Opinion: Intercepts: The Hacker Equation

My mobile listening posts have discerned a confusing pattern of reports on the number of hacker "attacks" launched against the U.S. Department of Defense each year.

It started out simple enough: Early last year, Air Force Maj. Gen. John "Soup" Campbell, commander of the Joint Task Force for Computer Network Defense, placed the number of "attacks" against DOD networks at 250,000 each year.

But in November 1999, Lt. Gen. David Kelley, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, talked about a 300 percent increase in the number of "unauthorized intrusions."

Intrusions skyrocketed, according to Kelley, from 5,844 in 1998 to 18,433 through November 1999. (Campbell reported last week that this number topped off at 22,144 for all of 1999.) This year the numbers got more complicated. In March, Lt. Col. LeRoy Lundgren, program manager for the Army's National Security Improvement Program, said the Army alone denied as many as 285,000 network queries last year because of questionable methods used in the queries. The Interceptor guesses "network queries" are somehow similar to "attacks."

Enter the Justice Department. According to Justice, the number of hacking cases throughout the government nearly doubled last year, reaching 1,154, up from 547 in 1998. One look at these numbers and you have to wonder if these guys even know that DOD is part of the federal government.

Then, of course, there are "incidents" and "intrusions" to deal with. Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the Army's chief information officer, last week told a crowd at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual symposium on information assurance and battlefield visualization that the Army experienced 3,077 "incidents" during fiscal 1999 and 58 "intrusions." For fiscal 2000, those numbers had reached 2,230 and 40, respectively, by April 4.

But "Soup" Campbell told the same crowd that in fiscal 1998 a total of 5,844 incidents were reported to the Pentagon by DOD commands. In fiscal 1999, that number reached 22,144, and during the first three months of this year, that number had already surpassed 5,993, Campbell said.

Confused? I am.

Serving Campbell Soup at the CIA

"Soup" Campbell told the Interceptor last week that he's received orders to report in June to CIA headquarters, where he will take over as the director of military support. Speaking at the AUSA symposium, Campbell also said the JTF-CND recently added legal counsel to its official structure.

"I never thought I'd need a lawyer to do my business," Campbell said, referring to the lack of legal guidelines governing computer network attack and defense.

Hey, don't knock it, Soup. Legal counsel is highly underrated in this world of error-prone databases and outdated hard-copy maps.

Fortunately, I hear that there's no shortage of lawyers in Langley, Virginia.

Go West, Young Man

My E-Ring listening post in the heart of the Pentagon has picked up several low-level signals indicating that Paul Brubaker, the Defense Department's acting deputy chief information officer, plans to leave his position in a matter of weeks.

A strong supporter of the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet proposal, Brubaker has apparently succumbed to "dot-com fever," according to sources, and will be zapping himself out to the West Coast after he checks out of DOD. One N/MCI insider said he hoped the move "is not a harbinger of the future" for the beleaguered program.Intercept something? Send it to the Interceptor at antenna@ fcw.com.

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