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September 14, 1999
A massive security scan of the Internet has exposed vulnerabilities in the network of Indian nuclear research facilities.
An Israeli hacker team called Siri Security Research has claimed that it has carried out the biggest ever scan of the Internet for security vulnerabilities.
The team has called for immediate steps to save the virtual world from falling into anarchy.
When contacted, Indian government sources assured Rediff that its nuclear installations are safe from such threats.
It is claimed that the sites of all nuclear installations in India are completely independent of the internal computer networks of the facilities.
"There is nothing to worry," a senior scientist has said and assured that "steps are being taken to improve safety".
A few months ago hackers had tampered with the Indian army's official site on Kashmir. The site was later pulled off the Net.
Also, there have been recent reports of a 'break-in' at the official site of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The team scanned military, government, academic and commercial networks at banks, computer security sites and nuclear research facilities.
The Siri team has members operating from Israel, Mexico, Russia, Japan and Brazil. Logging in from these countries, the team claims to have carried out its survey over three weeks in December.
Liraz Siri claims they scanned 36 million Internet addresses in 214 countries.
The American magazine Defense News has quoted him as claiming that they discovered 730,213 security holes.
"Consider the power these unsecured networks represent together... With the right software you could automate most of the dirty work..." he warns in his report.
"Imagine the implications if this sort of capability fell into the wrong hands. They could shut down any network or all of the Internet with mammoth attacks. Struggles for power in the digital domain could very well develop into the world's first real information war with the very future of the Internet as a free unregulated super network caught in the crossfire," Siri declares.
The group is trying to set up an International Digital Defense Network of about 10,000 volunteers to continually scan the entire Internet and warn countries of potential cyber holes in national security, Siri says.
The group's aim, he explains, is to promote security on the Internet by sharing information and raising general awareness.
Bulk Auditing Security Scanner, a software that the team used to hunt holes in networks, has been posted on the Net for free download.
The group has warned nations that the network security vulnerabilities can potentially damage national security. It insists that situation is an "emergency".
Defense News points out that theoretically, strategic level cyber attacks for weakening a country's defences can be detected by using an intrusion detection system.
Siri has called for governmental support in the venture but sceptics have dismissed him, saying that a workforce of 10,000 cannot be expected to work positively for improving the situation.
Defense News has quoted William Church, managing director of the Centre for Infrastructural Warfare Studies, San Francisco, as saying that "What makes us think that a group of 10,000 volunteers spread all over the world will do that job in a uniform manner total consistancy?" Besides, there is the possibility of criminals joining the group.
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