Forwarded by: Clark Staten <sysopat_private> http://www.uniontrib.com/news/nation/terror/20010923-9999_1m23morgan.html September 23, 2001 Like so much else before 9.11.01, it plays back to us now like a black-and-white movie. Remember the cyberspace manhunt for the kid computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, then on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list? It gripped the world in 1999, until Tsutomu Shimomura, the eccentric genius at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, finally outsmarted the kid and ended his knockdown raids on U.S. corporations and universities. What's changed since then in computer terrorism and counterterrorism? Everything, but not as much as we might wish. The hero Shimomura left the supercomputer campus to live at Lake Tahoe. "One of the smartest people on the planet," as colleague Sid Karin calls him, Shimomura is revered as a master computer sleuth and takes on only cases that intrigue him. And Mitnick? Out of jail now, he conducts an early-morning computer show on Los Angeles radio. Meanwhile, computer encryption has become the workaday mask of terrorism. Federal surveillance of the Internet has become a covert industry. This nation's 13 federal intelligence agencies are being told to streamline and cooperate in war. Two days after the attacks in New York and Washington, the Combating Terrorism Act of 2001 was introduced as an amendment to a federal appropriations bill and quietly passed the Senate. It may become part of the legislative package coming to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft. Section 832 is at its crux: It would enhance the U.S. government's powers to spy on suspects' communications in cyberspace. In the short space of two years since Kevin Mitnick was on the run across America like a fleeing train robber, this is not entertainment anymore. This is a war for the life of the world's most powerful nation. Yet under restrictions against such undercover spy networks as those from which John Le Carre wrote magic yarns, our 13 intelligence agencies now may garner as much as 70 percent of their information from open source intelligence Web sites (OSINT). You may sample these Web sites, recently devoted largely to rescue and anti-terrorism efforts, by logging on to http://www.intellnet.org, or http://www.emergency.com. So can Kevin Mitnick and the rest of the world, including hackers who in recent days have bedeviled the Chicago-based emergency.com with viruses and so-called Trojan horses, even damaging one of their servers. One reasonably wonders: Are these Osama bin Laden's hackers? Both in secret intelligence personnel and in institutional power like that of UCSD, the Supercomputer Center and the FBI's Regional Computer Forensic Lab, San Diego is in the midst of America's war against computer terrorism. Some online slip that renders bin Laden vulnerable would stand in history like the code breaking that helped make the Allies victors in World War II. These are pivotal intelligence matters about which most sensible Americans would prefer, for the moment, to know rather less than more. It is enough to know that there are formidable San Diegans already long active at the top of this curve. At the Supercomputer Center, Tom Perrine leads the security group. He recently was honored quietly in law enforcement and intelligence circles as San Diego's private sector investigator of the year. A year earlier, the same award went to Abraham Singer, a programmer analyst at the Supercomputer Center. (Each year, one award goes to a law enforcement officer and one to the private sector.) Erin Kenneally, an administrative specialist at the center who is also a lawyer, is especially revered among San Diego judges. She specializes in computer forensics. Defense attorneys in computer criminal cases manage usually to arrive in court well enough versed in computerspeak. Judges call on her to provide seminars to bring them up to speed. Also at the center, Mihir Bellare, an associate professor, focuses on the mathematics of encryptography as a field of computer security. Another programmer analyst, and two colleagues -- Stefan Savage and Geoff Voelker -- study denial-of-service attacks in which computer servers are overwhelmed and disabled. Their work and that of thousands more may never entertain us like the Kevin Mitnick case. But they will help save America. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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