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EPA's computers accessible through Web site, lawmaker says
Copyright © 2000 Nando Media
Copyright © 2000 Associated Press
WASHINGTON (February 17, 2000 6:41 a.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - The Environmental Protection Agency has temporarily taken down its public Web site after a House committee chairman complained hackers could penetrate the agency's secure computers through the site.
"Virtually all of (the EPA's) computer data and systems may be highly vulnerable to penetration, misuses or attack by unauthorized users via the Internet," Rep. Thomas Bliley, R-Va., chairman of the House Commerce Committee said Wednesday, citing a not-yet-released report to his committee about EPA computer security problems.
Bliley said investigators from the General Accounting Office in December were able to penetrate sensitive areas of the EPA computer system through the agency's public Web site and gain access to sensitive material not generally available to the public.
The report was to have been presented at a hearing Thursday, but Bliley abruptly canceled the hearing on Wednesday and, instead, released a copy of a letter he had sent to EPA Administrator Carol Browner, urging her to shut down the EPA's publicly accessible Web site.
Late Wednesday, Browner directed that the EPA's Web site be temporarily shut down because of concern that the attention brought to the issue might prompt hackers to attack it. An EPA spokesman, David Cohen, said additional security measures were being developed and would shortly be in place. He said the site would then be reopened.