DAILY MAIL, LONDON, 26/2/1998 - Page One BRITONS HACK INTO PENTAGON British hackers broke into America's defence systems as the two countries geared up to attack Iraq, the Pentagon said last night. The infiltration was so intense that the CIA feared the computer spies were agents of Saddam Hussein. Thousands of attempts to crack military secrets were made over the last fortnight, Pentagon officials said. Several hundred times hackers broke into unclassified data banks containing pau and personnel records for the US Army, Navy and Air Force. But the relentless assault - which may have been co-ordinated via the Internet - was so sophisticated that it could ultimately have threatened Western security. [Scare tactic. "broke into unclassified data", immediately followed by "threatened Western security".] "During the last two weeks the Defence Department has experienced fairly heavy cyber attacks," John Hamre, the American deputry secretary of defense said last night. "It is the most organised and systematic computer attack we have ever suffered. It has been a major wake-up call on the vulnerability of sensitive information." [Another wake up call. Almost once a month the DOD gets a new 'wake up call'.] The timing could not have been more critical, with US and British forces on full alert in the Gulf in the run-up to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's peace mission to Baghdad. An FBI task force concluded that the hackers were British and American, anarchists using complex software. A Pentagon source said: "We believe the attack on our computers was launched at a secret convention of hackers, probably in New York. They organised a competition and we were the prime target." [How could the FBI conlclude the political agenda of these hackers by their hacking technique? Or is the use of the word 'anarchists' more hype to get public sympathy?] "While they did penetrate quite extensively at one level, they were unable to reach any classified data." The FBI refused to divulge any details about the convention, but sources say it was attended by fewer than 100 code breakers, most of them in their early 20s. While the majority were American, there was also a contingent from Britain." Mr Hamre said the infiltration was apparently perpetrated by a "small number of individuals." It has dramatically accelerated our plans to get on top of this problem", he added. The Pentagon has been a target of computer hackers since the 1983 film War Games showed a boy cracking the defence network and nearly starting World War III. In 1994, 16-year-old Londoner Richard Pryce broke into the United States' air force defence and missile systems in Washington. And last year it was claimed that hacker Mathew Bevan, 23, of Cardiff almost started a war between North and South Korea. He said last night: "The Pentagon is the ultimate for hackers."