How an e-mail virus could cripple a nation

Monday, 11 August 2003, 9:00 AM EST

With a publicly available search engine, a few well-chosen e-mail addresses, and off-the-shelf viral code, anyone can commit an act of cyberterrorism--or so says Roelof Temmingh, technical director of SensePost, a South African computer security company.

Speaking at the recent Black Hat Briefings and Defcon 11 conferences, Temmingh explained that the current methods of assailing computer networks--denial-of-service attacks (DoS) or remote break-ins--inconvenience too few people to really impact a nation's information infrastructure. The sort of exploit that could really hurt a country, Temmingh suggests, would more likely be based on e-mail viruses, a concept he outlined in a recent paper.

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