Cyber Terrorist Strikes; Defence Chiefs 'Blackmailed' as Hacker Targets Satellites and Security Posts

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POLICE are hunting a computer hacker who is alleged to have targeted military bases and tried to blackmail defence chiefs.

The infiltrator is said to have attempted to gain control of a military communications satellite and altered its course, prompting alarmed officials to notify Tony Blair.

This is alleged to have been followed by a threat to continue interfering with the satellite unless a large amount of money - possibly [pounds sterling]3million - was handed over.

It is also possible that attempts have been made to break into the Government's high-security listening post, GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and other British installations abroad. Police refused to go into

details yesterday, because of the very sensitive nature of the allegations.

A Scotland Yard spokesman would say only: 'We can confirm that officers from the Metropolitan Fraud Squad are investigating allegations of a hacker believed to be targeting several different international sites, some of which may include military installations.' It is understood that a team comprising the most experienced and skilled members of the squad's Computer Crime Unit has been told to trace the origin of the attacks.

One source said: 'This is being seen as a very big and very important investigation.

'The officers involved have been told that discretion is crucial.'

Officially, the Ministry of Defence was denying the Sunday newspaper report that one of its four military satellites, which give crucial intelligence during actions such as the bombing raids on Iraq, had been infiltrated. …