Intercepts

Big DOD bot attack?

The Interceptors are still waiting to hear from the military's computer security folks, but the hacker indicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles last week, Jeanson James Ancheta, might have exposed the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, Calif., to attacks by tens of thousands of hijacked computers capable of spewing adware and launching distributed denial-of-service attacks.

Ancheta's indictment states that earlier this year the hacker caused DISA and China Lake computers to connect to an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel. A separate portion of the legal document states that at one time, the IRC channel controlled more than 20,000 bots.

We sure would like to hear from DISA and China Lake about the extent of this bot breach.

The U.S. Attorney's Office will probably have to redraft the indictment. Although its press release correctly identifies DISA as the Defense Information Systems Agency, the indictment incorrectly calls it the Defense Information Security Agency, and there is no such critter.

November rain

In a related matter, the Interceptors struck out in an attempt to learn whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussed foreign hackers' attacks on Defense Department networks with Chinese and Ukrainian government officials during his recent trip to Asia.

We sent Pentagon officials some questions a few weeks ago, but when we didn't hear back, we called to see what was going on. Not much apparently.

"We don't divulge what is discussed between the secretary and officials when he meets with them," said Navy Cmdr. Greg Hicks, a Pentagon spokesman.

Looks like we'll have to go to Plan B.

DOD management czar?

That's the goal of an amendment crafted by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and tacked onto the 2006 Defense Authorization bill last week. If the bill passes, the amendment will require two federally funded research organizations to deliver reports on the feasibility of appointing a new business management czar at DOD.

Byrd envisions a czar who would have a wide-ranging management role, including oversight of business systems, information technology, acquisition, logistics and accounting. DOD not only can't keep track of nickels and dimes, he said, but also has trouble accounting for trillions of dollars.

The new management czar should serve a seven-year term, Byrd said, because although top Pentagon managers come and go, accounting problems remain.

If the studies recommend the new management post, DOD will face an even bigger problem -- finding someone masochistic enough to take the job for what could be seven grim years.

AKO tech refresh rumors

With the Army Knowledge Online protests thrown out and the military talking about making AKO a departmentwide Web portal, talk is now turning to the best way to upgrade it.

With talk come rumors, and leave it to us to muddy the waters.

We got an electronic intercept earlier this month from an IT official at the Special Operations Command asking whether AKO had converted to Microsoft's SharePoint Portal Server.

"I have an immediate interest in knowing if AKO has converted to Microsoft SharePoint," the official wrote. "Please correspond with me soonest."

The question raised a red flag for us because AKO uses Appian Enterprise Version 3. So we asked the Army's Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems to get to the bottom of it.

"The short answer is no," said Dean Sprague, a PEO-EIS spokesman.

He said AKO is not using SharePoint as its portal solution, and he put to rest the rumor by saying the Army does not plan to replace the Appian product with SharePoint.

Appian officials found the rumor amusing. "Microsoft has been chasing AKO for years," said Michael Beckley, co-founder and vice president of product strategy at Appian.

GIs to soldier on without Howard Stern

War really is hell. Last week the Senate defeated an amendment to the 2006 Defense Authorization bill introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that called for more balanced programming on radio stations the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service beams worldwide via satellite.

It seems Harkin was miffed to discover that the service offers the troops plenty of conservative commentary from talking heads such as Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson, but "0 percent of any kind of progressive radio," he said.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) led the charge against Howard Stern appearing on the service, especially on stations broadcast in the Middle East. He said Stern's program "is so basically lewd. It is the type of thing that if the Muslim world were to listen to, it would be something very bad."

Intercepts West agrees. Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have it bad enough without inflicting on them or random civilian listeners the kind of crude humor best appreciated by 10-year-old boys.

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com or ftiboni@fcw.com.

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