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Re: Spy vs Spy (Was: Cyberspies protect the virtual business world)
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 22:56:18 -0500 (CDT)


Name: Lewis Z. Koch 
Email: lzkoch () mediaone net 
With much regret, I write to suggest that this column is replete with
errors of fact, as well as unproven allegations.

Here is just one paragraph in the story that needs to be corrected --I

In 1998, the Pentagon computer system - the holiest of the holy - was
hacked by a ring of five Israeli and three American hackers, who
picked their target because of a shared dislike of organizations.
Their attack was so fierce that early reports of what was later dubbed
"Solar Sunrise" caused Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., to conclude that the
U.S. had entered a cyberwar. The perpetrators, all under the drinking
age, were caught by a phenomenal joint American-Israeli law
enforcement effort. No trial date has been set yet.

First, the hack was conducted by one Israeli,not five. Only two
Americans youths were involved not three, both of whom were
16-year-olds from Cloverdale, California.

Second, they had no "shared dislike of organizations" [what ever that

Third, the "hack" was not conducted against the "Pentagon" but rather
a computer at a military base. As I wrote in a column in this magazine
on July 4,2001, "The hack could have been totally prevented if the
military had only fixed the holes and vulnerabilities in its computer
systems--holes and vulnerabilities it already knew existed...The fact
is the military had been provided with the fixes months prior to the
hack. It simply failed to do what it was instructed to do: fix the

I likened this to falling asleep in guard duty, which in combat, is
punlishable by a firing squad.

Smetannikov writes "Their attack was so fierce that early reports of
what was later dubbed 'Solar Sunrise" caused Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa to
conclude that the U.S. had entered a cyberwar."

The attack was not fierce. What concerned military authorities --for
less than 36 hours -- was the possibility that the "attack" was coming
from somewhere in the Middle East as the THREE hackers were using
various routes to disguise where the attack was coming from and who
was doing it.

Rep. Weldon's hysteria aside, even the NIPC, which "celebrated" its
indentification of the three hackers admitted "In the end, the Solar
Sunrise invasion of military sites proved to be purely recreation."So
much for entering a cyberwar.

Finally, in dealing only with this one paragraph in the column, it
fails to mention that the punishment handed out to the California
teens was a gentle slap on the wrist and a promise that they'd never
do it again. The single Israeli hacker"Analyzer" -- Ehud Tennenbaum
plus four 20-year-old Israeli on lookers -- were finally identified by
American and Israeli forces -- remain relatively unconcerned.Many,
including Tennenbaum are considering offers from computer security

Finally, I found it disturbing that much of the rest of the column
relied on the allegations of Charles Neal, a 20-year veteran of the
FBI, who reportedly investigated Kevin Mitnick (an instance where the
FBI had to be told where to go to find Mitnick), the same Neal who
claimes to have ended his government work with the Mafia Boy case
(another instance of where the FBI had to be told by others who the
hacker was and where he lived.)

Neal now works as "vice president of cybertorrism and incident
response at Exodus" the article tells us. Exodus is a company who
sells security. This is its


Exodus has the expertise to help safeguard your enterprise at every
level. Exodus combines a team of leading technology experts and a wide
array of leading-edge products and services to provide you with the
tools, techniques, and knowledge you need to protect your business.

The sad fact is that -- given the technical state of affairs --
computer security is putting your finger in the dike to hold off a
river of attacks well over the flood stage. Anyone claiming to be able
to "safeguard your enterprise at every level" -- would be well advised
to also get a "or your money back" guarantee.

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