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Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 14:33 GMT
Y2K risk closes US military websites

The Pentagon The Pentagon does not want to risk Y2K hacking attacks


Some United States Air Force bases are planning to block access to their public internet sites over the New Year's weekend to preempt any hacking attempts.

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"Each one of the webmasters were told they might want to consider any vulnerabilities," Major John Anderson, an air force spokesman at the Pentagon, said.

For some, he said, that means blocking access at what some people fear will be a prime time for internet hacking.

Timothy Conley, deputy director of the 88th Communications Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio estimates there are about 30 public websites maintained at the base - including pages for the United States Air Force Museum and the USAF Institute of Technology.

The concern, he said, is that hackers, emboldened by widespread Y2K computer concerns, could insert viruses that would alter or destroy information on the sites.

However, Mr Conley stressed there will be no threat to national security because the public-access sites are separated from secure sites, which will remain operational.

Jim Neighbors, manager of the USAF Y2K task force, said any attacks on the air force sites would be no more than a nuisance.

"I liken it to somebody going in and defacing a wall with a can of spray paint," he said.

The Pentagon's main website should stay operational over the weekend, but Pentagon officials have voiced concern about attacks from cyberspace, and say special precautions will be taken.

IT soldiers

Meanwhile, the Swedish Government is planning to train soldiers in information technology to protect the nation's military computer systems from hackers.

Specially trained soldiers will protect Swedish computer systems, ready to destroy hostile systems.

Computer experts in Sweden will conduct an exercise next year, modelled on a cyberwar game codenamed Eligible Receiver used to test US Department of Defence systems in 1997.

During the test, experts used software to successfully crack codes and gain access to command systems at military bases and aircraft carriers.

The main mission for the Swedish specialists will be to protect the country's military systems, but defence officials also plan to explore offensive options as the future of war moves increasingly to cyberspace.

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See also:
02 Jul 98 |  Americas
Military test for year 2000 bug
02 Dec 99 |  Europe
Y2K nuclear link unveiled

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