Feds warn of hack attack

Federal officials issued informal warnings Thursday about a coordinated hacker attack against thousands of Web sites that could occur Sunday.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | July 3, 2003



"We emphasize that all Web site administrators should ensure that their sites are not vulnerable."

—Peter Allor


Federal officials issued informal warnings Thursday about a coordinated hacker attack against thousands of Web sites that could occur Sunday.

Government officials and private technology company leaders were meeting Thursday to strategize ways to offset possible disruptions to Internet traffic.

The attacks are reportedly part of a coordinated contest established through a now-defunct Web site that originated in California.

The Department of Homeland Security did not issue a formal public warning, although a spokesperson said he was aware of the threat.

But the Office of Management and Budget issued a cautionary statement urging U.S. agencies to tighten security at federal Web sites.

Both agencies said home Internet users were not likely to be affected.

A warning system for the technology industry that operates in partnership with the Homeland Security Department detected probes by hackers looking for weaknesses in both government and corporate networks. Called the Information Technology Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the system is run by Atlanta-based Internet Security Systems, Inc.

Peter Allor, spokesperson for the center, issued the following warning: "We emphasize that all Web site administrators should ensure that their sites are not vulnerable."

A formal warning did come from the New York Office of Cyber-Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination, which cautioned Internet providers and other organizations that hackers aimed to vandalize 6,000 Web sites Sunday. That office suggested that Web site administrators change default passwords, aggressively monitor Web site activities, remove unnecessary functions from servers, and apply updated software repairs from vendors.

Hackers could be quietly breaking into computers right now and waiting until Sunday to vandalize them.

Vandalizing Internet pages is illegal and hackers can be subject to fines and jail time.


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