- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

The e-mail in boxes of hundreds of infrastructure-protection professionals across the U.S. were clogged with hundreds of unwanted messages Wednesday.

The situation developed after it was discovered that anyone could send mail to a distribution list for a Department of Homeland Security daily news report.

Officials denied there were any security implications to the lapse but said the configuration of the distribution list would be changed to prevent it from happening again.

According to e-mail chains forwarded to United Press International by one member of the list, who asked for anonymity, the flaw became apparent when one recipient sent a change-of-address notice to the list distribution address, instead of to the list administrator’s address.

Everyone on the list for the department’s daily infrastructure-protection report — a compilation of news and other open-source items — appears to have received a copy, and several recipients replied.

While some pointed out that the messages were going to the entire list and urged everyone to stop hitting the “reply all” button, others sent greetings, comments about the weather or smiley-face emoticons.

“I don’t think everyone realizes that [the messages are going to the list] yet, but what a nice way for all of us to get to know one another,” one person wrote.

The list member who contacted UPI said he had received 289 messages as of 3 p.m., adding that they were beginning to include information about commercial products made by some of the contractors on the list.

“This report goes out to about 7,500 folks concerned with critical infrastructure protection,” including state and local law-enforcement and public-safety officials, and private-sector security specialists, Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said.

“This does not create any security concern or vulnerability,” he said. “We have very robust IT security systems.”

He called the messages “colorful and unnecessary commentary” and said the list had been shut down for the time being.

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