Recent Internet attack offers timely reminder that upgrades needed

Posted: Thursday, November 07, 2002

Most Internet users experienced little if any disruption when an attack was launched against the 13 main computer servers that handle online traffic around the world. But the incident shouldn't be treated as a mere blip on the screen.

The Oct. 21 assault, described by computer experts as one of the largest attempts to disrupt the Internet yet, lasted only an hour. But it shut down seven of the global computer network's core servers and caused intermittent trouble for two more. Federal investigators said the attack was similar to previous, smaller assaults that sent a flood of data to selected targets, thus disrupting legitimate Internet traffic.

The attack may have been another prank -- or a test shot. ''The public harm in this attack was low,'' said Marc Zwillinger, a former Justice Department lawyer who has investigated attacks on business Web sites. ''What it demonstrates is the potential for further harm.''

... Last week's troubles serve as another reminder that the clock's ticking. Federal officials and industry leaders need to move forward with basic upgrades -- before someone launches a costly, full-scale assault.

-- Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune

Nov. 5

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