World Hacker Day
Computer viruses already cause billions of dollars of damage every year to businesses and individuals. January 1, 2000, will probably mark the largest virus outbreak in the history of computing.
Anti-virus experts are "expecting the worst," says John Sun of Network Associates, makers of McAfee anti-virus software. His company will have a 24-hour emergency response team in place between December 27 and January 4.
"We know, for example, that elements in the 'virus community' have already set up a competition for the best Y2K virus, so we are taking the issue very seriously," said the special adviser for New Zealand's Y2K Readiness Commission.
"There will be a lot of people out there who want to claim the first hack in 2000," said an Australian Computer Emergency Response Team analyst.
The U.S. Justice Department estimates that as many as 20,000 computer viruses will be unleashed at the beginning of Y2K.
The recent war in Kosovo will leave a huge mark in history; it was the first Information War. N.A.T.O. used information warfare (hacking and such) for the first time in history, against the Serbs' military infrastructure. After N.A.T.O. forces bombed a Chinese embassy in Belgrade, U.S. Defense Department sites saw greatly increased hacker traffic from Chinese addresses.
Federal Computer Weekly reported that between October 20 and December 4, 1999, nearly one hundred U.S. federal government public web sites were "defaced" (altered) by hackers. Targets included White Sands Missile Range, Commander Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. European Command, and the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.
Y2K may enter "information warfare" into the public vocabulary. The effects of a bug like Y2K (however it turns out) are similar to what an information attack could do. Many militaries around the world are eyeing this as a dress rehearsal for infowar. Over the next decade, information defense could grow into a new branch of the military.
Some contract programmers hired to fix Y2K problems left "trap doors" enabling them to re-enter the system after January 1. Y2K researchers with the Gartner Group predict that at least one of the thefts caused by these programmers will be over $1 billion.
Earlier this year, the head of the F.B.I.'s information defense group announced that malicious changes in Year 2000 fixes have surfaced in some U.S. work undertaken by foreign contractors.
"A tremendous amount of remediation of software has been done overseas or by foreign companies operating within the United States," the agent said.
"India and Israel appear to be the countries whose governments or industry may most likely use their access to implant malicious code in light of their assessed motive, opportunity, and means," the C.I.A. reported in the June issue of Infrastructure Protection Digest.