Attackers hijack federal computers

Tuesday, 31 August 2004, 9:31 AM EST

Hundreds of powerful computers at the Defense Department and U.S. Senate were hijacked by attackers who used them to send spam e-mail, federal authorities say.

The use of government computers was uncovered during the Justice Department's recent cybercrime crackdown. It adds another wrinkle to the use of so-called zombie PCs, which number in the millions and have bedeviled consumers and universities the past year.

Attackers gain secret control of the computers by sending e-mail viruses and worms or by planting software code on Web sites.

By Jon Swartz at USA Today.

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