Thursday, August 13, 2009

NWS Earle hacker's hopes dashed

Gary McKinnon, the British man fighting extradition to the U.S. for hacking into DoD computer systems up until 2001 and disabling Weapons Station Earle's network for about a month around 9/11, was dealt an apparent setback this week when another criminal hacker with allegedly the same autistic condition (Asperger's Syndrome) was sentenced to 55 months in prison for participating in a multimillion-dollar computer fraud scheme (see story).

On the surface, the entire McKinnon case may appear to be a sidebar (i.e. "cyber" vs. "physical" terror attack) to unimpeded civilian access and housing at an active military weapons facility, and to some may seem a stretch in terms of the Navy's physical security of its own Earle base, but nonetheless raises doubt about a key component of NAVFAC's argument in the Laurelwood EIS that NWS Earle can defend itself with the physical influx of a presumed 1,000-plus civilian residents by September 2010.

If the government couldn't prevent an allegedly autistic hacker from an overseas location from disabling mission-critical computer networks, how can the civilian residents of the areas surrounding Earle's Mainside rest assured that everything will run smoothly physically once civilians have free rein of the proposed access route to the Laurelwood homes at Earle? This doubt is only compounded by the January 2009 report from the U.S. Congress's Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that NWS Earle did not follow the Navy's own quality assurance guidelines in oversight of the contractor security guards that assist in guarding Earle (Myers Investigative & Security Services, of North Carolina), not to mention that it could not provide documentation that contractor security guards had completed a background check. Think about it.

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