US military’s use of Microsoft Windows lets hacker run wild

“To hear the US government tell it, Gary McKinnon is a dangerous man, and should be extradited back to America to stand trial in a Virginia courtroom,” Clark Boyd reports for BBC News. “One US prosecutor has accused him of committing ‘the biggest military computer hack of all time.’ If extradited, Mr McKinnon could face decades in US jail, and fines of close to $2m.”

“The US government alleges that between February 2001 and March 2002, the 40-year-old computer enthusiast from North London hacked into dozens of US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Defense computers, as well as 16 Nasa computers,” Boyd reports. “It says his hacking caused some $700,000 dollars worth of damage to government systems. What’s more, they allege that Mr McKinnon altered and deleted files at a US Naval Air Station not long after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and that the attack rendered critical systems inoperable. The US government also says Mr McKinnon once took down an entire network of 2,000 US Army computers. His goal, they claim, was to access classified information.”

McKinnon admits “that he hacked into dozens of US government computer systems. In fact, he calmly detailed just how easy it was to access extremely sensitive information in those systems. ‘I found out that the US military use Windows,’ said Mr McKinnon in that BBC interview. ‘And having realised this, I assumed it would probably be an easy hack if they hadn’t secured it properly.’ Using commercially available software, Mr McKinnon probed dozens of US military and government networks. He found many machines without adequate password or firewall protection. So, he simply hacked into them,” Boyd reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That the US military would use insecure Microsoft Windows operating systems for any computer containing sensitive information is beyond belief.

Advertisements:
MacBook Pro. The first Mac notebook built upon Intel Core Duo with iLife ’06, Front Row and built-in iSight. Starting at $1999. Free shipping.
iMac. Twice as amazing — Intel Core Duo, iLife ’06, Front Row media experience, Apple Remote, built-in iSight. Starting at $1299. Free shipping.
iMac and MacBook Pro owners: Apple USB Modem. Easily connect to the Internet using dial-up service. Only $49.
iPod Radio Remote. Listen to FM radio on your iPod and control everything with a convenient wired remote. Just $49.
iPod. 15,000 songs. 25,000 photos. 150 hours of video. The new iPod. 30GB and 60GB models start at just $299. Free shipping.
Connect iPod to your television set with the iPod AV Cable. Just $19.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Cybersecurity advisor Clarke questions why anybody would buy from Microsoft – February 18, 2005
U.S. Army’s 1,566 64-bit Apple Xserve G5 supercluster can exceed 25 teraflops – September 15, 2004
UK Royal Navy will run nuclear bomb-carrying warships on Windows 2000 – September 07, 2004
US Army to Bill Gates: cut out the freebies immediately – March 11, 2004
CCIA wants U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to reconsider buying ‘insecure Microsoft software’ – August 29, 2003
U.S. Department of Homeland Security says Windows vulnerable to attack – August 01, 2003
Department of Homeland Security chose Microsoft due to time and money limitations – July 21, 2003
U.S. Department of Homeland Security awards enterprise agreement to Microsoft – July 15, 2003

59 Comments

  1. bat hasnt he done them a favour, better someone just showing them how unsecure they are than a terrorist actually hacking in and using the information, the govenment should be thanking him and locking the armies IT department in prison for neglegence really

  2. Oh, so the system’s were only inoperable because they were hacked were they?

    Yeah, I believe that.

    Mind you, how stupid is this Gary fellow?

    “I’ll go do some hacking. Who can I hack? I know, the most powerful military force on the planet! That’s a great idea, and guaranteed not to have any comeback.”

  3. I agree with MDN on this one. This is simply unbelievable that our government still no idea what real Computer Security is. I’m not blaming them for using Windows, this is, of course, what happens when you deal with lowest bid contracting afterall. (How low can you go, other than to Windows?) But to set them up without proper firewall and security measures, it’s simply inexcusable.

  4. This guy deserves a medal, not a jail cell. I don’t condone any damage, deletions or network disruptions he has created, but there are obviously many in key military and government positions that need a wake-up call.


  5. ‘I found out that the US military use Windows,’ said Mr McKinnon in that BBC interview.

    If you don’t take care of your feet, you get foot rot.

    If you don’t keep your weapon clean, it could jam when you need it the most.

    If you don’t post sentries around your perimeter, you’re likely to be infiltrated.

    If you don’t reconnoiter the terrain in advance, you’re likely to be ambushed.

    What you don’t need to do is worry about your Windows computer because Microsoft is the biggest software company on the planet. Just bend over, put your legs between your knees, and kiss your sorry ass because we’re all doomed.

  6. MDN nailed it.

    But you must understand that Microsoft FUD-casters relentlessly work the government agencies to inflict Windows on all government operations. They identify all those who have the power to make or prevent purchasing decisions and they manipulate them into favoring Windows and banning all alternatives.

    I just hope we all come to the point where choosing Windows in government or industry is declared prima facia evidence of incompetence and/or corruption.

  7. I am a network designer/engineer in the Marines and I will say that Windows is the only thing we use. During one exercise last year, we got hit so hard with a virus that it crippled the entire operation for a few hours. Windows is used for all networks, from non-secure to top-secret.

    I personally carry a Powerbook G4 everywhere I go but am phohibited from using it on the network because of fears of unsecurity (go figure). The US Military is 95% Windows and I have seen countless down time because of that. This story come as no surprise.

  8. It may prohibit it, but that isn’t a legal prohibition meaning that the end user isn’t *allowed* or *able* to use it in secure environments; it just indemnifies the evil Redmond Empire from legal responsibility when the planes start falling from the sky if he does.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.