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Master hacker 'Analyzer' held in Israel


Allegedly led February assault on U.S. military sites

March 18, 1998
Web posted at: 10:27 p.m. EST (0327 GMT)

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The master hacker who calls himself "The Analyzer" -- and who is suspected of helping two California teen-agers penetrate hundreds of military and university computer sites in the United States last month -- has been detained in Israel, U.S. and Israeli officials said Wednesday.

Israeli police spokeswoman Linda Menuchin said the 18-year-old suspect and two alleged accomplices were arrested Wednesday, in part based on information supplied by American authorities.

U.S. Justice Department officials in Washington identified the ringleader as Ehud Tenebaum, an Israeli citizen, and said he has been charged with illegally accessing hundreds of computer systems.

"(The) arrest should send a message to would-be computer hackers all over the world that the United States will treat computer intrusions as serious crimes," said U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. "We will work around the world, and in the depths of cyberspace, to investigate and prosecute those who attack computer networks."

Trio may have hacked Knesset system

The suspects were questioned for several hours at a police station in Bat Yam, a suburb of Tel Aviv, then put under house arrest, Menuchin said. Police confiscated their passports and forbade contact between them.

Under Israeli law, they must appear before a judge within 24 hours or be released.

"They are all cooperating with the police," Menuchin said. She said their parents had been brought to the station.

The trio is also suspected of hacking into computer systems in Israel. Israel's Channel 2 television reported that one of those systems belonged to the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

NASA, MIT targets of February hack

In what one U.S. Defense Department official called "the most organized and systematic attack the Pentagon has seen to date," the Analyzer and two California teens apparently penetrated as many as 200 computer systems in February.

Targets included NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. The intrusion was aimed at systems containing unclassified information, rather than sensitive sites.

Still, the FBI launched a hunt for the hackers responsible. Through an Internet service provider, agents were able to track down two teens in Cloverdale, California, and raided their houses February 25.

Experts from the service provider, Sonic, traced the Analyzer to Israel.

Someone purporting to be the Analyzer took over the Web site of another Internet service provider, NextDex, to defend the teens. Analyzer supporters have also threatened retaliation if the FBI cracked down on those responsible for the Pentagon penetration.

In an interview with AntiOnline, an online magazine that deals with Internet security issues, one of the teens, nicknamed "Makaveli," gave this explanation for what he and his cohorts had done:

"It's power, dude. You know, power," he said.

Analyzer said he was retiring

The Analyzer also gave an interview to AntiOnline in which he boasted that he knew the way into 400 Defense Department computer systems.

He said he began hacking as a challenge and concentrated on U.S. government sites because "I hate organizations."

Though he mused in his interview that "chaos" was a "nice idea," the Analyzer claimed that his intrusions were actually innocent and that he even helped targets by "patching" weaknesses in their systems to prevent future intrusions.

He admitted teaching other hackers how to target U.S. military systems.

"Since I was going to retire, I was going to teach someone of my knowledge and guide him," the Analyzer said.

Justice Department Correspondent Pierre Thomas and Reuters contributed to this report.


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