[ISN] Seven hackers from Boston shook up Senate...

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Wed May 20 1998 - 15:17:41 PDT

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    Forwarded From: Kiera Wooley <kieraat_private>
    NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Seven hackers from Boston shook up a Senate committee
    hearing Tuesday by boasting that computer security is so lax, they could
    take down the entire Internet in half an hour.
     And the General Accounting Office chimed in with a pair of reports on the
    woeful state of computer security at the Federal Aviation Administration and
    the State Department.
     The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee was looking into the safety of
    the nation's public and private computer networks. And what it found wasn't
     "At risk are systems that control power distribution and utilities, phones,
    air traffic, stock exchanges, the Federal Reserve, and taxpayers' credit and
    medical records," said committee chairman Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee).
     "Unfortunately, government agencies are ill-prepared to address the
    situation," he added.
     One GAO report, called "Weak Computer Security Practices Jeopardize Flight
    Safety," said the FAA was "ineffective" in all critical areas of its
    computer security review.
     The GAO said FAA's failure to protect the nation's air traffic control
    systems, "could cause nationwide disruption of air traffic or even loss of
    life due to collisions."
     The State Department got slightly better marks.
     But when GAO investigators tried to hack the State Department's
    unclassified computer network, they were able to "view international
    financial data, travel arrangements, detailed network diagrams, a listing of
    valid users on local area networks, e-mail, and performance appraisals,
    among other sensitive data."
     They also able to download, delete and modify data, which might allow
    "dangerous individuals to enter the United States."
     The main attraction at the hearings was the testimony from seven computer
    experts who are part of an elite group of hackers called Lopht Heavy
     The hackers, who identified themselves only by their screen names, laid out
    a doomsday scenario, talking about everything from complete disruption of
    electrical power to transferring Federal Reserve funds.
     But Ira Winkler, president of Information Security Advisers, a computer
    security consultancy, cautioned, "These are not your average hackers.
    They're highly skilled people who try to find holes in commercial software."
     "They're the ones finding the latest hack for the Web, instead of finding
    the latest hack on the Web," Winkler said. "There's a big difference."
     Although the session was heavy on possible dangers, it was light on
     Sen. Thompson noted, "We, as a nation, cannot wait for the Pearl Harbor of
    the information age. We must increase our vigilance to tackle this problem
    before we are hit with a surprise attack."
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