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House, Senate to address hacker attacks

A joint committee from the House and Senate will hear testimony on the recent wave of attacks that temporarily crippled some of the Web's most popular sites.

A joint committee from the House and Senate today will hear testimony from investigators, government officials and industry executives on the recent wave of attacks that temporarily crippled some of the Web's most popular sites.

The hearing will examine the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that took down Yahoo, Amazon.com, eBay, E*Trade and others for hours at a time earlier this month. In a DDoS attack, hackers use any number of computers to send a flood of information requests to servers that host Web sites. The overwhelming stream of information often clogs a server network and paralyzes the site it hosts.

Today's hearing, conducted by the House subcommittee on crime and the Senate criminal oversight subcommittee, will consider whether additional laws should be introduced to fight computer crimes and will examine the FBI's proposed budget increase to beef up its resources for computer crime investigations.

A tentative testimony list of high-tech executives includes Howard Schmidt, director of information security at Microsoft; Charles Giancarlo, senior vice president at Cisco Systems; and Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon.

In remarks prepared for the hearing, Schmidt downplayed the need for government involvement, warning lawmakers against "unnecessary outside regulation or interference in the operation of dynamic, very productive businesses," according to the Associated Press.

"Infrastructure security...does not lend itself to government management," Schmidt said in remarks prepared for the hearing, according to AP. "The private sector has the knowledge and expertise to help fight against computer crimes on the infrastructures on which they operate."

In reaction to the attacks, the FBI Shutdown special report launched an investigation to find the parties responsible. The investigation has taken the FBI across national borders and overseas.

President Clinton also convened a summit of tech industry executives in a call for companies to devote more attention to boosting Internet security.

Testimonies today also will come from investigators from the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) and officials from the Department of Justice.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.