Family of potential network hackers thwarted by Australian telco engineers

Filed Under: Featured

Earlier this year, video footage captured by a stormwater engineer in Tasmania, Australia, went viral when her pipe survey robot came across one of Australia's stockiest, stumpiest but most reclusive mammals: a wombat.

Not to be outdone in the cuteness stakes, Australia's biggest ISP, Telstra, has just published a field report from some of its own engineers who came across a family of potential network hackers in a cable pit in South East Queensland.

Squirrel gliders - so called because they can glide over 50 metres between trees thanks to a membrane of flesh between their front and back legs - are omnivorous and have long, sharp lower incisors, perfect for gnawing through network cables.

Of course, squirrel gliders shouldn't really be living in a cable pit - their natural habitat is up in trees, as you might expect - so the Telstra engineers were quickly able to get approval from the network change control committee (better known as the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) to relocate the creatures.

Network integrity was maintained, a potential denial of service attack was thwarted, and the squirrel gliders moved into a brand new housing box installed well above ground on a nearby utility pole.

For once, a hacker story with a happy ending!
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9 Responses to Family of potential network hackers thwarted by Australian telco engineers

  1. VFAC · 619 days ago

    Native fauna provided with high tech wireless home by Telstra ahead of NBN roll out.

  2. h4zzmatt · 619 days ago

    Wow, anything to get the word 'hacker in the headline and increase those Google SEO scores huh? Wombats are now 'network hackers'? Really?

    • Paul Ducklin · 619 days ago

      amusement [mass noun]

      * the state or experience of finding something funny.

      * the provision or enjoyment of entertainment.

      * something that causes laughter or provides entertainment.

      Oh, and it wasn't just _anything_ to get the word "hacker" in the headline. It was a family of squirrel gliders. (Methinks you were sidetracked by the wombat.)

  3. Freida Gray · 619 days ago

    Do squirrel gliders occasionally make it to the ground then get stuck there & unable to get back in trees?Or do they stay entirely in the trees until something (death,fire,attackers) brings them to the ground?

    • Paul Ducklin · 619 days ago

      Maybe there wasn't enough decent habitat nearby? IIRC this happened in Beenleigh, which is between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, so it's not exactly inner-city high-density living...but it is part of 2.5 million people making up the metropolitan sprawl of S.E. Queensland.

      IIRC these are territorial animals so if you're a glider and you get stuck (e.g. by roads, injury, cat terror) in someone else's 'hood, you can't just share their trees. You've got to find your own niche, even if it isn't really suitable.

    • Internaut · 619 days ago

      If you Google "sugar gliders", I'm sure you will learn about them there. To save you time, and we get back on topic, Sugar gliders live in Australia, and flying squirrels live in North America. By studying their genes and other traits, biologists have figured out that sugar gliders and flying squirrels are probably not very closely related. Sugar gliders are marsupial mammals and flying squirrels are placental mammals.

      • Paul Ducklin · 619 days ago

        Ahem - to be fair to the original questioner, the "hackers" in the article were neither sugar gliders (though they're related) nor flying squirrels.

        So, as interesting as Googling "sugar glider" might be, it's not quite what is needed here :-)

        Squirrel gliders (I am cheating here and just quoting from the article I linked to above) apparently roam up to 500 metres from their dwelling tree at night, so - gliding notwithstanding - I assume that moving around on the ground isn't entirely out of the ordinary for them, even though they're considered arboreal marsupials.

  4. Internaut · 619 days ago

    It's interesting to see Sophos reporting on the wildlife.

    Let's hope NatGeo doesn't start using "hacker" to gather headlines for for beavers.

    I

  5. snert · 618 days ago

    That was cute.
    And offbeat.
    And better than hearing about all those meanies.

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About the author

Paul Ducklin is a passionate security proselytiser. (That's like an evangelist, but more so!) He lives and breathes computer security, and would be happy for you to do so, too. Paul won the inaugural AusCERT Director's Award for Individual Excellence in Computer Security in 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @duckblog