Army on Hacker Alert

On Tuesday evening the Army placed its cyberdefenders at the Land Information Warfare center at Fort Belvoir on full alert after a group known as the Boys from Brazil threatened to hack into the Army home page on Friday.

Philip Loranger, chief of the Command and Control Protect Division in the Army's Information Assurance Office, speaking here at the 2000 Army Directors of Information Management Conference, said the Army is aware of the group's signature, or attack profile, and is prepared for any attack against the Army's Web site.

"We've had to activate some countermeasures to protect the Army home page," said Loranger, declining to provide specifics for security reasons. However, he said the countermeasures being put in place do not include disconnecting the Army site from the Internet.

Loranger demonstrated for conference attendees how simple it is for hackers to exploit known operating system vulnerabilities using widely available hacker tools and standard systems administrator procedures. In fact, Loranger, with the approval of the Army's staff counsel, demonstrated a live hack attack against another computer system to show how within a matter of minutes hackers can crack into known password vulnerabilities and take over entire systems and networks.

Loranger also said that the lack of international laws governing conduct on the Internet poses real obstacles to the government's ability to respond to foreign-based hacker attacks. Loranger pointed out that some graduate-level computer education schools in India, for example, have established hacking into U.S. government systems as an academic requirement.

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