Thought for the day:Clear and present danger

Hard-hitting IT columnist Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.Last week proved more interesting than...

Hard-hitting IT columnist Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.Last week proved more interesting than most. First, in the space of 24 hours I picked up not one but two Westminster Council parking tickets. Nothing remarkable there, other than my pleas that I was on private property.

More alarming was discovering I had become a victim of a denial of service attack on nine of the Internet's 13 Root DNS servers.

I had just come back from a meeting with the Syrian ambassador. As I started editing a document, I watched myself being hacked or, more accurately, my site being attacked. The URL of my Web site, which is hosted on, and deals with e-government and technology in the Middle East, suddenly changed and the page I was working on abruptly disappeared. In its place a page appeared informing me that the site was down for "Essential Maintenance".

I don't know whether the attack was the result of someone "piggybacking" on me to get into the Blogger system or whether it was a coincidence. Because of the nature of, one assumes that in this political climate, there will be hack attempts against it. But someone would have to go to a great deal of trouble to use me as a Trojan horse. In any event, I was running Windows XP professional on my laptop and had Symantec's personal firewall installed, to block the depressingly frequent scans that are a daily experience of working with the Internet these days.

While losing and for a while was an inconvenience, the increasing number of attacks on the Internet's infrastructure represents a more worrying trend. Security consultancy Mi2G described last week's incident as: "A reconnaissance experiment to ascertain the strength of weakness of the Internet backbone and ancillary infrastructure."

What comes next? Reconnaissance in force? And by whom and with what purpose in mind? Now would be a good time for all of us to run a quick review of our information security policy. After all, if I can watch my own site being hacked, then the problem facing any connected business may be becoming rather larger than we had thought.

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Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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