Large Hadron Collider hacked

Even as the scientists at CERN, the centre for nuclear research, were switching on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator under Geneva last week, a group of Greek hackers were one step away from controlling a 12,500-ton electromagnet that serves as one of the machine’s four detectors.

The intruders posted a lengthy note in Greek on the machine’s network introducing themselves as ‘the Greek Security Team’, mocking the system’s poor security and calling the IT staff responsible for it “a bunch of schoolkids.”

The hackers said they had no intention of interfering with the operation of the LHC, but added, “We’re pulling your pants down because we don’t want to see you running around naked looking to hide yourselves when the panic comes.”

Scientists fighting off the attack on the ‘Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment’, which is competing with the Atlas detector to find evidence of the Higgs boson particle, reportedly described the intrusion as “a scary experience”.

"It is hard enough to make these things work if no one is messing with it,” an insider told The Daily Telegraph.

While only one existing file was damaged, half a dozen were reportedly uploaded and had to be carefully studied before deletion in order to avoid potential back-door threats.

"It was quickly detected and there seems to be no harm done,” said CERN spokesperson James Gillies. “From what we can tell, it was someone making the point that CMS was hackable."

Further reading

Oyster cards hacked

US government telephone system hacked

Find more stories in the Security & Continuity Briefing Room

Related Topics