USIA calls in the FBI after hacker hits Web site a second time

The U.S. Information Agency has asked the FBI to investigate a hack of its
Web site.

“We have received allegations from USIA for the alleged hacking to its Web
site,” said Susan Lloyd, FBI special agent and spokeswoman for the agency’s
Washington field office. She would not say whether the office will look into the matter.

A hacker broke into the USIA site on Jan. 13. The same hacker had hit the site six
months ago, said Jim McGregor, USIA’s Internet resource officer.

The agency learned of the hack around 9 p.m. that day when a member of its Internet
Resources Department tried to log on to the site from home.

The hacker had tampered with the Domain Name System so as to divert users to an
alternate site that read, “Hack by Zyklon. Crystal, I love you.”

After learning of the attack, USIA immediately put in an emergency call to its Internet
service provider, Electric Press of Reston, Va. The company took the site down within an
hour, McGregor said.

USIA had its site up and running on Jan. 21, eight days after the hack. The agency had
to reformat its site coding to avoid any possible Trojan horse or virus programs that the
hacker might have inserted, McGregor said.

USIA has no idea how the hacker broke in. “We don’t how he got in, and
honestly we wouldn’t tell you,” McGregor said.

USIA and Electric Press met Jan. 25 to discuss the hack and what measures to take to
prevent further attacks. USIA would not comment on the outcome of the meeting.

The government uses the USIA site to keep overseas officials informed of current
policies. Foreign countries and journalists also use the site to get the government’s
official stance on current actions, McGregor said.

“We use the site as an information function to push U.S. government
policies,” McGregor said.  

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