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Unisys receives some harsh criticism for Homeland Security intrusions

Investigators stated on Monday that someone from China or with connections to the nation was responsible for a large amount of successful attacks on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Hackers compromised dozens of DHS computers, moving sensitive information to Chinese-language websites.  Congressional investigators made the announcement Monday and called for a full-fledged Congressional investigation. The FBI is concurrently conducting an investigation of the incidents.

Congress puts much of the blame on incompetence at security firm Unisys, who the DHS contracted for security purposes.  They feel Unisys's negligence may even be criminal.

"The results of our [committee] investigation suggest that the department is the victim not only of cyber attacks initiated by foreign entities, but of incompetent and possibly illegal activity by the contractor charged with maintaining security on its networks," said Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and James Langevin of Rhode Island.

The attacks had gone unnoticed for months according to the Congressional committee. How much information was stolen and how critical the stolen documents were has not been ascertained, but the committee stated that the attacks "took significant amounts of information."

"We know where it [the information] was taken from, but we don't know what was taken. We only know how many megabytes was taken.  Everything was on the LAN A, which was an unclassified network. To the best of our knowledge there was no classified information [taken]," said one DHS staffer.

The information was moved to a "web hosting service that connects to Chinese Web sites."
Thompson and Langevin have written a letter demanding a full investigation and have stated that "contractors provided inaccurate and misleading information to Department of Homeland Security officials about the source of these attacks and attempted to hide security gaps in their capabilities."

Thompson and Langevin's statements do not name the contractor involved, but the Associated Press has learned that Unisys has a $1 billion contract to safeguard DHS computers.

Unisys publicly disputed the allegations, which first broke Monday in a Washington Post article.

The Congressional committee stated that Unisys had been tasked to install intrusion detection systems, which were not fully active at the time of the attack.  If the systems had been in place, the attack would likely have been detected and dealt with.

Unisys did not directly respond to Congressional accusations, but instead chose to respond to reports about the reports on the incident.

"Unisys vigorously disputes the allegations made in today's article,” said the company in a statement.  “Facts and documentation contradict the claims described in the article, but federal security regulations preclude public comment on specific incidents."

"We can state generally that the allegation that Unisys did not properly install essential security systems is incorrect. In addition, we routinely follow prescribed security protocols and have properly reported incidents to the customer in accordance with those protocols."

DHS officials would not comment on these developments or Unisys's possible criminal negligence.

They did make a statement that may indicate that they will be dumping Unisys soon.  DHS stated that they will be "re-competing" the Unisys contract and other contracts "to integrate it into a single contract that maximizes the tax payer's dollar."

Although Unisys can still compete for the contract, previous performance will be weighed, said DHS spokesman Russ Knocke.

DailyTech reported in June on early results of this investigation, which cited reports of over 800 break-ins and over 7000 detected security flaws in the DHS's systems.

The possible Chinese connection also follows closely on the heels of the DailyTech story that broke earlier this month which reported on the Pentagon's claims that China's PLA hacked into Pentagon computers.  Reports indicated that the attack was the largest and most disruptive attack on the Pentagon in their history.

As the U.S. government departments face numerous threats at home and abroad, from malicious hackers to incompetent security firms, they must constantly rethink and rebuild their defenses.  It is not easy being one of the world's largest cyber targets.



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Kind of funny to hear about Unisys
By gigahertz20 on 9/26/2007 12:06:19 PM , Rating: 3
Currently working on a project for Unisys through one of my IST classes. Kind of funny to read about them here on DailyTech. I'm going to go a little off topic here, but maybe some of you smart DailyTech readers can help me.

I'm working with 3 other team members in one of my college classes to complete a project for Unisys, this is what Unisys sent us for the project description:

Project Scope and Outline – Investigate performance analysis and reporting options available for the VMWare ESX server and associated virtual machines. Present findings and recommendations.

Deliverables – Investigate and compare tools available to provide performance analysis and reporting for a VMWare ESX environment. Provide recommendation based on functionality, cost and feature content. Provide samples of reports available.

It's just me and 3 other guys who are working on this, none of us have any kind of experience with VMWare or any other kind of VM software or tools to provide performance analysis. It's going to be great! I guess it'll be a learning experience.

Anybody have any suggestions or recommendations?




RE: Kind of funny to hear about Unisys
By Adul on 9/26/2007 12:34:31 PM , Rating: 2
start by learning what vmware esx works. We have a large vmware enviroment at work. I gotten some nice reports for ultilization


By FITCamaro on 9/26/2007 1:16:27 PM , Rating: 2
1) Get VMWare ESX Server

2) Learn its features and functionality.

3) Explore help documentation and online information.

30 day free trials are available. I've only used it a handful of times and it was quite simple. If you can't figure it out, you might want to reconsider your career path.


By noxipoo on 9/26/2007 3:16:38 PM , Rating: 2
they have a great forums at vmware. should help a lot.


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