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Hackers deface Federal Executive Board Web sites

Hackers deface Federal Executive Board Web sites
Hackers deface Federal Executive Board Web sites 

By Daniel Pulliam
dpulliam at
August 18, 2006

Several Web sites for Federal Executive Boards that are hosted by the 
Office of Personnel Management remain disabled after a hacker defaced 
them more than two weeks ago.

As reported by Network Information Security and Technology News, the 
FEB's main Web site as well as several affiliate Web sites, including 
ones in New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, have 
been down since Aug. 2.

Kim Ainsworth, executive director of the Greater Boston Federal 
Executive Board, said when she logged onto the board's site on Aug. 2 at 
around 8:20 a.m., she thought she had gone to the wrong place.

"I almost fell over when I saw the site," Ainsworth said. "The first 
thing I do every morning is log onto the Internet ... it scared the heck 
out of me."

Ainsworth said an image of the Boston board's defaced Web site is 
accurately portrayed at an independent site dubbed Zone-h. The defaced 
site states "HaCKeD By" followed by what appears to be an e-mail address 
and then the words "for Islam for Turkey."

Within 10 minutes after Ainsworth reported the problem to OPM and a 
network of FEB executive directors, all affected sites were taken down, 
she said. Ainsworth estimated the sites were up in their defaced form 
for eight hours at most.

The FEBs were created in 1961 to allow for a greater level of 
coordination among federal agencies outside Washington, D.C. They fall 
under the general oversight of OPM.

Because the hackers redirected the FEB sites, files were not 
compromised. FEB sites not hosted by OPM, including the Greater Los 
Angeles Federal Executive Board's site, which is hosted by the Federal 
Aviation Administration, remain up and running.

Ainsworth said the Web site outage is a relatively insignificant problem 
since all disaster-related information is communicated through a 
separate Web portal not linked to the Boston board's Web site.

But Kathrene Hansen, executive director of the Los Angeles executive 
board, said that 13 FEB sites across the country are down, compromising 
the organization's ability to coordinate during an emergency.

"A number of us post information on our sites in the event of a 
disaster," Hansen said. "Once again, it kind of shows what a low 
priority FEBs are."

Dianna Louie, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Federal 
Executive Board, said she is concerned that getting the Web sites back 
online may not be a priority for OPM.

"If it were OPM's site, we'd be up and running," Louie said. "It's a 
concern in terms of time."

"We are working on this issue and hope to resolve it soon," said Michael 
Orenstein, an OPM spokesman. He declined to answer further questions.

Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute in Bethesda, 
Md., a nonprofit cybersecurity research organization, said it is all too 
common for government Web sites to be defaced. In the spring of 2001, 
100 .gov and .mil Web sites were defaced in 100 days, Paller said. The 
primary reason more sites are not defaced is that hackers can make more 
money from other types of cyberattacks, he said.

A defacement nearly always triggers a security review, and the 
organization's managers will not want to put the Web site back online 
until they know "it won't happen again," Paller said.

"If the reviewers are not very fast and very good," Paller said, 
"systems can be down weeks."

2006 by National Journal Group Inc. All rights reserved.

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