Sleuths invade military pcs with ease

Friday, 16 August 2002, 10:33 AM EST

Security consultants entered scores of confidential military and government computers without approval this summer, exposing vulnerabilities that specialists say open the networks to electronic attacks and spying.

The consultants, inexperienced but armed with free, widely available software, identified unprotected PCs and then roamed at will through sensitive files containing military procedures, personnel records and financial data.

One computer at Fort Hood in Texas held a copy of an air support squadron's "smart book" that details radio encryption techniques, the use of laser targeting systems and other field procedures. Another maintained hundreds of personnel records containing Social Security numbers, security clearance levels and credit card numbers. A NASA computer contained vendor records, including company bank account and financial routing numbers.

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