[ISN] So, can you hack it?

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Mon Feb 15 1999 - 20:13:53 PST

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    Thursday 11 February 1999
                                                      
    So, can you hack it?
    Quebec wants challengers to test its computer security
    Paul Cherry, The Gazette
                                                      
    The provincial government is to enlist hackers to test the security of its
    information networks. 
    
    A laboratory will be set up using the same computers - standard desktops
    with 400 megahertz Intel processors - used by many government services "as
    well as those used by hackers," Paul-Andre Comeau, president of the
    province's Access to Information Commission, said yesterday. 
    
    The aim is inform people in charge of computers of recent innovations and
    of the relative advantages or disadvantages of new gadgets. 
    
    "We will also be able to check out how safe the systems can be and how
    they can be improved," Comeau said. 
    
    "In that respect, of course, we will have to be helped by outside people
    and, at times, like the RCMP does in Ottawa, by hackers who are
    converted."
    
    Comeau said reformed hackers are referred to as "white hackers" by the
    people who now hire them to protect systems. 
    
    A 24-year-old former hacker, interviewed by The Gazette last week, now
    protects an international computer network based in Montreal. 
    
    When he was 15, he was able to infiltrate Russian research computers -
    until he was caught and agreed to lecture RCMP staff on how hackers crack
    government systems to get information. 
    
    Comeau said someone tried for hours to hack into the commission's network
    two years ago, on a Saturday afternoon. 
    
    He said the demand for the extra protection has come not from the larger
    government ministries and organizations, but from smaller ones that are
    now trying to modernize and join established computer networks. 
    
    Another objective of the laboratory is to advise government services on
    what types of equipment to buy. 
    
    Even simple things like fax machines should be considered with security in
    mind, Comeau said. 
    
    He said the committee is advising government services against sending
    personal information via faxes, except in exceptional circumstances and
    after taking precautionary steps. 
    
    "We hope that in the coming year, we will be able to advise hospitals and
    social institutions to do their own evaluation of their systems," he said,
    adding that a lot of money is about to be invested in new information
    systems. 
    
    The laboratory will also examine the safety of equipment used for sharing
    data among institutions like hospitals and municipal administrations,
    which keep information that falls under privacy laws.  1998 The Gazette,
    a division of Southam Inc. 
    
    -o-
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