- The U.S. Navy has allegedly attempted
to break into secure areas of a Web site sponsored by a U.K. marine-mammal
preservation charity, according to officials at the organization.
- The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society--which
operates an online shopping site that generates money for the welfare of
the animals--said it was alerted to the attempted break-in last week by
its site-hosting company, Merchant Technology.
- "We were working late one night,
and a command line request came in wanting to access unauthorized areas
of the site," said Andy Fisher, marketing manager for Merchant. "We
were amazed to find out it was the Pentagon."
- Merchant built and manages the secure
site for the conservation society and routinely keeps an eye on visitors.
If users attempt to gain access to unauthorized areas, the company is alerted
to the source of the incoming request.
- At 9:45 p.m. GMT on April 28, Fisher
said, workers at Merchant were shocked to see an incoming attempt to breach
security by a user identified as donhqns1.hq.navy.mil.
- Merchant got in touch with WDCS immediately
and was informed that the Navy had contacted the charity a few weeks earlier.
The Navy was interested in obtaining a report the group is working on that
details the efforts of Russian animal experts to train dolphins in the
Black Sea for military tasks, such as finding and attaching probes to submarines,
- A WDCS spokesperson said that there is
nothing secret about the Russian government's activities in this area,
but that the document does contain information about the export of the
trained dolphins to foreign countries. The group declined to give the Navy
a copy of the report only because it was not complete at the time, she
said. Once it is made final, the report will be published and the Navy
can then examine it, she said.
- The WDCS said that it is confused about
why the Navy would attempt to break into its Web site.
- "I would think whoever it was within
the U.S. Navy would have better things to do rather than try and hack into
our computers," Chris Stroud, the organization's director of campaigns,
said in the statement. "If they were seeking reports on the Black
Sea, we shall be freely publishing these in the near future anyway."
- The WDCS previously has commented unfavorably
on Navy activities, such as its low-frequency sonar trials off Hawaii and
on ship collisions with endangered whales, the group said.
- Merchant says it is "100-percent
sure" the hacking attempt originated from the Navy. WDCS has notified
the U.S. Embassy in London and the relevant U.K. authorities, the organization
- "We hope that the U.S. authorities
have some rational explanation for this incident," Stroud said.
- "The Navy has not yet received a
formal complaint on the issue," said a Navy official, who declined
to be named. "Until the Navy receives a formal complaint with details,
there's not much we can do to proceed further."