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  FBI Admits Its Site Was Attacked

By Ted Bridis
AP Technology Writer
Friday, Feb. 25, 2000; 5:20 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON –– The FBI acknowledged Friday that electronic vandals shut down its own Internet site for hours last week in the same type of attack that disrupted some of the Web's major commercial sites.

The bureau's Web site, www.fbi.gov, remained inaccessible for more than three hours Feb. 18 because vandals overwhelmed it by transmitting spurious signals.

"The FBI has made comments they're going to find who's responsible for the latest attacks, so it's a bit of war between the hackers and the bureau," said James Williams, a Chicago lawyer and former FBI agent who specialized in investigating computer crimes.

The technique, which doesn't require particular sophistication, is similar to repeatedly dialing a phone number to block all other incoming calls. Last year, the FBI pulled down its World Wide Web site for days after hackers overwhelmed it using the same type of attack.

No one has claimed responsibility for launching last week's attack against the same law enforcement agency that is investigating serious disruptions earlier this month at Yahoo!, eBay, ETrade, Amazon.Com and others.

"Pretty much anyone is a target," agreed John McGowan, a research engineer at ICSA.Net, a computer security firm. He wasn't surprised no one has claimed credit.

"I don't think I'd want to go around bragging that it was my group that shut down the FBI," McGowan said. "They're certainly turning up the carpets and looking for anything they can find."

The FBI said last week that it couldn't determine whether the problem was a technical fault or malicious attack, but a spokeswoman, Deborah Weierman, confirmed Friday that vandals were responsible. She declined to say whether there was any evidence, other than the coincidence in timing, to link last week's attack against the FBI to those against other Web sites.

The FBI noted that its computers weren't broken into, and that its affected Internet site is separate from all its internal systems, including investigative files. "We have had no more problems since then," Weierman said.

Engineers at IBM, who run the FBI's Internet site under a federal contract, "took the appropriate steps to get our Web site back and running (and) continue to look into remedies and actions to minimize this from happening again," Weierman said.

© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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