[ISN] Saudi arrested at U of I was studying computer security

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Mar 11 2003 - 23:00:50 PST

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Top Homeland hires considered"
    [See also:  - WK]
    Jonathan Brunt
    The Idaho Statesman
    MOSCOW - Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, who is accused of supporting 
    terrorism, was affiliated with a program at the University of Idaho 
    designed to prevent cyber terrorism. 
    On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney for Idaho Tom Moss said Al-Hussayen used 
    knowledge he was learning in the U of I´s computer programs to assist 
    terrorist groups. 
    Al-Hussayen, 33, was arrested Wednesday on charges of lying on his 
    visa application. The federal grand jury indictment alleges that 
    Al-Hussayen, a computer science doctoral student from Saudi Arabia, 
    funneled more than $300,000 to groups that promote terrorism. 
    Al-Hussayen´s defense attorney said he has seen no clues to back up 
    the claim that Al-Hussayen used knowledge acquired at U of I 
    "My reading of the indictment doesn´t support that statement," David 
    Nevin said. "It leads you to wonder if they really have the evidence." 
    Al-Hussayen was one of about 30 students at U of I´s Center for Secure 
    and Dependable Systems, a research group that often is hired by 
    companies and government agencies to help design programs to decrease 
    threats from hackers and cyber terrorists. 
    Because he was not a U.S. citizen, Al-Hussayen was not allowed to work 
    on government projects considered sensitive, center Director Deborah 
    Frincke said. 
    Frincke said studying at the U of I would be an unlikely choice for a 
    "There would be easier ways than sitting through 45 hours of my 
    lectures to get what they want," she said. "People can get much of the 
    information we give from other places."
    Instructors likely couldn´t stop a student who intended to use 
    computer security information to cause havoc, Frincke said. But as a 
    precaution, she said, teachers emphasize how to stop software 
    tampering rather than how someone could break into a system. 
    "It prevents against the people who just want to play around," Frincke 
    The center, which is made up mostly of master´s and doctoral students, 
    was formed in 1999 and named during the same year by the National 
    Security Agency as one of seven "Centers of Excellence" for studies on 
    the protection of computer systems from threats such as viruses. 
    Al-Hussayen was finishing up his dissertation on computer security and 
    hoping to graduate in May. 
    The center has had contracts with NASA, the Defense Advanced Research 
    Programs Agency and the Air Force, Frincke said. Educational leaders 
    in computer security often wonder how information taught in their 
    classes could be used to harm computer systems, she said. 
    "The technology that protects a system is the same technology that can 
    bring a system down," she said. 
    Some of the center´s work is considered sensitive, and some government 
    contracts can be worked on only by U.S. citizens. 
    Portions of the center´s work are completed behind locked doors, where 
    students not approved to participate are not allowed. 
    "Because many of the projects in CSDS are funded by the federal 
    government, there are tight restrictions on who can work on those 
    projects," said Steve Penoncello, U of I associate engineering dean 
    for research and graduate studies. 
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
    To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn'
    in the BODY of the mail.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Mar 12 2003 - 01:33:54 PST