[ISN] Teen hackers plead guilty to Pentagon attacks

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Tue Aug 04 1998 - 01:46:45 PDT

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    Forwarded From: Rick Oram <RORAM@mobius-inc.com>
    Teen hackers plead guilty to Pentagon attacks
    July 30, 1998
    Web posted at: 5:46 a.m. EDT (0946 GMT) 
    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -- Two California teen-agers who mounted one of
    the most organized and systematic hacker attacks ever on U.S. military
    computers pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of juvenile delinquency.
    U.S. Attorney Michael Yamaguchi said the two whiz kids, who have not been
    officially identified, had admitted to a string of cyber-attacks in
    February which set alarm bells ringing over the state of U.S. computer
    "The government takes very seriously any attacks on the computer systems
    which have become so much a part of the American infrastructure," 
    Yamaguchi said in a statement.
    "We all rely heavily on these computers operating properly on a day-to-day
    basis, and any intrusion can lead to major disruption in important public
    and private services."
    The California hackers were cornered on February 25, when FBI agents
    descended on their homes in Cloverdale, about 75 miles north of San
    Francisco, searched their homes and seized computers, software and
    The search followed an intensive investigation by the FBI, the Defense
    Department and NASA, all of whom had grown concerned at a series of hacker
    assaults on sensitive military and institutional computers. Although
    officials said no classified networks were penetrated, the ease with which
    the hackers accessed computers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
    the U.S. Air Force and other organizations clearly demonstrated how
    vulnerable the U.S. computer system had become.
    Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre told reporters the barrage was "the
    most organized and systematic attack the Pentagon has seen to date." The
    teens pleaded guilty to illegally accessing restricted computers, using
    "sniffer" programs to intercept computer passwords, and reprogramming
    computers to allow complete access to all of its files.  They also pleaded
    guilty to inserting "backdoor" programs in the computer to allow
    themselves to re-enter at will.
    'Potential to disrupt'
    Beginning with a local Internet service provider, which eventually raised
    the alarm over possible intrusion, the boys leapfrogged into other
    systems, including the University of California at Berkeley, the
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, national laboratories, numerous
    military computers and two sites in Mexico.
    Yamaguchi said some of the computers hit by the hackers were "Domain Name
    Servers" -- which are key to routing information across the Internet.
    "Damage to these computers had the potential to disrupt military
    communications throughout the world," Yamaguchi said. Each of the two
    teen-agers could have been put into custody until his 21st birthday. But
    Yamaguchi said that under plea agreements, he would recommend that they be
    placed on probation -- and kept well away from any unsupervised use of
    computers. "Each juvenile will only be able to access a remote computer
    system (i.e. use a modem to access a remote computer) under the
    supervision of a school teacher, a librarian, an employer, or other person
    approved by the probation office," Yamaguchi said.
    Furthermore, the boys were both forbidden to possess a modem at home, and
    were barred from seeking employment in the computer field during their
    probation. They are expected to be formally sentenced in several months.
    Yamaguchi said the incident highlighted how easy it had become for skilled
    individuals -- often children -- to access computer systems, no matter
    what kind of defenses are put up.
    "Parents and teachers must realize that we have a responsibility to teach
    our children, not only how to use computers, but also how not to use
    them," he said.
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