Hack Attack Part II

Just as this column was expounding on the virtues of protective firewalls, whether they be of the hardware or software variety, hackers pulled off another coup – proving once again that security, where the Internet is concerned, is a relative term.

Two highly contagious worm viruses made the news last week, inconveniencing millions by causing temporary shutdowns around the world. Neither worm will cause any permanent damage to Web servers, but that’s hardly the biggest worry. As long as the Internet is at the mercy of the mischievous, the online world will never be safe.

Right now these invasions are a little like someone breaking into the Louvre to look at the pictures. It’s only a matter of time, however, before thieves take something important or some psychotic torches the place.

A worm virus known as "Code Red" either affected or shut down over 225,000 Web servers and network systems around the world. A number of servers hosting Whistler sites were briefly affected, including the server for Pique NewsMagazine’s own site.

While most of these Code Red worm attacks were generally mindless, the person who wrote the code had a specific target in mind – the White House. The White House site was back up and running in no time but with a few alterations it took a little longer to catch – while the worm was tying up the system it appears that a hacker actually managed to get into and alter President George W. Bush’s inaugural address.

Here are a few highlights of the revised speech, in case you missed out:

"As I begin, I thank President Clinton for his service to our nation and our interns… And I thank Vice President Gore for a contest conducted with great woodenness and concluded so inconclusively. I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of America’s leaders have come before me, and where so many Bushes will follow. It’s hard to believe that two short weeks ago I couldn’t even spell Washington.

"We have a place, all of us, in a long story – a story like my pappy once told me, where a walrus and a carpenter set out to find some oysters. I’m sorry, I got distracted. Is anyone else here hungry? A guy gets appointed head of the free world and he can’t even get an appetizer at his own coronation. Stop kicking me… Oh yeah, the story.

"It is the American story – a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals. I think. Maybe that’s grand and ensuring. This ain’t a very good story, is it?"

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