FBI say they warned of cyber attacks

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FBI say they warned of cyber attacks Tuesday, 29 February 2000 20:58 (ET)

FBI say they warned of cyber attacks By ASHLEY BAKER

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- A top FBI official told lawmakers Tuesday that his agency had issued a series of warnings about possible electronic attacks against key computer systems as early as last fall.

"Unfortunately, the warnings that we and others in the security community had issued about distributed denial of service tools lastyear did not eliminate the threat," said Michael Vatis, director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center. "Quite frankly, even when a threat is known ... network operators either remain unaware of the problem or fail to take necessary, corrective steps."

The official's testimony before a joint Senate-House panel follows a series of high-profile computer attacks in which hackers shut down Web sites such as CNN, Amazon and Yahoo by forcing other computers to request thousands of transactions simultaneously from the targeted servers.

"An analogy would be if someone launched an automated program to have hundreds of phone calls placed to the Capitol switchboard at the same time,"Vatis said.

Vatis said detecting and preventing such computer attacks willbe "the most fundamental challenge for law enforcement in the 21st century."

To deal with the problem successfully, Vatis said, law enforcement agencies "must retool."

The number of computer crimes the FBI investigates has risen sharply. In fiscal year 1999, the agency opened 1,154 computer intrusion cases, compared to 547 in 1998.

-- Copyright 2000 by United Press International


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 29, 2000

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