A group of teen-age computer crackers allegedly used thousands of stolen Internet accounts to probe the networks of two national nuclear weapons laboratories, according to law enforcement authorities in California last week.
At least five crackers, between the ages of 15 and 17, compromised accounts at 17 Internet service providers in the U.S., Romania and Australia. They used the accounts to attack nine targets, including the Sandia and Oak Ridge National Laboratories and Harvard University, according to Capt. Jan Hoganson of the Sacramento Valley High-Tech Crimes Task Force in California.
Hoganson said the crackers managed to gain root access to computers at Harvard, but just scanned the national lab networks to look for vulnerabilities. The intruders stole 200,000 accounts alone from San Francisco-based Pacific Bell Internet Services for use in the attack.
According to Hoganson, the stolen accounts were used to scan for open network ports at the labs that could be used for subsequent attacks. Hoganson emphasized that the laboratory networks themselves weren't compromised.