IG slams ET search

IG slams ET search

Tennessee Valley Authority employees compromised computer security while downloading a program that seeks aliens in space, according to TVA's inspector general.

Sixteen employees and one contractor used the program for a year to check radio telescope data for evidence of aliens after downloading it onto 17 office computers from the University of California at Berkeley, an IG report said.

The employees violated TVA policy by downloading the Berkeley program, called [email protected] SETI is an acronym for search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The program could have given hackers access to the agency's computers or exposed the systems to viruses, the IG noted.

[email protected] lets the university use farms of computers to analyze radio signals from space collected by a telescope in Puerto Rico. The computers send the results through the Internet to the university's central computer.

The IG found no evidence of damage to TVA's network. The employees who took part in the action were given verbal warnings, and TVA set up a program to heighten workers' awareness of computer security issues.

'P. Vasishtha


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