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Oi, missile boffins! Stop ogling web filth at work - Pentagon

Top brass puts a rocket up defence agency's smut addicts

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Pentagon top brass have ordered missile defence boffins to stop using government computers to surf for porn.

An official memo, dispatched by Executive Director John James Jr, reprimanded employees and contractors over "inappropriate use of the MDA [Missile Defense Agency] network" over recent months.

"Specifically, there have been instances of employees and contractors accessing websites, or transmitting messages, containing pornographic or sexually explicit images," James writes in a 27 July missive obtained by Bloomberg.

"These actions are not only unprofessional, they reflect time taken away from designated duties, are in clear violation of federal and Department of Defense and regulations, consume network resources and can compromise the security of the network though the introduction of malware or malicious code," he added.

Those caught misusing the network will face disciplinary action, including suspension or summary dismissal, the director warned, adding that sanctions apply equally to contractors and agency staff.

Agency spokesman Rick Lehner told Bloomberg that the memo was a response to "a few people downloading material from some websites that were known to have had virus and malware issues".

The Missile Defense Agency is principally involved in developing defences against enemy ballistic missiles. The agency's traces its origins back to Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (AKA Star Wars) programme. Perhaps fortunately, the agency is not in charge of the US's nuclear deterrent.

The Pentagon has requested a $7.7bn budget to run the agency next year. Its principal defence contractors include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Orbital Sciences. The agency itself and its contractors are prime targets for state-sponsored industrial espionage, which often uses advanced malware to infiltrate networks and steal information.

Dodgy porno websites are known to harbour malware, just like any sketchy corner of the internet. Using the sexual quirks of defence contractors to lure them into installing data-slurping software nasties is a somewhat scattergun approach - but it's not beyond the realm of possibility. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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