RealNews

How an e-mail virus could cripple a nation

With a publicly available search engine, a few well-chosen e-mail addresses, and off-the-shelf viral code, anyone can commit an act of cyberterrorism–or so says Roelof Temmingh, technical director of SensePost, a South African computer security company. Speaking at the recent Black Hat Briefings and Defcon 11 conferences, Temmingh explained that the current methods of assailing computer networks–denial-of-service attacks (DoS) or remote break-ins–inconvenience too few people to really impact a nation’s information infrastructure. The sort of exploit that could really hurt a country, Temmingh suggests, would more likely be based on e-mail viruses, a concept he outlined in a recent paper. HOPEFULLY, learning about how the unthinkable could happen should help us prepare for and minimize the damage of such an event, should it ever occur. Temmingh and his associates got a chance to investigate his theory while working with a South African bank. They decided to see how easy it would be to infect a bank’s computer systems (which presumably are pretty secure) with an e-mail-borne virus. Full Story

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