(Reuters) - A
string of raids that plucked data from Defense Department
and other U.S.
computers appears to have been launched from Russia, the
top U.S. cybercop
told Congress Wednesday.
- Disclosing a probe he said had
been under way for more
than a year, Michael Vatis of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation said
intruders had stolen "unclassified
but still-sensitive information
about essentially defense/technical
- "About the furthest I can go is to say the
appear to originate in Russia," said Vatis, director of
National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), a bulwark
to detect and
deter threats to U.S. electronic lifelines.
- An ongoing
investigation, code-named Moonlight Maze,
involved U.S. agencies and
their international counterparts, Vatis told
the Senate Judiciary
Subcommittee on Technology and Terrorism.
- At issue, he said, were "a
series of widespread
intrusions, into Defense Department, other federal
and private-sector computer networks."
- Vatis did not spell
out whether the intrusions were continuing
nor who might be behind them
in Russia. In an interview with Reuters last
week, he had declined
comment on the case, as had other federal officials.
- Sen. Robert Bennett, who has
received classified briefings
on "information warfare" as
chairman of the special committee
on the Year 2000 problem, said the
intruders vaccuumed up vast amounts
of publicly available data over at
least several months.
- One possibility was that they had burrowed into
we don't know about and (are) still getting information
that we can't trace,"
the Utah Republican said in an interview
- A U.S. official said suspects in the case apparently
the Russian Academy of Sciences, a government-supported organization
said to interact with Russia's top military labs.
- Susan Hansen, a Pentagon
spokeswoman, said the Defense
Department knew of no classified
information that had been jeopardized
in the Moonlight Maze
- Vatis made his comments in reply to a question from panel
chairman Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona.
- Although key U.S. networks have
harm" so far, "our luck is likely to
run out unless we take aggressive
steps" to plug security gaps,
- Vatis linked the greatest potential national-security
"information warfare," the ability to launch viruses
other cyber weapons against the bits and bytes that glue together modern
- Among countries believed to have developed offensive
information warfare capabilities are China, France, India, Iraq, Russia
and South Korea, according to the National Communications System, a
Department-led interagency task force to ensure
- In a March report, the task force also named Bulgaria
and Cuba as having built limited offensive capabilities. It said Japan
and Israel likely were working on them.
- Vatis said the FBI's caseload
for computer hacking and
network-intrusion cases had doubled for each
of the last two years, with
more than 800 cases pending.