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Attack of the Clones

Alright, I’ll admit it; I haven’t got a broadband connection at home.

Four PCs, three PDA’s two Playstations, two Goldfish and a Hamster named Eric but no BT OpenWorld, So why not?

It’s simple really; I use the Internet mostly for email and its mission critical. Dial-up works and although two tin cans and a piece of string might work equally well, I know that on those rare occasions the dial-tone disappears, BT will have it up and running within twenty-four hours. What worries me are the nightmare stories I have heard of Broadband customers locked-in their houses for weeks at a time, waiting for an engineer to arrive and fix the fault.

I’m sure it’s all exaggerated but can I afford the risk? One day, maybe but not just yet.

Last week, I attended the launch of the Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance in London. As the meeting was under Chatham House rules, there’s very little I can tell you about other than mentioning that Broadband entered the discussion.

I was having a chat with my old friend, Professor Jim Norton, until recently, Chairman of Deutsche Telekom (UK) and we were both worrying about Broadband take-up and security or should I say the lack of it.

Ironically, both of us had at one time or another flagged the risks of open Broadband connections to government at one time or another but it seems that very little or nothing has been done to educate 1.2 million subscribers about the dangers of the information superhighway.

It’s a guess and only a guess, that the systems of least 5% of Broadband subscribers are infected by Trojan software of one kind or another. Others would estimate this percentage to be much higher. Now if you think in terms of Denial of Service (DNS) attacks then there’s an army of 25,000 PCs that could be used as hosts to trigger a DNS attack on Santa’s Website and totally ruin Christmas in the process.

I like the idea of being constantly online and I take it for granted at the office, behind a couple of firewalls and Server-based anti-virus software. However, with the overall trend for digital attacks on a steady upward curve with 31,322 overt digital attacks recorded in 2001 and 64,408 - more than double - recorded in 2002 already (mi2G) I’m worried that government is ignoring the evidence of danger in the race to encourage as many people to join the information revolution as quickly as possible.

Next week sees the UK’s first eCrime Congress in London and it will attract experts from all over the world. It might be a good time for the government’s UK Online campaign to launch a ‘Safe Surfing’ campaign, although I can’t yet see BT offering the equivalent of a digital condom with every new home connection.

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