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Hacker forces 1,500 Pentagon computers offline

The Defense Department has taken as many as 1,500 computers off line after a hacker busted through its security system.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Defense Department took as many as 1,500 computers off line because of a cyber attack, Pentagon officials said Thursday.

Few details were released about the attack, which happened Wednesday, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the computer systems would be working again soon.

Gates said the Pentagon sees hundreds of attacks a day, and this one had no adverse impact on department operations. Employees whose computers were affected could still use their handheld BlackBerries.

During a press briefing Gates said: “We obviously have redundant systems in place. ... There will be some administrative disruptions and personal inconveniences.”

He said the Pentagon shut the computers down when a penetration of the system was detected, and the cause is still being investigated.

When asked if his own e-mail account was affected, Gates said: “I don’t do e-mail. I’m a very low-tech person.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler, a Pentagon spokesman, said Defense Department systems are probed every day by a wide variety of attacks.

“The nature of the threat is large and diverse, and includes recreational hackers, self-styled cyber-vigilantes, various groups with nationalistic or ideological agendas, transnational actors and nation-states,” Peppler said.