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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

U.S. may use nuclear weapons in war against viruses

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Tuesday, 5 October 1999

NEWSBYTES REPORTER ROBERT MacMillan proclaimed the U.S. wants to use nuclear weapons against virus writers. Say what? A government report at the center of this controversy seemed rather innocuous — even by my standards — when it talked about "weapons of mass disruption (information warfare)."

The report's call for mushroom-cloud retaliation focused on attacks using biotoxins, chemical agents, nuclear warheads, etc. When it warned "weapons will likely be put into space," they meant tangible weapons in outer space, not intangible weapons in cyberspace. The report even goes so far as to say "the essence of war will remain the same. There will be casualties, carnage, and death; it will not be like a video game."

Why did Newsbytes latch onto this report in particular? I mean, the U.S. Capitol brims with "video game" monographs penned by officials who need a thorazine prescription... MacMillan's headline could similarly proclaim "Use Nukes To Battle Montana Militiamen" or "Use Nukes To Battle Grassroots Internet Campaigns."

In other news, Australian stock exchange managing director Richard Humphry accused the U.S. military of trying to hack into the exchange's computers. Various newswires picked up on the story, as expected. This revelation came three weeks after vandals defaced the American Stock Exchange website. According to Humphry, Down Under security experts repulsed the U.S. military offensive. "A spokeswoman for the exchange later said that particular hacking attempt occurred toward the end of 1998," Dow Jones clarified.