Congress OKs Millions for Cybersecurity; Very Busy Hackers; Plans Approved for Joint State Police-National Guard HQ in Lansing

Congress OKs Millions for Cybersecurity

Congress yesterday authorized $903 million for network security research grants over five years, a move spurred by high-tech industry lobbying and post-Sept. 11 fears of cyberterrorism, accoding to an article in todays San Francisco Chronicle. The Cybersecurity Research and Development Act, which would give universities and community colleges grants to train more network security professionals, establish academic-industry research partnerships and create new research facilities, still needs to be signed by President Bush and go through the congressional funding appropriation process. But House Science Committee spokeswoman Heidi Tringle has said, "We're optimistic, particularly with the focus the president has placed on cybersecurity." Michael Aisenberg, director of public policy at VeriSign, told the Chronicle, "Issues that were back-burner, arcane subjects of interest for a very select community . . . have become a matter of front-page concern." Very Busy HackersReuters and British mobile news service The hacker's identity was first released yesterday, when prosecutors said 36-year-old Gary McKinnon, an unemployed computer programmer living in north London, stole passwords, deleted files, monitored traffic and shut down computers in 92 networks run by the U.S. military and NASA. McKinnon also hacked into the University of Tennessee, a public library in Bethlehem, Penn., and several private businesses, according to the charges. "This is an incredibly sophisticated cyber criminal," Reuters quoted Newark U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie. "He was a very busy guy." Meanwhile another U.K. citizen, Simon Vallor, 21, from Wales, was arrested in February following a tip-off from the FBI, according to another Reuters report today on Yahoo.coms U.K. news site. Vallor appeared in court last Friday, charged with hacking and sending the "Gokar Redesi" and "Admirer" e-mail viruses, and with the possession of indecent images of children. He will return to court later in December. In another hemisphere, the New Zealand news and information service Stuff reports that last week a hacker identified only as "Kotiate" e-mailed administrators of the BZPower Bionicle website, an online forum of Lego fans, giving them 24 hours to remove the site's e-mail forum "and discontinue the abusive use of the Maori culture, customs and history." Though the Lego company had previously agreed to stop using Maori words in its range of Bionicle toys, the BZPower Bionicle website and its fans continued using the original names. When administrators failed to comply, the site was swamped with automated e-mails till its Internet provider closed it down.

A British man arrested in March for computer-related offenses was indicted yesterday on eight counts of computer-related crimes, including break-ins at six private companies, according to reports by

Plans Approved for Joint State Police-National Guard HQ in LansingDetroit Free Press. On a 12-4 vote, a House and Senate committee approved a 14-story building in downtown Lansing that advocates say will improve emergency planning and response. Critics call the plan a no-bid sweetheart deal for developers and a building that would be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The plan requires no further legislative action, the Free Press explains, but must be approved by the state administrative board, representing seven top state officials, including the governor, secretary of state and attorney general.

Plans to build a controversial joint headquarters for the Michigan State Police and National Guard cleared its major hurdle this morning, according to todays

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