Correspondents in Washington
June 22, 2007
A HACKER has penetrated an unclassified Pentagon email system, prompting
authorities to take as many 1500 accounts offline, US defence officials
"Elements of the OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defence) unclassified
email system were taken offline yesterday afternoon due to a detected
penetration," US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said.
"A variety of precautionary measures are being taken. We expect the
system to be online again very soon," Mr Gates said.
Between 1000 and 1500 users of the system were taken offline, a defence
On Wednesday, a congressional panel disclosed that hackers had also
succeeded in penetrating computers at the Department of Homeland
Security, the lead government agency in providing security against cyber
"What does this mean? It means terrorists or nation states could be
hacking Department of Homeland Security databases, changing or altering
names to allow them access to this country, and we wouldn't even know
they were doing it," Representative James Langevin said.
The Pentagon email system carries "routine email" involving
administrative matters but not classified information related to
military operations, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Gary Keck said.
Mr Gates said the Defence Department computers were under constant
attack, but he could not say why this attack, unlike others, forced
authorities to take down part of the system.
Pentagon officials would not comment on the source of the attack, or
whether the hacker was able to read email sent over the system.
"We obviously have redundant systems in place, and there's no
anticipated adverse impact on ongoing operations," Mr Gates said. "There
will be some administrative disruptions and personal inconveniences."
"It will come as no surprise that we aggressively monitor intrusions and
have appropriate procedures to address events of this kind. But, as I
say, we get perhaps hundreds of attacks a day," he said.
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