SECRET SERVICE HACKERS CAN'T CRACK INTRANET 4/21/98 11:06 AM By Giles Turnbull, PA News Professional computer hackers from the secret services were brought in to attempt to hack into the Government's internal secure communications system, which was launched today. Professional computer hackers? According to who? As part of the year-long planning and preparation of the Intranet, staff from GCHQ and similar security organisations were brought in to try to hack into the system. But they failed. However, the minister in charge of the project admitted today that given high-profile computer hacks got into computer systems owned by the Pentagon and NASA in the US, he could not say that the new Intranet was impossible to crack. The Government Secure Intranet (GIS) will allow ministers and senior civil servants to communicate by e-mail and use the Government's own daily planning tool, Agenda. An Intranet is a closed Internet system which can only be accessed by certain people. It is a popular way for large companies and organisations to streamline their internal communications. Intranet a "closed internet system"? An intranet is internal to a company or organization, and often has some kind of connectivity to the outside world. I think they meant to say this network was NOT an 'internet system'. The first phase of GIS, launched today, will be available to about 400 people allowed to see documents classed as restricted. The second phase, in a few months' time, will widen the scope to 400,000 people and include confidential documents. Nothing classified as secret will be placed on the Intranet, said the Minister in charge David Clark, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Dr Clark said the launch of the system was crucial to the future of electronic government. "This is what the whole development of the way we deliver government services will be based in future," he said. "It's a quiet revolution in the way we do government. When I came into office a year ago I was amazed that there was no means of secure electronic communication between government departments. "Very early on in the development of this system we brought in two groups of hackers from within government and challenged them to hack into it. Then we told them how it worked and they were still unable to break it. "I am very confident indeed that it will be very, very difficult indeed, but not impossible, to break into," aid Dr Clark. GIS was launched today in six core Government departments, and the second phase will start in six weeks. Other departments are expected to join within the next few months.