Intercepts

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,

anyone?

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

U.S. allies.

"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 antenna@fcw.com.

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