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Wednesday December 08 08:55 PM EST
Net Companies to Hold Massive Y2K Call
RESTON, Va. (APBnews.com) -- In an effort to track and troubleshoot Internet Y2K problems, a group of cyberspace companies is launching a project that includes a 36-hour international conference call starting New Year's Eve.
The effort, code named "Silent Night," is aimed at spotting and fixing Y2K glitches, like computer equipment malfunctions, as well as acting as a clearinghouse for Internet and computer-related hacker and virus problems.
The Internet Operators Group, or IOPS, coordinating the project will host the worldwide call that will begin before midnight Dec. 31 New Zealand time -- which is early morning EST Dec. 31 -- and remain active for at least 36 hours with direct access to 25 Internet service providers (ISPs) and computer and network equipment companies.
AT&T will donate the telephone call, which may have otherwise cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Although we don't expect problems, by midnight on Dec. 31 in the United States we should be well-aware of any issues that will impact the Internet," said IOPS Executive Director Ira Richer. "This is the first time that so many major global Internet networks and equipment vendors have cooperated in real-time to identify and resolve potential Internet outages, security hacks and other incidents around the world."
Coordinated with president's council
In case of telephone problems, there is a backup plan using e-mail to share and exchange information. A spokeswoman for IOPS said the data network is separate from the telephone system and should not experience any problems.
"The backup network is a different network, so if voice went down, it would have nothing to do with sending data," said a spokeswoman.
The telephone conference call, as well as the e-mail backup system, is being coordinated with the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion's Information Coordination Center (ICC) -- the federal government's central point for monitoring system operations during the Y2K rollover.
"This unprecedented cooperation between competing Internet networks and providers will be enormously helpful to ensure United States preparedness to meet any technical problem that could result from Y2K- related network and telecommunication failures around the world," said John Koskinen, chairman of the president's council.
'Use the new year as a cloak'
G. Mark Hardy, director of professional services at Secure Computing Corp., a security software and consulting firm, said, "Script-kiddies will be trying to take advantage of Internet and software weaknesses during the millennium crossover, but the real hacker pros will be out enjoying the millennium parties.
"Initiatives like the IOPS Silent Night hot line could be extended to real-time link-ups on demand, so that Internet operators can quickly respond to major system problems in the future, such as a massive outbreak of a new type of virus."
Joseph Marion, executive director of the Florida Internet Service Providers Association, said he applauds the effort of the IOPS as a "good precaution" to warn of problems and that most of the ISPs in the Sunshine State are Y2K compliant.
"The major problem which we anticipate on New Year's will come from hackers who will try to use the new year as a cloak for their activities," said Marion.
Anti-virus makers on alert
That belief is echoed by federal law enforcement and computer security experts.
At a conference in London this week, the FBI's top cybercrime fighter, Michael Vatis, said that federal agents are prepared for hacker attacks against the Internet, which will be launched under the guise of a Y2K problem.
And anti-virus software-makers are preparing for an increased workload. Computer security experts say that during the year-2000 transition, they expect increased activity and deliberate sabotage of computer systems. They estimate that a flood of viruses will occur and computer systems and data will be under constant attack.
"We expect the virus writers and other people developing malicious computer applications to use this transition period to unleash their creations," said Keith Peer, president of Central Command Inc., an anti-virus software company.
Equipment vendors also taking part
Members of the IOPS ISPs are AT&T, BroadWing Communications Inc., Cable & Wireless, Conxion, EarthLink, GTE Internetworking, ICG, Qwest and Sprint.
Other companies taking part include AboveNet, America Online, MCI WorldCom's UUNET and its East and West Coast Metropolitan Area Ethernets, ISPs from the North American Network Operators Group, and equipment vendors including Cabletron, Cisco, Juniper Networks, Lucent Technologies and Marconi.
By David Noack, an APBnews.com staff writer (email@example.com).
-- Linkmeister (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 09, 1999.