- By George I. Seffers
- Nov 12, 2000
Strange Kind of Hacker
According to messages picked up by InterceptorSky, a satellite 40,000
miles above Defense Information Systems Agency headquarters, the Pentagon's
elite cyberfighting force is turning to professional hackers for advice
on defending its networks.
Without naming names, Maj. Gen. James Bryan, commander of the Joint
Task Force for Computer Network Defense, said he has met in recent weeks
with three members of the hacker "hall of fame." He said they advised him
on "all the holes they had punched in Lotus Notes.... They were explaining
how they were able to, with the user's identity, compromise from inside
and out the [public-key infrastructure] certificate process."
Bryan wants to hire the hackers except for one problem: Their criminal
backgrounds preclude receiving clearances. He described the trio as having
"a strange kind of patriotism" and said the military has developed a relationship
with them over the past three years. He offered only these clues to their
identities: None has a computer science degree, the only one with a college
background was a literature major who still likes to read and they are now
in the business of demonstrating to banks how easy it is to be hacked. Guesses,
Computer Defense, International
Professional hackers are not the only ones to whom the Pentagon is turning.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are collaborating with Australia, New Zealand,
Canada and the United Kingdom to form an international "joint task force-computer
network defense" capability, according to Navy Capt. David Meadows, the
Joint Chiefs' division chief for information assurance.
The idea is for the five countries to rapidly share information in times
of trouble. When the "love bug" virus hit this year, for example, the Australians
and New Zealanders were the first to know, but U.S. forces didn't find out
until blindsided hours later. The Pentagon, in turn, failed to notify other
"If we had had something like this when the love virus erupted out of
the Philippines, we would have had eight hours' notice, minimum," Meadows
said. He added that no one at his pay grade or above should have received
200 messages saying "ILOVEYOU" without being suspicious. Meadows joked that
the only thing stopping him from opening the virulent e-mail attachment
was that his wife entered the room when he saw the "ILOVEYOU" message and
he immediately shut off the computer.
His common-sense advice for avoiding catastrophe: Read the morning news-paper
before opening e-mail attachments and extend the school year so that computer
whiz kids have less time on their hands.
Hunker Down for Cyber Survivor
In other cyber news, officials at the White House's National Security
Council office for critical infrastructure protection have removed video
cameras and audio recording devices from their computers out of concern
that unauthorized cyberintruders could gain access, turn the devices on
and remotely spy on the office's secret doings, according to Jeffrey Hunker,
NSC senior director for critical infrastructure.
The devices reportedly were removed just in time to prevent CBS-TV from
airing an unau-thorized reality show tentatively titled "Cyber Survivor."
In addition, Internet entrepreneurs of questionable character were racing
to broadcast White House goings-on via the World Wide Web and fighting over
such domain names as cigarsRus.com and Monica-cam.com.
Show's over, so put those credit cards away.
Intercept something? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.