Houston justice system laid low by Conficker worm
They have a problem
The justice system in Houston was thrown into disarray late last week after the infamous Conficker (Downadup) worm infected key systems.
The infection forced municipal courts in the Texan city to shut down on Friday, and police had to temporarily stop making arrests for minor offences, such as those for outstanding traffic warrants or minor drug possession. "The people we pull over with outstanding traffic warrants will be issued a citation rather than being taken to jail," explained Houston Police Department spokesman John Cannon. "Anyone suspected of a violent crime will be taken to jail. We’re not cutting back on that."
Meanwhile, bail bonds agencies report that the process of releasing prisoners and handling bond payments has slowed to a crawl.
Problems with Houston's municipal systems started on Wednesday, as computers slowed down while staff struggled to access some files, according to local reports. The problem grew progressively worse. Court staff were forced to resort to pen and paper backup systems before Mayor Bill White ordered the courts to close early on Friday afternoon and stay shut over the weekend, when cases would normally be heard.
Administrators expect the disruption to extend into Monday, and possibly later. Court hearings will be postponed but the public offices of the courts will be open to handle fine payments and public inquiries.
Representatives of the Houston IT department said that the computer infection has been contained within the municipal court and parking management systems. Other systems have been quarantined as a precaution. Emergency response systems, for example, are up and running but operating as a stand-alone system so that emergency dispatch requests are being made by radio calls rather than through computers.
Officials reckon that the infection has been contained to 475 machines on Houston's 16,000 computer network, The Houston Chronicle reports. The city paid $25,000 to call in external security consultants Gray Hat Research to help sort out the mess on Friday. Janis Benton, the city’s deputy director of information technology, named the Conficker worm as the probable cause of the infection.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the shutdown of the municipal court computer system is only the latest chapter in a string of problems to befall the system since it was commissioned in April 2006. The $10m system was blamed for delaying court proceedings in 2006. After threatening a lawsuit, the city agreed a $5m settlement with contractor with Maximus.
Conficker, which exploits unpatched Windows machines and network shares to spread, among other techniques, has infected 10 million computers worldwide. Enterprises have been hardest hit by the infection, with the health department in New Zealand, hospital systems in Sheffield and defense systems in France among those affected. ®
General Quarters, General Quarters.
This is NO DRILL. THIS is NO DRILL.
Suggest sending this article's URL as well as the prior one on OpenDNS filtering (see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/07/opendns_conficker_protection/) to every goggy-eyed dumbshit desktop-operating "VIRUS ALERT" email-sender known to Man. Just did that for one such party found a-forwardin' such trashola here in-house. Mebbe with a leetle more thoughtful public cooperation we might lend a hand a-stompin' the thang dead, one supposes.
Not that I am opposed to non-arrest policies where non-violent non-victimhood involving harmless tho' State-disapproved botanical materials and the like is concerned, of course. Ditto for non-moving City tickets. But that Court System is only a small part of the social safety network that Conficker puts at direct knockout risk... Oi veh yi crikey GAH!
Gee. Cheney, Perle and their entire filthy double-minded NeoCon Fat Bastard Devil Chorus are all *still* out to "drown the baby [of decent non-profit Constitution-based American government] in the bathtub", thus making more room for many, many more of their own "principles-driven" lawless grab-the-money fsck-the-poor NuLaborite ilk. So one must ask from a Complex Social Systems Analysis POV: "Is that possible connection from known destructors to known destruction actually Just Too Much Tinfoil, even at all?"
Not necessarily, this one finds. You decide too.
Smells just like another semi-controlled and highly systematic criminal Meal of Demolition with Hegelian Dialectic overtones for a bitter dessert, yes it does from here. What with the USDoD since roughly halfway into Iraq officially treating the Internet and All of Us who USE IT as The Enemy of FREEDOM®, what more efficiently deniable manner of destruction might there ever be to US social safety-net systems than this very manner of deniable assault? Just to "pull the plug" on the Internet as we know it would not fly even half so well; we all know that.
Only thing missing is the "Acts of Ghawd and Terrorism" clause in the Internet's Non-Existent Insurance Policy. No "Lucky Larry" Silverstein to collect big buck-a-dingdongs on the Internet's ever being murdered - or IS there such an one with a pocket full o' Internet-hostile 'n' uber-toxic Collateralized Debt Obligation derivative paper lurking in our midst, Hell-bent on making money on the forced disaster, No Matter The Cost?
Two words: "Twelve Monkeys". Worth renting in this context. A Bad Man, a Big Plan, a wee cheap 'n' 'armless USB stick, a non-attended Federal Dilbert Cube... Plenty of all the above for all to combine at leisure. Just pick your department and here we go again!
Then hey presto oopsie oh well Just Get Over It goes the soft-shoe soft-soap greasy-heeled USDC Jurisdiction's PR shuffle. But there amid the media lies goes all our elder folks' Social Security off to Wall Street (If that) "at last!" per Karl Rove's public declaration, and we all have by then just been given one more bit of a drowned baby for the knacker's lot... Such a gift as this manner of giving always gives, we know from Recent History, oh yes we do!
Fact: The Mayan calendar's 2012 endpoint now seems more convincing every day. But The Boffin with a broad-based brief under his arm, it shall be today. I'd go with the Black Helicopter, but I for one am quite sure that there has been far too much of that precise sort of Disaster Capitalism-driven systems demolition as mentioned above done already of recent years for that one to fly much longer.
Shock! and Horror! Pen and paper?!! OMG!
"Court staff were forced to resort to pen and paper backup systems"
OMG the sheer horror of it all, pen and paper, we're all doomed, the sky is falling, the computers are down and society is oh-so-helpless without our computers, we'll all have to close up shop and go home early and hunker under our beds until the computers are restored since no work can be done without our computers! Shit we can't even get the goddamned cash registers open so people can pay for things!!
We're getting just a little *too* dependent on this stuff.
-- Just Another Old Fart.
("the internet is just a fad"...)