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World - Europe

Computer hacking in Russia cheap and widespread

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CNN's Jill Dougherty reports on the Russian hacker culture
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 ALSO:
Hackers target Pentagon computers

 

Trail of Pentagon computer attack leads to Russia

March 5, 1999
Web posted at: 8:48 p.m. EDT (2048 GMT)

MOSCOW (CNN) -- Pentagon sources say an investigation into a "coordinated, organized" attack from hackers on Pentagon computers has led to Russia, where a blossoming hacker culture has begun to thrive on cheap, widely available hacking software.

U.S. defense officials told lawmakers in a classified hearing last week that hackers were trying to break into the Pentagon's military computers, as often as 60 to 80 times a day. No sensitive information has been compromised, sources said.

Investigators have traced some of the attacks to Russia but could not be certain whether Russians were responsible or if people from another country were channeling their computer attacks through Russia, the Pentagon said.

Russian officials said "no comment" when CNN asked for a response. But the head of Russia's state communications committee, Alexander Krupnov, called hacking an international problem.

"Hackers are a headache for most advanced countries, especially in such a sensitive area like national security," Krupnov said. "As for Russian hackers, they're the best, I'm afraid."

Although Russia is not as computerized as many Western nations, its hacker culture is widespread.

Street peddlers sell software specifically made for hackers. One popular program, "Superhacker 99," helps hackers create their own viruses or generate credit card numbers. It sells for just a little more than $3.

Russian law enforcement is preparing to fight back, training its security personnel to deal with hackers.

In Washington, the Defense Department says it has stopped the mysterious hackers with newly developed computer systems. But some fear the hackers could have penetrated systems that could ultimately provide access to classified sites.

Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty and Reuters contributed to this report.


MESSAGE BOARD:
Internet: Hackers

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RELATED SITES:
DefenseLINK - Official Web Site of the U.S. Department of Defense
The Pentagon
National Security
Russia's State Committee for Science and Technologies
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