PENDLETON - A computer wizard could hack into the computer network that connects local emergency officials in 20 minutes, an expert said.

Tony Rubal, a Bell Atlantic specialist who recently evaluated the local emergency response system, told about 40 people at the Pendleton Justice Center that the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program's network has few protections from cyber terrorists.

Rubal said this finding wasn't part of his charge to evaluate the many agencies tasked to protect people in Morrow and Umatilla counties from an accident at the Umatilla Chemical Depot. Still, he was concerned by the lack of protections for the system, noting that the Hermiston High School web site was attacked two weeks ago.

"In Washington (D.C.), I can come in through my servers and access your microwave system," he said Tuesday. The microwave radio system allows operations centers in the two counties to communicate with each other without the use of fiber optic cables.

He said that government hackers, who are trained to periodically break into computer systems to test security, can pass the system's sole firewall and access the CSEPP system in about 20 minutes.

"Is it a problem? No," he said. "In Washington, it's a problem every day," he said. Rubal is based in Virginia.

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