Hacker breaks into Pentagon computer

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The Independent Online
IT COULD have been mischievous teenagers. It could have been a solitary anarchist. It could have been Saddam Hussein, or Hamas, or North Korea, or the Cali Cartel, or any other nation or organisation with a grudge against the United States.

The Pentagon's computer system has been under sustained, successful and anonymous cyber attack during the past two weeks. The news has prompted alarm in military circles at the vulnerability of the US in the face of a form of warfare that could be the shape of conflict in the 21st century.

"It was the most organised and systematic attack the Pentagon has seen to date," John Hamre, the deputy Secretary of Defense, said yesterday. Hackers had penetrated and removed information from Pentagon computer files nationwide in a succession of "fairly heavy cyber attacks".

"All the services had penetration to some degree," Mr Hamre said, but he stressed that the attackers had failed to access classified data. He did not believe that the attacks had been connected to the latest Iraqi crisis, but he described them as a "wake-up call" on the vulnerability of sensitive information in both government and corporate computers. The attackers may have penetrated the private sector too, he said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the military have been investigating but so far have no idea of the identities of the attackers. Mr Hamre suggested that the Pentagon might have fallen victim to a small number of individuals playing a game, but he admitted he did not know whether one person or many had been behind the apparently concerted attacks.