Red alert on the e-war front

Wednesday, 16 July 2003, 8:20 AM EST

I'm sitting in a swanky conference room in Washington DC, surrounded by 65 computer experts from several businesses, and just about every US government agency and branch of the military. Normally their job is to defend the computer networks of such weighty establishments as the Department of Defense, the FBI, the National Security Agency, Air Force Intelligence, the Marine Corps and several large corporations. But everyone has switched allegiance. Today, we're the bad guys.

We have enrolled in hacking school. Using only our cunning and some basic software tools downloaded from the internet, we are about to learn about breaking into computer networks. The reason so many military, security and corporate bodies have sent people along to this event is a growing concern that the US is vulnerable to a full-scale electronic attack.

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