Intercepts

Warhol Worm

Code Red, the much-ballyhooed computer worm, so far seems a major snoozefest. But it is destined to rise again Aug. 20 and has kept the Defense Department hunkered down in a defensive posture for most of the month. Indeed,Code Red's programmed Rip Van Winkle state hasn't kept the military from blocking access to hundreds of Web sites "until the threat is over," said Army Maj. Barry Venable, U.S. Space Command spokesman.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Weaver, a computer science graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, has published a paper online that warns Code Red could easily have been 1,000 times worse (www.cs.berkeley.edu/~nweaver/warhol.html). Weaver coined the phrase "Warhol worm" to describe a worm "able to attack all vulnerable machines, worldwide, in 15 minutes."The name refers to Andy Warhol's prediction that "in the future, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes." The paper has created a buzz in information warfare circles, but, Mr. Weaver, your own clock is ticking fast.

Space to Mud

Lt. Gen. Robert Noonan Jr., the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence,is calling on the spy community to improve data sharing. The spook agencies are notoriously reluctant to share information, but Noonan advocated a "space to mud" approach to intelligence gathering at a recent Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington, D.C. He said the proliferation of technology and continued globalization are forcing the intelligence agencies to change."I'm going to leverage everything from a satellite on down and move that information to the operational commander," he said. "It's not intelligence by echelons anymore, but more of a collaborative effort." Noonan said sharing information has been hindered by systems unable to talk to one another.There's always the telephone.

Watch Your Step

Before going on a planned vacation, John Stenbit, who was sworn in Aug.3 as assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence, told his staff he plans a meeting to discuss his office's reorganization. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld left the office's future in doubt earlier this year when he said his staff would study how it should best be organized. When the Pentagon tried in 1997 to dismantle the office,it created such a stir that officials retreated and actually added to the office's power. One retired general at the time referred to the dismantling effort as "horse manure." Tread with care, Mr. Stenbit.

Security-Challenged

What's the best way to get corporate giants such as Microsoft Corp.and Cisco Systems Inc. to make network security a priority in their products?It's a dilemma federal agencies have wrestled with for years. In theory, a foreign government or terrorist could use cyberattacks against the U.S. information grid to wreak havoc on everything from financial systems to that really long red light that keeps the Interceptor from getting to work on time. Little requirement exists for secure technology because the public doesn't demand it, and the government is a relatively small part of the IT market; hence, there's no incentive for building technology that doesn't require a security patch every time some teenaged malcontent unleashes a virus.

But Larry Wright, head of Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc.'s national security division, suggests the problem could be partially solved by tax breaks for security-challenged corporations. "They'll spend a little bit of money — but not a lot of money — out of patriotism, so you need to provide incentive," Wright said. President Bush, any money left for another tax cut?

Intercept something? Send it to [email protected].

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