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Tech Industry

Year in review: Safe and secure?

Driven by terrorist attacks as well as by persistent computer viruses, security became a top priority for companies and the U.S. government in 2002.


Sounding the security siren

Viruses, hack attacks keep Net on alert.

Driven by terrorist attacks as well as by persistent computer viruses, security became a top priority for companies and the U.S. government in 2002.

Microsoft kicked off the year with a companywide mandate from Chairman Bill Gates to focus efforts on security, privacy and reliability. One part of the plan is the company's Palladium architecture for turning PCs into closed digital devices that can be "trusted" with music, movies and corporate secrets. So far, the only tangible results of the plan have been three delays for .Net Server and $100 million in downtime for the Windows team.

On a national level, cries of cyberterrorist threats pushed the Bush Administration to finally unveil plans for cybersecurity in September. The draft plan, however, was widely criticized as being a water-downed version of a much tougher, original plan.

Internet worms kept systems administrators and corporations on guard this year. The Slapper Linux worm compromised nearly 10,000 servers, by some estimates, forming a peer-to-peer network that could have been potentially used for an attack. And a well-executed attack on domain name system (DNS) root servers reminded the technology community how the network of networks remains.

All in all, companies scrambled to secure their networks yet they still remained vulnerable to ever-elaborate attacks. This was great news for security software companies which had a good year despite the tech malaise.

--Robert Lemos

Gates: Security is top priority
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates sends an e-mail to company employees outlining a shift from focusing on features to spotlighting security and privacy. Critics say it's about time.

January 17, 2002

Lots of pomp, no circumstance
More than a month after a major Microsoft security push, observers are still waiting for real evidence that the company's priorities have changed.

March 4, 2002

Walking in a wireless minefield
Security researchers and wireless aficionados have found areas where hundreds of insecure networks can allow hackers to connect to the Net and conduct nearly untraceable attacks.

July 1, 2002

Defining e-terrorism's true threat
Security experts and network managers say privately that the threat of cyberterrorism has been overblown and misunderstood--and that physical attacks remain far easier to carry out.

August 26, 2002

Feds: Let corporations carry the weight
The "National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace" outlines a mainly hands-off approach to securing cyberspace, giving primary responsibility for Net security to individuals and corporations, rather than the government.

September 18, 2002

Cybersecurity plan has "no teeth"
Experts say little has been done to address many of the fundamental causes that lead to persistent vulnerabilities that expose Net users to myriad threats.

September 19, 2002

Net attack flops, but threat persists
A widespread but unsophisticated attack on the computers that act as the address books for the Internet failed to cause any major problems, but experts warn that more security is necessary.

October 23, 2002

Do you trust your computer?
A debate is growing over "trusted computers"--machines equipped with the technology to wall off data, secure communications and verify the characteristics of their system.

November 7, 2002


• Wireless networks wide open to hackers
• Hackers drop spyware into popular tool
• Catching wireless hackers in the act
• Security czar points finger of blame
• Are you the Klez monster?
• Bush signs security funding bill
• House approves cybersecurity bill
• Perspective: Home isn't where security is
• Sendmail gets the message from hackers
• Special report: Hacking their image
• Special report: Cracking the nest egg
• Cyberwar games: Cadets hone their skills
• Special report: Are passwords the weakest link?
• Code Red still threatens Net
•  Tech companies chase homeland security