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Hackers infiltrate U.S. Dept. of Transportation


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And security services providers


Hackers have
apparently broken into the U.S. Department of Transportation servers as well as those of some large corporations that are known for providing government security computer services and stolen data from potentially thousands of PCs.  Reportedly hacked were servers at Unisys Corporation, Booz Allen, Hewlett-Packard, L-3 Communications and Hughes Network Systems.

Hackers posed as vendors offering legitimate employment opportunities to employees of the USDOT and the targeted corporations in the form of e-mail and Web advertisements, which instead contained malicious programs that were triggered when the employees opened the solicitations. The malicious programs bypassed each corporation’s sophisticated security systems and did not trigger the software security systems; the number of PCs hacked were limited in number, which kept the security systems from detecting the threat. Hackers also targeted a limited group of PCs at each site, which kept traffic down and allowed the detection to remain under the radar of security administrators, who normally recognize threats as activity reaches a certain threshold.

The intrusion is believed to have occurred through the use of software known as NTOS.exe, which probes a PC for confidential data, then sends it to a Web site hosted on Yahoo! Inc., with the Web site's owner not even aware that hackers are using it.  An official indicated that the site probably collected stolen data from over 1,000 PCs and that hackers likely have numerous other similarly created Web sites that are collecting similar data from other malicious software launched at other corporate locations not yet detected.

Officials at Yahoo, HP and the companies victimized by the hackers had no comment, and the USDOT issued a statement that they were unable to confirm that a security breach had even occurred.


One more advice for all email users around the globe, don’t open unsolicited e-mails, especially at work!
Last modified on 24 July 2007
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