NDU hacked

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

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 of­fi­cials said.

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 last week. Of­fi­cial sus­pi­cions are fo­cused on Chi­nese hack­ers, based on sim­i­lar at­tacks on Pen­tagon and mil­i­tary com­puter net­works.

Chi­nese-ori­gin com­puter at­tacks, most likely gov­ern­mentspon­sored 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 mil­lion com­put­ers.

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