Transportation site knocked offline by hackers

Tuesday, May 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Hackers have knocked a Transportation Department Web site offline, a spokesman said Tuesday, leaving the department unable to post railroad decisions or use e-mail.

The Surface Transportation Board's Web site was hacked on Monday, spokesman Dennis Watson said, and federal investigators have been notified. Watson said technicians do not know when the site will be back online.

``The board is spending time right now getting the system up,'' Watson said. ``Their connection to the outside world is not functioning right now.''

The board is responsible for oversight of the nation's railroad industry, and sends out rulings on mergers and other railroad activities daily. Their e-mail list has over 2,000 subscribers, Watson said.

The site also contains news releases, economic statistics and past decisions. It is not known whether any information on the site was altered or destroyed.

Watson said Transportation investigators do not yet know who is responsible for the attack, or from what country it originated.

The FBI and several security companies have warned companies about a planned, coordinated assault by Chinese hackers on U.S. Web sites this week. The Chinese hackers are retaliating, the investigators said, for tensions stemming from the U.S. spy plane crash. U.S. hackers have also targeted Chinese government sites.

However, unlike the removal of the Surface Transportation Board's Web site, the China-U.S. tit-for-tat defacements typically replace the home page of the Web site with anti-China or anti-U.S. rhetoric, and cause no permanent damage.