Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Spying on the spies

ow's that electronic Wor on Turruor going for ya, Bub? Hearing strange beeps and boops on your landline, and you say your PDA is making funny noises? Well, you ain't alone, pal. Check this out:

And you're absolutely sure it's not the NSA folks at AT&T having a little fun again?

You would think news that U.S. State Department facilities around the world have been under attack for a month would cause at least a little stir, but because the attacks are occuring on the shadowy battlefield of the Internet, barely an eyebrow has been raised. The AP reports that employees say hackers appeared to hit computers especially hard at headquarters and inside the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which coordinates diplomacy in countries including China, the Koreas and Japan. In the tense weeks preceding North Korea's missile tests, that bureau lost its Internet connectivity for several days.

(Jeeze, that Bush guy's NSA is making me feel reealll safe.)

Sources told the AP that investigators believe the intruders stole sensitive information and passwords and planted backdoors in unclassified government computers to allow them to return at will. We are left to draw our own conclusions, but given the secrecy and the gross and subtle agendas involved, that's not easy.

One interesting and ironic note: Among the defensive steps taken by the department's IT team was to temporarily disable the Secure Sockets Layer protocol because it wasn't secure. Employees now have access to their banking sites again, if they're not too shaken to use them.

Here's what they're talkin' bout:

State Department investigating broad cyberattack

WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department is recovering from large-scale computer break-ins worldwide over the past several weeks that appeared to target its headquarters and offices dealing with China and North Korea, The Associated Press has learned.

Investigators believe hackers stole sensitive U.S. information and passwords and implanted backdoors in unclassified government computers to allow them to return at will, said U.S. officials familiar with the hacking. These people spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the widespread intrusions and the resulting investigation.

That would be a Bill Gates Microsoft Windows Secure (sic) Sockets Layer.

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