[ISN] Virus Shuts Down Customs Computer System

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Mon Aug 22 04:13:26 EDT 2005


Aug 19, 2005

MIAMI (AP) - Travelers arriving in the United States from abroad were 
stuck in long lines at airports nationwide when a virus shut down a 
U.S. Customs computer system for several hours, officials said.

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said the virus impacted 
computer systems at a number of airports Thursday night, including 
those in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas 
and Laredo, Texas.

Knocke said customs agents immediately switched to manual inspections. 
He declined to provide details on where the computer virus originated.

The worst delays appeared to be at Miami International Airport, where 
as many as 2,000 people waited to clear immigration, airport spokesman 
Marc Henderson said. The passengers were not permitted to leave the 
area before then.

Brian Hunt and his wife, who were visiting from Spain, said it took 
them nearly five hours to be processed.

"The agent was very charming, very nice and greeted us with a smile," 
he told The Miami Herald. "It was just an unfortunate thing, but these 
things happen. Who do we blame?"

The computer problem originated in database systems located in 
Virginia and lasted from around 6 p.m. until about 11:30 p.m., said 
Zachary Mann, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 
southern Florida.

At New York's airports, customs officials processed passengers by 
hand. Officials used backup computer systems to keep passengers moving 
at Los Angeles International Airport, where the computers were only 
down for an hour and a half.

"It was during a light time of travel for international passengers at 
LAX," said Mike Fleming, customs spokesman in Los Angeles. "All 
systems have been restored to full capacity." 

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