Computer Virus as Threat to Civilization

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), April 6, 2000 | Go to article overview

Computer Virus as Threat to Civilization


In the information age of computer networks, man has to fight a new war against hackers and computer viruses. If he loses the battle, the effects can be as devastating as the tragic consequences of nuclear war or any conventional warfare. Computer bugs can destroy the programs designed to safeguard against any inadvertent launching of missiles loaded with nuclear warheads. A virus can infect millions of computers at hospitals vital to patients' life support systems and their treatment. It can paralyze computers at airport control towers, at dangerous chemical or poison control centers and nuclear power installations. The hazards of what a misguided individual can inflict on millions of people are truly horrifying and diabolic even to think about.

The e-mail virus ``ILOVEYOU'' believed to have originated in the Philippines has shown such destructive potential by indiscriminately crippling a countless number of computers at government agencies and business offices around the world, including even the U.S. White House, Department of State, Department of Defense and FBI, all well-known for their maximum security provisions. The fact that a 22-year-old man could ridicule the cyber security systems of the strongest nation and, indeed, of the world amply demonstrates how fragile and vulnerable the safety of our ``network civilization'' is.

The ``love bug'' suspected of being spread by ``spyder,'' a Philippine cyber ID, has invaded some 3.08 million computers the world over by the weekend. The United States obviously suffered most from the virus. The bug infected, according to reports, over 2.5 million computers there as well as 320,000 computers in major European countries such as Britain, France, Germany and Austria. Many firms, banks and government offices across Europe have been penetrated by the bug. Asia was no exception with thousands of computers hit by the virus at Hong Kong's stocks and securities firms, major offices in Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. Due to the May 5 Children's Day holiday, Korea suffered less than anticipated with some 70 initially reported cases of the virus infection.

The damages tallied until the weekend were estimated to be over U.S. $5 billion. But the amount reflects only the costs of repairs and does not take into account incalculable losses incurred from work stoppage. …

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