Fired employees clicked on at least 20,000 porn images each

CTO says content filters now will block access to pornographic sites

The nine municipal employees being fired by District of Columbia officials for using their work computers to visit an "egregious" number of pornographic Web sites each clicked on at least 20,000 porn images last year, according to the D.C. government's top IT executive.

One individual clicked on a total of 48,001 images, said Vivek Kundra, Washington's chief technology officer. The figures cited by Kundra in an interview Friday were based on an analysis of Web usage records captured by content-filtering tools that had been installed on some of the city's PCs.

""If you calculate roughly 200 working days in a year, and you divide that out, it means they were hitting these images at least 95 to 100 times per day," Kundra said. "It was extremely disappointing to see public servants spending a significant amount of their time on these pornographic sites, rather than on serving the people of the district."

He said that in addition to the nine employees who have been or will be terminated, 31 others have been either reprimanded or suspended for viewing porn at work. The disciplinary actions, which were announced on Wednesday, followed a monthlong investigation of the computer usage habits of municipal employees by Kundra's office.

The investigation was triggered when an employee at the city's Office of Property Management complained about other workers using their government-issued systems to browse for and download pornographic content while at work. During the investigation, employees at 18 city agencies were found to be deserving of sanctions for misusing their systems, according to the announcement issued by the mayor's office.

Before the investigation began, the city had Internet content-filtering tools on about 10,000 of its PCs. Kundra said the filters on those systems were set to track the Web activities of users but not to block access to sites.

PCs that showed signs of heavy misuse during an initial examination were confiscated and subjected to a complete forensics analysis by the city's information security staff. Part of the analysis involved gathering "hard evidence" that tied the user who had logged into the system to the Web activity, Kundra said.

As part of an effort to limit similar misuse in the future, the city has bought and installed an additional 20,000 copies of the filtering software, which was developed by Websense Inc. That will enable it to track surfing on all PCs, Kundra said.

In addition, the filters now have been set to actively block access to porn sites. Individuals attempting to access sites recognized as such will instead be redirected to an internal Web page that details the D.C. government's computer usage policies.

"One of the prime directives of the mayor is to hold this government accountable," Kundra said. "The focus is on making sure that when you come to work, we expect you to work."

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Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld
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