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Web sites asked to be on alert

The agency urges online companies and agencies to be certain that their sites are not being used as launching pads for the troublesome outages wreaking havoc on the Web.

The Commerce Department today urged online companies and agencies to be certain that their sites are not being used as launching pads for the troublesome outages that recently have wreaked havoc on the Web.

"There is no sure-fire defense right now," Secretary William M. Daley said at a press conference this afternoon in Chicago. "The most important thing is to make sure our systems aren't launching pads."

How a denial of service attack works An effort already is under way to make certain that all federal Web sites are clean of the infections that could make its computers "unwitting partners in these attacks," Daley said.

Yahoo was the first site to fall prey, reporting that hackers had disrupted the leading Net site's service. Amazon,, and several other Web sites were attacked yesterday. It was learned that the attacks were being caused by an overwhelming number of messages, rendering targeted sites inoperable.

Daley urged computer users to check out the FBI and Carnegie Mellon Web sites for tools to help detect the so-called denial of service attacks.

Last month, President Clinton launched a $2 billion plan to combat the very type of hacking situation that has occurred this week. The initiatives are slated to protect the online community from attacks that could cripple the economy, the president said at the time.

The plan was a result of a study Clinton ordered that looked into ways of protecting America's computer systems from attacks by cyberterrorists.

The money will be allocated at the end of this year and the beginning of 2001.

Daley's department is to Shutdown 
special report receive between $20 million and $50 million to help set up research programs with some of the high-tech Fortune 500 companies and universities.

The research teams will look into ways of detecting malicious code and figuring out how to better understand where intrusions originate, said William Mehuron, director of the Information Technology Laboratory, an arm of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Another meeting with the research team members, whom Daley would not name, is scheduled for next month, he said.

"This is a wake-up call in many ways," he said at the press conference. "This just confirms what many of us have been saying for the past two years."