DoD Computers Penetrated In Cyber-Attack

A cyber-attack on Defense Department computers this past week was so severe and widespread that military leaders decided to brief President Bush. The attack was aimed at networks in the U.S. Central Command; this is the group that oversees U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the DoD, the attack was successful in penetrating at least one highly protected classified network.

Military computers are regularly beset by outside hackers, computer viruses and worms. But defense officials said the most recent attack involved an intrusive piece of malicious software, or "malware," apparently designed specifically to target military networks.

"This one was significant; this one got our attention," said one defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing internal assessments.

One possible source for the cyber-attack is software called 'agent.btz' which has been seen else where in the U.S. But last week, the Pentagon banned flash drives, which can spread the virus.


(Integrated Network Operations and Security Center)

The identity of the hacker(s) is not known; it may never be possible to identify the source of the attacks.

For many of us, the first introduction to the idea of a cyber-attack was in the 1984 novel Neuromancer, by William Gibson. In the novel, hackers use specialized software to penetrate closed networks to steal information. Gibson helps the reader visualize the process using the idea of cyberspace - "A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system....":

"Data transfer from Bockris Systems GmbH, Frankfurt, advises, under coded transmission, that content of shipment is Kuang Grade Mark Eleven penetration program. Bockris further advises that interface with Ono-Sendai Cyberspace 7 is entirely compatible and yields optimal penetration capabilities, particularly with regard to existing military systems..."

He slotted the Chinese virus, paused, then drove it home.

The Chinese virus was unfolding around them. Polychrome shadow, countless translucent layers shifting and recombining. Protean, enormous, it towered above them, blotting out the void. (Read more about Kuang Grade Mark Eleven Penetration Program and ICE (intrusion countermeasures electronics))

Some experts are concerned that these might be state-sponsored attacks; see the related story Cyber-Warfare Waged on Estonia By Russia?. From Cyber-attack on Defense Department computers raises concerns; thanks to an anonymous reader who submitted the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/28/2008)

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