Hackers can make your PC explode

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Posted 05/04/2000 1:45am by Thomas C. Greene in Washington

Hackers can make your PC explode

Hackers can now turn your home computer into a bomb and blow your family to smithereens, and do so remotely from thousands of miles away, the Weekly World News reports.

The recent DDoS attacks which paralysed the Amazon, Buy.com and eBAY Web sites are tame compared to what will happen in the near future, the paper warns.

Computer expert Arnold Yabenson, president of the Washington-based consumer group National CyberCrime Prevention Foundation (NCPF), says that we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

"It is already possible for an assassin to send someone an e-mail with an innocent-looking attachment. When the receiver downloads the attachment, the electrical current and molecular structure of the central processing unit is altered, causing it to blast apart like a large hand grenade," the paper quotes Yabenson as saying.

"The criminals who knocked out those on-line businesses are the least of our worries," Yabenson said.

"There are brilliant but unscrupulous hackers out there who have developed technologies that the average person can't even dream of. Even people who are familiar with how computers work have trouble getting their minds around the terrible things that can be done."

"As shocking as this is, it shouldn't surprise anyone. It's just the next step in an ever-escalating progression of horrors conceived and instituted by hackers," he warned.

Yabenson points out that these "dangerous sociopaths" have already vandalised FBI and US Army Web sites, and have come within two digits of cracking an 87-digit Russian security code that would have sent deadly missiles hurtling toward five of America's major cities, the paper notes.

"As dangerous as this technology is right now, it's going to get much scarier," Yabenson said. "Soon it will be sold to terrorists cults and fanatical religious-fringe groups. Instead of blowing up a single plane, these groups will be able to patch into the central computer of a large airline and blow up hundreds of planes at once."

The Register had hoped to interview Yabenson for clarification of just how the planes would be made to explode. Perhaps via embedded microprocessors whose molecular structure could be altered remotely, as with the previously described e-mail attachment, we were thinking.

But alas, a Web search for the NCPF yielded only the North Carolina Psychological Foundation, which, as we consider it, might have a few valuable insights into this story after all... .

Register historic factoid: Reader Dale Hubbard claims that back in 1980 you could make a Sharp MZ80K smoke, "and sometimes even flame. This was accomplished by writing a program in assembler that would activate/deactivate the cassette relay switch in a very swift toggle motion. The resultant friction could certainly warm up the relay." Thank you, Dale. A well mispent youth. http://www.theregister.co.uk/morenews.htmlhttp://www.theregister.co.uk/morenews.html http://www.theregister.co.uk/

-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), April 06, 2000


Another urban myth at work.

-- those are Myths (ifI@wouldbelieveall.com), April 06, 2000.


THanks for the esoterica........


Help. help. there's been an explosion, call 911-I cannot see anything- good thing I can touch type..............ROTFLMAO

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), April 06, 2000.

ROTFLMAO!! This should have been posted on April fool's day on here.

In case someone who's not PC savvy and gets paranoid over this, just know that physical bombs cannot be transmitted through phone lines, and that the worse that can happen to your PC with evil code is your motherboard making a tiny fizzle sound and your screen go blank.

But someone more savyy in IT and microprocessors than me should really debunk the rest of it, as with this quote "The Register had hoped to interview Yabenson for clarification of just how the planes would be made to explode. Perhaps via embedded microprocessors whose molecular structure could be altered remotely, as with the previously described e-mail attachment, we were thinking."

If it's not Y2K, it's something else, huh?

-- Chris (!@#$@pond.com), April 06, 2000.

BTW, notice the headline that's meant to grab you by your emotions and fears "Hackers can make your PC explode". What did you visualize? A big KABOOOM!!! right?

Staying away from hyperbole crackpot threads is my new outlook on life post-y2k.

-- Chris (!@#$@pond.com), April 06, 2000.

Perhaps this is not as wild as it seems. On many occasions, my PC has made ME explode.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), April 06, 2000.

Warning -- technical engineering material.

