By Todd R. Weiss
FEBRUARY 22, 2006
The FBI, the Department of Justice and New Hampshire officials are
investigating a potential security breach after the Cain & Abel
computer worm was found on a state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
server during a routine security check last week.
The state's Office of Information Technology said in a statement that
no evidence has been found that indicates any user credit card
information was accessed. Residents who used the state server for
transactions were warned to keep an eye on their credit card
transaction histories, but state officials said no illegal credit card
use has been reported. The server held only credit card numbers, with
no other personal information.
New Hampshire state CIO Richard C. Bailey Jr. said it is still not
clear how the worm -- a variation of a legitimate application, the
Cain & Abel password recovery program for Microsoft products -- was
placed on the server. That could have been done from inside the
state's system or over the Internet. No other instances of the worm
have been found on other servers in the state network, Bailey said.
An unnamed employee at the state's Office of Information Technology
(OIT) was placed on paid leave as part of the investigation, Bailey
said. He declined to comment further.
The worm was found during a routine security checkup as IT workers
were evaluating a network intrusion system from Cisco Systems Inc.,
Bailey said. The Cisco Security Monitoring, Analysis and Response
System appliance was used by the IT workers to look for anomalies,
track them down and stop any threats, he said.
The Cain & Abel worm could allow an intruder to watch activity on the
server, according to the OIT.
The affected server was taken last week by the FBI, which is
conducting forensic analysis on it to try to determine how the worm
was placed on it. In addition to being used by the state DMV, the
server is also used by the New Hampshire Veterans Home and as a backup
system for the state's Liquor Commission. The DMV and Veterans Home
use the server to transmit financial information, while the Liquor
Commission uses it as a backup system for sales transactions in state
"As of yesterday, no one had reported an instance in which their
credit card information had been compromised, which we're taking as a
good sign," Bailey said.
Pamela Walsh, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire governor's office,
said the ongoing investigation will probe whether the Cain & Abel worm
was ever activated on the server to look at the stored credit card
numbers. "We don't know at this point [that] it that actually
happened," she said.
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