Time to crack down on cyber terrorists
Date: February 07, 2004
This inter-connected world isn't all it's cracked up to be sometimes.
A computer virus called MyDoom showed up in Pocatello last week and caused all sorts of headaches at AMI Semiconductor.
AMIS was almost certainly not the only Idaho business impacted by this latest wave of computer vandalism. The virus unleashed itself when the unsuspecting computer user downloaded the attachment that arrived with the virus-laced e-mail. Those dastardly e-mails came in the form of the very common undeliverable message. It was harmful to those who accidentally downloaded the attachment.
Hackers who create these viruses are no different than other criminals^; in fact many label virus writers as terrorists.
Their crimes cost this country millions of dollars in wages and lost hours of productivity that could be spent doing something else. Dealing with the nefarious creations of these destructive high-tech graffiti artists should be a top priority of law enforcement not only in this country, but also around the world.
It's high time the jail sentences and fines paid were made equal to the seriousness of their crime.
If enough hackers could be rounded up and punished in a systematic manner and forced to provide millions of volunteer hours performing computer services for those in need, maybe this bothersome wave of viruses, worms and Trojan horses would recede.
These days it's routine for personal computer users to have to spend at least a few hours doing maintenance and virus scans on their computer systems to protect themselves against the latest viruses.
Everyone using a personal computer should follow some basic rules to help fight off computer-crippling viruses. The most fundamental rule is to never open or download an attachment unless you are familiar with the sender of the e-mail. In most cases that will save you the headache, and likely expense, of computer repairs. For more information, check out McAfee.com to find other ways to protect your family's computer.
Even in Pocatello, which experiences relatively little serious crime, computer viruses are significant events and an economic disaster. For a company like AMIS, with hundreds of computers on site, a single virus can cause thousands of dollars in damage and lost resources. In the long run, costs taken on by large companies trickle down to the consumer.
Penalties for virus writers ought to reflect the seriousness of the crime - they inhibit commerce and take a bite out of consumer confidence. International laws should be consistent with those in the U.S., so that even foreign "cyber-terrorists" realize what they are up against. The time to start working to improve the laws is here, as it is likely the next international e-mail virus is being written right now.
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