[ISN] 'Hacker shuts down government computers'

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Fri May 16 2008 - 01:06:01 PDT


By Phoebe Stewart 
May 16, 2008

AN EXPERT hacker allegedly shut down the Northern Territory Government 
computer system and deleted thousands of employees' identities, a Darwin 
court heard yesterday.

And the court heard the Government could still be at risk of another 
cyber attack.

David Anthony McIntosh, 27, allegedly hacked in and shut down several NT 
Government databases on May 5, including servers for the Health 
Department, Royal Darwin Hospital, Berrimah Prison and Supreme Court 
using his laptop at a Palmerston home.

Prosecutor Sergeant Erica Sims told the Darwin Magistrates Court 
yesterday the Sydney IT expert allegedly deleted the independent user 
accounts of 10,475 NT public servants.

She said many workers had to be "stood down", and experts had been 
working "24 hours, seven days a week" to repair the damage.

But Sgt Sims said it could take months to fix, with the repair cost 
estimated to run into the "hundreds of thousands of dollars".

She said police contested Mr McIntosh's bail application yesterday, as 
there were fears he made copies of passwords and data. If they existed, 
the court heard the alleged hacker could possibly access these "anywhere 
in the world".

IT security consultant Anthony Ashbury said there was no proof copies 
existed "at this stage", but they were examining the logs of a number of 

"We believe it may have occurred," he said.

Sgt Sims told the court police had found a file containing all NT 
Government passwords, including those of police, after his laptop and 
his colleague's desktop were seized.

The Northern Territory News understands all Territory public servants 
have been directed to change their passwords.

"He (Mr McIntosh) has excellent computer knowledge ... he would 
understand the impact of his actions," Sgt Sims said.

Dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt, Mr McIntosh looked anxious when 
Chief Magistrate Jenny Blokland refused him bail, citing his "tenuous 
ties" to the Territory among her reasons.

The IT expert came to Darwin in February as a service engineer, and was 
given "high level clearance" to upgrade and maintain the NT Government's 
entire system. Sgt Sims said when he resigned on April 7 his credentials 
were deleted.

The prosecutor alleged he used a colleague's IP address . a unique 
numerical code . to access a virtual private network connection with the 
government system and hacked in.

Lawyer Ian Rowbottam said it was "nonsense" to suggest Mr McIntosh made 

A 10-day hearing has been set for October.

Mr McIntosh is facing charges of property damage over $50,000 and up to 
10 years' jail if convicted.

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