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HACK ATTACKS RAISE SPECTER OF GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

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Source: Center for Democracy and Technology

(1) HACK ATTACKS RAISE SPECTER OF GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

Last week's denial of service attacks on major e-commerce Web sites have prompted interest in Washington, with potentially serious implications for the relationship between government and the Internet.

CDT is concerned that the attacks may serve as justification for legislation or other government mandates that will be harmful to civil liberties and the positive aspects of the openness and relative anonymity of the Internet. Such a course is especially unjustified when there is so much to be done to improve security without changing the architecture or protocols of the Internet or further eroding privacy.

While denial of service is appropriately a crime, the recent attacks highlight a problem not soluble by criminal investigation and prosecution: basic system security has been ignored far too long.

In terms of developing policy responses, it is important to recognize that the affected sites were able to recover quickly and install defenses against further similar attacks. Moreover, the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack methods were well-known and widely reported before they were launched. Like most attacks, they exploited well-known system vulnerabilities. And, as with most malicious code, there were diagnostic tools that would have allowed systems administrators to determine if their computers had been hijacked for DDOS purposes.

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