[ISN] U.S. Navy caught hacking into British marine charity Web site

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Tue May 12 1998 - 01:15:53 PDT

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       By Kristi Essick
       InfoWorld Electric
       Posted at 3:07 PM PT, May 8, 1998
       The U.S. Navy has been caught attempting to break in to secure
    areas of a World Wide Web site sponsored by a U.K. marine-mammal
    preservation charity, according to officials at the organization.
       The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) -- which operates an
    online shopping site aimed at generating money for the welfare of the
    animals at http://www.wdcs-shop.com -- said it was alerted to the
    attempted break-in last week by its site-hosting company, Merchant
    Technology Ltd. 
       "We were working late one night, and a command line request came in
    wanting to access unauthorized areas of the site," said Andy Fisher,
    marketing manager for Merchant. "We were amazed to find out it was the
       Merchant built and manages the secure electronic-commerce site for the
    conservation society and routinely keeps an eye on who visits. If users
    attempt to gain access to unauthorized areas, the company is alerted to
    the source of the incoming request. 
       At 9:45 p.m. GMT on April 28, Fisher said, workers at Merchant were
    shocked to see an incoming attempt to breach security by a user identified
    as donhqns1.hq.navy.mil. 
       Merchant got in touch with WDCS immediately, only to find out that the
    charity had been contacted by the Navy a few weeks earlier. The Navy was
    interested in obtaining a report the group is working on that details the
    efforts of Russian animal experts to train dolphins in the Black Sea for
    military tasks, such as finding and attaching probes to submarines, Fisher
       A WDCS representative said that there is nothing secret about the
    Russian government's activities in this area but that the document does
    contain information about the export of the trained dolphins to foreign
    countries. The group declined to give the Navy a copy of the report only
    because it was not complete at the time. Once it is made final, the report
    will be published and the
       Navy can then examine it, the representative said.
       The WCDS said that it is confused about why the Navy would attempt
    to break in to its Web site.
       "I think whoever it was within the U.S. Navy facility would have better
    things to do rather than try and hack into our computers," said Chris
    Stroud, the organization's director of campaigns, in a statement. "If they
    were seeking reports on the Black Sea, we shall be freely publishing these
    in the near future anyway." 
       The WCDS previously has commented unfavorably on Navy activities
    such as its low-frequency sonar trials off Hawaii and on ship
    collisions with endangered whales, the group said.
       Merchant says it is "100 percent sure" the hacking attempt
    originated from the Navy. WDCS has notified the U.S. Embassy in London
    and the relevant U.K. authorities, the organization said.
       "We hope that the U.S. authorities have some rational explanation
    for this incident," Stroud said.
       "The Navy has not yet received a formal complaint on the issue,"  said
    a Navy official, who declined to be named. "Until the Navy receives a
    formal complaint with details, there's not much we can do to proceed
       Merchant Technology Ltd., in Bath, England, can be reached at 44
    (1225) 481 015. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, also in
    Bath, can be reached at 44 (1225) 334 511 or
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