Security Bytes

Sep 25 2007   5:28AM GMT

Reports say hackers hit DHS computers

Leigha Leigha Cardwell Profile: Leigha

The agency tasked with protecting America from terrorist attacks is apparently having trouble keeping the bad guys out of its computer systems. What’s worse is that the company hired to secure those systems knew about hacking activity and tried to cover it up, according to investigators.

According to published reports, hackers were able to compromise dozens of machines at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and transfer sensitive data to Chinese-language Web sites. Investigators accuse Unisys Corp. of trying to hide the attacks from DHS. Unisys — which has a $1 billion contract to protect DHS computers — has denied doing so.

“Unisys vigorously disputes the allegations … ,” Unisys said in a statement Monday. “Facts and documentation contradict the claims described in the article, but federal security regulations preclude public comment on specific incidents. We can state generally that the allegation that Unisys did not properly install essential security systems is incorrect. In addition, we routinely follow prescribed security protocols and have properly reported incidents to the customer in accordance with those protocols.”

The news has some in Congress demanding a deeper investigation. “The results of our [committee] investigation suggest that the department is the victim not only of cyberattacks initiated by foreign entities, but of incompetent and possibly illegal activity by the contractor charged with maintaining security on its networks,” Democratic Reps. James Langevin of Rhode Island and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said in a written statement.

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