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Scientology's system "hacker proof"

Title: Scientology's system "hacker proof"
Date: Wednesday, 27 August 1997
Author: Robert Vaughn Young
Main source: link (8.3 KiB)

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(To be included in OSA US DR re RVY)

INCOMM was created to be the computer data base for Scientology. Foster Thompkins was put in charge of the setup. It was to serve as a repository for all LRH writings so they could be word searched. (That was "SIR" or Source Information Retrieval). Routing forms were to go into the computer base. Time machine programs were to run the programs, automatically ordering the person to do the step. And there was email. (Financial records and other were to be added later, he said.)

But what Foster was especially proud of when INCOMM was being established in early 1982 was the security to make it impossible for unauthorized access.

Foster said there were basically three elements that INCOMM was to be protected against. The first was internal personnel gaining unauthorized access to files or mail.

The second was external hackers. For a long time this was to not be a problem as there was no modem hookup. There was no way one could dial into the INCOMM data base. But Foster knew it would come and various firewalls had to be put into place to ensure that no hacker could gain entry. He promised INCOMM would be "hacker proof." "The CIA will be easier to get into than us," he told me. (Some initial off-site connections were made via microwave and, he said, a double encryption process.)

The third was fascinating. INCOMM was located in the room where the old Intelligence Bureau had been when it was raided in 1977. It was on the ground (and slightly sub-ground) floor under the front of the Cedars complex. There were no windows. Access was only through several specially secured doors.

Knowing of the 1977 raid and to prevent it from happening again, there was one person in charge of the entire system who sat at the back of this huge room, behind locked doors and secured glass. Knowing that in the event of a raid the power might be turned off, INCOMM had backup battery systems and generators whose sole purpose was to keep the system on line long enough for the systems operator to crash and trash it. The only entrance was not only secured but had TV cameras so that, Foster figured, that even with the highest speed of a raid, the systems operator had more than enough time to crash/trash the system to prevent it from being confiscated.

Apparently the first time a "crash/trash" was done was in 1985. Scientology staff arrived one morning and found they had no computer files. INCOMM said there was a "crash" but what happened was that a rumor of an impending IRS raid had caused them to delete all files. There was no raid and despite the pleas of many, the files were NOT restored.

They could have restored the files. Foster had initiated twice daily backups of the entire system. These were to be taken off-site to a confidential location by a secured courier, with only a few people knowing that location.

All of this was why INCOMM prided itself on being uncrackable.

Robert Vaughn Young