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Teen-age computer hacker charged with host of break-ins

JERUSALEM, Feb. 16 (JTA) — A 19-year-old Israeli computer hacker has been charged with breaking into a host of high-security computer systems here and abroad. Prosecutors last week charged that Ehud Tanenbaum, known as “The Analyzer,” broke into the computers of the Pentagon, the U.S. Army and Navy, the NASA space agency, the Knesset and the Hamas Web site. Four other Israeli youths were charged with similar offenses. Along with his alleged computer-hacking activities, Tanenbaum is suspected of teaching others how to enter the systems. The investigation began in the summer of 1997, when U.S. officials launched a probe into a series of break-ins at the NASA computers. Early last year, there were additional break-ins, which prompted a further inquiry involving the U.S. Army, Navy and Justice Department. At the time the break-ins were uncovered, the U.S. undersecretary of defense described the affair as the “most organized and methodical attack on the Pentagon” to date. The probe by U.S. investigators led to two California youths, who confessed to breaking into several computer systems. They also said they had learned how to break-in to the computers from an Israeli who called himself “The Analyzer.” A search of their homes turned up information that helped investigators discover Tanenbaum’s identity. Last March, FBI agents came to Israel to request the cooperation of local authorities in arresting Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum, in an interview last year with an on-line magazine, said his hacking activities were intended to help the organizations he broke into, by pointing out the vulnerabilities of their computer security systems.