Army dumps NT for security reasons

The US Army has switched its Web site from Microsoft's Windows NT servers to WebStar servers running Apple's MacOS.

Citing security concerns over NT, the Army made the move in the wake of an investigation that led to the arrest of a man from Green Bay, Wiscconsin who allegedly hacked the Army's home page on June 28.

According to an Army report, the 19-year-old, from a hacker group the Army identified as Global Hell, changed some of the page's content and gained access to an unclassified network. Army investigators arrested the suspect on August 30.

Army officials went with MacOS because it has no command shell and does not support remote log-ins. A report from the World Wide Web Consortium, which gave the MacOS-WebStar setup a clean bill of health on the security front, also was a factor in the decision.

In recent months, Web crackers have targeted several US government Web sites, including official sites for the White House, the FBI and the US Senate.

For its part, Microsoft has spent considerable time and energy tamping down security problems with its own products, from NT and other server software to its Internet Explorer browser.

The most recent case involved Hotmail, Microsoft's Internet e-mail offering; last week the company agreed to an outside security audit after it was revealed that anyone could access a Hotmail account without knowing the user's password.

On Monday, Microsoft said a newly discovered security hole in Explorer 5.0 could allow malicious Webmasters to seize control of a computer through the browser's ImportExportFavorites feature.

The Web address export feature "should only allow particular types of files to be written, and only to specific locations on the drive," Microsoft said on its Security Advisor site. "However, it is possible for a web site to invoke this method, bypass this restriction and write files that could be used to execute system commands."

Microsoft suggested that users disable Explorer's Active Scripting feature as a work-around. The company is working on a patch.

Officials from Microsoft were not immediately available to discuss the Army's move.

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