Hackers in the Large Hadron Collider

Apparently, hackers managed to take control of a website related to the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment: one of the five detectors within the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This isn’t terribly surprising, since high profile websites get vandalized reasonably frequently. What is rather more disturbing is that the hackers were apparently “one step away” from the control system of the detector itself. While I don’t know the details of the design, not connecting the computers that control the machine to the internet would seem like an elementary precaution. Not connecting them to publicly accessible web servers, even more so.

Apparently, the beams circulating in the LHC will eventually have as much kinetic energy as an aircraft carrier going 12 knots – all concentrated into bunches circling the accelerator 11,000 times per second. Preventing outside access to the control systems for the sensors that will make sense of all the data seems like common sense, even if the output from those sensors is getting sent around the world for analysis.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

4 thoughts on “Hackers in the Large Hadron Collider”

  1. What would be the worst thing that could happen if hackers were to seize control of the thing?

  2. My guess is that the worst case scenario is severe damage to the equipment. If someone screwed up the beam calibration, high energy protons might be made to smash into expensive pieces of gear.

  3. I hope they were crazed theoretical physicists attempting to create a black hole and/or time machine.

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