[ISN] Terrorists attack by hackers hits firms

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Wed Feb 03 1999 - 13:22:07 PST

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    Forwarded From: zeris <zerisat_private>
    
    http://www.examiner.ie/news/ihead.htm#Headline1
    January 23th
    Terrorists attack by hackers hits firms
    by Caroline O'Doherty
    
    THOUSANDS of businesses were without vital e-mail services this week after
    an Irish Internet provider firm was the victim of a serious security
    breach by computer hackers, believed to have terrorist links.
    
    The hack attack forced Connect Ireland to pull the plug on all its
    Internet and e-mail services on Tuesday night and staff were still working
    frantically last night to restore services to its 3,000 customers
    countrywide by today.
    
    The company believe the attack was politically motivated and that they
    were targeted along with as many as 100 providers in the United States
    because they created the Internet service or East Timor, the island in the
    Indian Ocean engaged in a bitter struggle for independence from Indonesia.
    
    The attack was the most sophisticated ever recorded in this country and it
    is believed at least 18 hackers worked simultaneously in a concerted
    effort to break into the company's high security systems on Tuesday night.
    
    Connect Ireland director Martin Maguire said as soon as breaches of their
    system's security were spotted, they completely shut down all its
    operations, to the frustration of many customers.
    
    "We took the nuclear option for two reasons. We have a social
    responsibility and were afraid of being used a launch pad for other
    attacks by these hackers," Mr Maguire said.  "We also wanted to reduce the
    long-term impact on our users although we appreciate customers who have
    had to do without services will have found that hard to understand."
    
    Connect Ireland is responsible for one of the two 'domains' created in
    this country. The familiar .ie domain run from UCD denotes Irish websites
    but the company also created the world's first virtual reality country
    here by setting up the .tp domain as a base for East Timorese sites.
    
    Mr Maguire believes the timing of the attack was significant as the
    freedom.tp site, which addresses issues in the conflict, won its second
    international award in Portugal last week.  He suspects once the hackers
    had fully penetrated the Connect Ireland system, they intended making
    their way into the systems of high-profile users where they could have
    caused havoc to business and industry.
    
    They used the name Daniel to identify themselves but although they covered
    their tracks brilliantly, the hallmarks of their work show they had to be
    mature, college-educated, well-organised and funded.
    
    "Our assumption is that the attack was so well organised, so deliberate
    and so skilful that whoever was doing it must be getting paid. The value
    to them is not one of kudos." The cost of the shutdown to Connect Ireland,
    which is run by just seven people, is estimated at 18,000 so far, but
    individual customers will have their own figures in mind for the loss of
    services.
    
    "Our customers on the whole have been great. They've come in to man the
    phones and make tea. It's quite incredible to see how they've rallied
    round."
    
    Mr Maguire said he did not fear future attacks as the company had proven
    its ability to stop the hackers in their tracks and it would prove costly
    and difficult to the culprits to have to start again and find a new way
    through the system when it was up and running. 
    
    
    -o-
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