By Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
January 12, 2007
Computers and information networks at the National Defense University
(NDU), the Joint Chiefs military education school at Fort McNair in
Washington, were hacked and damaged by unknown attackers, defense
The attacks, described by officials only as "malicious activity," caused
the university to shut down all its network servers and replace laptop
computers after the activity was detected last month. The costs were
high, officials said.
Officials close to the situation said the computer intrusions were
identified during routine maintenance and led to suspicions that the
hackers had planted clandestine "trap doors" into the system that would
allow them future access, or would facilitate computer attacks.
The only way to ensure the security of the systems was to replace them,
we are told.
The shutdown forced the university's faculty and students to rely on
personal e-mail and laptops, limiting work at the school.
NDU spokesman Dave Thomas declined to comment when asked about the
hacking but said some laptops were replaced for faculty members.
Officials would not say where the attacks originated, but the shutdown
of the entire computer network at NDU lasted from Dec. 18 until earlier
this week. Official suspicions are focused on Chinese hackers, based on
similar attacks on Pentagon and military computer networks.
Chinese-origin computer attacks, most likely government-sponsored action
by hackers, crippled information systems at the Naval War College in
Rhode Island in November and forced a similar collegewide shutdown.
Chinese hackers also were involved in the electronic theft in 2005 of
hundreds of evaluation reports on Air Force officers, ranging from
generals to captains. The information in the reports would be valuable
to Chinese intelligence for its targeted agent recruitment efforts.
The U.S. Strategic Command, which is in charge of Defense Department
computer security, issued an alert Nov. 17, calling for raising the
security alert level for about 12,000 Pentagon computer networks and 5
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