The hack of the year

A Swedish hacker tells how he infiltrated a global communications network used by scores of embassies over the world, using tools freely available on the internet. In August, Swedish hacker Dan Egerstad gained access to sensitive embassy, NGO and corporate email accounts. Were they captured from the clutches of hackers? Or were they being used by spies? Patrick Gray investigates the most sensational hack of 2007. IT WASN'T supposed to be this easy. Swedish hacker Dan Egerstad had infiltrated a global communications network carrying the often-sensitive emails of scores of embassies scattered throughout the world. It had taken him just minutes, using tools freely available for download on the internet.

In time, Egerstad gained access to 1000 high-value email accounts. He would later post 100 sets of sensitive email logins and passwords on the internet for criminals, spies or just curious teenagers to use to snoop on inter-governmental, NGO and high-value corporate email. The question on everybody's lips was: how did he do it? The answer came more than a week later and was somewhat anti-climactic. The 22-year-old Swedish security consultant had merely installed free, open-source software - called Tor - on five computers in data centres around the globe and monitored it. Ironically, Tor is designed to prevent intelligence agencies, corporations and computer hackers from determining the virtual - and physical - location of the people who use it.

View: Full Story @ The Age

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