other wonders of the World Wide Web.

In response, employees started visiting the post office to mail paperwork that otherwise could have been scanned and emailed, or the local library if they needed to use the Internet. "It's not necessarily something you look forward to in life," says the director of one office, "but there's a certain invigoration that's come up. We've come up with workarounds." So far, the government is still struggling to understand what happened—and find the hackers who did it—and the situation underscores just how vulnerable government networks are to cyber intrusions, the Post notes. (Read more cyberattack stories.)

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