FBI Investigates Qualcomm Hacker Attack

BOSTON (07/07/2000) - Qualcomm Inc. confirmed Friday that it is cooperating in a federal investigation related to a hacker penetrating the company's computer systems late last year. An Ohio-based ISP (Internet service provider) also said that its network was breached, and according to a published report, the alleged attacks were carried out by the same hacker as in the Qualcomm case.

A federal criminal investigation has been launched against a University of Wisconsin graduate student in computer science regarding the intrusions, according to documents filed in San Diego federal court, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Charges have not been filed.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on the case to IDG News Service Friday.

The intrusions apparently penetrated Qualcomm's firewall and network defenses from Oct. 12 through Dec. 9, 1999, reaching several high-end servers. Agents determined this from files recovered from the student's computer, seized from his dormitory room at the Madison campus, according to the newspaper, which quoted a university spokesman saying that the student is not enrolled there any longer.

The hacker also penetrated the networks of NetOptions, a Los Angeles-based ISP; the TeX user's group, a text typesetting and font design organization in Massachusetts, and CISNet, an ISP in Youngstown, Ohio, the newspaper reported.

CISNet owner Todd Knaus said his computer system had been hacked, and that the company's security software will be upgraded, but he declined to say how much the intrusion cost his business.

"It's just like your house, if someone breaks into your house, you go out and get a new security system," he said.

Qualcomm spokeswoman Christine Trimble said that the company was assisting federal investigators, but would not comment further on the nature of the break-in because of the pending investigation.

Qualcomm, based in San Diego, can be reached at +1-858-587-1121 or at http://www.qualcomm.com.

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