September 19, 1996

Hackers Vandalize
C.I.A.'s Web Page


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The Central Intelligence Agency's World Wide Web site was attacked by hackers who vandalized the home page and changed its hypertext links sometime between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 5:45 a.m. Thursday, when an anonymous caller informed CNN of the break-in.

The CIA's home page was replaced with graffiti that included references to Swedish hackers and a Swedish conglomerate that is helping to prosecute hackers. It attributed the vandalism to a group calling itself "Power Through Resistance."

Vin Swasey, deputy director of the CIA's public affairs staff, said that the infiltration had proceeded no further than the Web site's home page and that the hackers had not breached any classified information.

"This system is an external system, and there's no connection to our classified system," Swasey said. Nevertheless, he added, "Obviously we're very concerned" that the break-in occurred.

Swasey said that the CIA had never before encountered the group "Power Through Resistance" and has not identified the hackers responsible for the break-in.

Swasey said that while the CIA has no law-enforcement powers, the agency was considering asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance in finding and prosecuting the intruders. The FBI is a division of the United States Department of Justice, whose own site was the target of a similar attack last month.

As of late this morning, Swasey said, a CIA team was working to clean up the site, which was taken off line at about 7:30 a.m. Thursday and was still closed as of 9 p.m.

The vandalized CIA home page at 5:45 a.m. Eastern time Thursday.
Credit: CNN Interactive

The break-in was first reported by CNN Interactive, the Web site of the CNN cable network, after that news organization received a phone call at 5:45 a.m. Thursday from an anonymous tipster who attributed the damage to Swedish hackers.

Some of the graffiti included links to the Swedish Hackers Association, as well as to Flashback magazine and, Swasey said.

Among other things, the hackers changed the name of the agency on the home page to "Central Stupidity Agency" and replaced a photo of John Deutch, the Director of Central Intelligence, with a photo of someone who is unknown to the agency, Swasey said.

The hackers wrote "STOP LYING BO SKARINDER" and "SLUTA LJUG BO SKARINDER," which is a Swedish translation of the same. In an update late Thursday morning, CNN reported that the references were to Bo Skarinder, the lead attorney prosecuting hackers on behalf of several telecommunications companies, including the Swedish firm Telia. Swasey could not confirm the reference to Skarinder.

In last month's attack, the Justice Department's site was vandalized by hackers who left images of swastikas, Adolf Hitler.

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