Nearly all modern PCs have many ways to reduce power consumption. Since the CPU is the biggest power hog in a PC (other than the monitor), reducing CPU power when appropriate buys you the biggest gains.

The way to reduce CPU power consumption is to reduce the number of clock cycles the CPU sees per unit time. This can be done in two ways, depending on board designer decision. You can either reduce the input frequency (say from 500MHz to 250 MHz), or you can start and stop the CPU clock, running it at 500MHz half the time and 0MHz half the time. This slowdown is performed by software talking to the appropriate hardware.

When running flat out, all modern CPUs run too hot to be cooled by a passive heat sink. They all use an active heat sink, also known as a CPU fan.

Problem is, the CPU fan also consumes power, and you don't need to run the CPU fan full blast if the CPU is slowed down. So some designs permit the CPU fan to be slowed and/or stopped under software control, to save even more power.

However, most such designs permit the CPU fan to be stopped even when the CPU is running flat out. Of course nobody would ever want to do this, but it can be done. To do so, two things must be true -- the hardware must support this feature, and the programmer must know exactly how the board designers chose to implement this feature.

If someone does this, then within a fairly short time (hours), the CPU will break from overheating. No, it won't explode. It will just start making errors and the PC will hang. If this condition is allowed to continue, the CPU will melt beyond recovery.

But the hacker must know proprietary details about your specific board to cause this, and the user must fail to notice the fan has stopped (the PC will be MUCH more quiet). Not very likely.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 06, 2000.

And to think, I bought the story about a ni-cad failure.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 06, 2000.

Sounds like a variant on the "Death Ray" hoax: CIAC Internet Hoaxes

Death Ray

The Death Ray Virus is a hoax. The following "Death Ray Virus" warning was reported in the Weekly World News and other publications. CIAC knows of no virus or any computer program for that matter that has caused physical damage to a computer or cause it to explode.

A deadly new computer virus that actually causes home computers to explode in a hellish blast of glass fragments and flame has injured at least 47 people since August 15, horrifying authorities who say millions of people are risking injury, blindness or death every time they sit down to work at their PC!

"Computer viruses of the past could disable your computer, but this virus goes a step further -- and can kill you," declared Martin Heriden, a computer expert who specializes in identifying computer viruses. "This virus doesn't carry the usual 'markers' that enable it to be detected. It slips through the cracks, so to speak.

"It is an extremely complicated process. But suffice it to say that the virus affects the computer's hardware, creating conditions that lead to dangerous short circuits and power surges. The end result? Explosions -- powerful explosions. And millions of Internet users are at risk."

The virus, nicknamed Death Ray by experts like Heriden, surfaced in England on August 1. A 24-year-old college student was permanently blinded when his 15-inch color monitor exploded in his face.

"So how do you protect yourself? I wish I knew," said Heriden. "You either stop using the Internet or you take your chances until we can get a handle on this thing and get rid of it for good.

-- DeeEmBee (macbeth1@pacbell.net), April 06, 2000.

Carl: You're even more stupid than we all thought.

Stop embarassing yourself.

-- (carl:@youarean.idiot), April 06, 2000.

Actually, that Register article that Carl posted takes a rather skeptical tone (read those last few paragraphs). The Register is a UK-based IT Webzine, so I suspect they published this less as "breaking news" and more likely as an example of the latest rumor to make the rounds of the Net.

-- DeeEmBee (macbeth1@pacbell.net), April 06, 2000.

Dee em bee [or whatever];

Looks that way to me. Carl just links stuff. If one assumed that the links represented his view, he would qualify as one confused dude.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), April 06, 2000.

Other stories from Carl's fav mag, Weekly World News:

"Woman Weighs 3,021 Pounds"

"6-Day Underwear Big Hit in Japan"

"Your Wife is Probably a Bitch, Expert Says"

-- (.x..@xx..x), April 06, 2000.

Guess there's a few folks on this forum who have low reading comprehension skills and/or have lost their sense of humor!

"But alas, a Web search for the NCPF yielded only the North Carolina Psychological Foundation, which, as we consider it, might have a few valuable insights into this story after all..." .

-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), April 07, 2000.

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