http://www.wired.com/news/conflict/0,2100,47099,00.html By Brian McWilliams 2:00 a.m. Sep. 26, 2001 PDT A new TV public service announcement targets U.S. computer hacktivists with a blunt message: Uncle Sam wants you to help fight the war on terrorism. But the spot, which organizers hope to begin airing nationwide next week on major networks, will warn that misguided patriotic efforts from software experts can hurt the cause. "Computer attacks and hate speech do not contribute in any constructive way to dealing with the many problems our global civilization faces," said WorldCom senior vice president Vinton Cerf, who is scheduled to appear in the televised announcement. The first of its kind to address the issue of hacking, the "Hackers Against Terrorism" spot will attempt to channel U.S. computer security gurus into productive rather than destructive action, said Parry Aftab, executive director of Cyberangels, an Internet safety and help organization that is sponsoring the ads. "The hacker community is very important in the fight against terrorism. But we want to get the message out that if they want to get busy doing good stuff, they should come to us and not try to take action on their own," said Aftab. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, hackers have defaced several websites with both pro- and anti-American messages. Many in government and industry are now concerned that well-meaning U.S. hackers may launch denial-of-service attacks or release worms or viruses aimed at disrupting terrorists, and in the process hurt the overall Internet. Cyberangels hopes to enlist politically motivated hackers instead to help with online intelligence gathering, such as tracking down computer criminals who attempt to attack the Internet infrastructure, said Aftab. The organization is also seeking information on any terrorist groups that may have attempted to commission computer security experts to aid them, she said. Even though he's old enough to be the grandfather of some of the hackers, Cerf was chosen as spokesman for the campaign because, according to Aftab, he's regarded as one of the creators of the Internet and is "the original geek and a hacker in the truest sense of the word." Earlier this month, a German group known as the Chaos Computer Club publicly appealed to hackers worldwide not to engage in retaliatory hacking in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Dorothy Denning, an expert on information warfare at Georgetown University, said the Cyberangels ad could make a difference if it convinces pro-U.S. hackers to refrain from destructive actions. But she fears that the spots will not deter anti-American hackers. "They will not stop. I am concerned about how far they might take some of their attacks," said Denning. Decisions about whether to run a public service announcement are at the discretion of each network and individual TV stations, but Aftab said she believes the Cyberangels spot will garner good airtime. "I think the networks and the media really want to help here. So we believe each of them will pick it up," Aftab said. Two hacker favorites -- USA Cable's Sci-Fi Channel, and UPN's hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- would be perfect places to air the spot, said Aftab, who is on the advisory committee of the Advertising Council, a nonprofit which helped put together the "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk" public service campaign. But targeting hackers with prime-time ads could ultimately backfire, according to Fred Cohen, an expert in information protection at the University of New Haven. "It will tend to give them an overblown sense of importance and may well induce them to do more. After all, a lot of this is just for attention and fame," he said. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Sep 27 2001 - 04:41:29 PDT