Tackling the Net's biggest issue (ZDNet)

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Tackling the Net's biggest issue

Updated 12:16 PM ET April 3, 2000

By Patrick Houston, ZDNet News

In the national life, policy controversies are common. They are as regular and routine to American democracy as breathing itself. But the number of great debates, especially in the post Cold War era, are few and far between -- health-care reform, taxation, Social Security.

Now another such weighty public-policy issue -- one with similarly profound and widespread implications -- is wending its way toward the top of the national agenda. It doesn't rate quite as high as health care on the Richter scale, but it comes close because, like health care, it holds the potential to touch a spectrum of interests, institutions and concerns -- the Internet, e-commerce, law, civil liberties, privacy, even international relations.

The issue?

Whether or not the United States needs a "national plan" to protect what has arguably become a resource as vital to its interests as oil or manufacturing or trade -- namely, the computers, information systems and networks at the heart of our new economy and the still-enduring "long boom."

In the last year alone we've witnessed three highly publicized incidents, each of which underscored two realities of how utterly dependent we've become on information systems and how utterly vulnerable we've become as well. The three eye-openers:

the Melissa virus, which spread like wildfire, disabling thousands of computers in hundreds of businesses;

the Y2K bug;

the denial-of-service (DoS) attacks in February that took down some of the biggest and most sophisticated sites on the Web.

The DoS attacks, more than anything, turned up the heat on what has been a simmering public policy debate surrounding a 100-plus-page document, issued by the White House on Jan. 7, entitled "National Plan for Information Systems Protection, Version 1.0, An Invitation to a Dialogue." (Read a PDF version using Adobe Acrobat.)

If you care passionately about technology, the Net, business, freedom expression or information privacy, you must join this dialogue. And ZDNet plans to help you do so -- by giving you the information you need to engage in this dialogue and by giving you a forum in which to express your views on the matter.

This Monday, April 3, ZDNet will post a special report titled, "Lines of defense: How to keep e-vandalism from turning into e-terrorism." It will include contributions from a large team of ZDNet reporters and editors who looked at every key aspect of this issue: Why now? What's at stake? What are the competing issues and interests? Who's at the table? What's being proposed?

Plus, we've solicited commentaries from some of the foremost experts on the national plan, representing perspectives as diverse as those from Jeffrey Hunker of the National Security Council and Brad Templeton of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

What's more, on April 20, we'll be hosting a special National Town Hall, to be Webcast live, in which we'll gather six people from government, business, the online security sector and civil-liberties interests to answer your questions about the national plan, its shape and its implications.

Please join us. This is an important issue. You need to know. You must be heard.

Pat Houston is editorial director of ZDNet News.

-- (news@of.note), April 05, 2000


The US doesn't have a hope in hell of controlling the net!

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), April 05, 2000.


New 911 worm on the loose

Virus spreads by searching Internet for vulnerable machines


April 3  A new type of worm capable of wiping out computer hard drives and launching denial-of-service attacks on 911 emergency services was not reported to be causing widespread problems on Monday. But computer security experts warned that it could have serious consequences if it was not quickly contained.

THE WORM  variously described as the BAT.Chode.Worm, the Firkin worm or the 911 virus  was first reported Saturday by the FBIs National Infrastructure Protection Center. It said it was first detected in the Houston area.

It said the worm  the term for a self-replicating piece of malicious code  searches the Internet for computer systems set up for file and print sharing, copies itself onto those systems, overwrites the hard drive and causes the newly infected computer systems to dial 911 if a modem is present.

The SANS Institute, which tracks computer security issues, reported that the worm is the first Windows shares virus, meaning it jumps directly from machine to machine across the Internet rather than spreading itself via e-mail. It also said that some victims had reported that their hard drives had been wiped out, though it did not say how many reports had been received.


This is a vicious virus and needs to be stopped quickly, the institute warned in an e-mail alert to its subscribers.

Symantecs Antivirus Research Center and F-Secure Corp., a computer security firm, reported that the worm was searching the Internet for accessible computers with a shared C drive that is not password protected.

Once a drive shared for full access (reading and writing) is located, the worm looks for a Windows directory on that drive and installs itself there, F-Secure reported. The worm then creates a new folder in Program Files directory, copies its files there and adds a PIF file to the Windows startup folder to be activated on remote a computer on its next startup.

The worm then either formats hard drives or dials 911 using a modem if it is installed on COM1-COM4 ports. One of the worms versions sends dial commands to all these ports regardless of modem presence in an infected system.

F-Secure said that three variants of the worm had been detected.

-- (recent@tech.news), April 06, 2000.

Bennett Aims to Protect U.S. From New Cyber-Threat -- Hackers


-- (C@I.P.), April 18, 2000.

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