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Hacked off

National | The FBI is warning Americans not to make vigilante computer attacks on Iraqi-related sites

Issue: "Portable Pentagon," March 1, 2003

Real patriots don't hack-even against America's enemies. That's the message from the FBI, which is warning Americans not to make vigilante computer attacks on Iraqi-related sites. Leave it to the professionals.

Officials at the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center complained about so-called "patriot hackers" who try to disrupt systems believed to be run by anti-American forces. They said they won't support such efforts-and threatened to send misguided flag-wavers to prison.

The Feds worry that patriot hackers could play into the bad guys' hands. "Even 'patriotic hackers' can be fooled into launching attacks against their own interests by exploiting malicious code that purports to attack the other side when in fact it is designed to attack the interests of the side sending it," the bureau said.

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The FBI also warned that war could lead to growing incidents of computerized vandalism around the world. The agency suggested using anti-virus software and Web filters-as well as watching out for suspicious e-mail attachments and other questionable files.

Meanwhile, the perpetrator who pulled off the last great Web attack remains at large. In January a nasty program called "Slammer" struck hundreds of thousands of computers, slowing Internet traffic around the world. Authorities do not know whether the attack was politically motivated.

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