[ISN] Hackers unlocking Norway's history

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Jun 10 2002 - 03:13:02 PDT

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    By Robert Lemos 
    Staff Writer, CNET News.com
    June 7, 2002, 2:00 PM PT
    A Norwegian educational center for cultural preservation lost the
    password to a historical database cataloging 11,000 original books and
    manuscripts, but was able to recover it with help from the Web.
    E-mail messages from more than 100 good Samaritans flooded the Ivar
    Aasen Center for Language and Culture starting Thursday afternoon
    after the organization called for aid in hacking into one of its own
    databases to which the password was lost, said a message posted to the
    center's Web site on Friday. Among the messages was the correct
    password to the locked database, which the center had posted online.
    "Our computing expert is now on the case," Kirsti Langstoyl, librarian
    for the center, wrote in the posting. "On Monday we (will) know if we
    have the original database working, and we will present the name of
    the person with the final solution."
    It's unknown whether the helpful hackers that provided the correct
    answer decrypted the database, guessed the correct password, or used a
    flaw in the database's security to obtain access to the data. In its
    online message, the center said it would post more details on Monday.
    The center had publicly requested aid from security experts on the Web
    last week after its employees were unable to open a digital catalog
    obtained from the family of Reidar Djupedal after his death in 1989.  
    Djupedal was a professor and an expert on Ivar Aasen, an itinerant
    Norwegian researcher who, in 1850, established a new language for
    Norway that bridged all the country's dialects.
    The new Norwegian, or Nynorsk, is spoken regularly by about 20 percent
    of the country and is the main language in Western Norway, where
    nearly 25 percent of newspapers use it. The widely used Dano-Norwegian
    language, or Bokmål, a written language based on Danish, makes up the
    other 80 percent, according to the center.
    Nine years ago, an archivist registered 11,000 of Djupedal's 14,000
    titles in a DBase IV database, but the man died before the collection
    and the database reached the center, leaving the password-protected
    catalog inaccessible.
    "We have no known information from him which can help us solve the
    problem," the center lamented on the Web site.
    The center called for help from anyone who could break the encryption
    on the database or find the password.
    The first e-mail received by the center on Thursday not only had the
    correct password, but also included the unencrypted files of the
    database. Submissions included "ladepujd"--the late professor's last
    name spelled backwards--"maiendaiog" and "vmaarett."
    It's unknown whether the latter two words are Norwegian.
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