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Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 12:07 GMT
Press questions web security

The consensus among Europe's press is that recent attacks on the Internet's most popular sites highlight the vulnerability of the web.

"Internet giants have feet of clay", says the Belgian le Soir, while La Libre Belgique remarks in its headline that the hackers' exploit "shows up the vulnerability of the internet".

"An unprecedented wave of piracy has shaken the greatest symbols of the new economy and, in the process, exposed the Internet's vulnerability," the paper says.

"The unprecedented magnitude of the onslaught virtually rules out the possibility of the hackers being lone young computer wizards," it adds, noting that "some experts see the hand of organised groups with powerful means at their disposal".

Whoever the culprits may be, the paper thinks there is little chance of catching them, because, as it puts it, "they cover their traces by 'squatting' in innocent computer systems".

'Achilles heel'

Under the headline, "The Achilles heel of the new economy", the French Liberation newspaper notes that the sites targeted were "the flagships in the vanguard of the new economy to whose growth the governments of the developed countries are committed.

"However, the vulnerability of their protection systems immediately raises the question of the vulnerability of the edifice as a whole," the paper says. "From here to seeing a new economy with feet of clay is a mere step that many will find it easy to take," the paper concludes.

"What a virtual war!", says a columnist in Le Monde, trying to see a funny side and harking back to Germany's World War II tactics under the headline "Netkrieg"

"No quarter given ! No prisoners taken! It's saturation bombing at a billion bytes per second," he writes.

"The battle has raged for days now, with wave after wave of virtual bombers ... crewed by these terrible hackers, these pirates, these Captains Kidd of the video display unit.

"Don't ask this virtual caveman about the technicalities of how it's done. But it's a fact: The hackers have done it and are continuing to do it."
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See also:
10 Feb 00 |  Business
US pledges net safety measures
10 Feb 00 |  Business
How the web was wounded
08 Feb 00 |  Sci/Tech
Yahoo brought to standstill
11 Jun 99 |  The Company File
Online auction site crashes
08 Feb 00 |  Sci/Tech
Yahoo attack exposes web weakness

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