Croatian teen hackers break Pentagon codes

ZAGREB, Croatia (Reuter) - Three teenage computer hackers in Croatia broke Pentagon protection codes and copied highly classified files from United States military bases, local media and school officials said Wednesday (12 Feb. 1997).

While surfing the Internet on their home computer, the three high school students applied a search program and deciphered codes, barging into the database of several U.S. military installations, the Zagreb daily Vecernji List said.

The databases included those of the Anderson nuclear installation and an unnamed satellite research center, it said. The break-in left a trace on the Internet which was tracked down by the Pentagon, reports said.

The U.S. Defense Department contacted Croatian police through Interpol demanding an investigation while local police searched the youngsters' apartments and confiscated their computer equipment, local media said. The damage caused by the teenagers' destruction of high-profile protection programs could reach half a million dollars, Vecernji List said.

Computer-hacking is not illegal in Croatia.

The three teenagers attend a school in the Adriatic port of Zadar specializing in mathematics and science. Principal Zdravko Curko said the three had no criminal intent and their "success'' was a compliment to their education. "This is a case of extensive curiosity which had undesired consequences,'' Curko told Reuters by telephone. "They are excellent students, in love with mathematics and computer science -- they are fanatics in a positive sense of the term.'' But Curko said the hackers' parents were concerned that they might be sued for damages.

Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 16:15:26 -0500
From: David Farber 

Last updated 97/02/25