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FBI roots own systems to find spy's backdoor

Did Hanssen compromise the whole shebang?

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The FBI is systematically searching for evidence that suspected double agent Robert Hanssen, who has computer programming skills, compromised systems at the Bureau and/or the State Department with some manner of malicious backdoor, according to an unnamed source quoted in Monday's Washington Post.

"The jury is still out as to what he was able to do," the official is quoted as saying. But "because of the possibilities, we’ve got to take a look."

Hanssen had the highest security clearance, which gave him access to extremely sensitive data. The FBI fears that he might have enabled Russian spies to access secure systems used by the FBI, State and other agencies.

According to the Post report, the FBI has determined that Hanssen did not implant anything malicious into its secure, internal network which is not connected to the Internet.

It is not known whether he had access to the Intelink system, by which means intelligence data is shared among US agencies, and the Feds aren't talking about it.

Another possibility is that Hanssen might have compromised some sensitive systems, but erased evidence of it a year or two ago in anticipation of detailed audits required by the Y2K rollover bug.

If that should be the case, then the Feds will have to assess the damage to intelligence networks from indirect evidence alone, unless the suspect decides to sing. ®

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