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National Lab Briefs

Scientists, beware! The West German hacker who invaded scores of U.S. military computer systems last year could easily strike again. Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory who finally tracked the electronic wizard down have been studying his M.O. Their conclusion: His tactics were often ridiculously simple. Many of the systems he entered used account names and passwords so obvious as to be worthless. And many current systems continue to use similar passwords. The best defense? Difficult p

The Scientist Staff

Scientists, beware! The West German hacker who invaded scores of U.S. military computer systems last year could easily strike again. Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory who finally tracked the electronic wizard down have been studying his M.O. Their conclusion: His tactics were often ridiculously simple. Many of the systems he entered used account names and passwords so obvious as to be worthless. And many current systems continue to use similar passwords. The best defense? Difficult passwords. "People complain that they won’t be able to remember an obscure password or one that’s gibberish," says Leroy Kerth, associate director of the lab. "But all they need to do, for example, is take a common word and put a number in the middle of it."

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