LHC Computer Hacked

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been collecting lots of headlines this week as it finally ramped up to full speed. It has garnered attention for the massively sized experiments it will undertake (simulating conditions of the Big Bang), the questions its experiments will seek to answer (find the "God" particle), the cost of the project ($7.9 Billion), and even the fear that the LHC itself could create a black hole that would swallow up the Earth (it didn't... at least not yet).

So it's understandable that a project of this magnitude would receive lots of attention--especially one of the more public of the experiments, the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) Experiment, which is "one of the four 'eyes' of the facility that will be analysing the fallout of the Big Bang." In fact, James Gillies, a spokesman for Cern, commented that Cern received a staggering 1.4 million e-mails yesterday--of which 98 percent of them were spam. This is on top of the e-mail, telephone, and mail death threats that some of the 2,000 scientists at the LHC have received.

 Source: Telegraph.co.uk
It turns out that the LHC has also received some additional unwanted attention: One of the computers associated with the CMS Experiment was hacked by what appears to be a Greek hacker group. The group altered a page on the public CMS site. The page was in Greek, had the headline "GST: Greek Security Team" and the page also said, "We are 2600 - dont mess with us. (sic)" The page, cmsmon.cern.ch, is not currently available.

"Scientists working at Cern, the organisation that runs the vast smasher, were worried about what the hackers could do because they were 'one step away' from the computer control system of one of the huge detectors of the machine, a vast magnet that weighs 12,500 tons, measuring around 21 metres in length and 15 metres wide/high.

If they had hacked into a second computer network, they could have turned off parts of the vast detector and, said the insider, it is hard enough to make these things work if no one is messing with it'."

As far as the CMS researchers can tell, only "one file was damaged" and only about "half a dozen files [were] uploaded." The current assumption is that the purpose of the attack was just to make "the point that CMS was hackable."

It appears that none of the experiments were adversely impacted by the security breach. But with "more than 110 different control systems" in place that run everything from building heating to radiation protection to the particle accelerators themselves, the idea of a security breach can seem frightening. Cern's own Computing and Network Infrastructure for Controls group had previously produced a document that said, "recent events show that computer security issues are becoming a serious problem also at Cern." The team refused to comment, however, on this week's security breach.
Tags:  LHC, computer, Hack, hacked, AC, COM, K