[ISN] Inside the Ring: NDU hacked

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Sun Jan 14 2007 - 22:30:30 PST


By Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough
January 12, 2007

NDU hacked
Computers and information networks at the National Defense University 
(NDU), the Joint Chiefs military education school at Fort McNair in 
Washington, were hacked and damaged by unknown attackers, defense 
officials said.
The attacks, described by officials only as "malicious activity," caused 
the university to shut down all its network servers and replace laptop 
computers after the activity was detected last month. The costs were 
high, officials said.
Officials close to the situation said the computer intrusions were 
identified during routine maintenance and led to suspicions that the 
hackers had planted clandestine "trap doors" into the system that would 
allow them future access, or would facilitate computer attacks.
The only way to ensure the security of the systems was to replace them, 
we are told.
The shutdown forced the university's faculty and students to rely on 
personal e-mail and laptops, limiting work at the school.
NDU spokesman Dave Thomas declined to comment when asked about the 
hacking but said some laptops were replaced for faculty members.
Officials would not say where the attacks originated, but the shutdown 
of the entire computer network at NDU lasted from Dec. 18 until earlier 
this week. Official suspicions are focused on Chinese hackers, based on 
similar attacks on Pentagon and military computer networks.
Chinese-origin computer attacks, most likely government-sponsored action 
by hackers, crippled information systems at the Naval War College in 
Rhode Island in November and forced a similar collegewide shutdown.
Chinese hackers also were involved in the electronic theft in 2005 of 
hundreds of evaluation reports on Air Force officers, ranging from 
generals to captains. The information in the reports would be valuable 
to Chinese intelligence for its targeted agent recruitment efforts.
The U.S. Strategic Command, which is in charge of Defense Department 
computer security, issued an alert Nov. 17, calling for raising the 
security alert level for about 12,000 Pentagon computer networks and 5 
million computers.

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