Putin's guard service hit by hacker attack: official

24th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Hackers carried out an attack on the email system of the Russian guard service responsible for protecting President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the service said Tuesday.

"An attempted attack on one of the mail web sites of the service was registered on August 23. An investigation is now being carried out," The Federal Guard Service (FSO), said in a statement, the Interfax news agency reported.

The service on its most public side controls access to Moscow's Red Square and the Lenin Mausoleum. But the shadowy agency's main responsibility is to protect top state officials.

The web site targeted by hackers is "not part of the system that controls the functioning of state organs," the service said in a terse statement, in an apparent move to downplay the significance of the attack.

All the mail servers that directly relate to the functioning of state organs "underwent extra testing," but no breaches were discovered, the FSO said.

The hacker attack surfaced Monday when anonymous Internet forums published messages in English giving a link to the site, Vedomosti business daily reported Tuesday.

"For several hours, any one who wanted to could access the e-mail archive of the Federal Guard Service," Vedomosti reported.

The link was to a system for monitoring e-mail traffic and managing e-mail archives, and the web site's IP address was one controlled by the FSO, Vedomosti reported.

The link was not working Tuesday.

The breach occurred because the system's designers did not block outside access and because administrators did not change default passwords, an expert at ESET computer security company, Alexander Matrosov, told Vedomosti.

IT news web site Khaker.ru published screen shots of e-mails. Ironically, one is about the "information security" of a section of the widely touted system of electronic government.

In a speech in 2009, Medvedev criticised the use of "tons of paper" for internal documents and bureaucrats who use computers as "typewriters."

In June, FSO announced a tender for a new web site, at a cost of 5.76 million rubles (187,000 dollars).

© 2010 AFP

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