25/02 - In the aftermath of the hacker attack: researchers recommend German high-security protection for the US army

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25/02 - In the aftermath of the hacker attack:
researchers recommend German high-security protection for the US army

Trier. The Institut für Telematik (Institute for Telematics), Germany's leading Internet research and development center, offered the US Government the installation of its Lock-Keeper sluice in order to protect army and government computers on the Internet. This would provide the open network main computers with "one hundred percent reliable protection against online hacker attacks", said Christoph Meinel (48), director of this autonomous and nonprofit institute and professor of computer science in Trier. The scientist said that in reply to the latest BBC and Washington Post reports in which the American IT security company, Forensic Tec, appeared shocked about how easy it was to break into the Pentagon computers and access confidential data of the Department of Defense.

The head of the Institute for Telematics assumes that the attack, which was confirmed by the Army spokesman, Ted Dmuchowski, did not succeed in spying out highly confidential information: "Up to now, servers with such sensitive data are not connected to the Internet," explained Meinel. However, this would be possible provided that computers are protected with the patented German Lock-Keeper. Consequently, time-consuming and expensive data transfer via storage media would no longer be necessary.

In Germany, the new product developed by the Institute for Telematics and marketed by the Luxembourg IT services company (info@it-services.lu), is already successfully in use at various government and industrial organizations among others. Even financial services, which are known to have very high security requirements, are interested in the Lock-Keeper. It provides the Internet connected in-house computers of a company with more effective protection against unauthorized external attacks than the so-called "Firewalls". Thanks to the Lock-Keeper, online hackers' activities are effectively put to a stop, because no one can have a direct physical connection with the intranet of a company via the Internet. In January 2002, the Lock-Keeper of the Trier Institute for Telematics was distinguished with the award for invention by the Federal State of Rhineland Palatine.

"Firewalls do not separate the in-house computer network of a company from the outside world, but rather analyze and filter only the transferred data packages," pointed out Professor Meinel. Therefore, it is not possible to simply rule out possible limited protection or even failure of Firewalls due to a software defect, lack of competence on part of the operators, or incorrect configuration.  A new system developed by the Institute provides a sluice, in which data being transferred between a company's Intranet and the Internet must pass through. Depending on the condition of the "gate", information is exchanged with only one computer. This is physically determined. The data can be verified in accordance with the security requirements of a particular company while it is in the sluice. However, this does not have to take long; it can be done in a flash.