Hackers Plunder NASA, Pentagon

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The Pentagon says it is looking into claims that a group of hackers calling itself 'The Masters of Downloading/2016216' has broken into the Pentagon's telecommunications backbone, stolen software for a military satellite system, and threatened to sell it to terrorists. John Vranesevich, a security expert and proprietor of AntiOnline.com who was instrumental in the capture of Analyzer, reports that the MOD/2016216 has "acquired" key security software from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. And the hackers haven't neglected their military operations: They claim to have stolen submarine tracking software, and ominously promise to "prove it in early May." But how serious are the intrusions? Nobody knows yet, although the Pentagon says that no classified information was stolen. What has the DOD sweating right now is the safety of the Global Positioning System (GPS) -- and whether the MOD is doing more than simply taking a look around inside. Says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson: "If these hackers can tinker with the GPS to a degree that all missiles based on it end up 10 miles from where they are supposed to be, or all ships that use it to navigate were off by two degrees, this really could be serious." Still, that's a very big if, like saying the Cubs could win the pennant if they could sign some decent pitching. Until the claims are substantiated, the MOD/2016216 remains group with ominous press, and that's all.