Country-coded computer worms may be ahead

Tuesday, 5 August 2003, 1:53 PM EST

Future computer worms could be programmed to attack only within a particular country, according to a leading computer security expert.

Jonathan Wignall, of the UK's Data and Network Security Research Council, a non-profit think tank, presented a review of the latest research on computer worms at the security conference Defcon 11 in Las Vegas on Sunday.

He highlighted techniques that worm creators might use to make their code spread more effectively. One of these techniques could also limit a worm's geographic range, he suggests.

Wignall says this would turn a computer worm into an effective weapon for information warfare. Instead of attacking internet-connected computers at random it could be used to attack a specific country, he says.

Some politically motivated hackers already target their attacks on country-specific web sites. This was demonstrated by pro- and anti-American site defacements during the recent war in Iraq.

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