- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2015

An employee at the Pentagon’s accounting arm tried to access pornographic websites more than 12,000 times last summer, according to an internal memo.

The investigation, detailed in records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, showed the unnamed employee already had an “extensive record of dubious web usage” before the latest investigation even began.

The employee, whose name was redacted in a report released by agency officials, told investigators he tried to access the sites at work because he didn’t have a personal computer.

Network firewall logs showed the computer system blocked hundreds of attempts to access pornography from October 2013 to May 2014. Incidents then spiked to more than 3,000 each in June and July 2014, and more than 6,000 in August. The same employee was the target of a 2011 investigation into porn viewing at work.

But when investigators took the employee’s computer to learn more in the latest instance, they were unable to perform a forensic examination because of an “anomaly” with the encryption software, records show.



The summary report said investigators couldn’t get the correct decryption key to prepare the hard drive for examination. While the situation didn’t prevent investigators from learning about the latest porn snooping, it does raise concerns if the agency can’t access its own hard drives.

A spokesman for the agency, Tom LaRock, called the problem a “one time anomaly” and said investigators haven’t faced the issue since.

He was unable to provide information immediately on the fate of the employee.

It’s the latest example of a federal worker getting in trouble for perusing porn at work. In July, The Washington Times reported on a Federal Communications Commission employee who said he spent up to eight hours a week on his habit because things were slow at work.

A Treasury Department employee viewed more than 13,000 pornographic images in a six-week span, while a General Services Administration employee blamed boredom for his habit of looking at pornography and scanning date sites.

While it’s unclear if the Defense Finance Accounting Service employee retained his job, despite a second investigation, officials for the agency say they’re confident they’ll be able to access hard drives if they stumble across other computer misuse.

“They tried to replicate the anomaly and they were unable to do so,” Mr. LaRock said. “It didn’t really hinder the investigation. They were able through those firewall logs to substantiate that this guy was attempting to go on a government computer and access these sites.”

The employee’s porn habit raises broader concerns beyond the waste of government time. A management alert outlining the case noted that porn websites are known to contain malware and have figured in cyberattacks on networks of government agencies.

The employee’s “extensive history of attempts to access these websites present an increased level of risk to the DFAS computer network,” investigators wrote.

Erik Venema, a cyber investigations expert and director at risk mitigation firm Kroll, said companies and agencies frequently use encryption software to protect data on their computer hard drives.

Without encryption, anyone, including spies and criminals, can easily access the information on a lost or stolen computer or laptop.

“They can plug it into another computer and they have access to all of your data,” he said. “So the way companies get around that is they encrypt the entire hard drive.”

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