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Risk

9/19/2006
03:55 PM
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Spinach Woes Portend Repercussions Of Cyberattack

Wonder what the aftereffect of a terrorist attack on the Internet would look like? The way we're responding to contaminated spinach provides a clue.

Wonder what the aftereffect of a terrorist attack on the Internet would look like? The way we're responding to contaminated spinach provides a clue.Nearly every bag of spinach in the United States is E. coli-free, but we don't eat it because we can't be 100% certain it isn't tainted with the deadly bacteria. We just don't trust the product. Same thing could occur with data on the Internet.

Terrorists trying to sabotage the Internet won't take it down; the Net is just too large and decentralized. But terrorists could tamper with a minute portion of the Internet to corrupt some key data sets--such as financial or medical records--so that the integrity of other sets of data would be compromised. "It doesn't have to be all the data corrupted to lead to a loss of confidence of all information we look at on the Internet," says Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance.

One bad apple--err, rotten bag of spinach or set of data--could spoil the whole bunch.

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