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As published in the Philadelphia Daily News, February 22, 2000


'Hack attack' shouldn't discourage e-users

It's still safe to surf. In this Internet debacle, several large e-corporations came under fire from what's known as a denial-of-service attack, a few well-known Web sites shut down by hackers.

The hackers used a special computer program to flood an Internet site with electronic traffic, making it difficult for the targeted site to respond to all requests for data. This blocked people from using the site.

The bogus traffic originated from many computers spread across the Internet, rather than a small few. The hackers broke into these innocent computers and planted "zombie" programs that would, when signaled remotely, send bogus traffic to the targeted Internet sites. It takes a small band of cyber-geeks to put something like this together.

The Internet was never designed to defend against such an attack. Uncle Sam and the computing industry are scrambling to respond to the wake-up call.

Should these denial-of-service attacks deter you from surfing the Internet? I hope not. They cannot steal data or proprietary information. Electronic commerce remains largely unaffected. Your money is still in the bank; no one has stolen your credit-card numbers; and you can still buy fuzzy yellow slippers on eBay.

Alan M. Impink