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September 13th, 2008

Hackers Attack Large Hadron Collider Network At CERN, Leaving A Message For System Administrators

Hackers have attacked the network of Large Hadron Collider and mocked the IT used on the project, describing the technicians responsible for security as “a bunch of schoolkids.” The hackers said they had no intention of disrupting the work of CERN. The website,, can no longer be accessed by the public as a result of the attack.

“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,” they wrote in Greek in a rambling note posted on the LHC’s network.

Scientists working at CERN were worried about what the hackers could do because they were “one step away” from the computer control system of one of the huge detectors of the machine, a vast magnet that weighs 12500 tons, measuring around 21 metres in length and 15 metres wide/high.

If they had hacked into a second computer network, they could have turned off parts of the vast detector and, said the insider, “it is hard enough to make these things work if no one is messing with it.” Fortunately, only one file was damaged but one of the scientists firing off emails as the CMS team fought off the hackers said it was a “scary experience”.

The hackers targeted the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment, or CMS, one of the four “eyes” of the facility that will be analysing the fallout of the Big Bang. The CMS team of around 2000 scientists is racing with another team that runs the Atlas detector, also at CERN, to find the Higgs particle, one that is responsible for mass.

The hacking attempt started around the time that the giant machine was about to circulate its first particles, under the spotlight of the world’s media. To refine security methods CERN set up a working group called Computing and Network Infrastructure for Controls. One document written by the group said: “Recent events show that computer security issues are becoming a serious problem also at CERN.”

Credit: The Daily Telegraph

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