Rage Against The Machine

LoveBugs, Qaz and the Attack of the Zombie PCs-who's your friend in cyberspace? Nobody.

Michael Roman came home from a weekend-long conference one recent Sunday evening and noticed that there were 15 people logged on to the cable modem for his five-node business network. Only one problem: He was working alone at the time. Then he noticed that his own souped-up desktop was crawling along at a snail's pace.

The 41-year-old owner of Inhouse Appraisal Corp. in Toronto had been hacked, and computer users from locations as far away as Denmark were diligently downloading the MP3 music files he stored on his business computer.

In his rush to get away Thursday afternoon, Roman had forgotten to disable his network's Windows File/Print Share services, and Internet bargain hunters were pouring in through his company's always-on cable modem connection. He quickly turned off file sharing, but spent the entire next two days turning away requests-20 to 30 per minute-for access to his machine. He finally had to change his PC's Internet address. "I figure someone had posted my IP address in a newsgroup somewhere as a source for easy-listening rock," reasons Roman.

Welcome to the brave new world of widespread, often random, cyber-attacks. You may not have been singled out from the herd yet. But security experts agree the Internet has become a much more dangerous place to do business during the past year-and there's a lot more danger to come.

Mike Hogan, Entrepreneur's technology editor, can be reached at mikehoganentrepreneur@juno.com.

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Rage Against The Machine.

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