[Paleopsych] Enterprise Security Today: Survey Predicts Devastating Internet Attack

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Enterprise Security Today (Online Security): NewsFactor Network -
Viruses & Worms - Survey Predicts Devastating Internet Attack

    NewsFactor Network
    January 11, 2005 1:29PM

    The definition of 'devastating' used in the survey was vague, noted
    Pew Internet project director Lee Rainie. "Some people pushed back on
    our results and said that in some respects, there are significant
    attacks taking place now -- which may not involve loss of life but
    could still be considered 'devastating.'"

    Respondents to a survey by the [49]Pew Internet & American Life
    Project and Elon University gave an eyebrow-raising response to a
    question about Internet security: Some 66 percent said they expected
    at least one devastating attack would occur in the next ten years on
    the networked information infrastructure or the country's power grid.

    "That is a significant number, especially when stacked against other
    predictions in the survey," Pew Internet project director Lee Rainie
    tells NewsFactor. Not only was the number of respondents high, but it
    was the question that generated the least dispute. "It is a strong
    position held by the vast majority of people we surveyed," Rainie

    It is also a frightening one: Increasingly, the Internet has become
    solidly integrated into most business and public operations: a
    worst-case scenario could cause major economic disruption and even
    significant loss of life should power utilities or emergency care
    facilities become inoperable.

    Defining Devastating

    But, like all surveys, these findings have room for interpretation.
    Rainie himself notes that the definition used for 'devastating' was
    vague. "Some people pushed back on our results and said that in some
    respects, there are significant attacks taking place now -- which may
    not involve loss of life but could still be considered 'devastating.'"

    Other people took issue with the premise that anything that happened
    online could ever result in a significant loss of life, he added. "And
    then, some said the Internet community's defenses would always be
    changing in response to the changing nature of the threat," he noted.

    Map to Upheaval

    However, those were the views of the minority. Some sixty-six percent
    of respondents -- a group that included many government officials,
    notably some from the Department of Homeland Security -- said the
    Internet could be disrupted in one of the following ways:

      * A significant attack on the infrastructure in which key nodes or
        domain names were disabled, perhaps for a long time.
      * A narrower attack in which the Internet applications of a key
        provider -- such as bank or power grid -- was disrupted.
      * An especially virulent form of virus or worm -- more virulent than
        the current crop, that is -- that would cause massive disruption
        around the world.

    Underlying these fears is the obvious fact that the Internet has
    become key to most Americans' lives, according to the survey, which
    could lead to unexpected consequences.

    Still not that worried about a large-scale attack on the Internet?
    Well, consider another finding from the same survey: Some 59 percent
    of these experts agreed with a prediction that more government and
    business surveillance will occur as computing [51]Latest News about
    computing devices proliferate and become embedded in appliances, cars,
    phones and even clothes.


   49. http://www.pewinternet.org/
   50. http://bs.serving-sys.com/BurstingPipe/BannerRedirect.asp?FlightID=50681&Page=&PluID=0&Pos=4988
   51. http://enterprise-security-today.newsfactor.com/search.xhtml?query=computing

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