Security Web Digest: White House Advisor Resigns, Ethical Hacker School, BuzzCards Buzzted Into

Phone Phreaks Swindle California City... G-men to do data warehousing... Georgia Tech student vandalizes laundry room... and more from around the web


White House cybersecurity adviser Howard Schmidt will resign from his post at the end of the month. Schmidt became chair of the Presidents Critical Infrastructure Protection Board in February following the departure of his predecessor, Richard Clarke. Schmidt played a key role in drafting the administrations recently released cybersecurity strategy, and has spent the last two years building ties with the private sector in a joint effort to protect the nations most important information systems from cyber-attack. He was the former chief of security at Microsoft.

The FBI last week began focusing its attention -- as well as tens of millions of dollars from its fiscal 2004 budget request -- on improving its data warehousing and mining capabilities. The bureau announced that it awarded a contract to ClearForest to deploy business-intelligence software to support a new FBI data warehouse that consists of a Terrorism Intelligence Database and an Information Sharing Data Mart. "We are now focused on implementing a data warehousing capability that can bring together our information into databases that can be accessed by agents throughout the world as well as our analysts as soon as a piece of information is developed," said FBI Director Robert Mueller.


Fifteen minutes before he was to lecture on security flaws in a debit card system used on 223 college campuses, 22-year-old Billy Hoffman found out that card maker Blackboard got a judge to issue a temporary restraining order that banned him from speaking. Hoffman had used a screwdriver to break into a laundry room swipe machine that reads BuzzCards -- identification cards used by staff and his fellow students at Georgia Tech and similar to ones at hundreds of other schools. The computer engineering major says he found ways to bilk the school out of Cokes, laundry service and cash.

The India-based e2 Labs will establish a school to train ethical hackers. Making this announcement on Monday, Ankit Fadia, a 17-year-old student and author of a book on ethical hacking, and Zaki Qureshey, e2 Labs CEO, said the school is for IT professionals, system administrators, decision makers and those concerned about the security of network infrastructure. The school will explain the techniques used by hackers to assess and attack corporate networks. The course curriculum will also cover legal issues. The school is reportedly the first of its kind in South Asia.

Victims of a telephone hacking swindle are disputing a contention by AT&T that they are responsible for costly long-distance calls fraudulently made through their voice mail systems. The dispute revolves around a string of incidents in which hackers broke into business voice mail systems and rigged them to accept international collect calls from the Philippines and other countries. The city of East Palo Alto, Calif., is now battling with AT&T over who is responsible for a $30,000 long-distance phone bill that resulted from voice mail hacking. Over a five-day period last summer, hackers in the Philippines and Belgium penetrated the agencys voice mail system, operated by SBC Communications, the local phone service provider, by figuring out system pass codes.